DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 13:  A view of the frontstretch grandstand during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

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.

 

Hooters joins Chase Elliott sponsorship program for 2017-18

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Chase Elliott has added a new high-profile sponsor for the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday that the Hooters restaurant chain will serve as primary sponsor for two races in each of those seasons, as well as serve as a associate sponsor for all of the other races in both seasons on Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Elliott’s two races with Hooters primary sponsorship this season will be May 7 at Talladega and Nov. 12 at Phoenix.

Hooters has had a long sponsorship history in NASCAR, with its colors gracing cars for over 150 Cup-level races over the years. Most prominent was the 1992 season when it served as primary sponsor on Alan Kulwicki’s championship-winning Ford.

Ironically, Kulwicki beat Elliott’s father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, by 10 points to win that season’s championship.

“Twenty-five years after being part of one of the most memorable seasons in NASCAR history, Hooters is excited to support another amazing talent in Chase Elliott and the No. 24 team,” Hooters chief marketing officer Carl Sweat sweat said in a media release.

Elliott earned Cup Series rookie of the year honors in 2016, with 10 top-five finishes, 17 top-10s and two pole positions.

“Hooters has a historic place in this sport, and I’m glad they’re back,” Chase Elliott said. “Our entire team is looking forward to making the program a success.”

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Lady Antebellum to highlight Daytona 500 pre-race show

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Seven-time Grammy Award winners Lady Antebellum will highlight the Feb. 26 pre-race show for this year’s Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway officials announced Monday.

The multi-platinum CD-selling country trio will take the stage not only prior to the 2017 season-opening and 59th edition of the Great American Race, but also the first race under Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entitlement sponsorship.

Lady Antebellum – made up of Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood – will be on hand to promote its sixth album, Heart Break, which is due for release on June 9, with the first single being “You Look Good,” which will be the cornerstone to kick off a six-country “You Look Good World Tour.”

Lady Antebellum is no stranger to DIS: they performed a pre-race concert prior to the 2008 Coke Zero 400 and also played at last year’s inaugural Country 500 Music Festival.

“’The Great American Race’ will have one of today’s great American country music acts front-and-center for our fans to enjoy,” DIS President Chip Wile said in a statement. “Lady Antebellum continues a long-standing DIS tradition of attracting major stars from the world of entertainment to the ’World Center of Racing’ and the Daytona 500.”

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Brad Keselowski Racing announces crew chief assignments

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Brad Keselowski Racing has announced the crew chiefs that will be paired with both of its full-time rookie drivers this season in the Camping World Truck Series.

Austin Cindric, driving the No. 19 Draw-Tite Ford, will work with Doug Randolph. Randolph has been a crew chief for BKR since 2012 and has six wins, including three with Tyler Reddick in the last two seasons. Randolph also has four Xfinity Series wins.

Mike Hillman Jr. will be the crew chief for Chase Briscoe in the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford. Hillman is a two-time Truck series champion as crew chief for Todd Bodine (2006, 2010). He has 20 Truck Series wins, the last coming in 2013 with Jeb Burton.

“Austin Cindric has already had success in various forms of racing, and has shown a lot of potential in our Ford F-150 race trucks,” said Keselowski in a press release. “I certainly believe that Chase is ready to take the next step in his career, and we’re excited to have him join the BKR family. He won the ARCA championship in his first full-time season, and he’s proven to have the ability to learn quickly and win races. We’re pleased to give both Austin and Chase the opportunity to compete full-time at a high level in NASCAR.”

Briscoe, 22, enters his rookie season after winning the ARCA Racing Series title behind six race wins.

“It’s an absolutely huge opportunity and such an honor to drive for Brad,” said Briscoe in a press release. “The competition level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is so high, but I’m going to be in the best equipment out there. It’s really cool to once again be working with the Keselowski family. When I moved to North Carolina three years ago, I was helping Brian and Bob in their shop, so things have come full circle. I’m truly blessed with this opportunity, and I hope to make the most of it. At the end of the day, it’s all about winning races and championships, and that’s what I plan to do.”

Cindric, 18, is the son of Team Penske president Tim Cindric. He has six starts with BKR over the last two seasons. His best result is 15th last November at Phoenix International Raceway.

“This is a massive opportunity from Brad and everyone at BKR who trusts me and believes in my abilities as a driver to move on to the next level for a full season,” said Cindric in a press release. “2017 gets more and more exciting for me with every day that goes by. I’ve only done a handful of one-off races in my brief stock car career, so I’m really looking forward to having the same guys by my side week in and week out. I’ve spent a lot of time at the shop the last few weeks and I know everyone is really excited to get back racing.”

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 24 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Kurt, Kyle Busch come up short in Nations Cup finale at Race of Champions

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 04:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch hugs brother Kurt Busch during the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards show at Wynn Las Vegas on December 4, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
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After early exits in the first day of the Race of Champion exhibition Saturday in Miami, Kyle and Kurt Busch returned on Sunday in hopes of winning the Nations Cup for the United States of America, but were swept in the finale by Germany’s Sebastian Vettel.

The brothers, representing Team USA NASCAR, were in Group A with USA IndyCar, USA Rally and ROC Factor Canada.

Kurt Busch’s struggles from Saturday continued in his first race against IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe. The Canadian driver beat Kurt Busch by .002 of a second. The NASCAR representative would bounce back in his next race, beating action sports star and former NASCAR driver Travis Pastrana.

In Kyle Busch‘s first race of the day, he faced and beat karting champion Stefan Rzadzinski of Canada. He followed it up by beating Scott Speed.

After six races, Team USA NASCAR and IndyCar had four wins each and faced each other in the semifinal round. But the Busch brothers prevailed over Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi from USA IndyCar to advance to the Nations Cup final against Vettel, who represented Germany by himself.

But Vettel swept the race, betting Kurt then Kyle Busch to claim the Nations Cup. Vettel swept all of his races, finishing Sunday with seven wins.

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