RELATED: Learn more about Watkins Glen " Course breakdown by turn WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Now that Watkins Glen has started repaving its racing surface, running "the Boot" may be back on the table for NASCAR races. The current configuration of the Glen for NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series races eliminates the Boot, which contains Turns 6 through 9, and shortens the course from 3.40 miles to 2.45 miles. But with repaving already having taken place in the Boot, smoothing the bumps in that portion of the track, NASCAR is considering running the full Grand Prix Course, which currently is used for the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. "We could," NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell told the NASCAR Wire Service before Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at the Glen. "We're discussing it with the track. It's something we're looking at down the road." Even with the addition of the Boot, Watkins Glen wouldn't be the longest road course on the NASCAR rotation. Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which hosts the XFINITY Series, measures 4.048 miles.
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
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Saturday's race at Road America marks the finale of a five-race NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule for veteran road racer Boris Said this year in Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 54 Toyota. On Friday, Said hinted that the event could signify another finale on a much broader scale. Said will try to cash in on another opportunity in top-flight equipment in Saturday's Road America 180 Fired up by Johnsonville (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He'll be driving for the same No. 54 team that's visited Victory Lane four times this season, three times with Sprint Cup vet Kyle Busch and once with JGR prodigy Erik Jones . "Man, this is like the best Christmas present I ever got in my life," Said said after Friday's final practice at the 4.048-mile track. "I've been racing for over 30 years. I'm going to be 53 in a couple weeks. In the last three or four years, I've been racing cars that don't have a prayer to win, underfunded teams. It's still fun, but not fun not being competitive. So, to get an opportunity to drive for Monster and Joe Gibbs and Toyota in equipment like this, it was a dream come true. To finally run in the top five at Watkins Glen, it kind of shows, hey maybe it's not my age, it was just the equipment. "It's just been one of the most fun years I've ever had doing these five races with these guys. Now that it's last one, it might be the last NASCAR car race I ever run, I don't know. But it sure is a cool way to go out." If Saturday proves to be Said's swan song, his record will show one XFINITY victory, one Camping World Truck Series win and two Sprint Cup pole positions in a career that dates back to 1995 in NASCAR national series competition. This year, Said's biggest highlight was a fourth-place finish at the Glen, and leading two laps two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio and a lap at Talladega in May. Said pointed out that he dialed back his sports-car racing schedule this year to better focus on his five-race schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing . But he's otherwise kept occupied off the track in a partnership with Rick Hendrick's automotive group for BMW and Volkswagen dealerships. "That's another dream come true," Said said. In terms of the future, Said indicated that he'd likely compete in sports car events next season, but he'd jump at the chance for another competitive ride in NASCAR . "Who knows? If I could ever get another opportunity like this again, I don't care if I was 70 years old, I'd take it," Said said. "This is like a vacation every time I get to run this. I have fun every minute of the day here. Part of me is sad to see it end, but part of me is like, man, it sure was fun, though."
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Penalty? So what? Polesitter Joey Logano shook off a pit road infraction that sent him to the back of the field early in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at The Glen. But by the end of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race, Logano’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford was comfortably at the front of the field. The only other car that was close was the No. 22 of teammate Brad Keselowski , who recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to finish second. "Everything went as planned," said Logano, who was penalized for dragging a fuel can from his pit stall after a green-flag stop on Lap 20 of 82. "It was fun to have a car that was that fast, out there racing these guys and racing your teammate there for the win. It shows a lot about our organization." Logano was 22nd when he restarted on Lap 27 after NASCAR threw the second caution of the race to retrieve the errant fuel can. With the help of two quick cautions, he drove quickly to the front, and on Lap 49, Logano passed Keselowski for the lead, drag-racing his teammate from the exit of Turn 7 to the start/finish line and clearing him through Turn 1. "I knew my car was fast enough to get there," Logano said of the quick run to the front. "I didn’t know if I was going to run them all down in that one run like that. I didn’t think that would happen, but it showed a lot of strength in our race car." It was the first road course victory for Logano in any of NASCAR ’s top series. "I’ve been so close to winning with the 22 team on the (Sprint) Cup side and this XFINITY team has been close to winning here lately, so it’s nice to get Team Penske back in Victory Lane," said Logano, who had Sprint Cup crew chief Todd Gordon calling the race and his Sprint Cup crew servicing the car on pit road to gain experience for Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN), the 22nd race on the Cup schedule. If Logano and Keselowski dominated at the front of the field, leading 39 and 40 laps, respectively, behind them was chaos. XFINITY Series title contender Regan Smith suffered the brunt of the damage, getting the short end of run-ins with both Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan . Smith came home 20th and lost 18 points to XFINITY Series leader Chris Buescher , who finished third. After stopping by Gaughan’s car for a few words post-race, Smith headed for Dillon. The argument started to get physical, before NASCAR officials and crew members separated the drivers. Dillon admitted making two mistakes during the race, the first of which spun Smith’s JR Motorsports Chevrolet after a restart on Lap 40. What Dillon didn’t countenance was a threat from Smith. "He said he was going to wreck me -- we’ll see," Dillon said. "I took the blame for it, but he came down here picking a fight. That’s a different game." After the altercation, Smith repeated the promise to reporters. "I got dumped in Turn 1," Smith said. "It was pretty plain and simple. I don’t think I’m the only one he dumped today … I guarantee you, I might have lost the championship today, but he did, too. There’s no chance that 3 car wins the championship, and I’m going to make sure of it." Substituting for Kyle Busch , who opted not to run the race in favor of staying fresh for Sunday’s Cup race, road course ace Boris Said finished fourth, followed by Dillon and Brian Scott . Buescher extended his series lead to 24 points over Dillon and seventh-place finisher Chase Elliott . Smith is fourth in the standings, now 57 points behind Buescher. Information provided by NASCAR Wire Service
RELATED: See all 43 cars " Starting lineup for Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Matt Kenseth 's No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota crew woke a sleeping giant just in time for qualifying for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Michigan International Speedway. But Kenseth jokingly credited a sleepless night -- brought on by worry over teammate Denny Hamlin 's lack of punctuality -- for his pole-winning effort in Friday's time trials at the two-mile track. Getting the most out of the high-drag aerodynamic package in force at the event at Michigan, Kenseth covered the distance in 36.458 seconds (197.488 mph) to win his third Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his first at MIS and the 16th of his career. Hamlin (196.990 mph) was second fastest, and Carl Edwards (196.276 mph) claimed the third starting spot, as Joe Gibbs Racing swept the top three positions on the grid for the 23rd Sprint Cup race of the season. Austin Dillon (195.918 mph) qualified fourth as the top Chevrolet in the field, followed by Tony Stewart (195.477 mph) in a Chevrolet and Kyle Busch (195.450 mph) in the fourth JGR Toyota. Joey Logano , last week's winner at Watkins Glen, qualified 10th as the only Ford driver to crack the top 12. Based on practice speed, Edwards was a favorite to win the pole, but Kenseth, who was 10th on the speed chart in the opening practice session, closed the gap in time from qualifying. "We were a long ways off Carl in practice, and I don't even know what changes they made, but they changed a lot of stuff that really woke this thing up and had some speed," Kenseth said. "I knew I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 good, but Denny put up such a fast lap, and I got into (Turn) 3, and I was bound and determined that I was going to make it wide open. "I had the first half of the corner. It was the second half that was starting to get exciting. I got sliding up the track and bogged down a little bit. I wasn't sure that we were going have it, but I have to say thanks to those guys (the crew). They gave me a car with a lot of speed." In Hamlin's view, Busch's return from an injury has achieved a critical mass of four talented, veteran drivers at JGR who can benefit from each other's expertise. "When you have drivers that you can feed off of, like the three teammates that I have, it makes a difference, and so that's where you're seeing the results," Hamlin said. That didn't prevent the driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry from throwing a barb toward the 43-year-old teammate who beat him for the pole. "Matt was probably too old to remember to lift there," Hamlin said of Kenseth's qualifying run. Kenseth provided a different perspective. "I could say it's because I didn't get enough sleep," Kenseth said. "I flew up with Denny today, and he likes to come to everything at the last minute. I didn't sleep last night thinking that we weren't going to make it up here, so it's really just for lack of sleep. I get to credit Denny for the pole." Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Logano completed the top 10. Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – With four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories since returning from an 11-race injury absence, Kyle Busch will be eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as soon as he cracks the top 30 in the series standings. That could come as early as Sunday at Watkins Glen International, if Busch makes up a 13-point deficit to 30th-place David Gilliland in the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Though Busch is a prolific winner at NASCAR's top level, he doesn't begrudge those who qualify for the Chase with a single victory, as both Aric Almirola (Daytona) and AJ Allmendinger (Watkins Glen) did last year. In fact, Busch fully supports the win-and-you're-in aspect of the playoff eligibility rules. "I think winning in this sport is very, very tough and you see it every single year," Busch said. "I think the average is only between 12 and 14 (different) winners in a season, and that’s been that way for 15 years or 20 years or whatever it's been. It's not all that easy to win these races, and sometimes you look at teams -- maybe last year you look at Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger . They won races to get themselves into the Chase, but were their teams really ready for the Chase? "That's not for any of us to decide. It's for them to be able to compete and have that opportunity to compete for the championship… There's opportunity for teams like that, and I think this sport needs that. If AJ were to win again this weekend, I think it would be perfect for him to have the opportunity to race in the Chase and same for anybody else like a Tony Stewart . If he were to win this weekend, I think it would be a true revival story of his season and maybe of the rest of his career." It's also worth noting that, if there's a repeat winner on Sunday at Watkins Glen, all 10 races winners this season other than Busch will be locked into the Chase. Those with multiple wins -- Jimmie Johnson , Kevin Harvick , Dale Earnhardt Jr . , Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth -- lready have earned Chase berths.
Check out the lineup of NASCAR programming for the week
Check out the lineup of NASCAR programming for the week
See the lineup of NASCAR programming for the week
PHILADELPHIA -- As part of its long-term partnership with NASCAR , Comcast announced today the creation of the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, honoring NASCAR team members for their outstanding charitable endeavors. The annual award will celebrate the philanthropic efforts being made by race teams across all three national series. An individual from each national series will be honored, with one of the three earning the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award. In recognition of their efforts, a donation of $60,000 will be made in the winner's name to his or her affiliated charitable organization. A $30,000 contribution will be made to each of the remaining finalists' charitable organizations. "The Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award honors those members of NASCAR teams who share our commitment and give back to the communities we serve," said Peter Intermaggio, Comcast Senior Vice President, Marketing Communications. "At Comcast, we work hard to make a difference in the places where our employees and customers live and work, and we want to recognize and encourage others who demonstrate that same community commitment." Nominations are to be submitted by NASCAR team members. Eligible recipients include team owners, drivers and all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team employees. "Our teams are competitive by nature, but have a unified goal to benefit the lives of people in need," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. "Comcast shares our passion for community service , and we appreciate the effort to shine a light on the inspirational work being done by our teams." Nominees will be narrowed down to three finalists, with a panel of judges comprised of executives from Comcast, The NASCAR Foundation, a former NASCAR driver and a member of the national motorsports media, to determine the recipient of the award. The award will be presented at the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series Banquet at the end of the season in South Florida. Comcast has a long track record of community service , aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs and partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. Comcast's annual corporate service day, known as Comcast Cares Day, is the largest corporate service effort of its kind. This year, NASCAR drivers Brad Keselowski , Ty Dillon and Cale Conley participated in a local Comcast Cares Day project restoring the local Boys and Girls Club in Richmond, Virginia. Comcast's XFINITY brand is the title sponsor of the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Comcast's NBCUniversal is a NASCAR broadcast partner through the 2024 season.