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Rain, rain go away – it won’t be a problem next fall at Charlotte with rain tires

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CONCORD, North Carolina — The rain that was a bane of NASCAR fans Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be anticipated next year.

While rain delayed Saturday’s Xfinity race and the threat of it moved the start of Sunday’s Cup race up an hour, rain next year won’t be as much of a problem.

With NASCAR racing on the track’s roval, rain tires will be available for both series a year from now. It’s a decision NASCAR made a couple of weeks ago, Stu Grant, general manager of worldwide racing for Goodyear, told NBC Sports.

“There was some debate about whether or not we should run rain tires on the roval because of how much you run on the bankings and the speed you may or may not have,’’ Grant said. “There was some due diligence on whether or not rain tires should be run. A lot of modeling, a lot of simulation and it looks like the speeds are going to be comparable to Watkins Glen and NASCAR has made the call, yeah, Goodyear go ahead and have rain tires available for this race a year from now.’’

The rain tires will be the same tires available at other road courses that NASCAR races.

Goodyear also will have rain tires at an Oct. 17-18 test on Charlotte’s roval with Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Furniture Row Racing.

Grant said the test procedure will be the same as other tires tests but admits this will be different since this is a new track for teams.

“The banking that you run here adds a whole different element from a car setup standpoint,’’ Grant said. “It’s different than trying to set up the car for a road course at Sonoma for example. We’re going to learn a lot about the tires and the compound necessary to come here with a good race tire, but the teams are going to learn a lot about how to set the car up properly.’’

The base tire for that test will be the tire combination that is run at Watkins Glen.

“The issue for us is to figure out what is the right compound to marry that road course construction with the asphalt on the road course and the oval pieces,’’ Grant said. “We have purpose-built a number of test tires to make sure we have the right combination.’’

One change that helped Goodyear was the addition of the chicane on the backstretch of the oval to slow cars before entering Turns 3 and 4. Cars will exit the road course portion in Turn 1 and run on the oval through Turn 2 and the backstretch before reaching the chicane.

“If you look back, the original layout, it did not have the chicane on the back,’’ Grant said. “Think about it, you come out of (Turns) 1 and 2 and all the way down the backstretch and through 3 and you can generate some pretty high speeds. It’s difficult to be able to get any kind of a comprise on the car or the tire that allows you to get through the super slow part in the road course and have the durability and the suspension settings on the car to be able to get through Turn 3 at high speeds.

“The chicane was added on the backstretch to slow the entry into 3 and allow you to run a proper road course setup on your car, a good road course tire and run rain tires.’’

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New Hampshire to add traction compound to racing surface

Photo: Dustin Long
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New Hampshire Motor Speedway officials will add the PJ1 traction compound to the racing surface before this weekend’s racing, a track spokesperson confirmed to NBC Sports.

Track officials are scheduled to put the traction compound on the track today and are expected to do so again Saturday and Sunday, pending NASCAR approval. The track reapplied the traction compound the morning of last July’s race.

The traction compound is to be applied to the first groove (lowest groove) and third grove (just outside the main groove) in all four corners. A track spokesperson said the traction compound would be applied on the 12 feet at the bottom of the track from the yellow line on up. Then there will be a 12-foot section that will not be applied (the main groove) and the traction compound is to be applied on another 12 feet above the main grove

The track used the PJ1 compound for both Cup weekends last year to help enhance the passing.

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Weekend schedule for Cup, Xfinity at New Hampshire

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The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity teams will make their lone visit of the year to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch combined to win 14 of the first 19 races. Will their dominance continue? In Xfinity, there have been six different winners in the last seven races. Will that streak continue.

Here’s a look at the track schedule for the weekend:

(ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN)

FRIDAY, JULY 20

8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. — Cup garage open

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

Noon – 12:50 p.m. — Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:05 – 1:55 p.m. — Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

3:05 – 3:55 p.m. — Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:45 p.m. — Cup qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network)

SATURDAY, JULY 21

7 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. — Cup garage open

10:05 – 10:55 a.m. — Cup practice (CNBC)

11:05 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying; multi-vehicle/three rounds (CNBC)

12:35 – 1:25 p.m. — Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

1:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

3:30 p.m. — Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. — Lakes Region 200 Xfinity race; 200 laps/211.6 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

SUNDAY, JULY 22

8:30 a.m. — Cup garage opens

Noon — Cup driver/crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. — Cup driver introductions

2 p.m. — Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Cup race; 301 laps/318.46 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch believes Martin Truex Jr. is his biggest competition

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Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have been so strong in 2018 that many believe the championship will come down to them – and only them.

Busch has five wins, Harvick matches him with five and Truex earned his fourth win last week on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

Who is Busch’s greatest competition? Busch does not think the other five-time winner will be the driver to beat. Instead, he picked Truex as the top contender at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Wednesday’s NASCAR America.

“If you had to choose just one, I’d have to say Martin,” Busch said. “Just with the successes that they’ve had on mile-and-a-halves. Even though Harvick’s been just as good at mile-and-halves.”

Last year, Truex dominated the 1.5-milers – including a win in the final race that crowned him champion.

“Overall, the 78’s just so strong and they certainly know how to turn up the wick when it matters most,“ Busch said.

Busch is not ready to concede the title to Truex, however.

“I think you’ve seen the 78’s dominance of last year toned back,” he said. “They’re third, they’re fourth, they’re fifth – they’re still competitive, They’re still right there, but they’re not nine seconds out front. So I think the field has been closed up. … But they still have that little bit of edge when they need it.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch would have accepted Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s call on Friday

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If Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had called Kyle Busch as late as Friday morning before the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, none of last week’s verbal conflict between the two would have happened.

At least that is Busch’s opinion of the situation.

“If he would have made the call: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – even Friday morning still counts,” Busch said. “He could have talked about how I hurt his feeling for the things I said over the radio when I blasted him because I was mad over knocking a wall down.

“He could have said, ‘Hey man I’m sorry I got into you – you know I pushed up,’ or whatever happened … and ‘Hey, by the way, those things that you said after the crash were pretty rough.’ And I would have been, like ‘Ricky, you’re totally right. That was over the top.’

Then, when the question was posed about whether they the two had talked, the answer would have been “yeah, we’re all fine.”

And that would have been the end of the story.

“I learned, after making that mistake a few times that it’s just easier to make the call,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “Sometimes you don’t even think you’re in the wrong. … But it’s just easier to go ahead and make the call, because that guy’s annoyed. It goes into the next week – and then, like (happened with) you guys, y’all had it play out in front of everybody at Kentucky.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.