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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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Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell led a race-high 120 laps to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. It’s his second career Xfinity win.

Bell beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Noah Gragson, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Click here for the race results.

Points

Elliott Sadler continues to lead the point standings through eight races. He has a 29-point lead over Bell.

Completing the top five is Tyler Reddick (-31 points), Daniel Hemric (-38) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell fended off teammate Noah Gragson to break through and win his first Xfinity race of the year Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bell led the final 79 laps around the .75-mile track to score his second career win. He had finished in the top five in four of the first seven races this season.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Had to work for it. My teammate was really good and I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for last couple of weeks and it’s really shown.”

Gragson placed second in his first career Xfinity start. He bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty early in the race.

He hounded Bell for much of the last 15 laps, but could never pull even with him.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gragson told FS1 of his first series start at the short track. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I kept it in my memory bank until the end and I told me team, ‘I got something, when it’s time to go tell me when.’ About 18 to go, I told them, ‘Can’t wait any longer, I don’t have any more patience.”

Gragson, who drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, led 10 laps.

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

With his third-place finish, Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Bell, Sadler, Tifft and Cindric will be eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Talladega.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Elliott Sadler, first stage win of season

MORE: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric earned his first career top five after starting from the rear for an unapproved adjustment … Matt Tifft earned his fourth career top five … Ryan Truex placed seventh to give Kaulig Racing its fourth top 10 of the year. It earned five last year … Jeremy Clements placed eighth, earning his first top 10 since he won at Road America in August.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After winning Stage 1, Daniel Hemric lost his right front tire with three laps to go in Stage 2, but made it to the end. He finished 29th, four laps down … Justin Allgaier spun after ramming into the back of Spencer Gallagher with 86 laps to go. Chase Briscoe was also received damage in the incident. Allgaier finished 14th. Briscoe placed 26th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “My wife’s already spent it.” – Elliott Sadler to FS1 after winning the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 28 on Fox.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.