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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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NASCAR America: Chase Elliott ‘biggest surprise’ of Cup playoffs

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Only two drivers are safely in the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski secured spots through their wins at Charlotte and Talladega.

That leaves six spots to be decided Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty broke down the drivers competing for spots. Both of them agreed that Chase Elliott, who has finished in second in three of the five playoff races, has a great chance to make it all the way to the championship race in Miami.

“If Talladega had played out, he was either going to be in victory lane or in the top two or three,” Petty said. “When you look at that, he has had the most solid playoffs of any driver out there. We keep talking about the big three: Larson, Busch and Truex. This guy is a sleeper. But he’s my No. 4.”

Said Kligerman: “He’s been the biggest surprise. That 24 team has been incredible through the playoffs. One thing I’ve noticed about that team, just speaking to (crew chief) Alan Gustafson, speaking to Chase, it’s almost as if they want that first win more than they care about the playoffs.”

Watch the above video for more on the playoff drivers.

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Things get started today for the pivotal weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have its elimination race in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, where four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will not advance to the Round of 8.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8 with Saturday’s Kansas 300.

But it all begins today, as Cup has its first practice (the other two are Saturday) and qualifying, while the Xfinity Series will have its two practice sessions.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

12 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

1 – 2:25 p.m. — First Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

2:30 – 3:25 p.m. First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, 3 rounds) (NBCSN, MRN)

NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

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The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.