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After Corey LaJoie comments, NASCAR says ‘efforts continue’ on short track package

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Cup driver Corey LaJoie stated on a podcast Thursday what he believes will be the series’ short track rules package in 2020, but NASCAR told NBC Sports that “those efforts continue” and that officials will provide “more information when appropriate.”

The racing quality at short tracks last year was a hot button issue, leading NASCAR President Steve Phelps to say in November at Miami that “our promise to our fans … is that we are going to provide the best racing we can at our short tracks.”

LaJoie, who is entering his second full-time Cup season with Go Fas Racing, detailed what he said the changes would be at short tracks on the “Sunday Money” podcast he co-hosts. The podcast is produced by Motor Racing Network, which is owned by NASCAR.

Here’s what LaJoie said.

“So we are going to have a low downforce package. The 750 (horsepower package) is going to have a comparable sized spoiler to what it had in (2018). It’s going to be a little bit bigger than what it was in 2018, not much. Less than three inches. The spoiler’s only going to be as tall as my cellphone.

“It will take the amount of downforce we had last year at the short tracks and cut it in half. So we had about 3,400 pounds of downforce is what they said last year and it should be about 1,700. So that’s a lot. It’s up to Goodyear, the ball’s going to be in Goodyear’s court to make a little bit softer tire that degrades a little bit so we can move around and lay some rubber down at places like Richmond and Martinsville. I don’t know what they’re going to do at Dover. I assume they’re going to be low downforce there as well, Phoenix. So hopefully it provides a little bit better racing.”

Asked in November if NASCAR would cut the rear spoilers on cars for short tracks, Phelps said: “Yes, could we go to something that is a lower downforce package and do we think that will probably be one of the answers that we could look at to be successful on the short tracks? Yes. Whether it’s cutting off the spoiler, other opportunities for us to take some of the downforce off there, those are things that we’ll explore.”

Martinsville prominently illustrated the issues at short tracks last year. Brad Keselowski won the spring race after leading 446 of 500 laps. Martin Truex Jr. won the fall playoff race, leading 464 of 500 laps.

The Richmond playoff race had six lead changes among three drivers. Truex, the race winner, and Kyle Busch, who finished second, combined to lead 311 of 400 laps.

The championship finale moves to Phoenix this season for the first time.

Here is NASCAR’s full statement to NBC Sports on Thursday:

NASCAR is working closely with our industry partners and race teams to improve the racing on short tracks and road courses. Those efforts continue, and we look forward to providing more information when appropriate.

Xfinity among four premier partners for NASCAR Cup Series in 2020

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Xfinity, Busch Beer, Coca-Cola and GEICO will serve as inaugural premier partners for the NASCAR Cup Series in 2020, the sanctioning body announced Thursday morning.

The new sponsorship model, which goes away from one company having its name solely tied to the Cup Series, includes premium assets for each premier partner to engage fans throughout the upcoming season. Premier partners will collectively own a presence connected to the NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 race and All-Star Race. All four partners also will be prominently featured in multiple platforms across the sport, including integrations in broadcast, NASCAR digital and social channels, event entitlements, in-market promotions and at-track activations.

The contracts for all four companies were staggered three to five years to avoid them from all expiring at the same time. NASCAR also has stated that it’s goal is to have three to five premier partners. Even with these companies, it does not limit the categories teams can search for sponsors.

“This has been a monumental year for our sport, one highlighted by significant changes in our business model to ensure long-term viability and growth,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR President, in a statement. “As we begin this new chapter, we are joined by four incredible brands with deep-rooted histories across all levels of our sport. We are honored to have this elite group represent our NASCAR Cup Series for years to come.”

Said Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president and chief sales and operations officer, in a statement: “This new model will provide our premier partners with a heightened level of integration and visibility across all aspects of our sport. Each of these partners have demonstrated their commitment to our brand-loyal fan base and we are excited about how these brands will elevate the NASCAR Cup Series.”

Here is how each company’s involvement will be seen in 2020:

Xfinity

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered the sport with a landmark 10-year partner agreement in 2015, positioned as the title sponsor of the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the “Official Entertainment Partner of NASCAR.” As a premier partner, Xfinity will maintain its Xfinity Series sponsorship. Xfinity also will sponsor the Championship 4 elimination race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs at Martinsville Speedway.

“The first five years of our partnership with NASCAR has exceeded our expectations and the season-long national platform has provided increased exposure for the Xfinity brand and allowed us to demonstrate how our products and services enhance the way race fans enjoy this great sport,” said Matt Lederer, vice president of brand partnerships, Comcast, in a statement. “Given the overwhelming fan reaction and how the industry has embraced the Xfinity brand, we’re thrilled to expand upon that commitment by becoming a premier partner of the NASCAR Cup Series, while also continuing to showcase the young stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series.”

Throughout the past five years, Xfinity has elevated the series’ “Where Names Are Made” theme, supported the introduction of an elimination-style playoffs, reenergized the Dash 4 Cash program, reimagined how champions are celebrated at Xfinity Champion’s Day at Universal Orlando Resort and has honored charitable efforts within the industry through its prestigious Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award platform. Xfinity continues to change the way fans access the sport through its Xfinity Stream app, Xfinity X1 video and Xfinity xFi internet.

One of the changes is that the champions in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series each will go to Universal Orlando Resort for Xfinity Champion’s Day in November. Previously, only the Xfinity Series champion went there. And, Xfinity Philadelphia Takeover in May will continue to be an integral part of the Xfinity NASCAR partnership, along with the other programs Xfinity does.

Busch Beer

Busch Beer returned as a NASCAR official partner in 2018. The deal provided the beer brand exclusive sponsorship of the Busch Pole Award, a position it will continue with throughout its premier partnership. Busch Beer also will sponsor a NASCAR Cup Series event in 2020.

 “We are continuing to evolve our presence in NASCAR because we have a significant connection to its fans and believe in the future of the sport,” said Nick Kelly, vice president partnerships, beer category and community, Anheuser-Busch, in a statement. “The premier partner position strengthens our deep-rooted history in the sport and will provide fans with even more opportunities to enjoy a crisp, cold Busch Beer on race day.”

Anheuser-Busch’s history in NASCAR dates back to 1978, when it sponsored the Busch Pole Award. Additionally, Busch Beer was the “Official Beer of NASCAR” from 1988-97. Beginning in 1998, Anheuser-Busch sponsored the Bud Pole Award through its Budweiser brand, which also became the “Official Beer of NASCAR” through 2007.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has been involved with stock car racing for 50 years and became a NASCAR official partner in 1998. As a premier partner, Coca-Cola will continue its sponsorship of both NASCAR Troops to the Track and NASCAR Salutes, the portion of the season focused on highlighting industry-wide appreciation of the U.S. Armed Forces. Coca-Cola will also continue to own race entitlements at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, Coca-Cola becomes the presenting sponsor of the NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship trophy.

“Coca-Cola has a long history of successful collaboration with NASCAR and elevating our position to premier partner provides even more opportunity to connect fans to unforgettable experiences,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing, Coca-Cola North America, in a statement. “Further integrating our two brands affords Coca-Cola the opportunity to build on our winning formula and contribute to the growth of the sport in the years ahead.”

The agreement further enhances Coca-Cola’s position as the “Official Soft Drink of NASCAR.” A signature part of the brand’s marketing strategy is the Coca-Cola Racing Family – an exclusive group of top drivers representing Coca-Cola who are featured across company advertising, promotions and packaging.  

GEICO

GEICO’s involvement in NASCAR spans more than a decade and the company became the “Official Insurance Provider of NASCAR” earlier this year. As one of the most fully integrated brands in the sport, GEICO will enhance its existing assets through its Premier Partnership and become the presenting partner of a season phase.

“Our affiliation with NASCAR has been successful over the past decade and expanding our role to Premier Partner was the next logical step,” said Bill Brower, assistant vice president of marketing for GEICO. “Our expanded presence will allow us to further engage the most brand-loyal fans in sports, bolster our effective marketing platform and play a prominent role in the sport in the years ahead.”

In addition to GEICO’s team partnership with Germain Racing and Ty Dillon, the brand’s involvement in NASCAR includes highly visible assets such as the GEICO Restart Zone, its race entitlement at Talladega Superspeedway and campground sponsorships.

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

Matt Tifft wants to race again but must find answers to what caused seizure

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Matt Tifft, who suffered a seizure last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, spoke briefly with the media Sunday morning at Texas Motor Speedway, saying “I want to be back in a race car, but I don’t care about anything else right now other than finding out what caused this.”

Tifft will miss the rest of the season. John Hunter Nemechek will drive the No. 36 for Front Row Motorsports the final three Cup races.

Tifft, who had surgery to remove a tumor in his brain on July 21, 2016, said scans of where the tumor was looked good. Tifft said he will undergo additional testing, including an EEG, which measures the electrical activity of the brain. 

“I have been through this stuff before, and I know enough to be mature and smart enough to know that my health comes first,” Tifft said. “My goal is to get back in this race car, and I want to be back as soon as I possibly can, but these next few weeks are going to be dedicated to finding answers with doctors to why this happened.

“I will get back in a car one way or another, I do honestly believe that. But I have to get my stuff figured out and see what sparked this to happen.”

Tifft stood outside the team’s No. 36 hauler as he spoke and noted he was standing about five feet from where he had his seizure last weekend.

“It is a little stressful right now and honestly just dealing with the anxiety of it,” he said. “I just have to take baby steps.”

Jeff Dennison, senior director of sales and marketing for Front Row Motorsports, stressed that Tifft has a place with the team.

“Matt came to us (this season) under a two-year agreement and we will be honoring that,” Dennison said. “We will still have Matt be here next year. That is our plan.”

Joey Logano’s message to Denny Hamlin: ‘I’m tougher than he thinks’

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Joey Logano says he isn’t proud of the way he handled his disagreement at Martinsville Speedway with Denny Hamlin, but the defending series champion isn’t backing down, either.

I have nothing to be careful about, he wrecked me,” Logano said when asked Friday at Texas Motor Speedway if he would be more careful around Hamlin in this season’s three remaining races. “I don’t race him any differently. I am not sure he has handled this the smartest way so far.”

The Team Penske driver struck a repentant yet strident tone when rehashing the postrace fracas in the pits last Sunday that resulted in a one-race suspension for his tire specialist, Dave Nichols, who pulled Hamlin to the concrete.

Earlier Friday in the Texas media center, Hamlin said Logano “wasn’t that smart” and accused No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon of lacking control over his crew members.

Logano smiled when told of Hamlin’s comments.

I am sure he will turn it in that way,” Logano said. “Here are the facts: I think Todd has great control of our race team and is a great crew chief and does a great job leading all of us. I said it after the race to TV that I probably shouldn’t have gone down there looking for an apology for something (Hamlin) probably wasn’t going to apologize for, and I let my emotions get the best of me. That was a mistake on my part. I probably didn’t handle that correctly.

“It doesn’t make what he did on the race track right, but I think at the same time he will probably play that card as much as he wants. He can run his mouth as much as he wants. I am going to run my race, and we will see who ends up ahead.”

Logano laughed off Hamlin’s mocking impersonation after the Martinsville race, saying Hamlin “missed it a little bit.”

Asked whether Hamlin was trying to play mind games, Logano responded, “He can try. I am a little tougher than he thinks. … He is handling it a different way than I would have, but we aren’t the same person and that is OK. Whatever you are into.

“However you want to handle things. Like I said, I am not proud of the way I handled it, but I am going to be man enough to fess up to that and own that. Outside of that, I move on and whatever he wants to say, I could really give a crap.”