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Plans submitted for significant changes at Phoenix International Raceway

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Phoenix International Raceway has submitted renovation plans that includes moving the start/finish line to what is now Turn 2, although NASCAR says nothing has been finalized on that matter.

The track submitted a site plan for expansion last week to the city of Avondale, Arizona, Brett Harris, chief building official, confirmed to NBC Sports. Construction is expected to begin in 2017 and end in late 2018.

Harris said his office typically takes about three weeks to review such plans. Once approved, track officials will be able to submit construction documents. Harris noted that changes still could be made by the track.

Officials from Phoenix International Raceway and International Speedway Corp. did not return messages for comment.

Among the changes in the track’s submitted plan (Click here to see the plans):

— The start/finish line is shown to be in what is now Turn 2.

— All the frontstretch grandstands would be eliminated and replaced by an elevated RV parking lot and have additional parking behind it.

— The Allison grandstand in Turn 2 will be extended to go through the entire turn.

— Pit road will be moved closer to the infield and have a tighter radius. That will allow additional space between the track and pit road.

—There would be five new garages for competitors.

— The media center would be moved from its present location across from the current start/finish line to just beyond Turn 2.

— The infield care center would move from behind the current media center to between what is now Turns 3 and 4.

— Victory Lane would be moved behind pit road to spot between what is now Turns 1 and 2.

Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer of International Speedway Corp., which owns the track, stated before the season that Phoenix International Raceway and Richmond International Raceway were the next two tracks scheduled for improvements. International Speedway Corp. completed its renovation of Daytona International Speedway before this season.

Dan Houser, executive vice president and chief financial officer of ISC, said during a conference call with investor analysts last month that the company plans to spend $500 million in capital expenditures from 2017-21. ISC budgeted $600 million for capital expenditures (with $400 million set aside for the Daytona renovations ) over a five-year period that began in 2013.

“Everyone who follows ISC knows we are in a capital intensive business and that our long-term core business success depends on hosting events at facilities that meet the expectations of today’s leisure and sports entertainment audience,’’ Houser said on the conference call.

John Saunders, president of ISC, also addressed plans for Phoenix in that same conference call, saying: “Phoenix is wore down; it’s got bad seating, and it needs to be upgraded. And so we went through a process, management went through a process that we shared with our Board back in 2013 where we evaluated our facilities and what kind of master planning they needed, what kind of infusion they would need over extended period of time. And so, there is a priority — prioritization is going on. And Phoenix is sort of next in line.’’

All-Star Race, Open entry lists

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It’s officially All-Star Race week.

For the first time the annual exhibition event that awards $1 million will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Wednesday on FS1).

Twenty drivers will compete in the 140-lap, four-stage main event. Sixteen drivers currently make up the field following Cole Custer’s win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

Three drivers will qualify for the main event via the All-Star Open, the 85-lap preliminary race that’s divided into three stages. The winners of all three stages will advance. The remaining driver will advance via a fan vote.

Here are the entry lists for each race.

All-Star Race 

Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star Race: Those who won points races in 2019-20, past All-Star Race winners and previous Cup champions.

Drivers who have clinched an All-Star Race spot: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the entry list.

All-Star Open

Twenty-two drivers are entered in the preliminary race.

Notable drivers include Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, rookies Tyler Reddick, William Byron and John Hunter Nemechek, as well as Bubba Wallace.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight

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Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, says that series officials will keep an eye on Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson moving forward but that the sanctioning body feels it is in a “good place” with those drivers after their fight last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Gragson punched Burton after Burton repeatedly shoved him in the garage area as they discussed their contact on the track late in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A NASCAR spokesperson said Friday night that no penalties were anticipated.

Asked about where matters stood between NASCAR and the two drivers, Miller told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning:

“I personally wasn’t in the post-race conversations. (NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director) Wayne Auton does a great job with that and the report that I got from him is he talked to some of the crew members that were involved and obviously both of the drivers. I think we got to a good place. They’re going to have some words this week and try to make sure we’re in a good spot when we start the weekend next weekend in Texas. We feel like we’re OK.

“This is an emotional sport and there’s going to be things like that that crop up. It’s not a great situation for us to deal with as a sanctioning body, but we also want the emotion in the sport. That’s what makes it so special. Those things are unfortunate, but we do know from time to time those are going to happen. If we feel good about the conversations we’ve had, in a lot of cases we’re going to move on from that and keep an eye on those individuals moving forward.”

Race and Sports in America: Conversations to air at 8 p.m. ET Monday

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Damon Hack will host two roundtables with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

Appearing with Hack will be Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, NBA superstar Steph Curry, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL player Kyle Rudolph, pro golfer Troy Mullins, former tennis player James Blake, Major League Baseball player James Rollins and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Among the topics discussed are: The conversations they’ve had with family in the last few months, what they hope things will be like in a year’s time, the level of optimism vs. pessimism and their experiences.

 

 

Winners and losers from Kentucky

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WINNERS

Cole CusterHe entered Sunday’s race well out of a playoff spot at 25th in the points. He took advantage of a series of events in the final laps to score a dramatic victory and earn a playoff spot.

Martin Truex Jr.Lost the lead on the last lap but recorded his first top-five finish since his Martinsville win last month.

Matt DiBenedetto He was 18th with 14 laps to go and finished third.

Christopher BellSeventh-place finish was his fourth finish of 12th or better in the last six races.

Austin Cindric Had not won on an oval in the Xfinity Series before sweeping both series races at Kentucky Speedway.

LOSERS

Matt KensethA week after finishing runner-up at Indianapolis, he spun twice and finished 25th at Kentucky.

Ryan PreeceFinished last for the second race in a row. He was eliminated in a pit road accident at Indy and by transmission issues at Kentucky. He has failed to finish five of 17 races this season (29.4%).

Jimmie JohnsonWas third on a late restart when contact with Brad Keselowski spun him. Instead of contending for his first victory since 2017, Johnson finished 18th and had a little warning for Keselowski.