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Is it time for NASCAR to make format changes?

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With speculation of format changes for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, one track president said he doesn’t want to see anything “radical,” but would be for a halftime break or quarter breaks in a race.

Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, said Friday he would be for breaks in races but is against anything that shortens races.

“I think a format change is a good thing, but it needs to be a tweak, not a radical change,” he said on a conference call Friday announcing the track’s repaving project. “If I could wave the magic wand, we’d have at least a halftime and maybe periods. Something like that. Football games have four quarters. Hockey games have three (periods). That kind of thing.

“Pit stops? I don’t know if you would have five minutes or 10 minutes or just throw a caution flag like a competition yellow. Those aren’t radical departures.’’

Gossage also said he would be for paying a bonus to the leader at halfway again. He even suggested awarding points based on segments of races.

“Those kind of things as opposed to, I’ve heard people talking about heats and things like that, I think that is a radical departure,’’ he said. 

Discussion of any format changes has increased with Monster Energy becoming the title sponsor for NASCAR’s top series. Some believe this could be a natural time to make such changes.

Monster Energy sponsors the Supercross Series — it was announced Thursday that Monster has extended its deal to sponsor that series through 2021 — and that series is making changes. The Supercross Series will go to timed races this year instead of races based on laps.

Would timed races be something that could work with some NASCAR races?

“My personal opinion is that timed races suck,’’ Gossage said. “It’s funny, I hear all these kind of things from the people that travel the circuit, the teams, the sponsor reps, the media, but you don’t hear these things from the fans. Our fans, they don’t want less. They’ve been waiting all year long for this. They don’t want less. They want more.

“No fan wants us to go away from 500-mile races (at Texas). I don’t know if timed races make any sense, to me personally. I watched I think the longest college football game in history the other night. The Rose Bowl game. Didn’t it go 17 hours or something like that (actual time of USC’s 52-49 win over Penn State on Monday was 4 hours, 12 minutes)?

“But it was thrilling. You didn’t want to turn it off. What we’ve got to work on is make sure the product is thrilling and it doesn’t matter how long it goes.’’

My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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