Cup Series race in cards for Eldora Speedway?

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Since the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ smashing debut at Eldora Speedway in 2013, speculation has sprouted about whether the Cup Series could be molded to the short track.

The better question might be whether the historic half-mile clay oval, which opened in 1954 and was bought by Tony Stewart in 2004, could be retrofitted to meet specs of playing host to NASCAR’s premier series without altering its character.

“Would a Cup race work? Yes,” Eldora Speedway general manager Roger Slack said on the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “But at that point, you’re having to make alterations to the facility. Say a full pit road. How to do that and not compromise nearly 65 years of the Eldora legacy?”

The track also lacks a SAFER barrier because the soft-wall technology is designed to be anchored and mounted on an asphalt surface. Slack also said the dirt and mud that would be slung into its crevices would hamper the SAFER barrier’s efficacy because it wouldn’t flex in the intended manner to cushion impacts.

“If there was an option to do it that worked on dirt, in all likelihood, we’d be the first place to go and install it purposely for a dirt track,” he said. “There’s a motorsports safety council (that is) trying to take a look at it.”

There also could be space concerns about handling the fleet of 18-wheelers that transports the Cup circuit around the country.

“It’s not just 40 haulers” for the teams, Slack said. “It’s at least 100 haulers, and you have to have room for 100 semis.”

After the truck’s debut, Stewart lobbied hard for NASCAR to bring the Xfinity or Cup Series to the track, but he has been less vocal the past three years.

“If you can take the trucks and make them work here, the Cup and (Xfinity) cars aren’t a big stretch,” Stewart said in 2014. “It’s definitely feasible. It’s just a matter of is that something they want to do?”

Slack believes the Xfinity Series wouldn’t work as well as trucks because its costs would preclude dirt-track moonlighting, and it wouldn’t offer the star power of Cup.

“The trucks are different, they look different,” Slack said. “It’s something our local dirt racers can raise some money and get into the show. That makes it unique enough where it still works. I don’t think Xfinity would work as it is.”

But there is strong evidence that a Cup race would be a major draw. Using Late Models provided by dirt track teams, Cup stars raced in the annual Prelude to the Dream at Eldora from 2005-12.

“Would a Cup race work there? Yes,” Slack said. “Would it work in the middle of the week? Yes. Would it work financially? Yes.”

So is there any hope of putting it on the front burner for NASCAR?

“They don’t return my normal calls, let alone those ones,” Slack said with a laugh about NASCAR officials.

In the meantime, the track is happy to have become one of the crown jewel events on the truck schedule.

“You really have to respect the truck guys,” Slack said. “They work their guts out. A lot of them are not making very much money, struggling to be there, and they come and bring a truck built for asphalt and race it on dirt. And they are extremely appreciative we have the event.”

During the podcast, Slack also discussed:

–The top-secret test in 2012 with Austin Dillon and Stewart to ensure the trucks would work on dirt;

–The renaissance and resurgence of dirt racing and its appeal;

–What it’s like working for Tony Stewart.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

Starting lineup for Texas Cup race: Brad Keselowski wins pole

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Brad Keselowski will be at the front of the field to start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 pm ET, USA Network).

Keselowski, who is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group, won the pole Saturday afternoon with a speed of 188.990, edging Joey Logano‘s 188.805.

MORE: Texas Cup starting lineup

The race is the first of three in the second round of the Cup playoffs. Round of 12 races will follow at Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 2 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Oct. 9.

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Also starting in the top five Sunday will be William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell.

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher,  Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.

Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group. Nine of the first 14 starting positions were filled by playoff drivers.

MORE: Texas Cup qualifying results

Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.

“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”

Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.

The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.

Sunday Texas Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.

Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.

MORE: Big race celebration? Try Waffle House

The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:

START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.

MORE: Ryan Blaney’s team to appeal penalty

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.

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Brandon Jones wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Playoff driver Brandon Jones won the pole position Saturday morning for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones was clocked at 185.637 miles per hour. He has won three of the past four Xfinity poles.

MORE: Texas Xfinity qualifying results

MORE: Texas Xfinity starting lineup

Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on the USA Network, the race is the opening event of the Xfinity playoffs.

Following Jones in the top five were Noah Gragson (winner of three consecutive Xfinity races), Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Sam Mayer.

MORE: Post-race celebration? Try the Waffle House

The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track. Drivers will be battling heat in the mid-to-high 90s.