NASCAR to allow up to 5,000 fans at Talladega Cup race

11 Comments

NASCAR announced Tuesday that it will allow up to 5,000 guests for the June 21 Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The track also announced that there will be limited motorhome camping spots available outside the track along the backstretch. Tickets are open exclusively on a first-come, first-served basis to fans who purchased tickets or reserved camping for the event, which was previously scheduled for April 26.

Grandstand tickets will be $40 each. Tower tickets will be $50 each. There is no special pricing for kids 12 and younger for the Cup race. A maximum of six seats grouped together will be allowed. The track will automatically block sale of seats to ensure proper spacing for social distancing. All tickets will be delivered via Tickets @ Home. That will allow fans to display their tickets on their mobile device for non-contact entry at the gates or the ability to print tickets at home.

Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president, chief operations and sales officer, said the 5,000-person limit at Talladega was a combination of “what do we feel like is the right stair-step approach” the percent of capacity and consultation with local public officials and medical experts and “what they were comfortable with as well.

“You mix all that together, assess what the right approach is and that’s the number we landed on.”

According to a 2018 annual report by International Speedway Corp., Talladega Superspeedway had a seating capacity of 78,000. A crowd of 5,000 would less than 7% of capacity. The Talladega race follows Sunday’s Miami Cup race, which will have up to 1,000 people in the stands.

Fans must adhere to social distancing of 6 feet. All spectators age 3 and up will be required to wear a face covering. Each spectator will be screened before entering the event gates. Initial screening will include questions regarding current health status and potential exposure, as well as a non-contact temperature check. Spectators also will be required to complete a waiver process.

No tailgating before or after the event will be allowed on track property. Spectators will be directed to specific parking lots. A sequenced ingress/egress procedure into the facility property/gates will be used to minimize large concentrations of people. More info is to  come on specific times and entry locations for spectators. Entry and exit to the grandstands, along with routes to concession stands and restrooms via the frontstretch concourse will adhere to social distancing guidelines. No coolers or ice packs of any type will be permitted inside the entry gates.

Once in grandstands, fans will not be allowed to exit the property and return. Fans will not be allowed in the infield.

The track will have multiple concession stands open with grab-n-go pre-packaged items for $2 to $5 each. Those items include sandwiches, salads, chips, candy, snacks, soft drinks and beer. All transactions will be cashless. Accepted forms of payment: Debit, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Apple Pay, Google Pay and  Samsung Pay.

The track states that concessions and restrooms will maintain physical distancing and have more frequent cleaning across high touch locations.

There will be no fans for the Saturday Xfinity race at Talladega.

 

 

Sections in green are where fans will be able to purchase seats for the June 21 Cup race at Talladega.

 

Miami-Dade County has given Homestead-Miami Speedway permission to host up to 1,000 military personnel, first responders and their household members to Sunday’s Cup race there. Those admitted would not be charged and allowed only in the grandstands. They also would be required to undergo a health screening before entering, wear a cloth mask and comply with other social distancing guidelines. They’ll be the first fans to sit in the stands for a NASCAR race. There were some fans at the Charlotte races last month but they were in the condos outside Turn 1 and not allowed in the stands.

Other upcoming NASCAR races will not be held with fans, tracks have announced. Those are Pocono (hosting NASCAR races June 26-28), Indianapolis (July 4-5) and Kentucky (July 9-12).

Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts the July 15 All-Star Race, has stated it is in consultation with state and local health officials about if fans will be allowed at that event but no decision has been made.

Texas Motor Speedway, which hosts NASCAR races July 18-19, has stated it is working with state and local officials to determine the size and scope of fans who will be able to attend those races.

Kansas Speedway has stated that its races July 23-25 will be run without spectators but noted track officials are in consultation with state and local officials to determine if that could change.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which hosts a Cup race Aug. 2, said that it is unclear if fans will be allowed at its events.

NASCAR has not announced its revised schedule beyond Aug. 2.

In IndyCar, Roger Penske, whose company purchased Indianapolis Motor Speedway, told Racer.com that “we are going to run (the Indianapolis 500) with fans.” If the Aug. 23 race on NBC can’t be run with fans, Racer.com stated that the event would move to October.

NASCAR weekend schedule for Talladega Superspeedway

0 Comments

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs roll into Talladega Superspeedway, a center of uncertainty, for the second race in the Round of 12 this weekend.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) could place the first driver in the Round of 8. Any playoff driver who wins the race automatically advances to the next round.

Through the playoffs to date, playoff drivers are batting zero in the race-win category. Non-playoff drivers — Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones — have scored wins in the first four playoff races.

Joey Logano leads the playoff points entering the race. Ross Chastain, who won at Talladega earlier this year, is second.

The four drivers below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron was above the line earlier this week but was penalized 25 points for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. That move lifted Chase Briscoe above the cutline.

Playoff races also are scheduled for the Xfinity Series (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, USA Network) and the Camping World Truck Series (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., FS1) at Talladega.

Here’s a look at the Talladega weekend schedule:

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 74.

Sunday: Intervals of clouds and sun. High of 75.

Friday, Sept. 30

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series
  • 2 – 7 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Short-track ace Sam Ard shares Xfinity record with Noah Gragson

0 Comments

Former two-time Xfinity Series champion Sam Ard’s name returned to the forefront in the past week as Noah Gragson tied Ard’s series record for consecutive victories at four.

Although Ard has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his exploits generally aren’t well-known among many who follow the modern sport of stock car racing. He was on the Hall voting list for the 2023 class but was not elected.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Ard was a short-track master in the vein of stars like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant and Butch Lindley, drivers who could show up at virtually any half-mile track across the country and take home the trophy.

He won the NASCAR Late Model (now the Xfinity Series) championship in 1983 and 1984, scoring 18 wins across those two seasons. He put together four victories in a row late in the 1983 season, winning at South Boston, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; Rougemont, North Carolina and Charlotte.

Ard was so dominant in 1984 that he had wrapped up the seasonal championship with two races remaining. In 28 series starts that year, he had 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 runs. He won eight times.

In the next-to-last race of the 1984 season, at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, Ard suffered critical head injuries when his car slid in fluid from another vehicle and hit the track’s outside wall.

That crash effectively ended Ard’s career and impacted the rest of his life. Ard often talked of learning to walk again as part of his recovery. He said he would use a walker in a pile of sawdust in his backyard so that the landing would be softer when he fell.

Ard eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In 2006, responding to Ard’s financial problems, drivers Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others, launched a drive to raise funds for his family.

Ard, a native of Scranton, S.C., died in April 2017. He was 78.

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers to watch in Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway

0 Comments

The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will reach a critical point Sunday in a 500-mile chase at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

The overriding factor in any race at Talladega, NASCAR’s biggest track, is the unknown. With cars running so fast and so close together, multi-car accidents are not only possible but expected, and it’s easy to become the innocent victim of someone else’s mistake.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

The tension is doubled for the 12 playoff drivers. A bad finish at Talladega could open the door for a probable playoff exit at the end of the round Oct. 9 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The playoffs to date have seen four wins by non-playoff drivers, an unprecedented result. Tyler Reddick was the most recent to join that list with a win last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

A look at drivers to watch at Talladega:

FRONTRUNNERS

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 10th at Texas, 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 2 career wins

Although he hasn’t won, Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. In the past six races at Talladega, he has four finishes of seventh or better. Now if he can just keep people from running into him…

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 7th at Texas, 3rd at Bristol, 6th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is a second

Byron stands alone as the only playoff driver who has been able to avoid major crashes and trouble in the pits, and he has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. After Tuesday’s penalty for his incident with Denny Hamlin at Texas, he sits below the cutline entering Sunday’s race.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 24th
  • Last three races: 8th at Texas, 13th at Bristol, 25th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 6 wins, the active leader

Even in trying times, Keselowski is a threat at Talladega, where he last won in April 2021 (his last Cup victory). He has led 268 laps there in the past 13 races.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 15th
  • Last three races: 36th at Texas, 34th at Bristol, 26th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2008

Is Busch going to steadily disappear into the mist as he rides out the final weeks of his final year with Joe Gibbs Racing? His best finish in the past four races is 26th. On the positive side this week, he’s the only driver to finish in the top 10 in this year’s three races at Daytona and Talladega.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2019

Can Elliott rebound from a fiery finish and a 32nd-place run at Texas? Playoff points give him some comfort, but a second career win at Talladega would be greatly appreciated in the Hendrick camp.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 17th
  • Last three races: 31st at Texas, 36th at Bristol, 5th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is 5th

Will one of the sport’s most enduring mysteries continue at Talladega? In 70 career starts at Daytona and Talladega, Truex, a former champion and a smooth driver, has zero wins. At Talladega, he has only three top-five finishes in 35 starts.

 

 

 

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

0 Comments

The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.