"American Idol" finalist and country music recording sensation Kellie Pickler will return to her home state Saturday night, Oct. 14, to perform the national anthem prior to the Bank of America 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Pickler, who grew up approximately 20 miles from the speedway in Albemarle, N.C., recently hit the airwaves with her debut single, "Red High Heels." Her first CD, "Hometown Girl," will be released on Oct. 31 by 19 Recordings/BNA Records.

Pickler recorded the CD between her commitments to the American Idols Live Tour 2006, which took the stars of the hit television program to 55 cities during a 10-week span this summer. The CD contains several songs Pickler co-wrote, including her debut single.

"I'm so excited to sing the national anthem at the race in Charlotte," said Pickler. "The national anthem is a challenging song and when you sing it you have to start off low so you can hit that high note. I'm proud and honored to have been asked to perform it for such a prestigious event."

"With her small-town charm, Kellie caught the imagination of the American public during the 'American Idol' competition," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Her popularity will rival that of many of the drivers when she performs for the Bank of America 500. She represents all that is good about Americana."

Pre-race ceremonies for the Bank of America 500, the only night race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, begin at 5:40 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 14, and the 500-mile battle is scheduled to start at 7:20 p.m.

Tickets for Bojangles' Pole Night on Thursday, Oct. 12; the Dollar General 300 NASCAR Busch Series race on Friday night, Oct. 13; and the Bank of America 500 are still available and can be purchased at online or by calling 1-800-455-FANS.