Pocono Raceway

Martinsville Cup schedule to mirror those used elsewhere this season

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NASCAR announced Tuesday that “enhanced” two-day weekend schedules would return this year and be used for 12 of the 36 Cup Series races.

The first is this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Qualifying for the STP 500 will be held Saturday after the Camping World Truck Series race. Qualifying was held on Sunday for last October’s playoff race.

The schedules feature two days of Cup action to go with three total days of on-track activity (Camping World Truck Series teams practice Friday at Martinsville, for example). The weekends also will have a rotating schedule of Cup drivers participating in interactive opportunities for fans.

Enhanced schedules are set for both Martinsville races and the following race weekends:

Richmond I and II,  Kansas (May), Chicagoland, Kentucky, Pocono (July), Watkins Glen, Bristol (August), Indianapolis and Talladega (October).

The concept of such race weekends for Cup was implemented in the second half of last year at Martinsville, Indianapolis, Pocono and Watkins Glen.

Also, the Kansas race in May, the September Richmond race, the Kentucky race in July, and the Bristol race in August had Cup cars on track two days those weekends.

Former Pocono Raceway marketing communications director dies after cancer battle

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Ryan Yanoshak, former managing director of marketing communications at Pocono Raceway, died Friday morning after a battle with cancer.

He was 42.

He is survived by his brothers, Randy Stephen Yanoshak Jr. and Corey Yanoshak.

Yanoshak worked at Pocono Raceway for two years beginning in October 2015. Before arriving in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, he served as assistant athletic director and special assistant to the executive athletic director at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

Prior to that, he spent three years as a graduate assistant and sports information director at East Stroudsburg University and worked as sports writer for The Citizens’ Voice .

According to his obituary at The Citizens’ Voice, funeral services for Yanoshak will be conducted at 11 a.m. ET Monday at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Pocono Raceway released the following statement on Yanoshak’s passing.

“We are deeply saddened about the passing of Ryan Yanoshak. He made an immediate impact on our Raceway family when he joined our staff in October 2015. His character, sense of humor and professionalism were a true inspiration to all of us. Although Ryan’s time working here was short, he brought so much joy and happiness to our offices and staff. We, along with Ryan’s family and friends, appreciate all the kind words we have received from everyone over the last several days. Rest in peace, Ryan. We will miss you.”

Dover International Speedway suffered no apparent damage from Thursday’s earthquake

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Officials of Dover International Speedway said Friday that the one-mile track and the rest of its facilities did not appear to suffer any damage from Thursday’s moderate earthquake in the area.

“We did feel some shaking in our office building but there was no visible damage to our offices or the track and grandstand areas,” a track spokesman told NBC Sports in a Friday morning email. “A more thorough review is planned for today during daylight hours.”

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the magnitude 4.1 earthquake, which struck at 4:47 p.m. ET Thursday, was centered seven miles north of Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, and approximately 13 miles north of the racetrack.

The quake was reportedly felt throughout a wide area, including Washington DC, eastern Maryland, northern Virginia, eastern Pennsylvania (including Philadelphia) and as far north as Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

According to the Wilmington News-Journal and the Delaware Geological Survey, the last earthquake in the same general area occurred in 1879, just east of Dover.

In a lighthearted response, another track official told NBC Sports, “Miles is still intact!” That is Miles the Monster, the Monster Mile’s official statue and mascot.

NBC Sports has reached out to Pocono Raceway, which was on the edge of the earthquake zone, but has not received a response if there was any damage there.

Xfinity Series to use Indianapolis package at Michigan, Pocono in 2018

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NASCAR Xfinity teams will use the drafting package that debuted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July also at Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway next season, the sanctioning body announced Wednesday.

William Byron won at Indy in July. That race featured an event-record 16 leads changes in 100 laps. The previous record for lead changes in that race was nine.

NASCAR equipped cars with aero ducts, a different spoiler (64 3/4 inches wide and 6 inches tall) and a 7/8-inch restrictor plate for that Indianapolis race. All of those items also will be used at Michigan and Pocono next year.

Some drivers liked the package at Indianapolis, but Kyle Busch did not, expressing his dissatisfaction after his two-year winning streak in that event ended with a 12th-place finish.

“They wanted to slow down the fastest guy here so the rest of the field could keep up and they did,’’ Busch said after the July race.

Ryan Reed, who finished sixth at Indy, had a different viewpoint.

“I think anytime you make the cars … slower, they’re easier to drive,’’ he said. “When they’re easier to drive, you’re able to put them in more difficult positions and come out the other end OK and you’re going to have a little more confidence. I think you’ve got to find a balance because at this level a high-rate of speed is what help defines the sport.

“You don’t want us to go down and run 140 miles an hour and wide open every track, otherwise who wants to watch that? Just find a balance. I think that this may be a step in the right direction. It seems like the racing was better.’’

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NASCAR adds The Weather Company as partner, provide more in-depth info

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CONCORD, North Carolina — NASCAR announced Friday that The Weather Company has entered into a multi-year agreement with the sanctioning body to be the official weather partner of the sport and help officials optimize weather-related decisions.

The partnership has been in place since the beginning of the season, said Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, global head of marketing for business solutions at The Weather Company.

The announcement comes with preliminary forecasts calling for rain during what would be Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Boockoff-Bajdek said of the early forecast “the weather is looking like there might rain, but I think what we are doing for NASCAR is giving them the most accurate real-time weather information they need so that they can make decisions about what to do here, any day, whether it is here at Charlotte this Sunday or when we get up to Homestead in November. The goal is to provide them with the most accurate and precise and hyper-local forecast.’’

The Weather Company’s meteorologists in Andover, Massachusetts, and Atlanta, will monitor weather conditions and provide insights and information to NASCAR officials so they can decide what course of action they need to take.

More in-depth information can further help NASCAR and tracks with lightning in the area and alerting fans to impending conditions.

Boockoff-Bajdek said: “We are going to be providing NASCAR with a number of very critical insights that will be relevant to their business, but ultimately, it is about NASCAR making the best decisions, not only for operations, but clearly for the fans. They will have access to a tremendous trove of weather insights that will be very specific to the tracks we’re at. If lightning is imminent, they will know and they will be able to make decisions based on that data.’’

One fan was killed and 10 injured in a lightning strike at Pocono in Aug. 2012.

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