FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 06:  A view of Air Titans on track as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images )
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Texas Motor Speedway to begin repaving project Monday

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The lengthy delays to dry Texas Motor Speedway should end with Friday’s announcement that the 1.5-mile track will be repaved beginning Monday.

Officials also announced that the banking in Turns 1 and 2 will be reduced from 24 degrees to 20 degrees. The racing surface width will expand from 60 to 80 feet in those turns. The banking and racing surface in Turns 3 and 4 will remain the same.

The project is expected to be completed by mid March. NASCAR returns there April 7-9 with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series. Gossage declined to reveal the cost of the project.

The move comes after issues last year with drying the track at both NASCAR race weekends and the IndyCar race. Last fall’s Chase race for the Cup series was delayed nearly six hours by rain and a slow-drying track. The race also was shortened by rain. That came a few days after a passing shower forced a Camping World Truck Series practice to be rescheduled a day. Last summer, an IndyCar race there had to be postponed because five hours of drying wasn’t enough.

“Given our recent issues with having difficulty in getting the track to dry, we felt it was something we had to do that the fans that come to the racetrack know that the track is going to dry quickly .. and they get what they came for,’’ Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, said on a conference call with reporters.

Gossage said that he “it would probably be wise” for NASCAR to expand the weekend schedule in April to give teams additional time on the track. A NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports that weekend schedules are still being developed but officials expect to work with Goodyear and teams to create an ideal schedule for all.

Gossage also had a message for Goodyear.

“We’re going to strongly encourage Goodyear to test and not just bring a hard tire,” Gossage said. “That would a mistake. We’re going to work hard to try to get Goodyear to do that.”

Gossage has said that the 2-inch top layer had become porous after years of being hammered by ground effects of Indy cars, stock cars and Air Titans.

The track was last repaved in 2001.

Texas Motor Speedway is the second track owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. to announce this week it will be repaved. Atlanta Motor Speedway officials announced Tuesday that the 1.5-mile track will be repaved shortly after its March race.

The announcements come as Speedway Motorsports Inc. has seen an uptick in its stock price, hitting a 52-week high on Wednesday at $21.97 per share.

Lane Construction Corp., will handle the repaving project. Since 2003, it has paved several tracks, including Charlotte Motor Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.

The repave will feature an asphalt mix similar to the track surfaces at Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The track also is enhancing its drainage system, creating multiple points for water to drain away from the facility more efficiently.

The project will be done in four stages, beginning with the installation of the drainage system on the backstretch. The same construction then will take place on the frontstretch. The banking then will be changes in Turns 1 and 2 with the repaving the final stage.

Gossage also explained that changing the banking was done to enhance the racing.

“It was just an opportunity,” Gossage said. “The track was torn up, so why not do something. Just an opportunity for us to be unique and be special. Wanted to give these drivers a challenge. Wanted to give everybody an opportunity to have more passing opportunities because of having to slow down.”

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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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