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Rain, rain go away – it won’t be a problem next fall at Charlotte with rain tires

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CONCORD, North Carolina — The rain that was a bane of NASCAR fans Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be anticipated next year.

While rain delayed Saturday’s Xfinity race and the threat of it moved the start of Sunday’s Cup race up an hour, rain next year won’t be as much of a problem.

With NASCAR racing on the track’s roval, rain tires will be available for both series a year from now. It’s a decision NASCAR made a couple of weeks ago, Stu Grant, general manager of worldwide racing for Goodyear, told NBC Sports.

“There was some debate about whether or not we should run rain tires on the roval because of how much you run on the bankings and the speed you may or may not have,’’ Grant said. “There was some due diligence on whether or not rain tires should be run. A lot of modeling, a lot of simulation and it looks like the speeds are going to be comparable to Watkins Glen and NASCAR has made the call, yeah, Goodyear go ahead and have rain tires available for this race a year from now.’’

The rain tires will be the same tires available at other road courses that NASCAR races.

Goodyear also will have rain tires at an Oct. 17-18 test on Charlotte’s roval with Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Furniture Row Racing.

Grant said the test procedure will be the same as other tires tests but admits this will be different since this is a new track for teams.

“The banking that you run here adds a whole different element from a car setup standpoint,’’ Grant said. “It’s different than trying to set up the car for a road course at Sonoma for example. We’re going to learn a lot about the tires and the compound necessary to come here with a good race tire, but the teams are going to learn a lot about how to set the car up properly.’’

The base tire for that test will be the tire combination that is run at Watkins Glen.

“The issue for us is to figure out what is the right compound to marry that road course construction with the asphalt on the road course and the oval pieces,’’ Grant said. “We have purpose-built a number of test tires to make sure we have the right combination.’’

One change that helped Goodyear was the addition of the chicane on the backstretch of the oval to slow cars before entering Turns 3 and 4. Cars will exit the road course portion in Turn 1 and run on the oval through Turn 2 and the backstretch before reaching the chicane.

“If you look back, the original layout, it did not have the chicane on the back,’’ Grant said. “Think about it, you come out of (Turns) 1 and 2 and all the way down the backstretch and through 3 and you can generate some pretty high speeds. It’s difficult to be able to get any kind of a comprise on the car or the tire that allows you to get through the super slow part in the road course and have the durability and the suspension settings on the car to be able to get through Turn 3 at high speeds.

“The chicane was added on the backstretch to slow the entry into 3 and allow you to run a proper road course setup on your car, a good road course tire and run rain tires.’’

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BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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NASCAR revamps Rookie of the Year points system in national series

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NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.

The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.

A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.

A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.

“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”

Erik Jones was Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series last year. William Byron won the honor in the Xfinity Series and Chase Briscoe won it in the Camping World Truck Series.

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Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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