Watkins Glen becomes third track to hold NASCAR Cup qualifying on race day

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NASCAR has announced a third NASCAR Cup race day that starts with qualifying and ends with the main event a few hours later.

On Sunday, August 6, Watkins Glen International will play host to NASCAR Cup qualifying at 12:30 p.m. ET. The 90-lap main event will follow less than three hours later when the green flag falls at 3 p.m. ET.

“NASCAR continues to work closely with tracks to create unique opportunities to interact with the stars of the sport,” said Jim Cassidy, senior Vice President, Racing Operations for NASCAR. “A number of our track partners have certainly embraced the concept, and fans attending those NASCAR race weekends will get to experience the enhanced model.”

Watkins Glen follows Pocono Raceway and Martinsville Speedway to hold qualifying and racing on the same day this season.

MORE: NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for July Pocono race to be held on Sunday

MORE: Martinsville Speedway will have qualifying race on same day in fall

It will still be a three-day racing weekend overall at the 2.45-mile road course, with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 100 on Friday, August 4 and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Zippo 200 on Saturday, August 5.

“With races on back-to-back-to-back days, and the addition of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying on Sunday, our fans will be treated to non-stop excitement on the track from Friday morning through Sunday afternoon,” WGI president Michael Printup said in a media release.

Here’s the tentative weekend schedule:

2017 NASCAR at The Glen weekend event schedule

Friday, August 4

12:01 p.m. to 1:25 p.m. ET – NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Final Practice

1:30 p.m. to 2:25 p.m. ET –Xfinity Series practice

2:35 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. ET – K&N Pro Series East qualifying

3:30 p.m. to 4:25 p.m. ET –Xfinity Series final practice

5 p.m. ET – K&N Pro Series East 100 at The Glen

7 p.m. ET – NASCAR Cup Series on-track hauler parade

Saturday, August 5

10 a.m. – 10:55 a.m. ET – NASCAR Cup Series practice

11:05 a.m. Xfinity Series qualifying

12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m. ET – NASCAR Cup final practice

2 p.m. – Xfinity Series Zippo 200 at The Glen

Sunday, August 6

12:35 p.m. ET – NASCAR Cup qualifying

3:00 p.m. ET – NASCAR Cup Series at The Glen race

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Atlanta Motor Speedway to delay repave at least a year

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The cries of drivers have been heard. Atlanta Motor Speedway will not repave its track as previously scheduled. Instead, track officials will evaluate the surface following the 2018 race there.

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the track, had planned to have the track surface repaved beginning in late March. It would have been the first repave there since 1997.

Engineers examined the track after the March 5 race to determine if the track surface could last another year with modest repairs. Track officials also consulted with Goodyear and others.

“There’s no question that the surface is worn out, but probably the most powerful lobby this side of Washington, D.C., was the biggest influence,” Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, told NBC Sports of the drivers. “They kind of put the pressure on. I understand.”

After winning there, Brad Keselowski made his pitch not to repave the track.

“Drivers hate repaves,” he said. “We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can.  But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years, I think, this season, and they should be really proud of that.

“My hope is they can get another year or two out of it, and I understand if they can’t, and you have to kind of leave it to their expertise and so forth.”

Clark said that work will need to be done to the track before next year’s race.

“The worst part is down the frontstretch in front of the grandstands,” Clark told NBC Sports. “There’s a lot of issues there. We’re actually going to have to cut a few areas and patch … to make it last through 2018. We consulted with Goodyear on that. They don’t think, as long as it is on the straightaway, it is a big issue from a tire standpoint.”

Clark said that the track surface will be sealed in October and should have the patching done before then.

“Let them go ahead and slip and slide one more time in 2018,” Clark said.

Clark said that while anything can change, he doesn’t foresee being talked out of a repave job too many more times.

“You have to see how the weekend goes and what happens,” Clark told NBC Sports. “We had to patch some places after the Saturday events this year, small places. Hey, if we could go two more, great. All you’ve got to do is walk out there and look at it. It is absolutely worn out. But if the drivers say, hey our choice is to race on this surface as it is.

“There comes a point (when a repave is needed). We do have a few drainage issues we do need to correct, some other things when the time comes. Right now, we’re going to get through 2018 and evaluate and see if that is the time or when is it.”

Clark said that when the track is repaved, Goodyear has expressed interest in having two test sessions to determine the proper tire for that 1.5-mile track instead of the customary one because of the track’s challenging surface.

Clark warns that with the excitement of Tuesday’s news, the day is still coming when the track will have to be repaved.

“I can’t see this going two more seasons, maybe only one,” Clark said.

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NASCAR America — My Home Track: 50 States In 50 Shows — Arkansas

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we continued our series of My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows as our trucks rolled into Arkansas!

We visited two short tracks in the state that produced President Bill Clinton and Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.

Plus we talked to NASCAR Hall of Famer and Arkansas native Mark Martin about racing in his home state.

NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.