In announcing its race dates, Chicagoland Speedway also revealed it was again the opening race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Texas officials said the Nov. 6 race again fell in the Eliminator Round of the postseason, a three-race stretch that again included Martinsville and Phoenix, according to the track. Pocono Raceway officials said upon its schedule release that the NASCAR XFINITY Series would host a race June 4 at the Tricky Triangle. It would be the first XFINITY Series race ever at the venue.
NASCAR CMO Phelps: 'Technology is incredibly important for us' RELATED: NASCAR news release Technology, in the form of Fortune 500 investment, is reinforcing the notion that NASCAR makes good business sense. For the third consecutive year, the number of Fortune 500 companies utilizing NASCAR as part of their marketing mix has increased. In fact, nearly half of America’s Fortune 100 companies invest with NASCAR to help drive their business and more than one in four Fortune 500 companies are on board. The new analysis, conducted and released by NASCAR on Wednesday, indicated a 7 percent increase in Fortune 500 corporate involvement since the 2014 study. The 130 Fortune 500 companies now involved in the sport reflect a 20 percent increase since 2008. Now, investment is back in a big way, led by high tech involvement in the sport. "Technology is incredibly important for us," says Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. "It’s not only about helping us grow, financially, but how technology helps change people’s perception of NASCAR . Technology helps us on the race track with things like safety initiatives and brings fans closer to the sport they love in many ways." Phelps said the sport began to notice tech’s impact with Hewlett-Packard’s involvement three years ago. Now, NASCAR ’s partnership with Microsoft has other tech companies taking note. Tech corporation involvement is up 66 percent since 2013. "No question, this is great news for us," Phelps says. "We want our fan base to become younger and more diverse. Technology brings those fans. It’s important for us to be there, working with these companies." Phelps sees Microsoft’s collaboration with NASCAR as a true win-win that other tech firms might seek to emulate. "Microsoft, which signed deals with NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports , has used NASCAR as a validator of their technology," Phelps said. "One existing piece is an app they developed that helps us with the inspection process prior to the race. We’re doing things in half the time we used to, using a mobile inspection app as opposed to collecting information manually. This helps with data collection and storage." Phelps is quick to point out that investment in NASCAR ’s sanctioning body, its tracks and its teams extends far beyond the Fortune 500 list. " NASCAR continues to be a great place for all companies to get their marketing message across," Phelps said. "When you look at NASCAR ’s recovery over the past three years, I think it speaks volumes about how NASCAR continues to do very well in attracting businesses of all sizes. "It’s a way for business to reach the most loyal fans in all of sport who vote with their wallets. This continues to be the case in every research report we’ve done: NASCAR fans support brands that support their favorite sport. We think this is a major point of differentiation for us." Brand exposure in NASCAR is especially valuable given the loyalty of its fans. Repucom’s SponsorLink tracker shows seven out of 10 NASCAR fans are loyal to a brand when it sponsors their sport, higher than all other major sports properties. NASCAR CEO Brent Dewar echoed Phelps’ assessment in analyzing the most recent study. "We are gratified that NASCAR continues to be a place where best-in-class corporations choose our sport to drive brand awareness, preference and purchase behavior," Dewar said. "Our fans are fiercely loyal to our sport and the Fortune 500 brands that are an integral part of the NASCAR eco-system. We collaborate with partners across the industry each and every day to grow the sport and help advance sponsors’ objectives." It hasn’t hurt that NASCAR has taken a proactive approach in attracting and discussing its business environment with its investors. An example is NASCAR ’s Fuel for Business Council, which meets quarterly, and gets business leaders talking about opportunities in NASCAR , including branding and business-to-business opportunities. This month’s meeting in San Francisco featured presentations by Microsoft and by Fanatics, which is in the process of revolutionizing the sport’s at-track merchandising operations. "It’s an opportunity for companies to talk to each other, and that’s really important," Phelps said. "Microsoft’s presentation answered the question: 'Why are we in NASCAR ?’ In the end, we do business-to-business better than any sport on the planet – an important point of differentiation for investors." Phelps points out that investment extends far beyond the scope of Fortune 500 corporations and does not include dozens of companies advertising with NASCAR ’s media partners or the hundreds of small- and mid-sized businesses with direct ties to the sport. To be eligible for the Fortune 500, a company must be based in the U.S. and be publicly traded. Though many more Fortune 500 companies advertise on NASCAR -related television programming, only those that are partners or licensees with the sanctioning body, teams and / or tracks were counted in the analysis. Although being a Fortune 500 company is the "gold standard" of success for publicly-traded companies in the U.S., several global corporations currently involved in NASCAR were not included in the analysis because they do not meet Fortune 500 criteria. Those include Ingersoll Rand, MillerCoors, Mars, McLaren and Toyota. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Hurricane-like weather has hampered NASCAR before With area weather impacted by Hurricane Joaquin, here's the latest on this weekend's NASCAR schedule at Dover International Speedway : • Saturday's XFINITY Series and K&N Pro Series East practices have been canceled. Two Sprint Cup practices remain on the schedule, although their times have been altered. Rain cut the final practice session for the Sprint Cup Series short. The K&N Pro Series East race will now be run at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here for the tentative weekend schedul e. • All on-track activity scheduled for Friday has been canceled. • Dover has canceled Thursday's NASCAR Showcase & Hauler Parade, which was scheduled for 3 p.m. ET. The track and NASCAR will continue to monitor the weather throughout the weekend. Dover officials will provide updates on the track's website and also on the track's Facebook page. This page will be updated throughout the weekend.
Debating 'Smoke's' reported retirement after 2016, No. 4 team's strategy RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated " Harvick shoves Johnson post-race MORE: Stewart to retire from Sprint Cup action after '16 " Bowyer tabbed for No. 14 Tony Stewart 's reported retirement following the 2016 season was big news this week. Jimmie Johnson heading back to Dover, where the No. 48 team has been dominant in recent years, will headline the weekend. And come next Monday, four drivers will have fallen out of the Chase. Will defending champion Kevin Harvick be among them? We cover all of that and more in this week’s installment of Herman Unplugged. NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: Tony Stewart 's retirement after next season means two of our biggest champions will be gone from the competitive landscape in the span of a year. How will losing that amount of star power impact the sport and should NASCAR be concerned? HERMAN: "I think from the standpoint that Dale Jr. is gonna be 41 here in no time. We're looking at our sport's biggest stars by far and we're in that time where these drivers are not racing into their 50s no more. I see the new era of drivers quit in their mid-40s, because all these guys like Jeff, Tony and Dale, started as teenagers. Look at a Harry Gant or drivers back in the day that started in their 20s. It makes sense that these current guys who started young and came in at the right time making millions of dollars a year are leaving earlier. Their bodies have a lot of wear and tear. NASCAR knows we have to put a really big emphasis on Joey Logano now and guys like Brad Keselowski . Whether we like it or not, these guys are our next big superstars." NI: Speaking of Keselowski, his comment about NASCAR being an entertainment sport and not a fair sport after getting black-flagged on the restart was entertaining itself. Was it a case of sour grapes or did he have a beef there? HERMAN: "We always have conspiracy theories. I like Richard Buck, I've talked to him and he's invited me into the NASCAR trailer. I truly believe that Brad was just the first one; I don't believe that NASCAR made an example out of him. He was just the first one. If that's being made an example of, so be it. But that had major implications. This was not a normal race; it had championship implications. That's not an easy one to swallow. And when you get out of the race car like that, I think NASCAR recognized that you can't take what he said wholeheartedly even if he meant it. You gotta give that guy a break. It hurt and he was able to overcome it somewhat but he probably lost 5-8 points and that's a lot." NI: Kevin Harvick now faces a must-win scenario at Dover to advance in the Chase. Point blank: Should Rodney Childers have taken a more conservative approach at New Hampshire? HERMAN: "Because I'm a racer, I'm never gonna second guess. All I'm gonna say is this: They ran him out of gas at Watkins Glen and at New Hampshire and that could have meant bonus points. It is true that he shouldn't have run out of gas at either place. But I think what I've learned is why cut it so close because he's so fast and can pass people at will? I'm sure that they've learned that we'll never do this again." NI: Jimmie Johnson has won seven of the last 13 races at Dover. Does he get another victory in his 500th career start on Sunday? HERMAN: "I'm going on the record and picking Harvick to win Dover right now. He did a walkoff twice last year. He had to win Phoenix and he did. Then he went to Homestead and he won again. They're gonna lose a lot of sleep between now and Dover but I think he wins it. I'm going out on a limb. If Kevin Harvick does not move out of the first round, this will be one of the biggest upsets in the new modern era Chase format. I think Harvick will put the bumper to Jimmie to get it. If you look at the last two races there, Harvick should have won this fall race last year and then he ran second earlier this year. The one race he was dominating he lost a valve stem in the wheel. I just see Harvick doing whatever it takes." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2015) -- "When I think of Tony Stewart , unmatched passion and a pure love of the sport come to mind. He has won championships and millions of fans. But he has given back so much more, and that's what I admire most. Today's news was bittersweet for all, but we know Tony will continue to be a big part of our sport in his roles as a team and track owner. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Tony for his many years of excellence and competitiveness, and wish him nothing but the best in his final season as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series."
RELATED: Official NASCAR release Good news race fans -- NASCAR After The Lap, presented by Ford and Sprint, is headed back to Las Vegas for its seventh straight year. The event, which features all 16 drivers competing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , has become one of the major highlights of Champions Week, as well as an opportunity for fans to engage with the season's best drivers in a most unique and fun atmosphere. The event, which will take place at the Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel, has been known as the time where drivers let loose on the season celebration in a tell-all panel. From Jeff Gordon showing off his break-dancing skills, to Tony Stewart 's push-up contest victory and many other signature moments, you never know what you might get at NASCAR After The Lap. Also starting today, NASCAR Nation has the opportunity to participate in the NASCAR After The Lap Sweepstakes, and with that comes the chance for fans to win some truly once-in-a-lifetime prizes. Starting today through November 22, fans can enter to win a 2016 Ford F-150 or an all-inclusive trip for two to Las Vegas to attend the NASCAR After The Lap event, among other great prizes. Tickets for NASCAR After The Lap are priced at $20 and will go on sale September 21, but fans not able to attend can also tune in to the live stream of the event on NASCAR .com. To enter the NASCAR After The Lap sweepstakes or learn more about December's event, visit www.NASCARafterthelap.com .
RELATED: Photos of Stewart through the years " Bowyer tabbed as replacement Three-time premier series champion Tony Stewart smiled and conceded it was a "formality at this point" in announcing Wednesday afternoon that he would step away from full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition following the 2016 season. "It was a choice that is 100 percent mine, no pressure from anybody," Stewart said of his decision not to compete full-time anymore. "If anything, it's been the opposite, more people trying to talk me out of it. "Everyone in their career makes a decision when it's time for a change. I think deep down you know when it's time to do something different and make a change like this." Appearing jovial and without a hint of second-thought about his career decision, Stewart joked he was bringing Harry Gant out of retirement to drive the the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevy in 2017, then confirmed that actually Clint Bowyer would be taking over his seat. The news confirmed months of speculation and rumor about Stewart's future and solidified Bowyer's career path as well with Bowyer's Michael Waltrip Racing team closing operations at the end of 2015. "It's all about people, all about culture for me, and I don't think the fit factor could be any better," said Bowyer, acknowledging the SHR ride was "one of the biggest powerhouses in the sport" and said an announcement is coming later this week about his 2016 plans. Wednesday was clearly more about "the people's champion" as Stewart is often referred. One of the most popular and accomplished champions to ever compete in NASCAR's marquee series, Stewart, 44, has won three premier series titles as a driver (2002, 2005, 2011) and two as an owner (2011, 2014), accumulated 48 victories and won over countless hearts as a kind of extreme throw-back talent garnering comparisons to racing's all-time greats such as A.J. Foyt and Dale Earnhardt. Quite simply, Stewart won in every car he drove. And NASCAR fans always appreciated that about the driver known by his nickname, "Smoke." RELATED: Drivers react to Stewart's announcement Stewart won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 15 straight seasons from his 1999 rookie year through 2013, and he has 11 NASCAR XFINITY Series wins in 94 starts -- roughly winning once every 10 times he tried. He won twice in six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and had five top-10 finishes. "When I think of Tony Stewart , unmatched passion and a pure love of the sport come to mind," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said in a release . "He has won championships and millions of fans. But he has given back so much more, and that's what I admire most. Today's news was bittersweet for all, but we know Tony will continue to be a big part of our sport in his roles as a team and track owner. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Tony for his many years of excellence and competitiveness, and wish him nothing but the best in his final season as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series." The 1997 IndyCar champion -- and 1996 Indy 500 Rookie of the Race -- proved his mettle against motorsports' best drivers, winning four times in IROC competition, earning the 2006 IROC championship and finishing runner-up in 2001. In 1999 he completed racing's Memorial Day "Double," finishing ninth in the Indianapolis 500 and fourth in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 later that same day in North Carolina. Stewart was the first driver in history to win all three major United States Auto Club national championships -- Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown -- in a single season. So after essentially four decades behind the wheel fulltime, Stewart said he contemplated this decision for a while and said this week, he is completely at peace. "I've learned a lot about myself," Stewart said. You run through the range of emotions. There's days you're like, I can't wait, and then there's days that are like, man, do I ‑‑ you battle back and forth. "I'm not leaving the sport I love. I'm not walking away from something I'm passionate about, I'm just changing roles, which it's like just moving to a different position in a company. "I'm not really retiring, I'm just changing positions." RELATED: Best quotes from Stewart's press conference It's been an admittedly uphill climb for the champ after the last three seasons of horrible injury and extreme heartbreak. He missed the last 15 races in the 2013 season after suffering a compound leg fracture while competing in a sprint car race. Then last year, while still mending from that injury, Stewart was involved in another sprint car accident. This time, another competitor, Kevin Ward Jr., was killed when, after approaching Stewart's car on track during a caution period, the car struck Ward. Stewart sat out three Sprint Cup races immediately after. No criminal charges were found to be justified against Stewart; the Ward family filed a civil lawsuit against him a year later. On Wednesday Stewart stressed that his decision to stop driving in the Cup series full-time had "zero percent to with (the Ward situation)" and that physically, "my leg feels fine, there's nothing wrong with my leg." He said he may even compete in Sprint cars again. He listed the Rolex 24 at Daytona as a possibility and mentioned racing modifieds and making sporadic starts in the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series -- all things he plans to do without the stress and full schedule of racing full-time in the Sprint Cup ranks. RELATED: Tony talks toll on leg, life In the past two seasons, Stewart has struggled to post the kind of top-shelf results both he and his fans had grown accustomed to seeing. But he has consistently insisted that was more to do with the current rules package than his off-track distractions. He said earlier this year that NASCAR's new high downforce, low horsepower car does not suit his style and is actually "the opposite of everything I've ever driven. "It's like I'm in the middle of a calculus equation and I didn't take pre-calculus,'' Stewart told NASCAR .com this May. He is currently 25th in the Sprint Cup Series driver standings with a sub-standard two top-10 finishes in his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet this year. But he was adamant that he would not be coasting in his final season and that this decision was not "performance based." Stepping away from his NASCAR driving duties, Stewart's focus shifts to running his beloved Eldora Speedway in Ohio and to being a team owner. His resume out of the car is already as impressive as his work behind the steering wheel. "It's just time to do what we're doing," Stewart said. "I still fully anticipate we're going to get things turned around. If I didn't feel that way, I wouldn't waste my time next year for anybody. I'm not a guy that's going to get in a car and ride. We're full steam ahead. "We're going to keep working and try to win as many races as we can next year, and that goal is going to be ‑‑ when you guys get to February, go ahead and write this down, what our goals are for the year, we're going to try to win races, try to win the Daytona 500 , then the Brickyard 400, the Southern 500, and try to win a championship." Ultimately, stepping away from his NASCAR driving duties, Stewart's focus shifts to running his beloved Eldora Speedway in Ohio and to being a team owner. His effort out of the car is already as impressive as his work behind the steering wheel. His namesake Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team is the reigning Sprint Cup owner champion thanks to Kevin Harvick 's 2014 championship run, and two of his team's four drivers -- Harvick and Kurt Busch -- are in this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . This summer Stewart collected his 10th Knoxville Nationals trophy in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series fielding a car for driver Donny Schatz, who has also delivered five World of Outlaw championships for Stewart. He has 23 national titles as a team owner. "I've won more car championships as an owner than a driver," Stewart said "I'm definitely as competitive as an owner as I am a driver. …That fire's still there and that's what makes this transition easier." While his success driving and fielding cars is partly responsible for Stewart's incredible popularity over the years, he is also one of the sport's most robust personalities. RELATED: 'Smoke' still the people's champion He's not afraid to express his displeasure at his competitors' blunders, and the other drivers have come to expect either face time or bumper time with him after on track run-ins. And Stewart's "no-fools" tolerance policy extends to the media covering his career. There are highlight reels devoted to showcasing him sparring with reporters in press conferences and on pit road -- his wit and sarcasm legendary with the media corps. He grinned broadly and warned the room of reporters on Wednesday that he will not follow the guide of four-time champ Jeff Gordon who has met with the press nearly every week during this -- his last -- year of NASCAR competition. "Let's establish this right now: I will not be coming to the media center every week to talk about it,'" Stewart said smiling and shaking his head. "You can save your gifts. I've got enough rocking chairs at home as it is. I bought those when I wanted to go sit on my own rocking chair. You don't have to give me one. "I'm content to go race and be around the racing community and the racing family and be around our fans," he continued. "They can just send me a note from the track president and say, hey, thank you, and that'll be sufficient for me. "I think it's been very fitting for Jeff [Gordon]. I don't think I'm worthy of that kind of admiration because I think Jeff has really done so much for the sport that nobody will ever be able to do again. I think that kind of celebration is reserved for somebody like Jeff." One thing Stewart has across the board is respect -- from his competitors, to the fans and to the media who will be watching closely to see how this next chapter in his career and life plays out. He gave a couple hints on Wednesday afternoon. When it's time to drop the green flag for the 2017 Daytona 500 – the first one run without Tony Stewart on the grid since 1999 – the champ says he hasn't figured out quite yet where he'll be, but spoke about one possibility. "I'll probably be on some fan's motor home on the back stretch promoting our sponsors," Stewart said laughing. "I have no idea where I'm supposed to be yet. I've got a whole year to figure that out."
RELATED: Hall of Fame class of 2016 announced CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 29, 2015) -- Tickets for the 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be available to the public beginning Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. Jerry Cook, Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte , Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner will be honored during this year's ceremony set for Friday, Jan. 22, 2016. Ticket prices range from $45 for general seats to the Induction Ceremony to $350 for the Exclusive Driver Dinner Package (plus applicable service fees and taxes). Drivers, celebrities and legends of the sport will take the stage during this premier celebration that will honor the seventh class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Prior to the ceremony, a special Induction Dinner at the Charlotte Convention Center, which is connected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, will include a special jacket presentation for the living inductees and an award presentation honoring popular FOX Sports broadcaster Steve Byrnes, the fifth recipient of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. Fans also have the exclusive opportunity to purchase a seat for the dinner that puts them at a table with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver (limited quantities are available). After dinner, the Induction Ceremony will take place in the Crown Ballroom at the Charlotte Convention Center and will honor the five Class of 2016 inductees as well as Harold Brasington, the second recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR . Following the ceremony, a special NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day will take place at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Saturday, Jan. 23. More details on driver appearances, activities and programming for this day will be announced at a later date. Individual ticket and ticket packages will be available beginning Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. For more information, visit nascarhall.com . For accessible seating, please call 704-654-4400. See below for ticket and package options. NASCAR Hall of Fame Exclusive Driver Dinner Package ($350 per person plus applicable service fees and taxes; limited quantity available) • NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver at Table • Induction Dinner Seat, including Jacket Presentation • Induction Ceremony Seat • Commemorative Dinner and Ceremony Ticket • NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Yearbook • Admission to First Look at Class of 2016 Inductee Exhibits • ( NASCAR Hall of Fame Annual Pass NASCAR Hall of Fame VIP Induction Package ($299 per person plus applicable service fees and taxes; limited quantity available) • Induction Dinner Seat, including Jacket Presentation • Induction Ceremony Seat • Commemorative Dinner and Ceremony Ticket • NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Yearbook • Admission to First Look at Class of 2016 Inductee Exhibits • NASCAR Hall of Fame Annual Pass Premium Seating at Induction Ceremony ($80 per person plus applicable service fees and taxes) • Premium Induction Ceremony Seat • NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Yearbook • Admission to the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Jan. 22. General Seating at Induction Ceremony ($45 per person plus applicable service fees and taxes) • Induction Ceremony Seat • NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016 Yearbook
The restart zone for this weekend's NASCAR races at Dover International Speedway will double from 70 feet to 140 feet, according to NASCAR . The sanctioning body will also lengthen the restart zone for the 2015 season's remaining races post-Dover -- the exact increase will be determined by an at-track basis. The restart rules have not changed. Drivers will still line up double file, with the leader being the "control car," meaning the second-place car can't take off before the leader in the restart zone located before the start/finish line. NASCAR re-emphasized the restart rules during the drivers' meeting before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway . In that race, NASCAR reviewed a questionable restart by Jeff Gordon before determining there was no penalty. Last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Brad Keselowski was penalized after NASCAR ruled he jumped the restart. Restarts were a hot topic among drivers prior to the postseason beginning. When asked at Chase Media, Denny Hamlin gave the following answer: "I think drivers want longer restart zones. Ultimately now it's so short that if you don't go right away the second-place guy does and knowing that he can beat the first-place guy to the line ... I think it would be better to open that zone up two, three times the size of it right now."
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2015) -- "Earlier today NASCAR met with all Sprint Cup Series owners and presented framework concepts for future qualification to compete in NASCAR's top national series with an eye toward implementing a new model for the 2016 season. The on-going dialogue with the entire industry has been very good and today's session was another productive step in that process. NASCAR , the tracks and the team owners all have the same collective goal: making the sport as strong and competitive as it can be for decades to come. "Today's meeting was one step in the process. There is still a lot of work to be done and that will continue over the coming months. We understand there will be speculation and rumors related to the concepts outlined today, but would caution against coming to any conclusions as we work toward final decisions. When it is appropriate to do so, NASCAR will make an official announcement. In the meantime, we are excited about the 2015 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and this weekend’s race at Dover." -- Brett Jewkes, NASCAR Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer