2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

Leave a comment

On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Chicagoland 2018 race to shift from NASCAR Cup playoff opener to early July

Getty Images

Among the changes to the 2018 NASCAR Cup schedule announced Tuesday is Chicagoland Speedway will see its traditional mid-September date move to early July.

The 1.5-mile track, located about 50 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, has hosted the opening race of the NASCAR playoffs since 2011.

But come 2018, the track will serve as the first race of NBC Sports’ and NBCSN’s 20-race televised part of the NASCAR Cup schedule. That race will be held on July 1, 2018.

Chicagoland’s spot as the playoff opener will be taken by Las Vegas Motor Speedway (which takes over the former early fall playoff race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway).

Chicagoland’s final playoff opener takes place this Sept. 19 with the Tales of the Turtles 400.

Prior to its first playoff kickoff race in 2011 (won by Tony Stewart), Chicagoland Speedway had its first 10 races in July.

“We’re incredibly excited about the return to July,” Chicagoland Speedway president Scott Paddock told NBC Sports. “We always listen to our fans, and this is something they’ve asked for – a time when the weather in Chicago is perfect, kids are on summer break, and families look to enjoy memorable experiences together, especially around the Fourth of July holiday weekend.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Kyle Larson continues to lead both driver standings and stage points

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Larson not only continues to lead the NASCAR Cup points standings after the first 10 races of the 2017 season, he also leads in total stage points.

Although Larson has earned only two stage wins, his consistency and ability to finish in the top-10 in most stages has helped propel him to the top of the stage points list with 121 points.

Martin Truex Jr. leads all Cup drivers with five stage wins, but he’s ranked second in the total stage points with 114, seven behind Larson. Both Larson and Truex also have single race wins this season, as well.

One of the most telling statistics is the difference between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. Both drivers have two wins this season, but Keselowski is third in stage points with 107, which includes two stage wins.

Johnson, on the other hand, is 10th on the total stage points list with only 57. But there’s a key reason for that: Johnson has zero stage wins.

Another interesting note: Kurt Busch won the Daytona 500 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Sunday at Talladega. But neither has any stage wins and are tied for 17th place on the stage points list with 17 points apiece.

Here’s how the stage points list looks like after the first 10 races of the 2017 season:


1. Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing 121 2
2. Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing 114 5
3. Brad Keselowski Team Penske 107 2
4. Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 90 2
5. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 82 3
6. Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing 71 2
7. Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing 69 0
t-8. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 63 1
t-8. Joey Logano Team Penske 63 1
10. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 57 0
11. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 49 1
12. Erik Jones Furniture Row Racing 35 0
13. Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing 28 0
14. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing 25 1
15. Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing 24 0
16. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports 19 0
t-17. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing 17 0
t-17. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing 17 0
19. Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing 11 0
20. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing 10 0
t-21. Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 7 0
t-21. AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing 7 0
t-23. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports 4 0
t-23. Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing 4 0
25. Ty Dillon Germain Racing 2 0

NASCAR Cup, Xfinity weekend schedule at Talladega

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Once again, it’s that time: It’s ‘Dega!

The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series return this weekend to Talladega Superspeedway. And super – or super-sized – it is: the sport’s largest (2.66-miles around) racetrack.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the winningest active driver at Talladega with six wins (his father had 10). The younger Earnhardt will be making his next-to-last scheduled appearance at Talladega.

Here’s this weekend’s schedule:

All times are Eastern.

Friday, May 5

9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Cup garage open

10 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. – Xfinity first practice (Fox Sports 1)

1:30 p.m. – 2:25 p.m. – Xfinity final practice (FS1)

2:30 p.m. – 3:25 p.m. – Cup first practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network)

4:30 p.m. – 5:25 p.m. – Cup final practice (FS1, MRN)

6 p.m. – ARCA race (76 laps, 202.16 miles)

Saturday, May 6

8:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

9 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

10 a.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

10:30 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle/two rounds) (FS1)

12:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

1 p.m. – Sparks Energy 300 Xfinity race (113 laps, 300.58 miles) (Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

4 p.m. – NASCAR Cup qualifying (single vehicle/two rounds) (Fox, MRN)

Sunday, May 7

9:30 a.m. – Cup garage opens

12 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

2 p.m. – Geico 500 (188 laps, 500.08 miles) (Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Follow @JerryBonkowski



Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecks with Jimmie Johnson at Richmond (video)

Leave a comment

Jimmie Johnson apparently didn’t see Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway and got into the side of the No. 88.

It was an accident, but it also would lead to Junior spinning a few laps later and winding up with a 30th place finish.

Check out the video above as well as this one.

Powered by VIP