This deal is expected to close this calendar year.
International Speedway Corp. owns 12 tracks that host NASCAR races, including Daytona International Speedway, Darlington Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
NASCAR issued a statement Wednesday: “We are pleased with the progress that the negotiation and execution of the merger agreement between NASCAR and ISC represents. While important regulatory and shareholder approval processes remain, we look forward to the successful final resolution of this matter and continuing our work to grow this sport and deliver great racing experiences for our fans everywhere. With a strong vision for the future, the France family’s commitment to NASCAR and the larger motorsports industry has never been greater.”
The agreement announced Wednesday allows NASCAR to control those tracks, along with Iowa Speedway, which it already owns. That could make it easier for NASCAR to move dates to take a date from one track to another. NASCAR President Steve Phelps has stated that the schedule is among the areas the sanctioning body is looking at making changes. NASCAR’s five-year sanctioning agreement with tracks ends after next season.
With NASCAR private, it won’t have to publicly report attendance revenue and other financials as ISC had to do as a publicly traded company.
ISC also announced that a class-action lawsuit that had been filed against it after NASCAR and ISC announced last November plans to merge will be dropped.
Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns eight tracks that host NASCAR races, including Charlotte Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, announced April 24 that it had received a non-binding proposal from Sonic Financial Corp. to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock other than those already held by Sonic. Bruton Smith and his family own and control Sonic Financial Corp. Smith is the founder and majority stakeholder in Speedway Motorsports Inc.
The only tracks not owned by ISC or SMI that host Cup races are Pocono Raceway, Dover International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
SMI receives offer from Sonic Financial Corp. to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock
Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
Speedway Motorsports Inc. announced Wednesday that it has received a non-binding proposal from Sonic Financial Corp. to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock other than those already held by Sonic.
Bruton Smith and his family own and control Sonic Financial Corp. Smith is the founder and majority stakeholder in Speedway Motorsports Inc. SMI operates eight tracks that host Cup races, including Charlotte Motor Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
The separate offers to ISC and SMI would make both companies private. That could allow both companies to be more receptive to future schedule changes without the pressure of trying to appease outside investors.
The Sonic Financial Corp. offer for the outstanding SMI stock is for $18 per share. The stock closed at $13.94 on Tuesday. The stock was up to $18.46 by 11 a.m. Wednesday and finished the day at $18.55. The 52-week high for the stock was $18.36. SMI’s board has formed a special committee to consider the offer. Mark M. Gambill, James P. Holden and Tom E. Smith, each of whom is an independent director of the Company, to act on behalf of the Company to consider the proposal by Sonic Financial. Tom E. Smith is not related to Bruton Smith or his family.
Here is the letter from Sonic Financial Corp. to the Board of Directors for SMI:
Sonic Financial Corporation (“SFC”) is pleased to submit this non-binding proposal to acquire all of the outstanding shares of stock of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. (the “Company” or “TRK”) that are not owned by SFC, O. Bruton Smith, his family and entities controlled by Mr. Smith and his family (collectively with SFC, the “Smith Group”), for cash consideration of $18.00 per share (our “Proposal”). As you know, the Smith Group beneficially owns, directly or indirectly, approximately 29 million shares of TRK, and controls over 70% of the voting power of TRK.
We believe that our Proposal reflects an extremely attractive value to the Company’s public stockholders. Specifically, $18.00 per share represents a significant premium of 31% to yesterday’s closing price and 26% to the 30-day volume-weighted average price per share of $14.27 as of April 22, 2019.
As you know, NASCAR racing has faced several challenges in recent years, and the Company has been impacted by these challenges. NASCAR has indicated the sport would benefit from structural change. We believe TRK would be more able to compete in this challenging and changing environment as a private company.
SFC and members of the Smith Group are best-positioned to continue to manage and oversee the Company as a private company. Mr. Bruton Smith, Executive Chairman and founder of the Company, has been a pioneer in the motorsports business since the sport’s beginning. His ingenuity and vision for the sport have been highly instrumental in the motorsports business for decades, and the sport has recognized his contributions by inducting him into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Additionally, Mr. Marcus Smith, the current Chief Executive Officer of the Company, has played a key role in the motorsports industry and has also been an important figure in the evolution of the sport and the Company over the past several years. Given the Smith Group’s role in the sport and involvement in the Company, we believe we are the best party to lead the Company through the challenges ahead.
RICHMOND, Va. — Stewart-Haas Racing announced Friday that Toco Warranty will be the primary sponsor on Clint Bowyer’s car for four races this season.
Toco Warranty will be the primary sponsor on Bowyer’s car at Talladega Superspeedway (April 28), the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 18), at Chicagoland Speedway (June 30) and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 15). Toco Warranty will be an associate sponsor at all other Cup races.
Toco Warranty also will be co-primary sponsor with Tony Stewart Racing’s sprint car of 10-time and reigning World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz. Toco Warranty also will be an associate sponsor on Stewart’s sprint car. Stewart is scheduled to compete in more than 90 winged sprint car races this year.
Toco Warranty is a new generation of vehicle service contracts with pay-as-you go monthly plans.
“We’re obviously very pleased to welcome Toco Warranty to SHR and TSR,” said Stewart, the three-time Cup champion who formed TSR back in 2001 and co-owns SHR with Gene Haas. “Clint Bowyer and Donny Schatz are great racecar drivers with strong and compelling personalities who can deliver for Toco Warranty on and off the track.”
“Toco Warranty is all about helping people take care of their cars quickly and efficiently, and nowhere is speed and efficiency more prominent than in racing,” said Nota Berger, CEO, Toco Warranty. “We’ve found great partners in Stewart-Haas Racing and Tony Stewart Racing and strong, relatable personalities in Clint Bowyer, Donny Schatz and Tony Stewart to increase recognition for our simple and affordable vehicle service contracts. They’ll help showcase our practical and straightforward plans which clearly outline what is and isn’t covered while requiring no major up-front investment or long-term contract.”
2020 Cup schedule features new finale, doubleheader weekend and more
The 2020 Cup season will end at a different site for the first time in nearly two decades, one of many changes that includes a doubleheader weekend, date swapping among iconic tracks and the season concluding earlier.
The championship race moves to ISM Raceway near Phoenix. It replaces Homestead-Miami Speedway, which has been the season finale since 2002.
Next year’s finale at ISM Raceway will be Nov. 8, marking the earliest finish to the Cup schedule since 1998, which also ended Nov. 8.
Here are among the changes to the schedule:
# Homestead-Miami Speedway moves from its season-ending spot to March 22 and will be the sixth race of the season.
# Daytona’s second race will move from its traditional July date to Aug. 29 (a Saturday) and be the regular-season finale.
# Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s date moves from September to July 5 and takes Daytona’s spot.
# Bristol’s August dates moves to Sept. 19 (a Saturday) and will be in the playoffs. It will be the cutoff race for the first round.
# Martinsville’s fall race becomes the cutoff race for the third round of the playoffs on Nov. 1.
# Martinsville’s spring race moves from March to May 9 (Mother’s Day weekend) and will be held on Saturday. Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, said in a statement: “This is a very exciting day for Martinsville Speedway. It’s a question we’ve gotten from fans literally every day since we installed the lights and we are now able to say, ‘May 9, 2020.’ So, this is a very exciting day for everyone involved.”
# Pocono will host a doubleheader weekend with Cup races on June 27 and June 28. Race lengths have yet to be announced for those events. Nick Igdalsky, president and CEO of Pocono Raceway, said in a statement: “Pocono Raceway will be a marquee, bucket-list event next year. We will be the first track to host two, points-paying Cup races in consecutive dates in NASCAR’s modern era (1972-present).”
# The West Coast swing — Las Vegas, ISM Raceway and Auto Club Speedway — will follow the Daytona 500.
# Atlanta Motor Speedway moves off its February date as the second race of the season to March 15 and will be the fifth race of the year.
# The Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway will begin the playoffs on Sept. 6.
Here is the 2020 Cup schedule:
Sunday, Feb. 9
Thursday, Feb. 13
Duel at Daytona
Sunday, Feb. 16
Sunday, Feb. 23
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 1
Auto Club Speedway
Sunday, March 8
Sunday, March 15
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Sunday, March 22
Sunday, March 29
Texas Motor Speedway
Sunday, April 5
Bristol Motor Speedway
Sunday, April 19
Sunday, April 26
Sunday, May 3
Dover International Speedway
Saturday, May 9
Saturday, May 16
All-Star Race, Charlotte
Sunday, May 24
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sunday, May 31
Sunday, June 7
Michigan International Speedway
Sunday, June 14
Sunday, June 21
Saturday, June 27
Sunday June 28
Sunday July 5
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saturday July 11
Sunday, July 19
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, Aug. 9
Michigan International Speedway
Sunday, Aug. 16
Watkins Glen International
Sunday, Aug. 23
Dover International Speedway
Saturday, Aug. 29
Daytona International Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 6
Saturday, Sept. 12
Saturday, Sept. 19
Bristol Motor Speedway
Sunday, Sept. 27
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sunday, Oct. 4
Sunday, Oct. 11
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sunday, Oct. 18
Sunday, Oct. 25
Texas Motor Speedway
Sunday, Nov. 1
Sunday, Nov. 8
Friday 5: ‘Chaotic’ qualifying is entertaining and shouldn’t change
Last week’s Cup qualifying at Las Vegas Motor Speedway raised the question of is qualifying more about entertainment or sport?
It was fascinating to watch cars parked on pit road and drivers waiting for someone to go because nobody wanted to be the lead car. They all wanted to be in the draft.
While that took place, spotters counted down the time remaining in the session.
It became a game of who would blink first and take off.
When it was time to go, there was chaos. Cars darted around each other. In the final round, Joey Logano went four-wide on pit road. Ricky Stenhouse passed Logano on the inside and left pit road ahead of him.
“Is chaos a bad thing?” Logano asked NBC Sports’ Jerry Bonkowski this week. “I think that’s the question we have to ask ourselves. Is it chaos? Yes. Is it entertaining? Oh yeah, it’s entertaining, there’s a lot going on. So I don’t know if it’s wrong and we should be changing much.
“I think there’s a couple safety aspects we can add to pit road while we’re jockeying around for position and stuff like that. But as far as the entertainment value, will you get the lap in before the clock runs out, will you get a big enough draft, will they all go out for a second time and you get a big pack again, are they going to knock somebody out of the round? That’s good.
“I don’t know why we would change much of that, I think it’s OK. Yeah, it’s a little chaotic, it’s crazy and none of us has it figured out or scienced out the way we want to have it yet, but that’s competition, that’s just what it is.”
Logano is right. While there was a randomness to who won the pole at Las Vegas, qualifying was as entertaining as any session in recent years.
What happened last week was reminiscent of qualifying at Talladega in October 2014. NASCAR divided teams into two groups for the opening round and each had five minutes. The top 24 overall times advanced.
Most cars stayed on pit road until they hit their cutoff mark to complete two laps. Not everyone made it. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier were among the cars that didn’t make it to the start/finish line before the session ended. Their fastest laps didn’t count. They both failed to qualify. It’s the only race Stenhouse has failed to make since his 2013 rookie Cup season.
These days, 36 chartered cars are guaranteed a starting spot. That prevents a situation Stenhouse experienced five years ago with a well-funded team.
But that doesn’t ease all the angst. Some competitors were frustrated at Las Vegas because the draft negates who has the fastest car. It’s all about being in the right place to draft and turn the quickest lap. Being in that position can be as much luck as skill.
What happens in qualifying can impact the race. Teams pick pit stalls based on their starting spot. A poor qualifying effort can lead to issues in the race.
Logano is aware of that. He qualified 27th at Atlanta and his team had limited options on where to pick their pit stall. Crew chief Todd Gordon chose a stall behind Alex Bowman’s pit and in front of Martin Truex Jr.’s pit.
Rarely do strong teams pit next to each other because they don’t want to have to go around a car to enter their stall or be blocked in by the car in front. Logano faced that situation at Atlanta. He lost more than 10 spots on each of his first two pit stops because he couldn’t get around Bowman’s car to exit his stall.
That leads back to the question of should qualifying be about entertainment or sport?
The decision today will be easy. The fastest car will be rewarded because teams are not expected to draft.
This issue that will come up again in the coming weeks, though, when the series heads to Auto Club Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway.
“Texas, I don’t know,” Logano said. “I think there’s going to be parts of the track that you want to draft and parts of the track when you’re going to want clean air. When you get to Turns 1 and 2, you’re going to want some air on the car to be able to get through the corner with as much wide open time as possible. That one’s a real question for me.
“I think Kansas is a no-brainer, you’re definitely going to be drafting. As for Fontana, it’ll be interesting. I think there’s going to be some drafting going on there, but I think it’ll be split up a little bit, kind of like the way Atlanta was, kinda 50-50.”
There’s no splitting this issue. It’s about entertainment. Let chaos reign in qualifying.
For all the wins Kyle Busch has amassed in his NASCAR career, there is a recurring theme.
The runner-up to Busch in more than a third of the 197 races he’s won across Cup, Xfinity and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series has been one of five drivers.
The driver who has finished runner-up to Busch the most in those races is Kevin Harvick. He’s done so 18 times — five times in Cup, 10 times in Xfinity and three times in Trucks. The total equates to 9.1 percent of the time Busch has won a NASCAR race, Harvick has been second.
Carl Edwards is next on the list with 15 runner-up finishes to Busch. He’s followed by Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano with 13-runner-up finishes. Next is Kyle Larson, who has placed second to Busch eight times.
Combined, Harvick, Edwards, Keselowski, Logano and Larson have finished second to Busch in 67 of his 197 wins (34 percent).
They are among the 60 drivers who have placed second to Busch in a race he won. The list includes three NASCAR Hall of Fame members (Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Ron Hornaday Jr.), two Indianapolis 500 winners (Sam Hornish Jr. and Juan Pablo Montoya) and drivers who have combined to win 48 NASCAR titles in either Cup, Xfinity or Trucks.
The list could grow this weekend. Busch is entered in both the Cup and Xfinity races at Phoenix.
Here is who has finished second to Busch in Cup, Xfinity and Trucks races and how often:
Tanner Thorson, who competed in 11 Gander Outdoors Truck Series races last season, is recovering after he was involved in a highway crash early Monday morning in Modesto, California.
The 2016 U.S. Auto Club national champion had surgery Monday night for a broken left arm, according to the USAC Racing. Thorson had surgery Wednesday on his broken right foot. He also suffered a cracked sternum, broken ribs and a punctured lung, according to USAC Racing. The organization said that Thorson’s family hopes the 22-year-old can return home soon.
According to a preliminary investigation by the California Highway Patrol, Thorson was driving a 2019 Ford pickup that was towing his sprint car when he approached slower moving traffic shortly before 4 a.m. PT. Thorson’s truck struck the rear of a vehicle. KCRA, an NBC affiliate in Sacramento, reported that vehicle was a milk truck.
The impact sent the milk truck into the next lane where it was hit by another vehicle and then came back across the road and was struck another car. The driver was uninjured. A passenger in the truck was transported from the scene with minor injuries, according to the California Highway Patrol. Thorson’s vehicle came to rest on the shoulder and caught fire.
4. First time in new garages at Phoenix
ISM Raceway at Phoenix debuted its new garages and layout when NASCAR raced there in November.
Kevin Harvick has finished in the top five in half of the 32 Cup races he’s run at Phoenix. He has nine wins there. Jimmie Johnson has 15 top-five finishes in 31 Cup races there. He has four wins there.
Despite the dominance of the two, they have combined for one win (by Harvick) in the last five races at Phoenix. The other winners in the last five races at Phoenix are Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.