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Speedway Motorsports Inc. announces weather guarantee for fans

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Speedway Motorsports Inc. announced Thursday a weather guarantee for fans.

If a NASCAR race is postponed due to weather and the ticket holder is unable to attend the rescheduled date, a ticket credit can be issued toward a qualifying NASCAR race at any Speedway Motorsports venue.

This covers events at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

MORE: Is it time for all tracks to adopt a rain ticket policy?

“Of all major professional sports, none is as heavily impacted by adverse weather as NASCAR,” said Speedway Motorsports’ President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “With drivers already racing on the very edge at nearly 200 mph, even a little rain can have a dramatic impact on race weekend schedules. What we want to do is take weather out of the ticket-buying equation so fans can focus on having a great time and making memories on our premier NASCAR event weekends.”

Fans with an unused, eligible ticket will have 60 days from the original race date to request a ticket credit on a qualifying future event. The credit must be used toward another Speedway Motorsports’ NASCAR event within one calendar year of the original race date or the same event the following year, even if it takes place beyond the one-year mark. Certain restrictions may apply. Click here for further details on the Speedway Motorsports Weather Guarantee.

This season, snow postponed the Martinsville Cup race a day and the Camping World Truck Series there two days. Martinsville is owned by International Speedway Corp.

Friday 5: Christopher Bell taking a step in goal to ‘conquer’ Xfinity Series

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Three weeks ago, Christopher Bell said that he wanted to “conquer” the Xfinity Series and “be the guy that everyone says that (they) have got to beat.”

The 23-year-old series rookie is quickly becoming that driver.

In the past two weeks, Bell beat former Cup champion Kyle Busch at Kentucky and Brad Keselowski at New Hampshire for victories.

At Kentucky, Bell started in the rear after spinning in qualifying. Busch led 111 laps but finished third to Bell.

At New Hampshire, Bell held off a charging Keselowski late to earn his third series victory of the season. Bell won’t take full credit for the win, noting he took four tires on his last stop and Keselowski took two. Still, Bell won.

What has it meant to beat Busch and Keselowski in consecutive races?

It makes me happy,” Bell said after the New Hampshire win. “You see all this crap going around the Internet where Cup guys shouldn’t be allowed in Xfinity. Well, why? Why shouldn’t they be allowed in Xfinity?

“Ever since I was a kid growing up sprint car racing, I strived to go race with the World of Outlaws because they were the best. I strive to race with Kyle Busch and Keselowski and all those guys. I love racing with the best. I want to be the best.”

Bell, who won the Truck Series title last year, has shown he has the talent to go with the strong rides with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series and now Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series.

Even with those benefits, he’s winning races and that’s what one has to do in such equipment if they hope to land a premier ride in NASCAR’s top series someday.

“I think if you look at Christopher’s background, he’s excelled in every series he’s ever been in, won races, so I wouldn’t say he’s outperformed (expectations), he’s doing exactly what we thought he would do,” said Steve de Souza, executive vice president at Joe Gibbs Racing, whose primary duty is overseeing the organization’s Xfinity program.

Heading into Saturday’s race at Iowa Speedway (5:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Bell is six points behind series leader Daniel Hemric. Bell’s three wins and three stage victories give him a series-high 18 playoff points with eight races left in the regular season.

Earlier this month at Daytona, Bell said how he needed to be better.

“I want to conquer the Xfinity Series and win more races and finish my job here,” he said. “I want to be the guy. I want to be the guy that everyone says that I’ve got to beat the 20 car. That’s what I want, and I pride myself on every step along the way I’ve become the guy to beat. I just don’t feel like I’m there yet in these Xfinity cars.”

He admits his season had not gone quite how he hoped up to that point.

“I’ve got a lot of great runs going, but it’s kind of similar to my first year in Trucks,” Bell said at Daytona. “I’ve crashed some. Got taken out some. The finishes are either really good or DNF’s. I’ve just got to put the races together and hopefully it comes together pretty quick.”

Crew chief Jason Ratcliff sees Bell developing the habits that will carry him to more success.

“I think that we started the season capable of winning races and Christopher is – he’s doing a good job of communicating what he needs with the race car each and every week,” Ratcliff said at New Hampshire. “The guys are building better race cars at the shop, so I think it’s everything all around – his ability, the race cars, the pit crews are just coming together when it counts.”

2. Team of the Decade Race

With Hendrick Motorsports in the midst of a 36-race winless streak (the second-longest winless drought in its history), Joe Gibbs Racing is pulling away in the duel to win the most Cup races this decade.

Since 2010, Joe Gibbs Racing has won 77 races. Hendrick Motorsports is next with 61 wins. Team Penske is third with 44 victories and is followed by Stewart-Haas Racing, which has 43 victories, and Roush Fenway Racing at 21 wins.

Here’s the full list:

WINS BY ORGANIZATION SINCE 2010

(308 races)

77 – Joe Gibbs Racing

61 – Hendrick Motorsports

44 – Team Penske

43 – Stewart-Haas Racing

21 – Roush Fenway Racing

19 – Richard Childress Racing

18 – Furniture Row Racing

10 – Chip Ganassi Racing

6 – Michael Waltrip Racing

3 – Richard Petty Motorsports

2 – Front Row Motorsports

2 – Wood Brothers Racing

1 – JTG Daugherty Racing

1 – Red Bull Racing

3. Pocono: The start of something good for Kyle Busch

Last July, Kyle Busch scored his first career Cup win at Pocono. Since that win, Busch has run 36 races (a full season) and his stats over that time are staggering.

In the last 36 races, Busch has a series-high 10 wins, a series-high seven poles, a series-high six runner-up finishes, a series-high 28 top-10 finishes and a series-high 1,967 laps led.

He’ll go for a sweep at Pocono this weekend. He’s entered in both the Cup and Truck race. This will be his fifth and final Truck race of the year. Cup drivers with more than five years experience are limited to seven Xfinity and five Truck races a season.

4. Looking to win again

Past the halfway mark in the Cup season, here are the drivers who scored at least one win last season who are still looking for a victory this year: Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney.

5. $658 million in renovations

With the announcement Thursday that International Speedway Corporation will renovate the infield at Talladega Superspeedway at a cost of about $50 million, it marked the fourth major project ISC has done on one of its tracks since 2013.

Daytona International Speedway’s upgrades were estimated at $400 million for redoing the frontstretch grandstands, suites, concourses and such.

Upgrades at ISM Raceway (Phoenix) are expected to cost $178 million. That will include additional stands, a new infield fan area, a pedestrian tunnel to the infield and more. The project will be completed before this fall’s races.

Talladega Superspeedway announced upgrades that will cost about $50 million that will include new garages for Cup teams, a new fan area between the garages that allows easy access for fans to that area and a new victory lane, among other upgrades

Richmond Raceway will spend an estimated $30 million that features new Cup garages that will have a fan viewing walkway, a fan area, a new media center and a new pedestrian tunnel. That project is set to be completed in September.

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NASCAR America Scan All: Pit road problems, bump-and-run combine for Harvick’s win

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“Just get me a good pit stop,” Aric Almirola asked his crew coming down pit road late in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

“10-4. You got it,” his crew chief John Klausmeier replied in this week’s edition of NASCAR America’s Scan All.

He didn’t get the pit stop he wanted and restarting the race may have been what cost Almirola his first win of 2018 as he was beaten off pit road by two of the most powerful racers in the field: Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

Other highlights included:

  • “All is good. Good changes. We’re back to where we started on track bar.” – Kurt Busch
  • “The water out from underneath the walls on the straightaway getting into the corners is not very nice.” – Kyle Busch
  • “That’s why I’ve been staying away from the wall.” – Kevin Harvick
  • “You’ve got to be like 100 percent every inch of the race track to not slip.” – Kyle Busch
  • “We need a better line of communication.”—Ryan Blaney
  • “I don’t know why he stopped, but if I’d of let you go, you would have hit him right in the door.” – Jeremy Bullins, Blaney’s crew chief
  • “Can we work on it, or are we done?” – Clint Bowyer
  • “Eight to go. Do what you got to do to win.” – Rodney Childers, Harvick’s crew chief
  • “Rubbin’ is racin’ bud. Go get him.” – Adam Stevens, Kyle Busch’s crew chief
  • “P8. Sorry everybody for completely pissing away a chance to win that one. Unexcusable to have something like that happen under green” – Billy Scott, Kurt Busch’s crew chief
  • “We live as a team, we die as a team.” – Kurt Busch

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR won’t use traction compound at Pocono Raceway

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NASCAR will not use any traction compound this weekend at Pocono Raceway despite a plea from Denny Hamlin to do so.

PJ1 traction compound was applied to the lower and a higher groove in all four corners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The traction compound was applied on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights for the next day’s events.

The intent was to create other lanes for competitors to run to create closer racing.

Hamlin politicked last weekend at New Hampshire for the traction compound to be used this weekend.

“I’d like to openly petition (that) we need PJ1 at the top of Turn 3 Pocono,” Hamlin said. “When we had that new fresh asphalt up there, it completely changed the racing at Pocono, and I really believe that it could do wonders for that race track.

“It’s been such a single-file race track ever since the repave (before the 2012 season). There’s a handful of tracks (where it) really could help the racing and so putting it in the high side of (Turn) 1, the high side of 3 at Pocono would be a fantastic idea.”

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, explained Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” why the traction compound won’t be used at Pocono Raceway.

“Turn 3 at Pocono was one of the places where it was going to be applied,” Miller said of a proposal. “That’s a third-gear corner for the competitors. Little bit difficult to kind of anticipate what the gearing change might be. We don’t want to change anything up for the competitors. Obviously we’re going very fast down the front straightaway at Pocono. Elevating the speed in Turn 3 only makes that more.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into (using a traction compound). We kind of look at its potential at a lot of places. We know where it works and we’re getting more and more scientific with the application and understanding what we’re doing and it may or may not expand to other places. But until we’re ready and we fully understand what we’re doing, we’ll be a little bit slow getting it to other places.

“The last thing we want to do is to make a race weekend potentially have a story around the VHT not working. We’re cautiously moving forward with it.”

Pocono isn’t the only track Hamlin says could use the traction compound.

“I know that Texas, it’s a big challenge because we run fast there anyways, but that track is so wide,” Hamlin said. “I mean, just put a strip way up there where you never think we’ll go and eventually someone will go up there and they’ll keep testing it and next thing you know, we’re going to have two-wide racing.

“You know, these tracks that are really one-lane based, it could really do wonders and I like – really like the direction that the tracks and NASCAR have gone on it applying it and they’ve done a good job of being more consistent with where they put it from year to year.”

Hamlin also said he would be for using the traction compound at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but knows there would be challenges with getting that approved.

“I guess it will work at Indy, but certainly would love to see it tried,” Hamlin said. “I mean Indy is a great candidate. Now are you going to get people from Indy to buy – to take the risk with their surface, you know? They’re a little finicky about that kind of stuff.”

Imperfect world: Mistakes keep Cup field from beating Big 3 again

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LOUDON, N.H. — The refrain among drivers is that they have to be perfect to beat Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.

Sunday showed that the gap between NASCAR’s Big 3 and the rest of the field remains.

This time it was Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch who were among the key challengers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but mistakes left both watching their teammate, Harvick, score another win and continue the dominance of the Big 3.

“Everybody talks about the Big 3,” Almirola said. “I felt like we were stomping them today. That’s why they are so good. They execute. They execute all race long. Unfortunately, we didn’t do it today. We had the best car. We had the speed to beat them and we didn’t do it. That’s frustrating.”

Almirola led 42 laps. He was leading when Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Clint Bowyer brought out the final caution of the race after hitting the wall. Almirola lost the lead when the field pitted under caution. He exited third.

Almirola fell to seventh on the first lap of the restart when he spun his tires. His chances of winning were dashed. He finished third.

“Everybody has put so much into believing in me and giving me this opportunity to come here and I feel like I owe it to them to win and to prove them right that they made the right choice,” Almirola said. “I’m frustrated that I didn’t get to Victory Lane today.”

Busch led a race-high 94 laps but had to settle for an eighth-place finish.

His race was undone during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 226 of the 301-lap race. Busch entered pit road in second place. As the pole-sitter, he had the No. 1 pit stall, the stall at the end of pit road. Ryan Blaney had the pit stall behind Busch’s pit box.

Blaney was in his pit stall as Busch approached. Busch stopped beside Blaney to allow Blaney to exit but a slow pit stop left Blaney’s car motionless. For a brief moment, the two cars were parked beside each other as the race went on without them.  Busch eventually drove into his box.

The lost time proved to be too much for Busch, who could not get higher than fifth the rest of the race. He was fifth on the final restart, on the inside line behind Almirola, when Almirola spun his tires. Busch lost several positions.

“We ended up on the same lap as Blaney,” Busch said of his pit road issue. “That’s just bad luck or bad communication between two crew chiefs. And then the crew chief is like, ‘he’ll be gone by the time you get there.’ And I initially thought that, and then they were still hanging left-side tires and I was like, ‘Oh no, oh no. He’s gonna be there.’ 

“If I would have come around him, I would have blocked him huge. I would have been at a bad angle and that was just one of those we’re two guys walking down the hallway and we bumped into each other and had to hold each other up. That just kind of pushed us back too far on the final restart and I didn’t get a good last restart. If we could have come off pit road in fourth, it might have been a whole different race.”

It’s not just been at New Hampshire where teams had to be perfect to beat Busch, Harvick or Truex.

Those three drivers have combined to win eight of the last 10 points races and 15 of the 20 races this season.

They’ve been more difficult to beat lately. Harvick, Busch and Truex have all finished in the top five in four of the last five races.

“There are other cars that can lead laps, but it doesn’t seem like the right ones,” Joey Logano said before last weekend’s New Hampshire race. “It seems like (Busch, Harvick and Truex) always find a way to prevail at the end, whether it’s the speed in their car or their pit stops or restarts, whatever it may be they find themselves up front when it matters the most.

“Obviously, they can recover from mistakes pretty well because of their speed, so they’re just able to be there at the right times.”

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