Realignment deadline approaching for tracks

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With the 2017 Sprint Cup schedule slated to be finished much earlier than usual, the deadline is Friday for NASCAR tracks interested in “realigning” their race dates next season.

In a letter sent last month to tracks that was obtained by NBC Sports, NASCAR asked that tracks wishing to reshuffle their race dates put requests in writing by March 4.

NASCAR reviews realignment requests on a case-by-case basis, but it generally has approved requests from International Speedway Corp. (which owns 12 tracks playing host to Sprint Cup races) and Speedway Motorsports Inc. (which owns eight tracks) to move dates within their portfolios.

For example, NASCAR approved two such moves in 2011. SMI was allowed to reassign one of its races from Atlanta Motor Speedway to Kentucky Speedway, and ISC added a second race at Kansas Speedway by removing a date from Auto Club Speedway.

There have been conflicting signs on the early part of next year’s schedule.

Daytona International Speedway has announced the 59th running of the Daytona 500 will take place Feb. 26, 2017.

Atlanta Motor Speedway’s website lists March 5, 2017 as its Sprint Cup race, which would mark the third consecutive season the 1.54-mile track has had the second event on the schedule.

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds website lists its 2017 season as opening with prerace flyovers at the Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 5. A Thunderbirds spokesman told NBC Sports that the group still is waiting to hear from Las Vegas, but that the Las Vegas date on its website is accurate.