Will drivers risk cutting the chicane with a Roval victory at stake?

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CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr. watched every agonizing millisecond of the moments leading up to the crash that cost him a victory last year at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval .

Truex’s Toyota was leading entering the final chicane, but Jimmie Johnson was hanging out his No. 48 Chevrolet trying to find the speed to take the spot.

The seven-time series champion locked up his brakes entering turn 16 and spun sideways through the chicane … and directly into Truex, who dutifully had completed a right turn into Johnson’s path by keeping his car in between the curbs at NASCAR’s behest (watch the video recapping it above).

RYAN: Challenging NASCAR is the lesson from 2018 Roval race

“It was just crazy the way he spun and went across from behind me,” Truex recently told NBC Sports. “I was surprised he spun back across the track and hit me. And honestly in that moment, I seen it happening. I looked in my mirrors seeing him in the grass, coming toward the back of my car.”

A split-second decision had arrived. Truex could cut the chicane and likely avoid the crash.

But NASCAR’s rules are that straight-lining either of the layout’s chicanes require a stop and go penalty served on the frontstretch. If it happened on the final lap, a postrace penalty of 30 seconds would be applied – assuredly costing Truex the victory.

He elected to run the corners and still paid a price.

“If I go straight here, I think they’re going to take the win from me,” Truex said. “I just tried to turn and get some of that curb, and that’s when he clipped me. It was a crazy situation the way it happened, but I wasn’t surprised at the move or what he did.”

Sunday’s race almost certainly will present several Cup drivers with the dilemma of whether they should cut the chicane and risk the ire of NASCAR … which says in prerace meetings that “if a competitor is judged to miss a chicane to avoid an accident, NASCAR (in its discretion) may forego penalties.”

Putting the onus on NASCAR to make a judgment call is a risk-reward proposition that will is complicated by Sunday being a cut race that will determine which dozen cars advance to the second round of the playoffs. Every point will matter for at least 10 drivers, and it could be dicey putting their fate in the arbitrary hands of the scoring tower

In Saturday’s Xfinity Series, race Christopher Bell felt he was forced off the track by Chase Briscoe and thought NASCAR might allow dispensation. He instead was sent to the rear after skipping the stop and go.

“Briscoe didn’t leave me any option besides running off the racetrack,” Bell told NBCSN about cutting the chicane. “I knew it was a penalty to miss the chicane, but there was a clause in there in the driver’s meeting where if you missed the chicane due to an incident, NASCAR would review it. I figured that me getting run off the race track and having no other option was a justifiable reason, but I guess not.”

It also could be a tough decision for the second-place driver, as Johnson was last year. The Hendrick Motorsports driver was eliminated from the playoffs by a point because he served a stop and go penalty for missing the chicane in his last-lap spin.

A year later, Johnson now says he would have finished the race and lived with whatever decision NASCAR made on a penalty – and he agrees with Truex’s remorse.

“In that particular instance, it would have been smart for both of us just to stay in the gas, or he could have turned down and gone straight,” Johnson told NBC Sports. “But I don’t think he had a clue where I was. That’s the one thing is watching on video is way different than sitting in the car.

“I’m sure the spotter didn’t know what to tell him. I wasn’t inside of him or next to him, I just came around backwards and cleaned him out. So it was a hard one to get right. … I think NASCAR at least said they would have penalized me, but I would have loved to put that pressure on them and see.”

What will drivers do today if they find themselves in the same position as Truex?

If you are leading, is the smart play cutting the chicane to avoid a potential accident and forcing into NASCAR to make a call?

NBCSports.com put that question to several drivers over the past two days at Charlotte. Here are their responses:

Ryan Blaney: “Honestly, I don’t know.  It’s not really anything I’ve thought about.  That’s an in the moment decision and you have a split-second to kind of make that decision, so I don’t know.  I guess that would be a NASCAR judgment call if he would have just said, ‘I’m going to go straight,’ and gas up and not letting him hit me, I don’t know what NASCAR would do in that situation, so that’s up to them.  I think there is some things where you kind of can almost point to it as they say you can go down pit road to avoid a wreck and reclaim your position, so would that be avoiding a wreck?  I don’t know.  That’s tough to kind of speculate on because it just didn’t happen that way, but I’m not sure.  If we find ourselves in that spot, I don’t know which one I’d do.  You don’t really think about that beforehand you just kind of whatever you feel at the time and you’re kind of jerk reaction.  That’s really how it is, so I’m not sure.”

William Byron: Yeah, that’s a good question. I would run the corner because you can’t expect them to give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s the rule and they’ve been pretty strict on those things lately, whether it’s pit road or anything. I would be really hard pressed to just cut it short and hope that they would make the call that I would want them to make, I guess. There’s really nothing you can do if someone is spinning there and they collect you. I think it’s just bad lucky, really. I don’t know. I think we will be reaching that chicane a little bit slower this year, so it might not be quite as easy to spin out locking up the tires. But we saw in practice that it’s really easy to lock up the tires in general. I would try to run the chicane there, maybe just stop and let him spin. But I don’t really know.”

Clint Bowyer: “Jimmie actually hit him, too, even before, but then he came back and wiped him out anyway. I don’t know even if he would have went straight, Jimmie still would have wiped him out. I understand going back and looking at it, yes. I think that contact warranted enough of, ‘Hey, I was trying to stay on track, sir! He removed me from the racetrack!’ I think that warranted it enough, that if he would have went straight through there, and Jimmie wouldn’t have hit him a second time, I still think you have to give him the win. I feel like that’s the right thing to do. In the replays I watched, I felt like if that would have happened, the fair thing to do, even if I was Ryan Blaney, the fair thing was for him to still win the race, even if he didn’t make the chicane as far as the rulebook, because it wasn’t his fault that he didn’t. (Will more drivers cut the chicane this year in that instance?) “No, no, no. I think it was an extreme situation. Again, he had contact. If I’m rolling into the chicane on the back straightaway, and a guy hits me and knocks me on the entrance into that deal, and I miss, first of all it ain’t like you’re going to gain 10 mph anyway. Once you knock the cars out of the grip zone, you’re out of control until you figure out to get that thing back underneath you anyway. You’re going to have enough of a dock as far as time standpoint that I feel like it’s OK. I don’t know what the ruling is on that. That would be how I would interpret it and how I would handle it if I was the sanctioning body or track promoter or whatever. We’ve all done this a long time. I have dirt late model teams that race all over the country. Same sanctioning body but different tracks. We race under a lot of conditions, and I see a lot of situations play out. Nine times out of 10 just like anything in life, common sense usually prevails.”

Kyle Busch: “Ummmm. Hmm. I don’t know. You hate putting NASCAR in that position to make a call because more times than not, it’s probably not going to go your way – my way.” (Is NASCAR a stickler for ensuring the entire course is run?) “Yeah, they are. We are on the cool down lap and instead of getting yelled at and whatever, I went ahead and did the chicane on the backstretch and it’s pretty simple to just roll through there straight and not have to slow down for it because it’s pretty slow over there. Your motors are shut off and you don’t have power steering and all that stuff, but you’ve got to fire up and go through there normal.”

Chase Elliott: “It’s not going to benefit you. They’re going to make sure it’s not going to benefit you, so as long as that’s the case, I don’t think it’s very tempting.” (So NASCAR would take the win away?) “Yeah, probably so. I don’t see how they couldn’t from what I’ve heard and talking about it. The way it was explained to me, if you cut it and if you stop and you’re still ahead of the guy, they’re going to put you behind in the first place, I don’t see how make that loophole work. It’s the fair way. For fairness, running the course as they have it designed is probably the right thing.”

Denny Hamlin: “If you’re in the lead, there’s no way you should cut the chicane, because then you’re putting NASCAR in a judgment call. If you’re second, maybe you should cut the chicane. But when you’re in the lead, the second-place guy still has to get around you. Jimmie never did get around him as it turns out. I think you have to stay on track and do the right thing.”

Erik Jones: “That’s a quick decision. I don’t know if you can think that far ahead. I think they would just black flag you. I know they wouldn’t want to, but I think any way you cut it on that deal, you’ll be in a similar position. It would be a tough call for them for sure. You’re taking a win away, but I think they wouldn’t hesitate to black flag someone for it. It’s a stick and ball call. It’s a strike or a ball. It would be tough to put them in that position to see what they’d do. I think they’d stick to their guys and penalize you, maybe if you’re avoiding a wreck, you might get away with it. It’d be really tough to say.”

Brad Keselowski: “I can’t say I’ve thought of it.  Those are easy things to talk through and generally when you get in the moment it’s a lot different.  I think it’s easy for us to say that now because you could see the result, but when you’re in the car I’m sure Martin couldn’t see the 48 spinning beside of him, so I would imagine if I was in that spot I wouldn’t be able to see it either.”

Kyle Larson: “Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like the rules here for this road course race are unique. There’s a lot of stop and go. I feel like typically, like in any form of auto racing that races road courses, I think you just try and blend back in where you didn’t gain any advantage. To me, I feel like that’s how it should be. They made that call on Kyle last year when he cut the first corner on that restart to kind of avoid the contact that was happening in Turn 1. And because he blended back in line, they let it go. So, I don’t agree with the stop-and-goes because you get penalized pretty harshly by having to come to a stop. They’re not going to change it, but I would rather them just do it where you can blend back in line with no advantage and that would be okay. So in Martin’s case, if that was the rule, he probably would have gone straight through the chicane and he would have been okay. Last year, he knew he would have to come to a stop and would lose the win that way. So he tries to complete the corner, and he didn’t. Yeah, it’s just weird, weird stock-car rules.” (So would you cut the corner?) “I don’t know. It’s hard to say until you’re in that moment, really. That’s a split-second decision. Maybe now he’s got a plan, but I don’t know.”

Joey Logano: “Hmmm. At that point, he can’t see where the 48 is going to go in the mirror. You’re on the binders so hard, and you’re trying to make this turn and grab downshifts. At that point, your spotter just has to tell you what to do. And I’ve had this conversation already, but you just have to have someone tell you what to do. Because ahh, hell, I don’t know. If you blow the chicane, you have to stop. That’s the rule. So I would assume they’re going to keep on with that rule. And then the 12 is going to win. Maybe. Probably. Most likely. It probably would have been a quicker way to get back to the start-finish line. But I don’t know. I don’t know. I hope I’m just in contention coming to the last corner like that. That’s a good spot to be.” (When you said you’ve had this conversation, it was specifically about that instance?) “Yeah, of what happens. I just spun out in practice right through that section. I said ‘Hey, if someone does that to me, you really have to coach me on where to go because you can’t see. They’re in their blind spots back there, and you can’t see much.’”

Snowball Derby entry list includes NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, Truck drivers

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Four Cup drivers are among those entered for Sunday’s 55th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

The Cup drivers entered are former series champion Brad Keselowski, playoff competitor William Byron, two-time Southern 500 winner Erik Jones and incoming Cup rookie Noah Gragson, who advanced to the Xfinity title race this year.

Also entered: Josh Berry, who competed in the Xfinity championship race this year, and Ty Majeski, who competed in the Truck championship race this year.

Majeski won the 2020 Snowball Derby. Gragson won the race in 2018. Jones won the event in 2012 and ’13.

Others entered include:

Chandler Smith, who won the 2021 Snowball Derby and will drive for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series in 2023, is listed on the entry list but stated on social media he will not be competing.

The Snowball Derby is among the more prestigious Super Late Model races on the calendar and coming after the NASCAR season makes it easier for more Cup, Xfinity and Truck competitors to take part in the event.

Qualifying takes place Saturday. The Snowball Derby is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET Sunday. Racing America will stream Sunday’s race for $49.99. A three-day viewing pass can be purchased for $74.99.

 

 

An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley’s 1981 victory at Dover

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NASCAR’s history is sprinkled with upsets, from unlikely winners riding the Talladega draft to short tracks that yielded unexpected wins when favored leaders crashed on the final lap.

Survey the list of surprise winners over the decades, and Jody Ridley’s name likely will stand out.

On May 17, 1981, two days shy of his 39th birthday, Ridley won a 500-mile race at Dover Motor Speedway in Delaware. It was the only victory of Ridley’s Cup career and the only win scored by Virginia team owner Junie Donlavey, who participated in the Cup Series for 45 years, with 863 starts.

Donlavey’s team was perpetually underfunded, and his drivers often raced with tired, overused engines and tires that had too many laps. He survived with a mostly volunteer crew and enough sponsorship to carry him from race to race. Rival drivers and team owners considered Donlavey one of the most popular residents of NASCAR garage areas across those many years, but he rarely had the chance to reach for victory lane.

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On that spring day at Dover, one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks, everything fell the right way. Many of the tour’s leading drivers parked with engine or overheating problems, and the day’s best car – the Wood Brothers entry driven by Neil Bonnett — was sidelined with an engine issue late in the race after leading 404 laps.

Ridley, running a steady race, benefited from an unusual day at Dover. The race had only two cautions, and the final 471 laps of 500 were run under green-flag conditions. A general lack of cautions prevented top teams from changing tires frequently, putting Ridley, who was used to running tires longer than normal, on better footing.

When Cale Yarborough left the race with engine trouble 20 laps from the finish, Ridley inherited the lead — he had been two laps down to Yarborough — and led the rest of the way. He won by 22 seconds over Bobby Allison, who was the only other driver on the lead lap. Dale Earnhardt finished third, a lap down. Illustrating the problems experienced by many in the field — not an unusual result in those days — was the fact that the fourth-place driver, D.K. Ulrich, was nine laps off the lead pace.

Ridley drove into Victory Lane for the first time, much to the delight of Donlavey’s crew.

“Junie took it all in stride,” Ridley, now 80, told NBC Sports. “He wasn’t as excited as the team guys were. Junie was the type of guy who didn’t want to cash in on other people’s bad luck. He kind of felt sorry for the guys who blew up. That’s just the way he was.

“For me, it was the highlight of my career. Once I got into Cup racing, I knew we probably wouldn’t do much winning because we didn’t have the equipment. It was icing on the cake to win that one.”

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Jody’s son Anthony, then 22 years old, was listening to the race via radio in Chatsworth, Georgia, where the family lived.

“I was upstairs at my girlfriend’s house, and I think I bounced all over the upstairs and then floated down to the first floor,” Anthony said. “It was all pretty cool. Dad called home. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t get real excited about anything, but he was happy.”

The win paid $22,560. Ridley’s cut from the check (40 percent, generally standard in those days) was $9,024, a nice payday but not Ridley’s biggest in Cup. He would win more for finishing in the top 10 in the Daytona 500.

“We were having a good day,” Ridley said, “but I never thought about winning it. We just didn’t have the cars. But we stayed in the hunt, and the other teams couldn’t get too many new tires, and Junie had put a different gear in the car. Normally he would put in a taller gear and drop the RPMs down (to protect the engine), and you couldn’t keep up. For some reason that day, he didn’t. And it paid off.”

Before joining the Cup tour full time in 1980 at age 37, Ridley had established himself as one of the top short-track drivers in the country. Across the South, at top Eastern Seaboard tracks and into the Midwest, a visit by Ridley usually meant a tough night for the locals.

MORE: Five laps that impacted Cup season

Ridley’s older brother, Biddle, and Anthony kept the Ridley short-track cars running.

“We did all that together for 36 years,” said Anthony, who started changing tires during pit stops at the age of 14. “It was how we made a living, but trying to feed three families out of a race car is tough.”

Ridley still lives in Chatsworth, where his 1981 victory was a sports highlight for years.

“He can’t hear well, but he’s still tough as a pine knot,” Anthony said.

 

 

 

 

2023 NASCAR, ARCA schedules

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The start of the 2023 racing season moves closer with each passing day.

Here are the Cup, Xfinity and Truck schedules (playoff races in bold), along with the ARCA, ARCA East and ARCA West schedules for the upcoming season:

2023 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Date Race / Track Network Start Time (ET) Radio
Sunday, February 5 Clash (L.A. Memorial Coliseum) FOX 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thursday, February 16 Duel at Daytona FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, February 19 DAYTONA 500 FOX 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, February 26 Auto Club FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 5 Las Vegas FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 12 Phoenix FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 19 Atlanta FOX 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 26 COTA FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 2 Richmond FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 9 Bristol Dirt FOX 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 16 Martinsville FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 23 Talladega FOX 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 30 Dover FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 7 Kansas FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 14 Darlington FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 21 NASCAR All-Star Race (North Wilkesboro) FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 28 Charlotte FOX 6:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 4 World Wide Technology Raceway FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 11 Sonoma FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 25 Nashville Superspeedway NBC 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 2 Chicago Street Race NBC 5:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 9 Atlanta USA 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 16 New Hampshire USA 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 23 Pocono USA 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 30 Richmond USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 6 Michigan USA 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 13 Indianapolis Road Course NBC 2:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 20 Watkins Glen USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 26 Daytona NBC 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 3 Darlington USA 6:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 10 Kansas USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 16 Bristol USA 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 24 Texas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 1 Talladega NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 8 Charlotte Roval NBC 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 15 Las Vegas NBC 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 22 Homestead-Miami NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 29 Martinsville NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, November 5 Phoenix NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Saturday, February 18 Daytona FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, February 25 Auto Club FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 4 Las Vegas FS1 4:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 11 Phoenix FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 18 Atlanta FS1 5:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 25 COTA FS1 5:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 1 Richmond FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 15 Martinsville FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 22 Talladega FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 29 Dover FS1 1:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 13 Darlington FOX 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 27 Charlotte FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 3 Portland FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 10 Sonoma FS1 8:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 24 Nashville Superspeedway USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 1 Chicago Street Race USA 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 8 Atlanta USA 8:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 15 New Hampshire USA 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 22 Pocono USA 5:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 29 Road America NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 5 Michigan NBC 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 12 Indianapolis Road Course USA 5:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 19 Watkins Glen USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, August 25 Daytona USA 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 2 Darlington USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 9 Kansas NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, September 15 Bristol USA 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 23 Texas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 7 Charlotte Roval USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 14 Las Vegas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 21 Homestead-Miami NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 28 Martinsville USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, November 4 Phoenix USA 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

 

2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Friday, February 17 Daytona FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, March 3 Las Vegas FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 18 Atlanta FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 25 COTA FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 1 Texas FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 8 Bristol Dirt FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, April 14 Martinsville FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 6 Kansas FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, May 12 Darlington FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 20 North Wilkesboro FOX 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, May 26 Charlotte FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 3 World Wide Technology Raceway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, June 23 Nashville Superspeedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 8 Mid-Ohio FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 22 Pocono FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 29 Richmond FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, August 11 Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 27 Milwaukee FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, September 8 Kansas FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thursday, September 14 Bristol FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 30 Talladega FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 21 Homestead-Miami FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, November 3 Phoenix FS1 10:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2023 ARCA Menards Series Schedule

  • Broadcast schedule, including event start times, will be released at a later date.
Feb. 18 Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL
March 10 Phoenix Raceway Avondale, AZ
April 22 Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, AL
May 6 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS
May 26 Charlotte Motor Speedway Concord, NC
June 17 Berlin Raceway Marne, MI
June 24 Elko Speedway Elko, MN
July 7 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington, OH
July 15 Iowa Speedway Newton, IA
July 21 Pocono Raceway Long Pond, PA
Aug. 4 Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, MI
Aug. 11 Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park Brownsburg, IN
Aug. 18 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, NY
Aug. 20 Illinois State Fairgrounds Springfield, IL
Aug. 27 The Milwaukee Mile West Allis, WI
Sept. 3 DuQuoin State Fairgrounds DuQuoin, IL
Sept. 8 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS
Sept. 14 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN
Sept. 30 Salem Speedway Salem, IN
Oct. 7 Toledo Speedway Toledo, OH

 

2023 ARCA Menards Series East Schedule

March 25    Five Flags Speedway              Pensacola, Fla. 

April 28      Dover Motor Speedway           Dover, Del. 

May 13      Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway    Nashville, Tenn. 

May 20      Flat Rock Speedway              Flat Rock, Mich. 

July 15      Iowa Speedway                  Newton, Iowa 

Aug. 11     Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park  Brownsburg, Ind. 

Aug. 27     The Milwaukee Mile              West Allis, Wisc. 

Sept. 14    Bristol Motor Speedway           Bristol, Tenn. 

 

2023 ARCA Menards Series West Schedule

March 10    Phoenix Raceway                Avondale, Ariz. 

April 1     Irwindale Speedway               Irwindale, Calif. 

April 22    Kern County Raceway Park          Bakersfield, Calif. 

June 2      Portland International Raceway      Portland, Ore. 

June 9      Sonoma Raceway                Sonoma, Calif. 

July 1      Irwindale Speedway               Irwindale, Calif. 

July 29     Shasta Speedway                 Anderson, Calif. 

Aug. 19     Evergreen Speedway             Evergreen, Wash. 

Sept. 30    All-American Speedway            Roseville, Calif. 

Oct. 13     The Bullring at LVMS              Las Vegas, Nev. 

Oct. 21     Madera Speedway                Madera, Calif. 

Nov. 3      Phoenix Raceway                 Avondale, Ariz. 

Each ARCA Menards Series East and West stand-alone race will be streamed live on FloRacing and televised on a delayed basis on USA Network. Race start times, as well as broadcast details for combination races with the ARCA Menards Series will be announced at a later date. 

 

2022 spotlights: The Clash, the King and Martinsville Mania

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The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season brought something new (a race inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum!) and something old (a win by the No. 43!) and a lot in-between.

In many ways, it was one of NASCAR’s best seasons. There were new winners, the Next Gen car kicked up competition a bit and there was a race finish (see the Ross Chastain file) like none other in the history of the sport.

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There were downsides, too: The safety of the new car came under fire (figuratively and literally, as wheel-well flames ended more than a few rides), drivers’ seasons were interrupted or ended because of hard wrecks and some races were less than stellar.

Looking back over the February-to-November marathon, some races stand out:

Rocking the City of Angels – Despite the naysayers, the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a roaring success. A platter of questions, including whether the purpose-built track inside the stadium would hold up under heavy stock cars and generate good racing, awaited as teams rolled into LA. The racing wasn’t sensational, but it was good, and there were no problems with the track. A huge crowd showed up, and NASCAR left town with many ideas, having proven that it could run a race on a temporary track inside a large stadium. It has escaped no one’s notice that there are many other large stadiums in the country – and, by the way, outside it.

Wiggling at Watkins Glen – The venerable New York road course produced another hot finish as teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled for the win. Larson forced Elliott out of the main groove and took the lead for good with five laps remaining. “I’m not proud of it, but I knew it’s what I had to do to get the win,” Larson said. Elliott didn’t publicly criticize Larson, but it was clear he wasn’t pleased with Larson’s move.

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Six hundred miles, and then some – The long history of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 600-mile race has produced some great competition – and some races that prompted long naps. This year’s was one of the craziest and, by the way, the longest. The race went to two overtimes, finally ending after 413 laps and 619.5 miles, making it the longest race in NASCAR’s 75 years. The winner – perhaps most accurately described as the survivor – was Denny Hamlin, who outran teammate Kyle Busch over the final two laps.

The King is back…but where is he? – The Cup playoffs opened at Darlington Raceway with the storied Southern 500, but the playoffs took a back seat to other storylines. Erik Jones scored an upset win in Richard Petty’s No. 43, marking the iconic car’s first victory since 2014. Petty, however, missed the Victory Lane festivities. He and Dale Inman, the No. 43’s former crew chief, left the race early for the drive home to North Carolina. The long night held several incidents, including one involving Kevin Harvick, who criticized NASCAR after his car caught fire, uttering his now-infamous diatribe about what he called “crappy-ass parts.”

No watermelon, but a lotta juiceThe finish of the Oct. 29 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway generated international interest. Christopher Bell won in a must-win situation to advance in the playoffs, but the post-race spotlight was on Ross Chastain, who rode the outside wall through the final two turns at speeds rarely seen on the short track and finished fourth, good enough to stay in the championship hunt. Chastain’s remarkable move drew comment from observers outside NASCAR, including Formula 1 drivers.