Atlanta repave delayed until after 2018 NASCAR races
RELATED: All the winners at Atlanta " Blaney pleased with Atlanta decision Atlanta Motor Speedway officials have put off a repaving project at the 1.54-mile facility until the track's 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race has been completed. Officials had planned to repave the worn racing surface following this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March 5. Several NASCAR drivers, however, urged track officials and Speedway Motorsports Inc., President Marcus Smith to reconsider the move. The track was last repaved in 1997. The worn, abrasive pavement creates tremendous tire falloff, and the slick surface typically provides some of the most exciting racing on the NASCAR schedule. "We're going to repave, it's just a matter of when we're going to do it," Ed Clark, AMS president and general manager, told NASCAR .com Tuesday. "We know we have to do it sooner rather than later. "We've talked to fans, to people in the NASCAR garage, spent a good bit of time with Rick Campbell of Goodyear, and we came to the conclusion that with a little bit of work, cutting out some spots and patching them, we could go another year. "If they can make it work, we'll go another year and evaluate it after next year's race. We are going to have to cut some patches out and repave them, mostly on the front straightaway." ICYMI --> 1997 was a good year for paving ... by popular demand, we are going to hold off on paving @amsupdates for one more season. https://t.co/CPSVmMdkFU — Marcus Smith (@MarcusSMI) March 28, 2017 Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski, the 2012 series champion and winner of this year's Folds of Honor QuikTrip race, said after his win that the decision to repave puts tracks in a difficult position. "It's tough, and I feel bad for those guys because all it takes is one race where there are weepers or where the track comes apart and you've got red flags and delays and everybody gets mad at them," Keselowski said. "So they're really in a no‑win spot. We pick on them and tell them don't do it and all these other things, but at some point you have to trust them to know their business. "... Drivers hate repaves. We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can. But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years I think ... and they should be really proud of that." Speedway Motorsports Inc. owns eight tracks that host 12 points races on the 36-race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule. One property, Texas Motor Speedway, was recently repaved and reconfigured in preparation for this year's two stops at that 1.5-mile venue. "I think we all appreciate tracks with so much character and to have the bad news that two of the tracks with the most character are going to be repaved this year, I think that shocked and upset a lot of us," seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson said when asked about the Atlanta repave earlier this year. "We get it. We understand, but it's just going to take a long time for the track to get back to this condition." Clark said officials' biggest concern with the racing surface are parts of the track "unraveling" where cracks exist in the asphalt. "It's more of that," he said, "the gradual unraveling and a crack opening up. I'm not concerned necessarily about a big chunk of asphalt coming out or anything like that. We've looked at that pretty closely. "The good news about our place is we've kept this thing sealed up. We've done it every single year since it was paved, sealed every crack in the fall. We just haven't gotten the humps and bumps that some tracks get. From that standpoint, other than it just being absolutely worn out, that's not an issue. I think that's somewhat the comfort level drivers have in saying just leave it alone." NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Timothy Peters said he was "ecstatic" that officials are holding off on the AMS repaving project. "I think other tracks should look at that," he said. "Worn-out pavement is the way to go, in my opinion. "Atlanta ... is multi-groove, from the bottom to the middle to the top. It puts it back in the driver's hands. I guarantee they will get a lot of Christmas cards this year for electing not to repave the place." Atlanta Motor Speedway, located in Hampton, Georgia, has been hosting NASCAR -sanctioned races since 1960. In addition to the quad-oval featuring 24-degree banked turns, the site includes a 2.5-mile road course. Permanent seating capacity for the facility is 71,000. "We're going to let it ride, let them slip and slide in 2018 and figure it out after that I guess," Clark said. - RJ Kraft contributed to this story.
Getting started: Aspen Dental, NASCAR partnership expands
RELATED: Aspen Dental expands role with Patrick " Aspen Dental named 'Official Dentist of NASCAR' Five weeks ago, Aspen Dental expanded its backing of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver Danica Patrick by boosting the number of NASCAR races for its primary sponsorship into double digits. Friday, the company took another step in increasing its exposure through the sport. NASCAR and Aspen Dental announced a multiyear agreement Friday that makes the Syracuse, New York-based network of dental care providers the "Official Dentists of NASCAR ." The partnership dovetails with the advent of Aspen Dental's "Get Started" initiative, a program that promotes oral health awareness with the help of Patrick and NASCAR . Michelle Vaeth, Aspen Dental Management's vice president of communications, recalled sitting at a conference table with NASCAR officials several months ago in the sanctioning body's Charlotte, North Carolina, headquarters. The lively discussion turned to the 150 million Americans who avoided dental visits last year and how the company's next initiative, a program which would eventually become "Get Started," planned to combat that treatment gap.
NASCAR TV schedule: March 27-April 2
NASCAR Next's Alon Day eager for new chapter
RELATED: Meet the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class There are several traditional routes to stock-car racing's big leagues. Several stars have emerged from asphalt Late Model circles, others from the sprint cars ranks, either on pavement or dirt. Alon Day has made a path where just five years ago, he says, none existed in his homeland of Israel. "I grew up without any motorsports -- nothing," says Day, who fantasized about NASCAR and Formula One as a youth. "When I started racing, which was in 2012, actually motorsport was illegal in Israel." Day's presence in NASCAR's pipeline reaffirms the notion that there are no uniform directions to the national stage. The NASCAR Next driver's roundabout journey has taken him from his home in Tel Aviv, to racing single-seaters and other vehicles in Europe, and stock-car sojourns to the United States more than once. It's a journey, he says, that's not nearly complete. "That's my main priority, for sure, being here in NASCAR , in Trucks or XFINITY or doesn't matter -- but be here, in the United States and not in Europe," says Day, who has spent the last two years in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. "For me, going back to Europe is probably going to be a step down because I feel ready enough to race here, but that's life. It can be tough sometimes." The eagerness led to opportunities for the 25-year-old Day in two national series last year: Two road course events on the XFINITY tour with Carl Long 's team, and a pair of Camping World Truck Series races on ovals for owner Carlos Contreras . The road races played to Day's wheelhouse and he capitalized on his expertise with a 13th-place finish in his XFINITY debut at Mid-Ohio. But his truck time -- at New Hampshire and in the Homestead-Miami finale -- provided a valuable training experience. "It's still a different kind of racing for me," Day says. "I'm still learning as much as I can in ovals. I try to absorb as much information and more knowledge about oval racing, which is not easy. So definitely the two races I did in trucks were probably the most valuable races I've done." Besides his forays into racing in the USA, Day's success in NASCAR's European circuit -- stacking up six victories in his first two seasons -- has resonated back in his homeland. Early in January, he was recognized as Israel's Athlete of the Year in a newly announced category for motorsports. While he's still working on making his dreams of racing in the states a reality, he's also changing popular conceptions of what NASCAR means in his home country. "In Israel, if I would be very honest, people always -- until now -- think that NASCAR is just people who turn left and that's it. Sitting in the car and just turning left," Day says. "And now when I actually get more success in NASCAR and especially winning the Athlete of the Year, people get more and more interest now. The NASCAR races are broadcast in Israel and I'm really glad. "People really have the opportunity to understand it and realize that NASCAR is one of the toughest races in the world."
NASCAR levies L1-level penalties after Atlanta
RELATED: Details on NASCAR's new deterrence system NASCAR gave the No. 47 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car of JTG Daugherty Racing an L1-level penalty for lug nuts not being properly installed following Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The violation is detailed in section 10.9.10.4 of the NASCAR Rule Book, and driver AJ Allmendinger's 26th-place finish at Atlanta is encumbered, per section 12.10 of the NASCAR Rule Book. As a result of the violation, crew chief Randall Burnett was fined $65,000 and suspended from the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points races, and the team was assessed with the loss of 35 driver points and 35 owner points. Veteran pit boss Ernie Cope will be on the pit box for the No. 47 team at Las Vegas. XFINITY SERIES NASCAR levied an L1-level penalty against the No. 18 XFINITY Series team of Joe Gibbs Racing coming out of Atlanta. The race-winning car of Kyle Busch did not meet post-race front body inspection heights, detailed in section 22.214.171.124.1.2 of the NASCAR Rule Book. The victory was encumbered, stripping the playoff-point perks from the win for the No. 18 team. Crew chief Scott Graves was fined $10,000 and suspended from the next NASCAR XFINITY Series points race, and the team was penalized with the loss of 10 owner points. Matt Lucas will serve as the No. 18 team's crew chief at Las Vegas this weekend. CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES NASCAR handed out two penalties in the Camping World Truck Series following Atlanta. The No. 23 team for GMS Racing did not meet ground clearance inspection measurements following post-race inspection. The race finish was encumbered -- Chase Elliott finished fifth in the event. Crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz was fined $5,000 and suspended from the next Camping World Truck Series points race, and the team lost 10 owner points. The No. 23 was also given a safety penalty due to improperly installed lug nuts. Stankiewicz was fined an additional $2,500. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Young NASCAR drivers find their groove early in 2017
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Phoenix " Full schedule RELATED: Youth rising in Power Rankings " Young drivers show skill and fire Kyle Larson stood alone on the far end of pit road in the moments after the season-opening Daytona 500, feeling gutted that he had brought the field to the white flag in NASCAR's biggest race, only to run out of gas and sputter around the superspeedway on the final lap. He finished 12th instead of hoisting the big trophy. And still, for all the understandably immense disappointment of having come so close, Larson was also upbeat and optimistic after climbing out of his bright red Target Chevrolet. The performance proved to him and his Chip Ganassi Racing team -- and to all his competitors -- that the 24-year-old was ready to rumble. Now. And he's not alone. The 25-and-under club is high-achieving in the sport right now. Larson and 21-year old Chase Elliott are ranked second and third, respectively, in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings entering this weekend's race at Phoenix Raceway. Ryan Blaney, 23, is sixth in the standings. Joey Logano, 26, is fifth and Trevor Bayne, 26, is ranked 11th. RELATED: Series standings after Las Vegas Thanks to back-to-back runner-up showings after Daytona -- at Atlanta and Las Vegas -- Larson, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing, is at a career high in the points standings, a single point behind leader Brad Keselowski with some good tracks for him coming up on the schedule. Larson finished third at this week's venue, Phoenix, the last time the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series raced there in November. And he finished runner-up in his 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at Auto Club Speedway, where the circuit heads next week. Elliott sits just behind Larson in the points standings, only three points out of the lead. After winning the pole position for the season-opening Daytona 500, Elliott posted the longest consecutive streak out front in the race -- 23 laps. However, like Larson, his No. 24 NAPA Chevy ran out of gas on the final lap and he ended up with a frustrating 14th-place finish. Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, has not-too-surprisingly proven to be a quick study. He was fifth at Atlanta and third at Vegas over the weekend, further establishing himself not only as a race contender but also a viable championship player. He finished eighth in this Phoenix race last year (he has two top 10s in two starts there) and sixth the next week at Auto Club. "I'm really proud of the way we have performed," Elliott said. "Our pit stops have been great, our car has been good, we have been able to run solidly in the top five the past couple of weeks, which is great for me and our team. We've just got to keep that going and find that next little bit." Wood Brothers Racing's Blaney trails fellow Ford driver Keselowski by 26 points heading into the second stop of the three-race West Coast Swing. He was an impressive runner up in the season-opening Daytona 500 and 18th at Atlanta and seventh at Vegas. "Just need that little more," he tweeted after his Las Vegas top 10. He has top-10 finishes in both his previous Phoenix starts, including an eighth-place result last November. He was collected in an early-race crash in his only start at Fontana, Calif. last year. POLL: Which young driver will win first Both Monster Energy Series rookies Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez are working their way through a learning curve. However, Jones is surely looking forward to arriving in Phoenix. He won his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race ever at the 1-miler in 2013 and then won again there -- from the pole -- the next year. He was the polesitter for the 2015 truck race as well. In the XFINITY Series he has five top 10s -- two top threes -- in as many starts there. He won the pole and finished runner up there last March. Jones has started from the front row -- including the pole position in his Auto Club debut -- and finished third and 15th in the XFINITY Series at Fontana. Suarez considers Phoenix his "home track," considering its proximity to his native Mexico. And he likewise must be looking forward to his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut there thanks to a solid record at the oval. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won the truck race there last November and has three top-five finishes in four XFINITY Series starts -- a best of third last spring. He won the pole and finished fourth at Auto Club last year. The good start for these drivers is just that. A start. "Super happy with how our season has gotten started," Larson said following his runner-up effort Sunday. "Way better than where I have ever started a season, so I'm really happy about that, proud of our team. I had fun. The stages were really exciting or the ends of them, because of the way the cautions fell and different pit strategies and stuff, people staying out made it exciting taking off. Really liking the format change and all that. Hopefully we can keep these top five's rolling and maybe get a win or two here shortly." RELATED: Stage lengths for Phoenix Not only does the legitimate boost in competition help those young drivers, it is good for the whole sport. It broadens the intrigue and frankly keeps those long-time "favorites" on their toes. Nothing is more motivating than trying to score your first -- your first win, your first playoff berth, your first championship. The future of this sport has arrived. Everyone's on notice. And everybody wins. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR , SiriusXM extend broadcasting agreement through 2022
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Las Vegas NEW YORK and DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR and SiriusXM today announced a six-year renewal to extend their broadcasting and marketing agreement through 2022. SiriusXM will continue to deliver 24/7 racing content to millions of listeners across North America, including live broadcasts of every race, plus daily NASCAR talk and interviews with voices across the industry through its exclusive SiriusXM NASCAR Radio channel. NASCAR content is available to SiriusXM subscribers in their car, at home or on the go on satellite radios, on the SiriusXM app and online at SiriusXM.com . SiriusXM and NASCAR's agreement extension marks another important milestone in the history of collaboration between the two organizations, as 2017 is NASCAR's 16th season on satellite radio and listeners will have uninterrupted access to the sport for more than two decades. SiriusXM will also retain exclusive category rights to utilize NASCAR branding and trademarks for advertising and promotion. "We have more than a successful decade of partnership already under our belts with SiriusXM and look forward to continuing our relationship over the next six years," said Steve Herbst, senior vice president, broadcasting and production at NASCAR . "SiriusXM provides robust coverage of both our live events and breaking news, acting as a trusted resource for our sport and helping NASCAR content to reach new, diverse audiences nationwide." "For the last 15 years we’ve proudly delivered the excitement of NASCAR to fans nationwide, providing them with a level of coverage unmatched by anyone in audio entertainment, and we are very pleased to continue our relationship for years to come," said Steve Cohen, SiriusXM's SVP of Sports Programming. " NASCAR has always had one of the most loyal fan bases in sports, and it continues to innovate to constantly improve the racing on the track. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will continue to give fans, no matter where they are in the country, a terrific platform to follow and discuss the new format put in place this season, and stay connected with their favorite drivers as they vie for the championship." The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to the track this weekend with the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, live March 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio airs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and delivers in-depth racing coverage and inside access to NASCAR news, including live broadcasts of every Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR XFINITY Series™ and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ event. Fans can call in to the channel to share their opinions and be a part of the daily discussion, and can also access SiriusXM NASCAR Radio programming when they want it on SiriusXM On Demand. The channel’s roster of expert hosts features current and former drivers, crew chiefs, crew members and a host of NASCAR insiders. For more info on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's programming and personalities go to www.SiriusXM.com/ NASCAR .
NASCAR assesses several penalties post-Atlanta
NASCAR .com's Jonathan Merryman brings you up to speed on penalties coming out of Atlanta, including significant penalties to the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
KHI Management signs NASCAR Next's Harrison Burton
RELATED: Getting to know the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class KHI Management announced Tuesday that the marketing agency has signed NASCAR Next driver Harrison Burton to its list of clients. Burton, who turned 16 on Sunday, is the son of former Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton , who currently provides on-air analysis for NBC Sports. He also is a member of the current class of drivers in the NASCAR Next program, an initiative designed to highlight the young crop of new talent climbing the stock-car racing ladder. The younger Burton, who has already established himself as a talent in asphalt Late Model competition, is scheduled to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut for Kyle Busch Motorsports on Oct. 29 at Martinsville Speedway . Burton logged a seventh-place finish in the standings this year in his first full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. KHI Management -- co-owned by DeLana and Kevin Harvick -- represents several prominent figures in the sports, broadcasting and music industries. In addition to both Jeff and Harrison Burton, KHI Management counts celebrities in MMA, motocross, golf and country music among its clients. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Suarez's ascent latest success for NASCAR's development programs
RELATED: Full coverage of JGR changes " What Suarez, Edwards said HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Less than two months after becoming the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR national title, Daniel Suarez can add another accomplishment to his fast-growing resume. The 25-year-old will become the first Mexican-born competitor to race full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series , the sanctioning body's top level, when he gets on track next month at Daytona International Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing . Suarez was officially introduced Jan. 11 as the driver of the organization's No. 19 Toyota for the 2017 season. He replaces veteran Carl Edwards , who is stepping down from full-time competition to pursue other interests. The Monterrey, Mexico native is a product of two of NASCAR's base programs aimed at finding and cultivating talent while providing opportunities for advancement. While competing in the NASCAR Mexico Series (2011-2014), Suarez was tabbed for NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program in 2013-14, which spotlights minority as well as female competitors. He was also a member of the NASCAR Next Class -- aimed at preparing youngsters for potential careers in NASCAR -- from '11-13. RELATED: More about NASCAR Next " Drive for Diversity "We started this dream 10 years ago with NASCAR , and right now to be in this position, to be in this opportunity is just something amazing for me and for everyone that has been helping me, of course," Suarez said. Suarez was a 10-time winner in the NASCAR Mexico Series, and won three times in the K&N Pro Series East as he began to make the transition from Mexico to the U.S., making his national series debut in 2014. By 2015, JGR signed him to full-time status in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and he was running a partial slate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series . He responded by winning three times in 2016 and capturing the XFINITY title. "We're very proud that it validates our diversity plan in a significant way," NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said the morning after Suarez captured the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "All kinds of conversations on what we’ve said through the years is these things take time to find the kind of talent that can actually compete at a high level on the biggest stages, and he's done that." Suarez joins a growing list of drivers that have come up through the NASCAR Next and/or Drive for Diversity programs to reach its top level. Among them: Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) became the first D4D and NASCAR Next graduate to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this past season. NASCAR Next grad Chase Elliott ( Hendrick Motorsports ) qualified for the series’ Chase in 2016 and captured Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. This season, former JGR teammate and NASCAR Next grad Erik Jones will race fulltime in the Monster Energy Cup Series for Furniture Row Racing . RELATED: Driver moves, other changes for 2017 On the Drive For Diversity front, crew chief Dave Rogers understands what a victory by Suarez at the top level would mean. "We're going to go to every race, we're not going to have expectations to win, but we're going to go to the track knowing that we can if we do everything right and the right situations come up, we can put ourselves in Victory Lane," Suarez’s crew chief said. "The neat thing about this is history. Very seldom in life do you get to sit down and say 'Hey, I'm part of history right now' … This is a living, historic event. This is a really big deal. So every opportunity is an opportunity for history." Suarez became the eighth foreign-born race winner in NASCAR ’s national series with his victory this past June at Michigan international Speedway. RELATED: Relive Suarez's first win " Recap the history-making title season He will have a veteran crew and a talented group of teammates, Kyle Busch , Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin , at his disposal. All that remains for him is to slide behind the wheel and fire the engine. "When you are with the right team, you know that the opportunity will come, and it will come at the right time," Suarez said. That time, it seems, is now. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
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