Martinsville Speedway to add lights for next season

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Martinsville Speedway will add lights next season, track officials announced Wednesday.

Construction is scheduled to begin the day after the Oct. 30 Sprint Cup race at the 0.526-mile oval. The track will be the first major motorsports facility in North America to have LED lighting. There will be 19 poles installed.

Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, said the lights will be used as an “insurance policy” in case the race is delayed or goes later into the afternoon. In the Nov. 1, 2015 race, Jeff Gordon won as darkness enveloped the track.

“If we would have had one more delay, we wouldn’t have finished that race,” said Campbell, who estimated the project will cost $5 million and added it would be paid for by International Speedway Corp., which owns the track. “It’s important and critical we get those races finished.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was on hand for the announcement and likes the move.

“I think it’s great for the racetrack, and it opens up a ton of possibility for the track itself,” he said. “Martinsville is one of the very best short tracks in the country. It’s awesome, and it’s been a long time coming.

“I would say I would love to have a night race here any day of the week. Short-track racing is what this sport was born on.”

The move comes as the track prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary next year.

The 2017 race times have been set. Martinsville’s April 3 race will be at 2 p.m. ET and the Oct. 30 race will start at 1 p.m. ET

With Martinsville adding lights, tracks that host Sprint Cup races that don’t have lights are Dover International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway.

NASCAR America: NASCAR’s stars hit the track for the ‘Little 600’ (video)

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Like more than three dozen of his NASCAR Cup counterparts, Joey Logano is gearing up for the longest race of the year, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To warm up, Logano, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and other NASCAR drivers headed to the GoPro Motorplex in North Carolina for the “Little 600.”

Check out how they fared in the above video that was on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

 

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, marking the second consecutive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he has led the field to the green flag.

Harvick, a two-time Coke 600 winner, earned the top starting spot Thursday night with a lap of 193.424 mph in his Ford. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Chase Elliott starts third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones.

Points leader Kyle Larson will start 39th in the 40-car field after not making a qualifying attempt. He hit the wall in practice and then his team couldn’t get through qualifying inspection until one minute remained in the opening round of the session. The team was unable to get Larson out of the garage in time to make an attempt.

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Slugger Labbe: How do crew chiefs prepare for grueling Coca-Cola 600? (video)

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Veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe stopped by the NASCAR America studio in Charlotte on Thursday.

Labbe gave his perspective on how NASCAR Cup crew chiefs will prepare for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. While the race length will be the same as it has been for decades, one significant change will have crew chiefs developing strategy that they’ve never had to deal with in the 600, namely, four different race stages.

Labbe also gave his take on the positives and negatives of the Laser Inspection Station for both pre- and post-race inspections.

Check out the above video.

NASCAR: Remembering Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating 2016 Coca-Cola 600 win

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In one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, Martin Truex Jr. turned last year’s Coca-Cola 600 into a runaway one-man show, leading the field for 392 of 400 laps.

Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America took a look back at Truex’s record-setting win.

Check out the video above.