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Plans submitted for significant changes at Phoenix International Raceway

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Phoenix International Raceway has submitted renovation plans that includes moving the start/finish line to what is now Turn 2, although NASCAR says nothing has been finalized on that matter.

The track submitted a site plan for expansion last week to the city of Avondale, Arizona, Brett Harris, chief building official, confirmed to NBC Sports. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and end in late 2018.

Harris said his office typically takes about three weeks to review such plans. Once approved, track officials will be able to submit construction documents. Harris noted that changes still could be made by the track.

Officials from Phoenix International Raceway and International Speedway Corp. did not return messages for comment.

Among the changes in the track’s submitted plan (Click here to see the plans):

— The start/finish line is shown to be in what is now Turn 2.

— All the frontstretch grandstands would be eliminated and replaced by an elevated RV parking lot and have additional parking behind it.

— The Allison grandstand in Turn 2 will be extended to go through the entire turn.

— Pit road will be moved closer to the infield and have a tighter radius. That will allow additional space between the track and pit road.

—There would be five new garages for competitors.

— The media center would be moved from its present location across from the current start/finish line to just beyond Turn 2.

— The infield care center would move from behind the current media center to between what is now Turns 3 and 4.

— Victory Lane would be moved behind pit road to spot between what is now Turns 1 and 2.

Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer of International Speedway Corp., which owns the track, stated before the season that Phoenix International Raceway and Richmond International Raceway were the next two tracks scheduled for improvements. International Speedway Corp. completed its renovation of Daytona International Speedway before this season.

Dan Houser, executive vice president and chief financial officer of ISC, said during a conference call with investor analysts last month that the company plans to spend $500 million in capital expenditures from 2017-21. ISC budgeted $600 million for capital expenditures (with $400 million set aside for the Daytona renovations ) over a five-year period that began in 2013.

“Everyone who follows ISC knows we are in a capital intensive business and that our long-term core business success depends on hosting events at facilities that meet the expectations of today’s leisure and sports entertainment audience,’’ Houser said on the conference call.

John Saunders, president of ISC, also addressed plans for Phoenix in that same conference call, saying: “Phoenix is wore down; it’s got bad seating, and it needs to be upgraded. And so we went through a process, management went through a process that we shared with our Board back in 2013 where we evaluated our facilities and what kind of master planning they needed, what kind of infusion they would need over extended period of time. And so, there is a priority — prioritization is going on. And Phoenix is sort of next in line.’’

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.