Photo: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

NASCAR Euro Series will have record number of teams for 2018

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The 2018 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will have a record number of teams competing this season, it was announced Thursday.

A total of 30 cars and drivers from 19 teams – both returning teams and newcomers – will take part in the 12-event series held on six racetracks in competition for the European NASCAR championship.

The six countries that will play host to the series are Spain, Italy, Great Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.

A new addition to the series’ roster of racetracks will be the oval track at Tours, France, which will play host to the Oval World Challenge.

Here’s how the 2018 NASCAR Euro season shapes up:

  • The season will open with the NASCAR Grand Prix of Spain, April 14-15, at the Circuit Valenciana Ricardo Tormo road course as part of the fifth annual Valencia NASCAR Fest.
  • From there, the schedule will go to Brescia, Italy and the Autodromo Franciancorta road course on May 19 and 20.
  • June 9-10 will be contested at Great Britain’s famous Brands Hatch road course as part of the American SpeedFest.
  • June 30 and July 1 will see the only oval track of the season, the Oval World Challenge at Tours Speedway in Tours, France.
  • After a 2 ½ month layoff, the series resumes with a four-race playoff: Sept. 15 and 16 at the road course in Hockehiem, Germany, and the championship-deciding pair of races Oct. 21 and 22 on the Circuit Zolder road course in Belgium.

Date Round Track Country

April 14: Round 1 – Valencia (road course), Spain
April 15: Round 2 – Valencia (road course), Spain
May 19: Round 3 – Franciacorta (road course) in Brescia, Italy
May 20: Round 4 – Franciacorta (road course) in Brescia, Italy
June 9: Round 5 – Brands Hatch (road course) in Great Britain
June 10: Round 6 – Brands Hatch (road course) in Great Britain
June 30: Round 7 – Oval World Challenge (oval) in Tours, France
July 1: Round 8 – Oval World Challenge (oval) in Tours, France
PLAYOFFS:
September 15: Semi-final 1 – Hockenheim (road course) in Germany
September 16: Semi-final 2 – Hockenheim (road course) in Germany
October 20: Final 1 – Circuit Zolder (road course) in Belgium
October 21: Final 2 – Circuit Zolder (road course) in Belgium

The series will once again be divided into the Elite 1 and Elite 2 divisions.

Israeli driver Alon Day will return to defend his 2017 NWES championship with CAAL Racing, which will field three Chevrolets.

Other key teams include:

* Knauf Racing, which brings back Elite 2 Division Champion Thomas Ferrando as part of a two-car Ford Mustang operation.

* PK Carsport and Alex Caffi Motorsport will once again both have two two entries apiece.

* Braxx Racing will expand to three cars.

* Racers Motorsport will field three Ford Mustangs.

* Renauer Motorsport and MRT by Nocentini will field two Mustangs apiece.

* Other returning teams include RDV Competition, Racing Total, DF1 Racing, Mishumotors and The Club Motorsports.

* Newcomers to the series include Go Fas Racing Europe, Pegasus Racing (switches to the NWES from endurance racing), Solaris Motorsport (from GT racing), Hezemans Racing, Race Art Technology and BVR Motorsport. All newcomers will make their official NWES debuts at Valencia.

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Denny Hamlin posts fastest lap in Saturday morning Cup practice

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin had the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading the field with a lap of 132.942 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (132.462), Kyle Busch (132.406) and Kevin Harvick (132.356).

Harvick ran the most laps at 50. Harvick told NASCAR on NBC broadcaster Rick Allen in the garage that he ran so many laps to see how much the speed falls off as the tires wear. Jimmie Johnson was next with 42 laps run.

There were no incidents in the 50-minute session.

Ryan Blaney had the best 10-lap average at 131.767 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Start time of Sunday’s Cup race moved up to 1 pm ET

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LOUDON, N.H. – The start time for Sunday’s Cup race has been moved up to 1 p.m. ET because of the threat of rain, NASCAR announced.

NBCSN will broadcast the race. NBCSN’s coverage begins at noon ET.

The wunderground.com forecast for 1 p.m. ET Sunday calls for a 49 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms. There is a threat of rain throughout the day.

Kurt Busch won the pole for Sunday’s race.

Two Cup teams to be penalized practice time Saturday at New Hampshire

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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne each will miss 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for inspection issues, NASCAR announced.

Hamlin is being penalized for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice last weekend at Kentucky. Kahne is being penalized for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice Friday at New Hampshire.

Final practice is scheduled to go from 12:35 – 1:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NASCAR’s Saturday schedule for New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Today’s schedule at New Hampshire Motor Speedway includes two Cup practice sessions and the Xfinity Series race at the “Magic Mile.”

Here’s the full schedule with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

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)