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Successful “Battle at Bristol” has SMI looking to host more football games

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After producing the largest crowd in NCAA football history with the “Battle at Bristol” on Sept. 9, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the company is hopeful of hosting future games.

Making it happen is a work in progress Smith said on SMI’s third quarter earnings call with investor analysts Wednesday morning.

“We’re certainly working on that,” Smith said. “We’re pleased with the results of the game. There’s a process, it’s not a simple thing to put together, but we’re definitely working on that and have been working on that even beginning before the game in September. We’re not ready to announce a schedule at this point but we’re certainly working to that goal.”

The game produced a football attendance record of 156,990 fans, which broke the previous record of 115,109 in 2013 for the Notre Dame – Michigan game. The speedway can hold approximately 160,000 fans on a race weekend.

Bill Brooks, SMI vice chairman and chief financial officer, said the game brought in $5-6 million in gross profit.

With tracks in markets like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Las Vegas, among other locales, Smith believes there is value in using SMI racetracks for events other than racing. Since 2011, Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted the Electric Daisy Carnival, one of the biggest electric dance music festivals in the world.

Smith said the “Battle at Bristol” football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech showed what is possible at a speedway.

While holding a football game at racetrack helps bring in additional money due to being able to host more fans, Smith believes it has to go beyond numbers.

“If you go back maybe 10 years when we really put a lot of effort into trying to put together this game, the timing just wasn’t right,” Smith said. “There weren’t any, what we would call non-traditional venue games being played. But since then you’ve seen things like in the NHL Winter Classic, or in NCAA basketball there is the Carrier Classic every year, and these non-traditional site games have developed some really significant events that no matter if you’re an athletic director or an alumni of the particular school, the events are special and not only is it a great entertainment event but also a great recruiting event for the schools.

“The money is part of it but certainly, not the only part of it. If it were just about the money it really couldn’t be sustainable, it’s got to be a bigger factor than that. The recruiting element, the excitement and specialness of the event all play into why schools would want to be a part of something like that.”

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Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.


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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.


STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400


Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.