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New Hampshire executive on losing Cup date: ‘We understand the angst’

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A day after losing one of its NASCAR Cup weekends, New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s general manager pledged to make the track’s lone Cup event “bigger and better than it has ever been.’’

He also asked those in the community for time to show that the track can thrive even with one NASCAR weekend.

The challenges, though, will not be easy.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. announced Wednesday that it will move the September race weekend from New Hampshire to Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2018. That leaves New Hampshire with its July Cup race weekend.

Some fans complained on social media Wednesday about the heat in July there. The high for the area near the track has been between 85-93 degrees on race day since 2011. The high was 87 degrees for last July’s race.

A solution would be to run the July event at night — Daytona and Kentucky each run their races at night in July before the New Hampshire race.

The problem is that New Hampshire Motor Speedway can’t run past 7:30 p.m., David McGrath, the track’s executive vice president and general manager said Thursday.

That’s part of an agreement former track owner Bob Bahre made with local citizens after some filed a lawsuit before the track hosted its first Cup race in 1993, Ken Folsom, town administrator of Canterbury, New Hampshire, told NBC Sports. While most of the track’s 1,200 acres is in Loudon, New Hampshire, a small portion of it is in Canterbury.

Folsom also said that the agreement between the track and the community called for no standalone concerts. During Thursday’s press conference, McGrath noted a desire to hold a music festival at the track but admitted work remains to convince the community to allow it.

“It’s a process that starts with our local government, it’s a process that we’re already knee-deep in,’’ McGrath said. “Once people understand what it really looks like and understand the impact or lack of impact that it will truly have on the community, I think the understanding of it becomes pretty clear that this is a great way to bring a lot of revenue into our market, into our state that didn’t exist a few days ago.’’

As for the racing, McGrath reiterated comments made Wednesday by Marcus Smith, chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., of making the July race a more special event for fans.

Both also talked about having the NASCAR modified series headline an event in September in place of the lost Cup date to have what McGrath says would be a “great short track weekend.’’

McGrath, who confirmed that the track has yet to sell race sponsorship for either Cup event this year, spent part of his press conference seeking to reassure those upset about New Hampshire losing a Cup date. He admitted that the move “certainly it hurts. Certainly, there’s a little pain there, there’s a little discomfort.

“We understand the angst. We understand that there were two races and now there is one. Let us make it great. Don’t turn your back us.

“I know it sounds tough right now, but I promise you in the months and years ahead, this is going to still be the place to see a great, great Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.’’

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NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.