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ISC issues third quarter report, discusses attendance for Sprint Cup events

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International Speedway Corp. held its conference call with investor analysts Thursday morning to detail results from the third quarter.

ISC hosted four Sprint Cup weekends during the third quarter, which ended Aug. 31 — two races at Michigan, Daytona in July and Watkins Glen. For the full financial report, go here.

Among the items mentioned in the nearly hour-long conference call:

— Admissions for comparable Cup events was up about 1 percent compared to the same time last year. This was mostly attributed to the Daytona race in July. In 2015, the seating capacity was reduced to about 50,000 for the Daytona summer race as construction continued on the grandstand. The stadium debuted at this year’s Daytona 500 with 101,500 seats.

— Watkins Glen had a second consecutive sellout this year.

— Michigan International Speedway saw admission declines for both its Sprint Cup events.

— The average ticket price for the four Cup races at ISC tracks in the third quarter was $83.11. That’s an increase of about 8 percent from the same period last year. The increase was mainly generated by the new seating and pricing at Daytona.

— The average ticket price for all Cup races at ISC tracks through the first nine months of the year is $96.14. That’s an increase of about 8 percent, also driven by pricing at Daytona.

— For the fourth quarter, ISC reported lower attendance-related revenue for Cup weekends at Darlington, Richmond and Chicagoland Speedway. Advance sales for the remaining events at ISC tracks (Kansas, Talladega, Martinsville, Phoenix and Homestead) are down 10 percent on average. ISC officials anticipate a sellout for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

— In response to a question about admissions and the future of the sport, John Saunders, president of ISC, said on the call: “On the attendance side, we’re doing a number of things internally where we are looking at the next generation of fans and how we reach them. We’ve talked before about aging fans, avid fans that are aging out. We have repositioned resources within the company and are currently working through and resourcing how we recruit the next generation of fans. We’ve got to be very aggressive in the next phrase and we are. We’re ramping it up more than ever. … We’ve got great racing, but we’ve got to get these folks to the track, we’ve got to get them exposed to the live experience and from there we’ll build retention.’’

— In response to another question about attendance, Saunders noted the changing landscape of Cup drivers (both Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are scheduled to drive their final Sprint Cup races this season). Saunders said: “We find ourselves in the sport with star-power opportunities, I won’t call them challenges, I will call them opportunities. We have a generation of drivers who are starting to retire and we believe that’s having an impact. … What’s key for us on the attendance side is to stay focused on our consumer strategies, really, really honing in on the live entertainment value of these events, the social experience of these events and building that driver connectivity, star power, we’ve got great drivers coming up through the ranks.’’

— ISC exceeded its corporate sales target by about 12 percent from 2015.

— From 2017-2021, ISC plans to spend $500 million on capital expenditures. ISC has stated that redevelopment construction at Phoenix International Raceway will begin in 2017 and continue through late 2018.

— Daytona International Speedway’s stands suffered no structural damage from Hurricane Matthew.

 

NASCAR America: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. talks Phoenix finish, racing roots

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joins NASCAR America to go over his fourth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver also shares his racing origins in Mississippi and the hobbies he and girlfriend Danica Patrick share with each other.

Stenhouse is in his fifth full-time year competing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Alaska

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NASCAR America continues its journey through the United States with the second chapter in “50 States in 50 Shows.”

Following South Alabama Speedway, the show features Capitol Speedway and Alaska Raceway Park in Alaska.

Owned by Nancy and Wes Wallace, Capitol Speedway is a 3/8th-mile oval and features sprint car racing and demolition derbies.

 

Kevin Harvick crew chief fined, suspended one race for encumbered finish

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Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, has been suspended for one NASCAR Cup Series race and fined $25,000 for an unapproved track bar slider assembly last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

The penalty, a L1 infraction, results in an encumbered finish. Harvick placed sixth in the Camping World 500.

The No. 4 team has also been docked 10 driver and owner points. Harvick was seventh in the standings after four races. He trailed leader Kyle Larson by 61 points. The loss of points drops Harvick one spot to eighth behind Jamie McMurray.

Harvick has not won a race yet, which would qualify him for the playoffs.

MORE: Brad Keselowski closes crew chief for three races, team docked 35 driver points

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NASCAR docks Brad Keselowski, Team Penske 35 points; suspends crew chief Paul Wolfe

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NASCAR docked Brad Keselowski 35 points, suspended crew chief Paul Wolfe three races and fined Wolfe $65,000 because Keselowski’s car failed inspection after finishing fifth in last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR also docked the team 35 owner points for the L1 infraction. NASCAR stated that Keselowski’s result is an encumbered finish.

NASCAR cited Keselowski’s car for failing weights and measurements on the laser platform. NASCAR stated in Wednesday’s penalty report that the team failed the rear wheel steer on the Laser Inspection Station. 

MORE: NASCAR suspends crew chief Rodney Childers one race

Team Penske issued a statement Wednesday:

“We have acknowledged the penalties levied against the No. 2 team following last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  The race cars returned to the race shop today and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question. In the meantime, we have decided Brian Wilson will serve as Brad Keselowski’s crew chief at Auto Club Speedway while we evaluate our approach relative to today’s penalties.”

The penalty drops Keselowski from second in the standings to fourth heading into this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

The more significant issue is how this could impact Keselowski, who already has a win, in the playoffs.

The top 10 in points before the playoffs begin earn additional points. The points leader earns 15 playoff points. The driver second in the standings earns 10 playoff points, the driver third in the standings earns eight playoff points, the driver fourth in the standings earns seven playoff points. It goes down to the driver 10th in the standings earning one playoff point.

Those playoff points carry through the first three rounds, which is different from last year. Falling behind in the regular season – or losing points because of a penalty – could have ramifications in the playoffs. 

“I think it’s real important to explain why points matter this year,” Keselowski said on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Hub” on Wednesday night. “Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins. The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points. Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal, and so is 10 points for Kevin (Harvick) and his team.”

 

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