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Erik Jones shares thoughts on sequential shifter, aero differences in Next Gen car

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Over the last two days Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones took part in the latest test of the Next Gen Cup car at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Jones, the third Cup driver to pilot the prototype, shared his thoughts on the test while confirming the car has a sequential gear shift in place of the traditional H-pattern shifter.

“Obviously, it’s a lot different than what we’ve raced in the past, and a different way of getting to where you need to be,” Jones said in comments provided by NASCAR. “I was a bit unsure of how it was going to drive and how it was going to react.”

Jones described the test a “sort of a baseline systems check” for the car on an intermediate track after tests at Richmond Raceway (Austin Dillon in October) and Phoenix Raceway (Joey Logano in December.)

Of the vertical sequential shifter, Jones said: “The shifting has been fun, it’s been different. I’ve never done anything other than normal H-pattern shifting in my career. You can bang right through the gears. We did a restart at the end of the day (Wednesday) and it was fun learning about that and how you can push that gear box. That really gets you excited for the road courses and what it’s going to be capable of there.”

Jones said the Next Gen car, scheduled to debut next year, is a “big aero change” compared to what the Cup Series cars have now.

“We have a lot of sideforce in our cars now and there is a lot to lean on – when you get loose the car kind of corrects itself and straightens itself out,” Jones said. “This car doesn’t really have any of that. The quarter panels are so short and there’s no offset in the car – it’s very symmetrical – so there’s not a lot to lean on in this car.

“I think a lot of the aero changes they’ve done are going to help as far as racing goes, especially racing in a pack. Other than that, as we were working on things, some driving characteristics are similar. I think there is definitely more grip to be had as far as what the car is capable of. I think as far as development goes, there is going to be a lot more mechanical grip available than what we currently have.”

John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation, discussed the car’s development after three tests.

“We continue to work in the wind tunnel, we’re developing rear diffusers to generate more rear downforce,” he said. “One of the big things we have here that we didn’t have at Phoenix is we added some of the lift-off devices that we’ve developed over the winter, including roof flaps. We also have a few other related items in development that aren’t on the car right now such as flap-down doors for the diffuser to get the liftoff speed even higher than what we run today.”

Of the reasoning behind going to Miami for the third test, Probst said the 1.5-mile track “has a lot of different lines you can take through the corner. The progressive banking here allows you to start at the bottom, and if the car is tight you can ride it up and complete the turn. This is a very forgiving track for us to come to and continue learning about the car as we develop it.”

During the two-day test, Probst said NASCAR learned that “some traditional ‘rules of thumb’ don’t apply to the new car.”

“We’ve got the parts to deal with that,” Probst continued. “But those are important lessons to learn as we go to new track types. Moving to a larger track, you really look at gearing to make sure we have the right RPMs, obviously safety is important when you come to a track like this and speeds get up in the 190-mph range. You really have to be prepared if something were to happen where a car gets sideways or backwards that it stays on the ground.”

The car’s next test is scheduled for March 2-3, the two days following the race weekend at Auto Club Speedway, the 2-mile track in Fontana, California, with wide, sweeping turns.

“There are some logistical reasons that make sense for us to stay and test,” Probst said. “But it’s also important to get some rubbered in conditions of what it’s like in a race. We want to replicate that as best as we can so when we go back to race, there are no new lessons to learn. We still look forward to taking this to superspeedways and road courses, we have a lot to learn there as well. We’ll go back and iterate on what we have now, but we feel like we’re in a good spot. We’re going to keep developing and working on what we’ve got, and we think we’re going to end up with a really good product.”

Probst said NASCAR has already begun production of a “Phase 3 prototype” that will include “all of the lessons learned” from the previous tests.

“Once that is built, we’ll probably start using (the cars used in the first three tests) as a ‘second car’ to start simulating cars in traffic to see what we can learn from that,” Probst said.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said during championship weekend in Miami that the car is expected to be delivered to teams in July of this year.

Sources told NBC Sports’s Nate Ryan in December that at least three companies are being strongly considered to build the chassis for the Next Gen car, including Joe Gibbs Racing.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. set for Xfinity Series start at Miami in March

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will compete in the March 21 Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, JR Motorsports made official Tuesday.

Earnhardt will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet with sponsorship from Hellmann’s. Since he retired from full-time Cup Series racing after the 2017 season, Earnhardt’s two Xfinity starts – in 2018 (Richmond) and 2019 (Darlington) – have been with Hellmann’s as his primary sponsor. Now a NBC Sports analyst, Earnhardt finished in the top five in both races.

Daniel Hemric and Jeb Burton will pilot the No. 8 the rest of the season.

JR Motorsports

Earnhardt’s last Cup Series start came at Miami. His last Xfinity start at the 1.5-mile track was in 2008. In five Xfinity starts there his best result is second in 1999 before the track was changed to its current banked configuration.

The confirmation of Earnhardt’s race for 2020 is part of an extension between JR Motorsports and Unilever, JRM’s longest-tenured partnership, which enters its 12th season.

As part of the deal, Justin Allgaier and the No. 7 Chevrolet will have sponsorship from Unilever in five Xfinity races.

“In our sport, partnerships are everything,” Kelley Earnhardt Miller, JRM’s general manager said in a press release. “We don’t throw the words ‘cornerstone partner’ around a lot, but when we do, Unilever exemplifies its meaning.”

Erik Jones set for Next Gen car test in Miami

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Erik Jones will be the driver in the third test of the Cup Series’ Next Gen car this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The test is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at the 1.5-mile track and is open to ticket holders of the March 22 Cup race there.

Jones, who is entering his third Cup season with Joe Gibbs Racing, is the first Toyota driver to test the Next Gen car, which is scheduled to debut in 2021. Jones follows Austin Dillon‘s (Chevrolet) test at Richmond Raceway in October and Joey Logano‘s (Ford) test at Phoenix Raceway in December.

After two tests on flat ovals 1 mile or less in length, this will be the first time the car will see action on a banked oval greater than 1 mile.

After the Phoenix test John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation, said it was a “logical progression from Richmond” for testing the car.

“A lot of the testing we needed to do before we head to a track like Homestead – which is where we’re headed next – wasn’t completed at Richmond,” Probst said. “For us it was a really good progression from Richmond loads and speeds, and now we’re creeping the speeds up to start really testing out a lot of the mechanical parts and pieces on the car.”

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said during championship weekend in Miami that the car is expected to be delivered to teams in July of this year.

Sources told NBC Sports’s Nate Ryan in December that at least three companies are being strongly considered to build the chassis for the Next Gen car, including Joe Gibbs Racing.

In a video he posted to Instagram, Logano detailed his reaction to driving the Next Gen car.

Third Next Gen car test set for Jan. 15-16 at Miami

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NASCAR confirmed Monday the third test of the Cup Series’ Next Gen car will take place next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The two-day test, which is closed to the public, is set for Wednesday, Jan. 15 and Thursday, Jan. 16. A driver for the test has not been confirmed.

This will mark the first time the car, which is scheduled to debut in 2021, has been in action on an oval track larger than one mile.

Austin Dillon took part in the first test in October at Richmond Raceway, a .75-mile short track. Joey Logano drove the car in the second test in December at Phoenix Raceway, a flat, 1-mile oval.

After the Phoenix test John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation, said it was a “logical progression from Richmond” for testing the car.

“A lot of the testing we needed to do before we head to a track like Homestead – which is where we’re headed next – wasn’t completed at Richmond,” Probst said. “For us it was a really good progression from Richmond loads and speeds, and now we’re creeping the speeds up to start really testing out a lot of the mechanical parts and pieces on the car.”

NASCAR President Steve Phelps said during championship weekend in Miami that the car is expected to be delivered to teams in July of this year.

Sources told NBC Sports’s Nate Ryan last month that at least three companies are being strongly considered to build the chassis for the Next Gen car, including Joe Gibbs Racing.

In a video he posted to Instagram, Logano detailed his reaction to driving the Next Gen car.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday ticket deals from NASCAR tracks

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Black Friday is here and that mean it’s time to save money.

Here’s at look at all the Black Friday-Cyber Monday deals on tickets being provided by NASCAR tracks:

Auto Club Speedway

From Nov. 29 – Dec. 6,  No service fees on Auto Club 400 ticket orders (savings up to $27.00).

Holiday package:

  • 2 Tickets to the Auto Club 400 (rows 1-13)
  • 2 Pre-Race Pit Passes
  • 2 Gatorade Victory Lane Passes
  • All for only $99 – a $254 value. Offer expires Dec. 31

Bristol Motor Speedway

Through Monday (Dec. 2), all Food City stores will offer the “Black Friday” price of $40 for an adult ticket to the Food City 500 on April 5. Kids tickets for those 12-and-under are also available in-store for just $10. Each ticket purchased awards shoppers 500 additional ValuPoints on their Food City ValuCard.

All tickets will feature blind-reserved seats selected by members of the BMS ticket office. Tickets will be sold at the customer service area of each Food City location and emailed within seven days of purchase.

Also, Friday (Nov. 29) – Monday (Dec. 2) the track will be offering a “Cyber Weekend” deal.

The track is offering the lowest price of the season for the Food City 500 with $40 tickets, alongside $10 tickets for kids 12-and-under online via Ticketmaster.

Charlotte Motor Speedway

50% discounts on select 2020 All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 tickets.

Black Friday Blowout, which runs from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. ET, gives race fans the opportunity to drive their personal cars on the track. The only requirement is spending $50 on merchandise or tickets to 2020 NASCAR or NHRA events, or donating $25 to Speedway Children’s Charities. The ticket discount will run through Cyber Monday on Dec. 2.

Chicagoland Speedway

A Section L NASCAR Cup Series Grandstand Ticket and a Infield Fan Zone Pit Pass for $75. A Fan Zone Pit Pass experience includes the opportunity for live driver special Q&As, front-and-center access to the drivers’ red carpet walk and pre-race pit road access.

Available from Nov. 29 – Dec. 2.

Darlington Raceway

Two Holiday Offers: 

Offer One: 1 Reserved Grandstand Seat to the Bojangles’ Southern 500 for $50

Offer Two: Three-day package to include: Practice day admission, 1 Reserved Grandstand Seat to the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 and 1 Reserved Grandstand Seat to the Bojangles’ Southern 500 for $60

These deals expire at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 2.

Daytona International Speedway

On Friday and Monday, the track will offer the following $60 ticket package specials (these deals expire at 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, Dec. 2):

  • Rolex 24 At Daytona: General admission frontstretch seating and infield access for the Jan. 25-26 event, a Rolex 24 event hat, UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race Access and garage access on Sunday, a savings of 37%.
  • The Clash At Daytona/Daytona 500 Qualifying: General admission frontstretch seating and $20 in concession vouchers for the Sunday, Feb. 9 Cup Series doubleheader, a savings of 20%.
  • Bluegreen Vacations Duel At Daytona: General admission frontstretch seating ticket and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race Access for the 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night, Feb. 13, a savings of 43%.
  • NextEra Energy 250: General admission frontstretch seating ticket and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race Access for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race on Friday night, Feb. 14, a savings of 29%.
  • NASCAR Racing Experience 300: General admission frontstretch seating ticket and UNOH Fanzone/Pre-Race Access for the Xfinity Series season-opener on Saturday, Feb. 15, a savings of 43%.
  • Daytona 500: Deal includes reserved seat for the Daytona 500, commemorative Daytona 500 shirt and commemorative Daytona International Speedway hat.

Kids 12 and under are FREE in general admission frontstretch seating and UNOH Fanzone for the above events.

There are also ticket package specials for fans of Bike Week At Daytona and the Coke Zero Sugar 400:

  • 50th annual Daytona Supercross: Reserved ticket and Trackside Access can be purchased for $50 – a savings of 33%. The Supercross event takes place Saturday, March 7.
  • Coke Zero Sugar 400: Reserved ticket and a Racing Electronics scanner rental for $69, a savings of 28%, for the historic first NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 29.

Homestead-Miami Speedway

A free 3’ x 5’ 25th anniversary flag with the purchase of a ticket.

ISM Raceway

For $79 you receive:

• One Grandstand Ticket (Sections: 144-115, Rows: 11-17) to the FanShield 500, March 8, 2020
• One Scanner Rental headset

This holiday offer gives you nearly 40% in savings.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Purchase an adult weekend package and get exclusive access to the Cup garages and a unique look at the teams and drivers at work. Open garage access time is limited to Saturday, Feb 22, 2020 from 7:30 a.m – 9 a.m. Subject to change. Use code GARAGE2020

Martinsville Speedway

On Black Friday, ticket packages starting at $66 include access to the Pre-Race Experience prior to the first Cup Series night race at Martinsville on Saturday, May 9.

Michigan International Speedway

$140 package that includes two tickets to either the FireKeepers Casino 400 on June 7 or the Consumers Energy on Aug. 9, plus two mugs.

Special holiday pack that includes four tickets to either of the Cup Series races at the track that starts at $250 per pack. Guests will also receive an eight foot by 2.5 foot green fleece blanket as part of the ticket package.

Cyber Monday deal: Guests can save up to $25 for the FireKeepers Casino 400 or the Consumers Energy 400 on select grandstand tickets along with Pit and Driver Introduction Passes.

Cyber Monday Deal:

$59 Adult ticket – Regular price $79
$30 Children 12 and under ticket – Regular price $40
$60 Pit/Driver Introduction Pass – Regular price $75

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Two separate deals:

Black Friday “4 for $99” Deal

Available from 12:00 a.m. ET on Nov. 28 to 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 2

Get four general admission tickets to enjoy the racing on Saturday, September 12, 2020, featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the ARCA Menards Series East, during Full Throttle Fall Weekend for only $99, saving you $81 on race day pricing!

Cyber Monday “2 for $50” Deal

Available from 12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 2

Get one general admission ticket to enjoy the racing on July 18, featuring the Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, during the NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race weekend PLUS one general admission ticket to enjoy the racing on Saturday, September 12, 2020, featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the ARCA Menards Series East, during Full Throttle Fall Weekend for only $50, saving you $50 on race day pricing

Pocono Raceway

The track is offering three “champion’s week” deals through next week for ticket packages of $90, $240 and $350 for the Cup doubleheader weekend.

The $90 package includes a 100-level grandstand seat for Saturday and Sunday.

The $240 package includes a 200-level bucket-seat grandstand ticket for Saturday and Sunday and a pre-race pit/paddock pass valid all race week.

The $350 package includes 300-level Saturday and Sunday ticket, pre-race pit/paddock pass valid all race week and a FanVision rental both days.

Richmond Raceway

Ticket for the April 14 Toyota Owner 400, FanGrounds pass and holiday ornament, $94 for adults, and $39 for kids 12 & under. The offer is available from 12:01 a.m. ET Friday, Nov. 29 until supplies last.

The race ticket is located in the Dogwood grandstand located in Turns 1 and 2, sections AA-H, rows 1-10.

Sonoma Raceway

Two Adult Main Grandstand Tickets for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 (June 14) plus a scanner and two headsets for $119 (savings of $130). Additional kids tickets are available for $10 each.

Talladega Superspeedway

Two separate packages with savings of more than $35:

  • 2-Day Tower and Talladega Garage Experience Package – $219 plus free shipping
    • One (1) 2-Day Lincoln Tower Ticket (located between the exit of Turn 4 & the entrance to pit road) and one (1) 2-Day Talladega Garage Experience Pass for the MoneyLion 300 and the GEICO 500
  •  2-Day Grandstand and Talladega Garage Experience Package – $179 plus free shipping
    • One (1) 2-Day Talladega Grandstand Ticket (Sections F-L, located between the start-finish line & Turn 1) and one (1) 2-Day Talladega Garage Experience Pass for the MoneyLion 300 and the GEICO 500

*NOTE: When purchasing, you will select your seats first, then add the Talladega Garage Experience admissions. The quantity of tickets and Talladega Garage Experience admissions must match. Limited quantities available. Offer ends Dec 2.*

Texas Motor Speedway

Friday ticket to the 2020 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 weekend (March 27-29) just $30 as well as 30% off all other tickets for Sunday’s Cup Series race.

These will be the lowest-priced tickets offered for the March 27 ticket that will include: practice sessions for the Cup and Xfinity Series and the qualifying and race for the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

The track’s Black Friday special offer starts Friday, Nov. 29 at midnight CT and ends Dec. 1 at 11:59 p.m. CT.

WWT Raceway at Gateway

Racing Electronics

25% off + free shipping with the code CYBER2019