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NASCAR digital and social media numbers continue to grow in 2016
During his State of the Sport press conference prior to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France relayed an anecdote about watching a scaled-down, highlight-driven Duke college basketball game on his laptop. The story painted a broad picture of the shift in fan consumption habits. And for NASCAR , that has meant a shift in strategy to serve fans who want an immersive experience, whether attending live in-person, watching on TV, or engaging with sports at home or on the go. By all metrics, NASCAR ’s digital and social media numbers have shown strong growth over the 2016 season, validating a strategic choice to reach race fans in the multifaceted ways they opt to consume NASCAR content. Consider these numbers: Overall, NASCAR drew 256 million social engagements across all its digital platforms, an 87 percent increase year-over-year, and a massive increase of video content views. NASCAR saw a 14 percent growth in followers across its social and digital platforms. Of particular note was a spike in the growth of Snapchat followers after NASCAR announced its partnership with that platform in February. NASCAR competitors and fans provided live content from four races, starting with the Daytona 500 , under the aegis of "Snapchat Live Story." The Daytona 500 itself saw a 63-percent increase in race day impressions, while engagement with NASCAR content tripled. "It’s been fantastic," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. "I think that what it has done is validated our strategy that we set out at the very beginning of this season, when we talked about leading with digital and social and really trying to talk to our fans where they were and going to reach them at all the places they consume NASCAR . "We started that with our 'Ready.Set.Race' campaign and the Hashtag 500 around the Daytona 500 , and it’s really just continued to build throughout the whole season." The Hashtag 500, the race to win Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s firesuit, generated 13,000 NASCAR -related mentions in a single minute, a high-water mark for NASCAR content since the advent of the sanctioning body’s Fan and Media Engagement Center. Central to the success of the 2016 digital and social media campaign was heavy promotion of #TheChase across all platforms, leveraging Twitter, Vine, Periscope, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to engage fans throughout the 10-week playoff. Capturing the drama of the Chase, which concluded with Jimmie Johnson claiming his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, was the digital film series "Ready.Set.Chase." All told, the five-film series garnered more than 13 million views. "I think we’re seeing it at NASCAR , and obviously we see it happening across the sports and entertainment landscape, that fans want to customize their experience regardless of what they’re watching or looking at," Gregory said. "If we want to talk to those fans, we have to go places that are convenient for them. "If they’re watching on their mobile app, if they’re watching via NASCAR .com, if they’re watching on television, it’s our job as the league to provide all of that great content in all of those places and then make sure that we deliver the right experience for each of those platforms."
Brad Keselowski shares secret to success at Talladega
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Talladega EDITOR'S NOTE: In a rare first-person exclusive, Brad Keselowski gives his thoughts on racing at NASCAR's biggest track, Talladega Superspeedway. From racing the track on a video game to racing the pack in real life, Keselowski gives a glimpse into the "moves" that translate into Talladega success. Some drivers relish Talladega. Some drivers hate it. I still remember this time—it was probably 2003—and there was this video game called " NASCAR Racing 2003 PC." And I would run it and have a great time. There was this online community, and we would race all kinds of different tracks. It was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a lot of great drivers. I wasn't a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver then, but I was a decent online racer. We'd go to all these different tracks. We'd go to a Bowman Gray or a Dover or a Michigan, and I had a blast with that. But you'd only get maybe five or 10 guys who were any good, and the rest were intimidated, so it was almost like it was too easy. So this online league I was racing with started this thing where we would race on Tuesday nights, and we had this series where we would race on superspeedways, and like 80 to 100 people would show up and race it. Talladega was two of the races, and my bother (Brian) and I would race on it together. I remember winning those races and thinking, 'That's so cool to beat all these guys' and kind of almost falling in love with Talladega online. And so the first time I went there, it was a little bit of a shellshock being in a pack for real. It was a lot different from being in a pack on a damn computer—I can tell you that right now. But the moves and the techniques and all those things are really similar, and when you can slow it down and think of it as a giant chess match, where things aren't just happening—they're happening because you want them to, it starts to breed a lot of confidence in you. You feel comfortable at those tracks. And that why I’m looking forward to Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Full Talladega schedule " 'Dega paint schemes You've still got to get over the wrecks and the big packs and all those things you know you’re susceptible to. You still have to get over that, and that's a tough challenge, but the moves to me are like a game of chess, and I enjoy that game. Learning the moves is like anything else in life. How do you learn to ride a bicycle? Sometimes you bust your ass. Sometimes you learn by watching somebody else and what they can do. What's interesting about Talladega is that it seems like every year—or maybe every three or four years—a new move comes out that no one has ever thought of, no one has executed before. That's what made Dale (Earnhardt) so special there. He was always creating the new moves. Because of that, he was always a step ahead. I think that continues to happen now. The great racers at Talladega are the ones that can innovate and create a new move that nobody knows how to defend. And that's really, really tricky. It takes a lot of research, a lot of timing, a lot of work, a lot of study. But some of it's just intuition and learning the hard way, too. STATS: Keselowski's 4 Talladega wins, more I guess what I’m trying to say is, like anything else in life, there’s a lot of ways you can learn. You can learn the hard way. Sometimes you learn because you just have a natural talent at it, or sometimes you learn from studying. I think it's really all three. In my first win in the No. 2 Miller Lite car, when I broke the draft on the final lap, someone else had made that move, but they made it at a time that wasn't critical to the outcome. Going into that race, I had that move planned, but not until the end when the timing was most beneficial. That won that race, and now that move is defunct. You always think you've found the next move, but you never know until the race is over, and it either worked or it didn't. But I can't tell you what it is—it's a trade secret. I think it goes in waves. I think you have a year or two where it’s like nothing's clicking, and you get frustrated. Then you find a new move, find a new technique, and things start to click, and you feel like you're in charge and dominant. And then everybody eventually catches up to those moves, or those moves are made irrelevant by rules changes and so forth, and you have to find a new one. I think there's a bit of an ebb and flow to it. At this point in time, we have a series of moves that are pretty strong, that have put us in a position to win a lot of plate races at Team Penske with a lot of things that Joey (Logano) and I have learned and worked on together. But those moves eventually will become irrelevant. There will be something different. Hopefully, it will last a long time, but history shows it won't. That's OK. I look at probably the last three years on the plate tracks, and I feel like Joey and I have been the most successful, and we hope to continue that. As told to Reid Spencer of the NASCAR Wire Service . &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Catch NASCAR Trackside Live at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Watch NASCAR Trackside Live at Charlotte Motor Speedway as hosts have fun with fans, recap Saturday's XFINITY race and get you geared up for the Coca-Cola 600,
Spencer Gallagher goes for a spin
Spencer Gallagher brings out the sixth caution at Charlotte Motor Speedway as his No. 23 Chevrolet spins on the track.
Rearview Mirror: NASCAR Salutes and the No. 3 returns to Victory Lane
NASCAR .com's Kim Coon recaps an eventful Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Bowman lands first Coors Light Pole at Phoenix
RELATED: Starting lineup " See every car " Points standings " Chase Grid Alex Bowman stormed to his first Coors Light Pole Award in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway . Bowman, prepping for his eighth start in place of the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr ., guided the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet to a best lap of 140.521 mph around the 1-mile track. The Arizona native's first pole position comes in the 80th start of his Sprint Cup career. "Man, it's amazing," said the 23-year-old from nearby Tucson. "We weren’t really that strong in qualifying trim in practice (earlier on Friday). I don't really know where that came from, but I just can't thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports enough. "To do this in Phoenix, so close to home, means so much to me. We have had such fast race cars. We haven't had an ounce of luck, but to get a pole here means a lot." Kyle Larson posted the second-fastest lap, turning a 140.263 mph qualifying pass in the final round in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet. He'll start on the front row alongside Bowman in Sunday's Can-Am 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the ninth of 10 events in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Rookie Chase Elliott was third-fastest at 140.236 mph, completing a 1-2-3 sweep by drivers out of the eight-driver playoff picture. Sunday's 312-lapper is the final race in the Round of 8 to determine the final four qualifiers for the Nov. 20 Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Only Jimmie Johnson , who qualified 17th Friday, and Carl Edwards (11th) have clinched title shots, leaving two open spots up for grabs among the six remaining postseason hopefuls. The rest of the Chase field's qualifying spots: Joey Logano (fourth), Denny Hamlin (fifth), Kevin Harvick (sixth), Matt Kenseth (10th), Kurt Busch (12th) and Kyle Busch (19th). Harvick, who tops the series with eight Phoenix victories, has won five of the last six races for the series on the Arizona oval. Fourth on the grid wasn't what Logano wanted in his quest to make the Championship 4 at Homestead, but his position on the outside of the second row could be an advantage at the start of the race. "No, it's not first, right?" said Logano, who is tied for third in the Chase standings with Kyle Busch . "We had a fast Shell Pennzoil Ford again in qualifying and didn't get the pole. That part is frustrating. The good part is we are fourth and not that far back, and the outside lane is usually a good place to be here at Phoenix on the restarts. "Usually the leader takes the outside, and that works out pretty well. Overall, we should get a decent pit stall and be able to race toward the front. I'm frustrated because I am not first, which I guess is a good thing -- but it kind of stinks." The Chase drivers aside, the story in qualifying was Bowman, who ran a third lap after posting his fast time in the second, not knowing he had run fast enough to secure the pole. Earnhardt, who watched from pit road, was elated at the success of his relief driver. "This is his hometown, kind of, so it's awesome that all his friends are around to see him do this," Earnhardt said. "This is great for his career. This is exactly what we were hoping to happen for him. Hopefully, he can put it together on Sunday." Austin Dillon was second-fastest in the opening round of qualifying, but committed a "blend-line" violation with an improper merge onto the race track early in the second round. It mattered little as last weekend's pole winner at Texas wound up seventh in Friday's qualifying in the desert. Martin Truex Jr ., whose Chase hopes ended in the Round of 12, will start last in the 40-car field after his Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota failed to make a lap. After a wreck with its primary car in Friday practice, the team had difficulties getting its reserve through inspection. The backup car cleared with roughly one minute left in the opening 20-minute round, and time ran out before Truex could get buckled in. Tony Stewart , scheduled to run his final Sprint Cup race at Phoenix, just missed a chance at advancing past the first elimination in qualifying. His 137.825 mph lap was just .014 seconds slower than Casey Mears , who took the 24th and final spot in the first round. Contributing: Reid Spencer , NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Weather cancels final Sprint Cup practice, postpones XFINITY race
RELATED: Live weather updates " Weekend schedule After spotty rain affected events all day Saturday at Dover, NASCAR postponed the XFINITY Series' Drive Sober 200 until 10 a.m. ET Sunday (CNBC, MRN, SIRIUS XM). The second race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase was set to be the capstone to a day of action at Dover International Speedway . Fans with tickets to either race will be admitted for both. Tickets are available here . Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Busch , Joey Logano and Austin Dillon all were entered in both races and faced the prospect of 600 high-speed laps at the Monster Mile in a single day Sunday with the schedule change. Thus, Ryan Blaney now is scheduled to wheel the Team Penske entry for Logano, Regan Smith will replace Dillon and Drew Herring will drive for Busch. Saturday's on-track action started well for the second Sprint Cup practice at Dover . But sprinkles turned to heavier rain with 15 minutes left in that practice, bringing out the red flag after 45 minutes of the 55-minute session. XFINITY Series qualifying was also off to a good start, but was scrapped after just one round, handing Erik Jones the pole position. Final Sprint Cup practice was set for 1:30 p.m. ET, but ultimately was canceled due to inclement weather. Friday's Sprint Cup Coors Light qualifying also was canceled due to persistent rain. The field was set by owner standings, allowing Brad Keselowski to start P1 for the second time this year. The Sprint Cup Series will return to the track tomorrow for the Citizen Soldier 400 at 2 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). * Contributing: Reid Spencer from the NASCAR Wire Service &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Busch brothers relish prospect of second Las Vegas date
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Las Vegas LAS VEGAS -- Never mind that Kurt Busch has three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories at New Hampshire -- and none at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch, a Las Vegas native, was delighted with the Wednesday announcement that Las Vegas would get a second date in NASCAR's top series -- along with accompanying XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races. The second Las Vegas event, to be held on a yet-to-be-determined date in September starting in 2018, replaces the fall race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in NASCAR's 10-race playoff. Busch's enthusiasm for the additional Las Vegas date was tempered only slightly by the absence of New Hampshire in the playoff. After all, the most recent of Busch's victories at the Magic Mile came in 2008. "That's big, to have Trucks on Friday, XFINITY on Saturday, Monster Energy Cup Series on Sunday," Busch said in advance of Sunday's Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "That's big. And then it's a playoff atmosphere in September. It will be a little warm, but we'll see how that plays out, but the way this city continues to grow around sports … there's an NHL team that's now here, the Raiders continue to flirt with coming down here. With the way that this town evolves, you see it as a win-win with the entertainment side and the sporting side. "To lose a date at New Hampshire, I think that will really push the New Englanders out hard for their July race, and there will be much more support around their race then. I haven't won there in many years, so I'm OK with winning three times early in my career. I haven't won there as of late, so it doesn't matter." The way Busch sees it, the addition of a fall race at Las Vegas also will amplify the importance of the spring event. "Wherever the date is, you have to be ready for it, and now when you have a springtime race at a track such as Phoenix, Martinsville, Texas -- Vegas now fits in this category. All those races are that much more important in the spring because they are playoff races in the fall (at the same tracks)." Busch's brother Kyle, the 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, backed his brother's sentiments. "It's a great opportunity for the city of Las Vegas to have another race here and for NASCAR to come to town two times," Busch said. "I look forward to that." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Erik Jones lassos XFINITY victory at Texas
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas RELATED: Race results " Sunday Snapshot " Detailed breakdown FORT WORTH, Texas – What a difference a pit stop made. Erik Jones gained two seconds over Ryan Blaney on his final trip to pit road, and that was all the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota needed for a convincing victory in Saturday's My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. In winning for the second time at Texas, the first time this season and the seventh time in his career, Jones led 112 of the 200 laps and stretched his advantage to more than three seconds in the late going before driving conservatively over the last three laps and beating Blaney to the stripe by .512 seconds. "I tiptoed a lot there in the segments and ended up letting the 22 (Blaney) catch us and pass us, but then I was just super aggressive the whole time in traffic just trying to make passes as quick as I could and get as many cars as I could between myself and Ryan, and it paid off," Jones said. "I think we were probably a little slower than him for the last few laps – he had so many lapped cars to get around that there was no way he was going to get to us." Kevin Harvick ran third, 21.383 seconds behind Jones, as only nine drivers finished on the lead lap. Austin Dillon was fourth, followed by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Cole Custer, who posted a career-best fifth, and Darrell Wallace Jr., who finished sixth for the fifth consecutive race. With the final stage of the race going green from a restart on Lap 98 to the conclusion, Blaney ran down Jones and passed him for the lead on Lap 131. Jones came to pit road for fresh tires and fuel on Lap 147, and Blaney followed a lap later. In the exchange of stops, Jones went from a half-second behind to 2.178 seconds ahead of the runner-up, and from that point on it was game over. "I thought our car was pretty good all day," Blaney said. "The 20 seemed to be a little better than us for 35 or 40 laps. Then I feel like we could start running him down. We passed him before the last pit stop, and I thought our car was pretty decent right there. I needed to turn a little better early in a run. I knew it wasn't going to be that long for the next stint. "We didn't come out with the lead, and that hurt us. I think if we would have come out with the lead, I don't know if I could have held him off. He was pretty good right away, but we kind of over adjusted and got too free that last run. I felt like we were kind of even with them 10 laps into a run, but then he got so far out ahead that we couldn’t run him down. Just couldn't get there." Stage racing played a decisive role in strategies employed by NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars versus Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers moonlighting in Saturday's race. When Garrett Smithley's spin off Turn 2 brought out the fifth caution on Lap 84, most of the Cup drivers came to pit road. The XFINITY regulars, on the other hand, stayed on the track under the yellow to collect points at the end of the second stage, which concluded on Lap 90. William Byron won the stage and the accompanying playoff point, leading nine XFINITY regulars in the top 10 in that stage. In contrast, Jones won the first stage, which featured only three full-time XFINITY drivers in the top 10. Despite finishing 10th as the first driver one lap down, Elliott Sadler retained the series lead by six points over Byron in second place. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Kevin Harvick captures pole in Atlanta
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Atlanta RELATED: Starting lineu p HAMPTON, Ga. – Kevin Harvick saved his best lap for the best possible moment on Friday afternoon, putting his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford on the pole for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX). In the third and final round of knockout qualifying for the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season, Harvick toured the 1.54-mile track in 29.118 seconds (190.398 mph) to post the fastest lap of the entire qualifying session. In winning his second pole at Atlanta and the 18th of his career, Harvick edged Ryan Newman (189.870 mph) by .081 seconds. "In the last run there, I was able to carry more speed and do some things with the car that I wasn't able to do in the first two runs," Harvick said. "At that point I just didn't want to screw it up, because I felt like I'd gotten to the green, which I didn't do in the second round. "I got to the green good, I got through (Turns) 1 and 2 good. I just needed to hit the bottom and get that left front on the line so that it would hook and get up off the corner. That was by far the best of the three laps, and we saved it perfectly for the end." Newman, who hasn't won a pole since the fall race at New Hampshire in 2013, failed to add to his career total of 51 and failed to break his tie with the late Buddy Baker for most poles at Atlanta (seven). Newman's No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was second fastest behind Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota in the opening round of the time trial and fastest in the second round. "We were so close," Newman said. "I really wanted to beat my old buddy Buddy Baker's record there. Been tied with him for a while, so that was kind of rough. But I'm just proud of the guys and proud of the effort. It is the litmus test for us for a lot of the rest of the season. It was a good start for sure." Busch qualified third at 189.850 mph, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in fifth and sixth, respectively. Five cars failed to make qualifying attempts, and thus, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt, Derrike Cope and Cody Ware will start from the final five positions in the 39-car field. </p>