Charlotte Motor Speedway officials announced today that Capitol Records Nashville recording artist Eric Church will perform as part of pre-race festivities for the NASCAR Banking 500 only from Bank of America on Oct. 17.

To help celebrate homecoming NASCAR style, Church will return to his home state to perform a concert outside of the Turn 2 Diamond Tower Terrace on Saturday afternoon before the race. Admission to the concert is free with the purchase of a NASCAR Banking 500 ticket.

"Having grown up in North Carolina, being a NASCAR fan is a given," said Church. "I've been to this very race many times with my dad. To be able to go back and play is a very special homecoming for me.

"I know a lot of my fans love NASCAR and a lot of NASCAR fans love country music. I guess the only question to be answered is, who is louder? The guys and their cars or me and the band. I can't wait to find out!"

Church, a Granite Falls, N.C., native, began singing as a child and at age 13, he started writing songs and teaching himself to play guitar.

While attending college at Appalachian State University, Church visited a small bar in the mountains where he watched a band perform in front of a packed house. It didn't take him long to realize that was what he wanted to do for a living so he quickly formed the band, Mountain Boys.

Church and his band began playing bars and college parties around Western North Carolina four to five nights a week. Within a year he began adding original songs into the set list and selling CDs of his own material.

After graduating with a degree in marketing, Church moved to Nashville, Tenn., to pursue a career in country music. In 2006, he released his first album, "Sinners Like Me," which quickly rose to the Top 10 on the country music charts.

Shortly after being introduced to country radio, his musical talent caught the attention of country music superstars Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley, giving him the opportunity to play as their opening act.

In March of 2009 Church released his sophomore album, "Carolina," which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Country Album Chart and has received acclaim from Rolling Stone and the New York Times. The album features the current Top 10 hit, "Love Your Love The Most."

College students can see the concert from a special viewing area with the purchase of a Carolina CollegeFest 2009 package. The package includes five hours of live music featuring Eric Church, Candy Coburn, Paper Tongues, Southland and the Mulch Brothers, cornhole tournaments, gift packs, prize giveaways and a reserved seat for the NASCAR Banking 500, all for the low price of $49 each.

In addition, students can enter to win prizes including a V.I.P. trip to Victory Circle at the conclusion of the race.

To purchase individual tickets to the NASCAR Banking 500 or the Carolina CollegeFest package, fans should contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or buy online.