Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s suggestion to improve passing at Bristol? Sealer

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CHARLOTTE — Since Bristol Motor Speedway removed the progressive banking from the top of its corners four years ago, the racing on the 0.533-mile oval significantly has changed.

It returned the track to a mostly single-groove layout, which pleased many fans who were upset when a 2007 reconfiguration of progressive banking allowed for multiple lanes of racing.

But the preferred line now is at the top of the concrete banking instead of hugging the apron at the bottom as it was pre-2007. In the days of yore at Bristol, gaining a spot was as simple as a faster car knocking a slower one aside (and shooting it up the banking to complete a clean pass) – much to the delight of 160,000 fans.

That can’t be done nearly as easy with the leading car and fastest path around the track so close to the wall.

“It’s certainly way harder to pass,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday during an event to unveil a new sponsor, CARSTAR, on his No. 88 Chevrolet. “Even lapped cars can really just hold you up. You have to really depend on these guys that are lapped to give those spots to you, let you allow you to pass them. They don’t have to, (and) they could hold you up for a long time.

“Certainly when you’re trying to race a guy for position who’s got decent speed, it can be almost impossible to get around him because that top groove is so much harder to get around. That guy running that top line, that bottom doesn’t have the grip. You can’t get off the corner.”

Earnhardt has a suggestion for addressing it, noting that the track once sealed the asphalt on the apron, which had a benefit when the bottom groove was the preferred line.

“The yellow line for the bottom of the track wasn’t on the apron,” Earnhardt said. “It was about a foot and a half up on the banking, so there was this black sealer on top of the concrete, and you would hook the left front on that, and that really helped you run the bottom.”

The Hendrick Motorsports driver would like to see the track apply the sealer on the bottom again in hopes of creating more passing zones.

“That little bit of tacky sealer on the bottom of the track was only about a foot wide, but it was a major improvement in grip,” he said. “That would help the front grip, and that bottom groove would be more competitive. If they wanted to try something like that, it wouldn’t hurt anything. Nobody is running down there as it is, it’s not like they’re going to screw anything up.”

Though Bristol is among Earnhardt’s favorite tracks (he tweeted Friday morning about his childhood love for it), the tiny oval on the Tennessee-Virginia border hasn’t been kind lately.

Entering Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol, his last top five there was eight years ago, and his lone win was in the August 2004 race.

Some of his struggles might be attributable to his 21.0 average starting position – worst on the Sprint Cup circuit.

“I think I qualify terrible everywhere, but I’m sure the numbers at Bristol aren’t exponentially worse than other racetracks,” Earnhardt said with a laugh. “It just happens to be the worst. I don’t look at that track and go it’s not one of my best tracks. I look at it and get excited to go there.

“I feel like I’m really one of the top five, top 10 guys at the short tracks if not better. … I’ve got a lot of confidence when we go there, but we haven’t really had the great runs we expect out of the team that we seem to have at other racetracks. We’re not going there consistently running in the top five. We definitely shouldn’t finish outside the top 10 barring any real issues.”

NASCAR weekend schedule at World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland


NASCAR’s top three series are racing this weekend in two different locations. Cup and Craftsman Truck teams will compete at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and the Xfinity Series will compete at Portland International Raceway.

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Cup and Trucks)

Weekend weather

Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 87 degrees during Truck qualifying.

Saturday: Sunny. Temperatures will be around 80 degrees for the start of Cup practice and climb to 88 degrees by the end of Cup qualifying. Forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 93 degrees around the start of the Truck race.

Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 92 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Cup race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 1 – 8 p.m. Craftsman Truck Series
  • 4 – 9 p.m. Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 6:30 p.m. — Truck practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (FS1)

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  — Cup Series
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Cup qualifying  (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (160 laps, 200 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, June 4

Garage open

  • 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (240 laps, 300 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


Portland International Raceway (Xfinity Series)

Weekend weather

Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 77 degrees.

Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 73 degrees and no chance of rain around the start of the Xfinity race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 6-11 p.m. Xfinity Series

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 10 a.m.  — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Xfinity practice (No TV)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (75 laps, 147.75 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.