HAMPTON, Ga. – NASCAR has clarified its policy for teams that miss qualifying today at Atlanta Motor Speedway because of inspection problems.
After initially telling teams they would be required to start on scuffed tires, NASCAR now will allow teams that miss qualifying to start Sunday’s 500-mile race on new tires (commonly referred to as “stickers” because the Goodyear sticker hasn’t been scuffed off yet).
The QuikTrip Folds of Honor 500 will be the last race run on the 1.54-mile oval before a repaving project that will begin in late March. The surface has been in place for nearly 20 years, making fresh tires extremely advantageous for turning fast laps on the abrasive track.
NASCAR made the change after receiving feedback from crew chiefs during a monthly competition conference call Tuesday.
Atlanta traditionally has been a tough track for teams to clear inspection because it’s the first unrestricted race of the season. Two years ago, 13 drivers didn’t make qualifying laps because their cars didn’t pass inspection (including an angry Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth).
Drivers who fail to make a qualifying attempt will start at the rear of the field and also forfeit their choice of pit stalls.
NASCAR has said it will be more stringent in prerace inspection this season and has abolished its warnings system in favor of at-track penalties.
INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.
Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.
Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.
Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.
Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.
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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.
Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.
(All times are Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.
COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 20
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.
TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.
LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.
STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.
Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.
But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.
That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.
“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.
The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.
Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.
The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.
“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.
Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.
He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.
Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Click here for the full starting lineup.