NASCAR drivers, owners, teams react to enhancements to points system

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NASCAR drivers, crew chiefs, team members, owners and officials shined a positive light on the new enhancements to the points structure across all three series that were announced Monday.

The enhancements will impact all three series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Here are some excerpts from those that took part in the announcement from Charlotte, as well as reactions from social media:

NASCAR vice president Steve O’Donnell: “It’s the right time to make enhancements … it’s a great example of the industry coming together for the fans. … Every race matters and winning is more important than ever.”

Denny Hamlin: “There are no off weeks. Every single race matters. Every lap of every race matters. From our standpoint, you always felt a bit relaxed after you got a race win. Now with each accomplishment, getting points, through a stage win, or race win, each makes your road to Homestead a little bit easier. That’s what it’s all about.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “I love the fact the bonus points will carry through the playoffs to the last round. Everything you do will help for the playoffs. The stages are going to help bring excitement for drivers and fans. Last year, I was driver and a fan, I was in a unique position. There will be a lot to watch as these crew chiefs try to figure out the strategies to obtain the most points. Fans should be excited.”

Brad Keselowski: “More chances to win, more chances to perform and more spotlights. … We’re going to race to a new level that we’ve never seen before. … I’m really pumped about this. To me, this is NASCAR. Look at how our races were formatted in the 40s and 50s: it was endurance, long races. Teams now are so smart. If we created motorsports from scratch today, this is how would we do this.”

Jeff Gordon: “I definitely think this is going to enhance experience of competitors and fans at home. … It (discussion of the new enhancements) was a pretty amazing experience and what came out of it is a balance of what fans are asking for and make it more exciting.”

NASCAR ON NBC analyst Jeff Burton: “When a race fan buys a ticket, that fan deserves to see a race that impacts the championship. Win and you’re in is awesome, but it took them off the hook a bit. If you incentivize these guys … it makes them want to race that much harder. This is an enhancement. When races matter, the fans win.

Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing: “Crew chiefs and team members are chomping at the bit to get to the track.”

International Speedway Corporation president Joie Chitwood: “Every race, every lap means something, whether you have a TV viewer or someone in the stands. … We can never sit back and think we’re good enough. I think this group did a great job of coming up with something unique and I think our fans are going to be very excited in this coming season.”

Speedway Motorsports Inc. president Marcus Smith: “This is really for the fans.”

Team owner Jack Roush: “I believe this is part of the natural evolution of our sport as we continue to enhance the product on the race track. The enhancements are a result of unprecedented collaboration between the teams, NASCAR, broadcast partners and drivers, and in direct response to what the fans have expressed a desire for. Stage style racing has a strong history throughout many levels of motorsports, and I’m personally excited to watch as the new strategies play out during the upcoming season.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway president J. Douglas Boles: “The new race format will make the Brickyard 400 and the entire Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series more exciting by making every stage of the race important. With every point critical to a driver’s championship chances, the changes will ensure spirited competition during each and every lap. The stages will also offer an opportunity for our fans to hear strategy insights during breaks in action, instead of having to wait until the race has ended. Winning the Brickyard 400 has always been important to the drivers and with more points on the line throughout, it will be an even more thrilling event!”

Team owner Richard Petty:

“Since NASCAR started, there has always been change. The world changes and you have to change with it. This new format just adapts to the current and next generation of fans. It’s something to help create more excitement during the races. You have to put on a good race, a good show where people want to watch at home and enjoy coming to the track. Having two additional winning moments is a good step in that direction to keep the drivers competitive and fans excited throughout the race and season. As an owner, I’m fine with it. I have the same rules as everyone else. That’s fair. We just have to figure out how to be the best under this format.”

Here are some comments from social media (we’ll continue to update):

 

 

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NASCAR America: Jimmie Johnson’s patience propels him to victory lane in Food City 500

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Jimmie Johnson is known for his patience behind the wheel. Where other drivers may get too hot under the collar and over-react, Johnson is typically cool as a cucumber — and that’s helped lead him to many of his 82 career NASCAR Cup wins.

That patience once again played out in Johnson’s win Monday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only his second career triumph (and first in seven years) at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

On Monday’s NASCAR America, Greg Biffle and Kyle Petty discussed Johnson’s patience throughout Monday’s race.

 

 

Heavy foot on pit road foils Kyle Larson once again at Bristol

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Kyle Larson did everything he could to win Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He led a race-high 203 laps in the 500-lap event, including dominating Stage 1, leading all 125 laps, as well as the first 77 laps in Stage 2.

But Larson, known for the heavy foot he has, saw that need for speed at the wrong time likely cost him the win.

When Erik Jones wrecked on Lap 422, Larson came to pit road and was too fast across two consecutive timing zones on the front straightaway en route to his pit stall.

“I was just pushing on pit road and messed up there,” Larson said after the race. “To start the race, I was the leader, I would run all my greens down pit road, and then once I fell back … down the straightaway I was running one red and flashed the second red real quick, and I guess that was all she wrote.”

NASCAR penalized Larson for speeding on pit road, dropping him to the back of the longest line, restarting in 20th place with 72 laps left in the race.

“Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there,” Larson said. “(I’m) disappointed in myself. I think I speed on pit road every single time I come to Bristol. So, I’ve got to clean that up.”

There’s that heavy foot admission once again.

Ironically, it was Larson’s first speeding penalty this season.

To his credit, Larson was able to quickly climb back up the grid, but couldn’t finish higher than sixth.

Still, Larson tried to a positive spin on things as he began to leave the track.

“I don’t know what more you could ask out of this place,” Larson said. “This is the best track we go to, most exciting place, and I love coming here.”

But he doesn’t like the way he came out of it once again, thanks to that darn heavy foot.

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NASCAR America: Dale Jarrett, Kelli Stavast recap Bristol driver performances

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After waiting out 28 straight hours of rain, Monday’s rescheduled Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway produced a rather exciting race.

The addition of adhesive to the lower grove at the track gave drivers additional grip that led to side-by-side and even three-wide racing.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kelli Stavast discussed the top driver performances in Monday’s race.

 

 

NASCAR America: My Home Track: Maine’s Oxford Plains, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway

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NASCAR America’s My Home Track series continued Monday as we visited Maine, otherwise known as the Pine Tree State.

Not only is it a great state for racing, including places like Oxford Plains and Beach Ridge Motor Speedway, Maine also lays claim to NBCSN’s own Steve Letarte, who paid homage to his home state in Monday’s edition of NASCAR America.