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International Speedway Corp. reports attendance drop in second quarter


International Speedway Corp. reported Monday that Cup attendance was down an average of 6.5 percent for the six races it held in the second quarter.

Races during the second quarter, which ended May 31, were at Phoenix, Auto Club Speedway, Martinsville, Richmond, Talladega and Kansas.

During its investor analyst call, International Speedway Corp. reported that admission revenue at Talladega and Auto Club were “comparable” to 2016.

Admissions revenue for the second quarter was $28.7 million, which was down about $1.8 million compared to the same period from last year.

Motorsports revenue for the quarter was $122 million, which ISC stated was primarily due to TV broadcast rights.

ISC reported that it has had “mixed results” for its recent Cup weekends at Michigan and Daytona, which are in the third quarter. ISC reported increases in attendance and admissions revenue for Daytona but did not state how much of an increase.

ISC also stated that advance ticket sales for the August Cup weekend at Watkins Glen were “tracking in line” with 2016. Watkins Glen sold out its grandstands last year for a second consecutive year.

Advance sales for remaining ISC races in the third and fourth quarter are down approximately 5 percent, the company reported.

“We remain confident our consumer-focused marketing strategies are working to slow recent attendance revenue related trends,’’ said John Saunders, president of ISC. “Our initiatives will continue to target new and lapsed customers through all traditional media, social and digital channels. The objective here is to reignite and protect the base, grow casuals into avids and spark interest and demand with the next generation of fans.

“Our strategies are focused on value-added options that enhance the live motorsports experience for our fans, including exclusive VIP hospitality experiences with driver appearances and Q&A sessions. We’ve included ticket packages aimed at youth and younger demographics with kid pricing and family targeted promotions.’’

Asked about where the disconnect is in an improving economy, Saunders said:

“Since our last call, Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. has announced his retirement (from full Cup racing) at the end of the season. … When you look at Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and certainly Dale Jr., that’s having an impact.

“The good news is that we’re seeing these younger drivers, and they’re younger, 19-year-old kids coming along, and you’ve got Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. As the emotional connection is made with these drivers, I think we’re going to see a resurgence and with a younger demographic. There are some short-term things that are working, and there are some things that are going to take longer to resonate.’’

ISC also reported:

  • Its board recently approved a project to renovate the infield at Richmond International Raceway and “introduce innovative fan experiences.’’ Details were not disclosed.
  • It has one Cup entitlement sponsorship open in the fourth quarter, which is comparable to last year.
  • The average ticket price for Cup events during the second quarter was $71.96, which is comparable to last year.
  • Viewership of Cup Series has seen a growth in viewers age 18-34 in 13 of 16 races.
  • More than half of its revenue is secured through NASCAR’s 10-year broadcast agreement and multi-year partnership agreements.

For the full ISC report and statement, go here.

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NASCAR America: The challenges of Martinsville Speedway

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What Martinsville Speedway lacks in size compared to other tracks it makes up in difficulty say drivers and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Landon Cassill joined Carolyn Manno, Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton on Thursday’s show and discussed the challenges of the half-mile paperclip track.

“It can be fun when it’s going well,’’ said Cassill, who will make his Cup season debut this weekend in the No. 00 for StarCom Racing. “That place, if you’re car is not handling well, you can end up going backwards and just by the time you’ve got some clear race track the leader is right behind you. So it can be frustration. I tend to like Martinsville.’’

Kligerman calls racing in the pack at Martinsville Speedway “the most aggressive racing I’ve ever been a part of in my life.’’

Jeff Burton said: “It’s … one of the hardest race tracks we go to period because you have to do it lap after lap after lap and it’s so easy to get, quite simply, just really, really mad at the guy you’re racing with because he’s hitting you and he’s banging on you.’’

Cup drivers have their description of the track. See what NASCAR America’s analysts and Cup drivers have to say about the track that hosts Sunday’s Cup race in the video above.

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Richard Childress Racing reinstates Xfinity crew chief Nick Harrison

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Richard Childress Racing has reinstated Nick Harrison to crew chief  of the No. 3 Xfinity team after he served a five-race suspension for a violation at Daytona International Speedway. 

Harrison’s first race back will be April 8 at Texas.

Harrison was suspended after the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon had a rear suspension violation in pre-qualifying inspection. Harrison and the team’s car chief were ejected by NASCAR after the violation. RCR imposed the suspension.

“I’m looking forward to being back with my team and winning races after my five-race suspension,” Harrison said in a statement from the team.

Brandon Thomas served as the interim crew chief while Harrison was out. Austin Dillon finished a season-best fourth for the team last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Martinsville breakdown, Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features host Carolyn Manno and Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut, and Jeff Burton and Landon Cassill from Burton’s Garage.

Among the topics today:

  •  Prepare for paint swapping, bent fenders, and bruised egos. It’s time to go short-track racing at Martinsville Speedway! Jeff, Parker and Landon will tell you what to expect this weekend at the famous half-mile. We’ll also see what it takes to succeed there, as Parker takes us for some quick laps in the NBCSN iRacing Simulator.
  • After making the switch to Stewart-Haas Racing in the offseason, Aric Almirola is off to the best start of his Cup Series career. Currently 10th in the standings, he’ll tell Marty Snider about his early season success.
  • Since finishing second at the Daytona 500, rookie driver Bubba Wallace has cooled off. Now he faces his first Cup Series start at Martinsville in the iconic No. 43 car, and he’s feeling confident — it’s where Wallace scored his first truck series win nearly five years ago. We’ll examine the struggles he might have to work through this season and also hear his reflections on his early years of racing in the latest edition of “A Driver’s Drive.”

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/ If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR returns to its backyard this weekend after the three week West Coast swing.

The Cup and Camping World Truck Series visit Martinsville Speedway in Southern Virginia.

The weekend is capped off by Sunday’s STP 500. It will be the first Cup race broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this year.

Here’s the full weekend schedule complete with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, March 23

8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck garage opens

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. — Truck practice (No TV)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Truck practice (Fox Sports 1)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Truck practice (FS1)

Saturday, March 24

7 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

7:30 a.m. — Truck garage opens

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

11:05 a.m. — Truck qualifying; multi-truck/three rounds (FS1)

12:15 p.m. — Truck driver-crew chief meeting

12:30 – 1:20 p.m. — Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

1:30 p.m. — Truck driver introductions

2 p.m. — Alpha Energy Solutions 250; 250 laps/131.5 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5:10 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 25

9:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Driver-crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Driver introductions

2 p.m. — STP 500; 500 laps/263 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)