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Auto Club Speedway announces five-wide salute to the fans

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On March 17, 2019 NASCAR fans will see something unique: A five-wide salute to the fans.

Four-wide salutes have become commonplace among various dirt track series and this is a way to pay homage to sport’s grassroots while also showcasing the five-wide racing that can happen on Auto Club Speedway’s 2-mile track.

“This five-wide salute will be an impressive sight and is a nod to both our race fans and the grassroots of the sport,” said Dave Allen, President of Auto Club Speedway in a press release. “I grew up going to and racing at dirt tracks, and I am very passionate about the community because at the end of the day, we’re all family. I look forward to seeing everyone’s reaction in the grandstands, infield and along pit road.”

In addition, Auto Club announced a promotion called the “Five-Wide Happy Hour”. Beginning Jan. 5 and continuing on the fifth of February and March, fans will receive $5 off any reserve grandstand ticket to the 2019 Cup race when they purchase in a five-hour period from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific Time.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.autoclubspeedway.com, by phone (1-800-944-7223) or at the track ticket office.

Atlanta Motor Speedway repairs, reseals track ahead of February race

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Nearly two years after a scheduled repave of Atlanta Motor Speedway was delayed at the drivers’ request, the track continues to repair the old surface.

On Friday, Atlanta posted a video on Twitter detailing the work underway to repair and reseal the 21-year old surface.

Atlanta Motor Speedway was last repaved in 1997.

Scheduled to be repaved in late March 2017, a hue and cry rose up from NASCAR’s drivers.

At the time, speedway President Ed Clark said: “There’s no question that the surface is worn out, but probably the most powerful lobby this side of Washington, D.C., was the biggest influence. They kind of put the pressure on. I understand.”

And the repave was called off.

MORE: Atlanta Motor Speedway to delay repave at least a year (March, 2017)
MORE: Atlanta Motor Speedway will be repaved after March race (January 2017)

After the 1997 repaving, Geoffrey Bodine set a pole record lap of 197.478 mph in the November race.

In 2018, the pole speed fell to 184.652 mph when Kyle Busch posted the fastest lap in Round 3 of qualification.

When announcing the delay in repaving the track, Clark also noted that repaving would eventually be inevitable, suggesting at the time that they might get only one more year out of the surface.

“All you’ve got to do is walk out there and look at it,” Clark said. “It is absolutely worn out. But if the drivers say, hey our choice is to race on this surface as it is ….

“There comes a point (when a repave is needed). We do have a few drainage issues we do need to correct, some other things when the time comes. Right now, we’re going to get through 2018 and evaluate and see if that is the time or when is it.”

On Feb. 24, drivers will have at least one more season to battle the abrasive surface.

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Milestones Cup drivers could reach in 2019

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NASCAR Cup drivers have many milestones ahead of them in 2019.

Here is a look at some that could be reached this season:

Wins

Jimmie Johnson has 83 victories and is tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time list. His next victory will tie him with Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison in fourth. Johnson was winless in 2018, the first time he ran a full Cup season without a victory.

Since winning in his rookie season of 2005, Kyle Busch has never failed to find Victory Lane in the Cup series – a streak of 14 seasons. He’s also had great success in the Xfinity and Truck series. Busch is six total wins away from achieving 200 victories across NASCAR’s top three divisions. Busch has 51 Cup wins, 92 Xfinity wins and 51 Truck wins.

Kevin Harvick is five wins away from joining the exclusive 50-win club that has 13 members. Johnson and Busch are the only active drivers with more than 50 Cup wins.

Hendrick Motorsports looks to extend its streak of consecutive seasons with a Cup win to 34 this year.

Last year Erik Jones and Chase Elliott won, marking three consecutive seasons in which drivers scored career-first victories. That was the longest streak since 2005-2007. The last time at least four consecutive seasons highlighted first-time winners was from 1994-2003.

Top 5s

Jimmie Johnson is seven top fives away from tying Lee Petty for 10th on the all time list with 231.

Kevin Harvick is nine away from achieving 200 top fives.

Top 10s

With four top 10s, Clint Bowyer will become the 37th driver to crack the 200 mark.

Kurt Busch is 20 away from achieving 300 top 10s, which will make him the 21st driver to do so.

Jimmie Johnson has the most top 10s among active drivers with 352 (11th on the all-time list). With nine top 10s he will tie Terry Labonte in 10th.

Kevin Harvick (336) could become the active driver with the most top 10s if he earns 16 more than Johnson.

Poles

Since winning his first pole in the spring Bristol race of 2010, Joey Logano has earned at least one per year. In 2019, he looks to extend his streak to 10 consecutive seasons. Last year, he earned only one pole at Kansas in the fall.

Chase Elliott has won at least one pole in his first three full-time seasons at the Cup level, but he has never earned more than two in a year.

Career Starts

Kurt Busch has 648 starts, which places him currently 23rd on the list. If he makes all the races in 2019 he will pass Dale Earnhardt Sr. and move to 18th on the list.

Kevin Harvick (646), Ryan Newman (620) and Jimmie Johnson (615) also have more than 600 starts.

Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman each have 612 consecutive starts to start the season, which ties them for ninth on the list. If they make nine more consecutive starts they will catch Mark Martin. With 16 more consecutive starts, they will catch Jeff Burton. If both Johnson and Newman make all of the races in 2019, they will end the season tied for sixth with Dale Earnhardt Sr. (648).

Assuming the following drivers make all of the races, this is when they should reach their respective milestones:

500th

Kyle Busch: Feb. 24th at Atlanta
Martin Truex Jr.: Aug. 11 at Michigan
Denny Hamlin: Oct. 6 at Dover
Clint Bowyer: Oct. 13 at Talladega

300th

Michael McDowell: June 9 at Michigan
Aric Almirola: July 21 at New Hampshire

200th

Austin Dillon: March 31 at Texas
Kyle Larson: June 30 at Chicagoland

100th

Ty Dillon: April 28 at Talladega
Erik Jones: Sept. 1 at Darlington
Daniel Suarez: Sept. 21 at Richmond

NASCAR drivers highlight each night of Chili Bowl action

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The 33rd annual Chili Bowl Nationals is scheduled to begin in less than two weeks and the preliminary nightly roster has been released.

With more than 350 cars on the entry list, qualification heats will be run from January 14-18 at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event concludes January 19 with the Chili Bowl Nationals.

Drivers with a NASCAR connection will compete each night. Chase Briscoe kicks off the show on Jan. 14 and Kasey Kahne highlights the Jan. 18 roster.

After winning a Midget race in New Zealand, Kyle Larson will run Jan. 15.

Christopher Bellwho won in Sprints last week in New Zealand – is scheduled to race on Jan. 17.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Chase Briscoe

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kyle Larson
Alex Bowman
Tanner Berryhill

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

JJ Yeley
Landon Cassill
Conor Daly (IndyCar)
Rico Abreu

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Justin Allgaier
Christopher Bell
Karsyn Elledge (Kelley Earnhardt-Miller’s daughter)

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kasey Kahne
Tanner Thorson

Click here for the complete list.

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Podcast: Robby Gordon still has a lot to offer NASCAR

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Robby Gordon ran his last NASCAR race just over six-and-a-half years ago, but he still believes he can have an impact.

On the first 2019 episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast, Gordon told Nate Ryan he believes he could still win in stock car racing’s premier series.

Gordon has three victories in the Cup series. The first of those came at New Hampshire in 2001. Two seasons later, he swept the road courses with a win in Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

Might he have unfinished business as a NASCAR driver? Gordon did not rule out that option.

“A road course could interest me,” Gordon said on the podcast. “The Roval would be a lot of fun. Today, I’d still be top of the board when it came to road racing. I think that comes down to experience and being able to control a car, and that’s exactly what my (Stadium Super Trucks) will do for young drivers.”

But the series itself – one that he owns and in which he drives – might be his biggest contribution to NASCAR.

On the podcast, Gordon discussed the developmental potential of off-road racing. He and Jimmie Johnson both cut their teeth in the Mickey Thompson series and he sees it as a valid path. The SST series can replicate that experience.

To illustrate his point, Gordon referenced Sheldon Creed. Finishing fifth in the SST points standings in the series’ inaugural season of 2013 at the age of 16, Creed improved to second the next season and then won back-to-back championships in 2015/2016.

Creed’s move to ARCA produced a championship in his first full season of competition in 2018. In turn, that led to a ride with GMS Racing in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.

“The experience that off-road teaches you is more of a car control experience,” Gordon said of Creed’s success. “Jimmie Johnson is another perfect example. He’s able to modulate his throttle and understand how to put power to the ground.”

To listen to the NASCAR on NBC Podcast, click on the embed above, or you can download the episodes at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.

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