1. Charlotte Motor Speedway's Smith family interested in joining bid to buy Panthers

Bruton Smith and his son Marcus, who made a name in developing the Charlotte Motor Speedway and tracks across the country, are now interested in joining the local group that wants to buy the Carolina Panthers. NBC Charlotte first reported last week that the owner of NASCAR Brian France was going to be part of the group headed up by Felix Sabates of Charlotte who is already a minority owner of the Hornets. Sabates today told NBC Charlotte he had spoken to the Smiths and added they have an interest in pursuing further discussions.

RELATED: NASCAR's Brian France head of group looking to buy the Panthers, sources say

Bruton Smith is chairman of Speedway Motorsports that operates the Charlotte Motor Speedway and other tracks across the country. Marcus Smith is CEO of the company and recently led the effort to bring a major league soccer team to Charlotte. Speedway spokesperson Scott Cooper said the Smiths were not going to comment on any interest they might have in buying the team. Also on Wednesday, James Mitchell, the powerful head of the Economic Development Committee of the Charlotte City Council said he will do all he can to keep the Panthers in Charlotte. Click here for the full story.

2. House to vote on program that collects Americans' texts, emails

The House is expected to vote Thursday on whether to rein in a surveillance program that collects Americans' email, text messages and other electronic communication without a warrant. Congress approved the program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, in 2008 to increase the government's ability to thwart foreign terrorists in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Intelligence officials have credited the law with foiling terrorist plots, but critics fear that the government can use that data to go after Americans for crimes that have nothing to do with terrorism.

3. Mother of Fort Mill soldier killed in Iraq speaks out

The entire Fort Mill community is mourning the loss of Spc. Javion Shavonte Sullivan. Officials said the 24-year-old died January 8 in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. He was assigned to the 16th Signal Company, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

“He made the ultimate sacrifice for us all,” said his mother, Cynthia Sullivan.

Flipping through old family photos is helping Cynthia and Willis Sullivan, Jay’s dad, to heal. They got the worst news any parent could get on Monday night, receiving a knock on the door from military officers telling them their son wouldn’t be returning home.

“It did knock the breathe out of me but nonetheless I pulled on my faith,” Cynthia explained. Click here for full story & photos.

4. Flu outbreak forces temporary closure at local school

A recent flu outbreak has forced a local school to temporarily close its doors. Carmel Christian School in Matthews sent out an email informing parents that a flu outbreak has caused over 140 students, four teachers and a school nurse to be absent Tuesday. Another 21 student were "left to go home" due to flu-like symptoms, the email said.

The school announced it will be closed Thursday, January 11 and is expected to reopen Tuesday, January 16. Click here to see their full announcement.

5. Two Panthers join Kuechly in Pro Bowl

Two more Carolina Panthers players were named to the 2018 Pro Bowl roster Wednesday. Kicker Graham Gano and offensive lineman Trai Turner will join linebacker Luke Kuechly in Orlando for the Jan. 28 game.

Gano and Turner were originally listed as alternates but are now selected to replace Los Angeles Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein and Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Zack Martin, who are both unable to play due to injuries, according to the Panthers' website. Wednesday's selection means Gano will be heading to his first Pro Bowl. Gano finished the 2017 regular season with a field goal percentage of 96.7, making 29 of 30 field goal attempts.

Turner will be heading to his third Pro Bowl despite missing the final three regular-season games with a concussion. Kuechly has been selected to the Pro Bowl roster every year except his rookie season in 2012, with the 2018 Pro Bowl being his fifth selection. The game will be played in the traditional AFC vs. NFC format.