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NASCAR releases tentative testing schedule for Cup teams

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NASCAR issued a rules bulletin update to teams Wednesday that included a tentative testing schedule for the Next Gen car for the rest of the year.

NASCAR noted the schedule is subject to change based on testing needs.

Here is the tentative testing schedule for 2020 (all tests will be with the Next Gen car only):

March 2-3: NASCAR test at Auto Club Speedway

March 16-17: NASCAR test at Atlanta Motor Speedway

April 6-7: NASCAR test at Bristol Motor Speedway

May 4-5: NASCAR test at Dover International Speedway

June 2-3: NASCAR test at Charlotte Motor Speedway

July 14-15: NASCAR test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

August 25: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway oval

Sept. 1-2: Goodyear tire test at Richmond Raceway

Sept. 8: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway oval

Sept. 22-23: Organizational test at Texas Motor Speedway

Sept. 29: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway oval

Oct. 6-7: Goodyear tire test at Daytona International Speedway

Oct. 13: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

Oct. 20-21: Organizational test at Dover International Speedway

Oct. 27: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

Nov. 2-3: Goodyear tire test at Martinsville Speedway

Nov. 10: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

Nov. 17-18: Organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Nov. 24: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway oval

Dec. 8: Open test at Charlotte Motor Speedway oval

Dec. 15-16: Organizational test at Phoenix Raceway

The Cup playoffs begin Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway and end Nov. 8 at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR limits organizations to one team per organization at an organization test. Participation is not mandatory. Only drivers licensed and approved for competition in the Cup series are eligible to participate in a NASCAR Cup Series organizational test. Spectators are permitted at an organizational test at the race track’s discretion.

An open test session is open for all Cup teams. Participation is not mandatory. Only drivers licensed and approved for competition in the Cup series are eligible to participate in a NASCAR Cup Series organizational test. Spectators are permitted at an organizational test at the race track’s discretion.

The number of race teams invited to a NASCAR test is based on the needs of the test.

A Goodyear tire test will included at least three teams. Teams in the top 20 in car owner points the previous year are assigned tire tests. Those assignments have not been released. Only full-time Cup drivers may participate in a tire test.

 

Today’s Cup race on the Charlotte Roval: Start time, lineup and more

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The NASCAR Cup Series wraps up its opening round of the playoffs with today’s race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Four playoff drivers will be eliminated today. The four drivers below the cutoff line entering today’s race are Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones.

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:26 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:38 p.m.

PRERACE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:19 p.m. The National Anthem will be performed at 2:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 109 laps (248.52 miles) around the 2.28-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: NBC will televise the race. Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard on goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING ONLINE: Click here for NBC’s live stream of the race.

FORECAST: Wunderground.com forecasts mostly sunny conditions with a temperature of 92 and a 4% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Ryan Blaney won this race last year after race leaders Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson wrecked on the last turn of the final lap. Jamie McMurray finished second while Clint Bowyer was third.

TO THE REAR: Denny Hamlin (backup), Alex Bowman (backup), Parker Kligerman (backup), Martin Truex Jr. (engine)

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

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Josef Newgarden’s run sparks more IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader talk

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CONCORD, N.C. – There are still many issues to resolve (namely, scheduling, track conditions, tire compounds are among myriad logistical challenges) about the viability of an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader race weekend.

But as Josef Newgarden’s Dallara-Chevrolet whizzed around the 17-turn, road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway under the watchful eyes of stars and executives from both NASCAR and IndyCar, there was no doubt about the infectious buzz for a marriage between the two biggest series in American motorsports.

That was evident from the smiles on the faces of Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney, who sent their Team Penske compatriot off from the pits and then greeted him in victory lane.

“We need to have a doubleheader, man!” Newgarden exclaimed to Blaney and Logano shortly before making the first laps in an Indy car at the track in more than 20 years. “And we need to do the ride swap.”

After watching his teammate turn six blazing laps, Logano was ready to trade in the keys from his No. 22 Ford for a test drive.

Josef Newgarden talks with NASCAR teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney (photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images).

“You’re grabbing another gear, we’re hitting the brakes your first lap on the frontstretch,” Logano told Newgarden with a bemused laugh.

“The NASCAR guys, I love they’re interested in us, and we’re interested in them,” Newgarden, who clinched his second NTT championship five days earlier, told NBCSN’s Rutledge Wood. “You can tell we’re just racers. They love our race cars. I love theirs. The only thing that would have made me more excited would have been if I would have been able to get in one of their cars today.

IndyCar president Jay Frye, who was on hand as an observer along with Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles, was highly encouraged by the enthusiasm.

“It was spectacular,” Frye said. “All the Cup guys were out watching the big board, obviously there’s interest from (the news media), from us. What’s next for all of us is something we’re working on, and it’s great we certainly felt welcome and wanted here. This is a great facility. So who knows? Lots of things are possible.”

Newgarden’s biggest concern was about how the tire compounds would mix (IndyCar uses Firestone; NASCAR is on Goodyear), but that turned out fine, as did the track’s banking and transitions that caused a “heavy” wheel because Indy cars have no power steering

“It was getting better each run,” Newgarden said. “It felt pretty good.”

He said his fast laps were in the 67-second range, or about 14 seconds faster than William Byron’s pole speed (80.9 seconds) 30 minutes earlier – which was exactly the spread that had been predicted by Team Penske simulation software (according to Blaney).

Mindful of Team Penske president Tim Cindric’s playful yet stern warnings (“I told Josef we’re not going to get a trophy for what happens today. That million dollars for winning the championship won’t go far in replacing this thing. Have fun, but it’s on you.”), Newgarden said he took it easy in the Dallara-Chevrolet that Simon Pagenaud finished fourth with last Sunday at Laguna Seca Raceway, leaving “another second or two” on the track.

With a setup optimized for qualifying, it’s conceivable that he could have lapped in the 1-minute range and left his Cup teammates fully in the dust – though showing up NASCAR was far from the goal for Newgarden, who bent over backward being magnanimous toward his stock-car counterparts.

The two-time IndyCar champion talked multiple times about his dream of running a Cup car (practically begging Cindric for the opportunity during a news conference) and effusively praised the reception he received from NASCAR fans, noting that it likely would have been different during the Cold War the series engaged in through much of the 1990s and 2000s.

“I think everyone was really supportive of what we’re doing,” Newgarden said. “There just seems to be a  lot more movement to racing fans being racing fans again. I love that because I’m a huge NASCAR fan myself.

“It doesn’t matter that I grew up racing open-wheel cars. I still appreciate top-level racing, and these guys are the best at what they do. They feel the same way about us. This whole discussion that’s emerging about trying to promote racing as a whole is a really great thing. I love it. I’m so interested in what they do all year, and I think it’s the same from their side, so the more we can do together in the future the better.”

How soon that will happen was the big question lingering over Friday’s exhibition, which Clint Bowyer referred to on NASCAR America as “the first test session for IndyCar on our Roval. Why wouldn’t we bring those guys to race with our sport? I think it’s a great idea.”

The chatter around an IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader began to reach a fever pitch in May when NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr., Newgarden and many others expressed interest (in an NBCSports.com story) about bringing the series together.

Executives from NBC Sports Group, which broadcasts the Indianapolis 500 and full IndyCar schedule and the final 20 races of NASCAR’s Cup season, also has expressed interest in the concept. NBC Sports recently cross-promoted the series in a humorous commercial with Roger Penske, Blaney and Pageanud.

“That was a lot of fun and a lot of great response to it, and that’s things we couldn’t have done in the past,” NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said last Friday in a news conference at Laguna Seca Raceway. “I think that’s part of us leaning in at NBC in trying to grow all of motorsports, and it’s important that every form of racing gets attention, and that’s what we’re pushing.”

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles has vacillated publicly on the idea. Asked by NBC Sports last week if IndyCar was moving toward a doubleheader weekend, Miles said it was unlikely before 2022.

“It was said that there was momentum in May. In my view there was more discussion in May, more talk about it, more smoke than fire. So I think the folks at NASCAR know that we think it’s a good idea. I think as far as I can tell, they think it’s a good idea.

“So we’ll see if it can be pulled together. But it’s something that we think, if it gets more people watching motorsports, it’s well worth working on.”

However, at least one person with direct knowledge of the talks (but not authorized to discuss them publicly) told NBCSports.com that a 2021 doubleheader hadn’t been ruled out.

Friday’s exhibition run was described by Newgarden as a “gift” from sponsor ShellPennzoil (“the coolest thing all week” during his championship celebration), which also has a strong business relationship with Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Track general manager Greg Walter described his contact with IndyCar officials about a race as preliminary, “first date”-level conversations. Walter was encouraged by Newgarden’s results.

There probably would need to be changes made with Indy cars (such as removing the “turtle” curbs that cause massive damage to Cup cars as a penalty for veering off course), but Walter said Charlotte is exploring IndyCar and other series (such as IMSA, support sports cars circuits and Formula E) for its Roval layout.

“We’re open to any form of racing if it makes sense,” Walter told NBCSports.com. “So if it physically and financially makes sense, and from a fan following if it makes sense, we’re open to it. NASCAR has been our focus and continues to be our focus, but we always ask is there something else out there that fits as well.”

Frye, who has boundless contacts in NASCAR from many years as a team and sponsor executive, said Newgarden’s car “looked very natural out there, looked good. The lap times were within reason of what everyone thought it would be. So, who knows?

“There really aren’t any hurdles (to a doubleheader), necessarily. It’s just schedules. Timing, how that all works. Obviously our season ended last week. That’s something we could look at down the road, how it could fit.”

Frye also stressed that the Roval wouldn’t be the only option for a doubleheader.

Richmond, Texas and Indianapolis are other tracks that are raced by both IndyCar and NASCAR, and Newgarden certainly seems open to trying any of them.

“I think it would be really cool for the fans without a doubt,” Newgarden said. “Why would you not want to have that doubled up on a weekend? They’re just both great championships.

“I respect these guys so much, and I love keeping in touch with what they’re doing, so having a little closer access to them and vice versa for us, I think it would be a win-win for everybody.”

Goodyear tire info for Roval weekend at Charlotte

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The final road course race of the season for both the Cup and Xfinity Series takes place this weekend on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval.

When it comes to Goodyear tires, both Cup and Xfinity teams will race on the same traditional road course rubber, but air pressure recommendations will be different than in tires used at Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway.

According to a Goodyear media release, the reason is: “Those two courses are run primarily in a clockwise direction, with a majority of right-hand turns. The Roval is run counter-clockwise – including utilizing the majority of the speedway’s oval – making it primarily a left-hand course. The air pressures reflect that difference, with the right-front tire having a recommendation of two psi greater than the left-front (28 psi vs. 26 psi), because that is the corner of the car that sees the most load most of the time around the 2.28-mile course.”

Added Goodyear director of racing Greg Stucker, While the course has gone through several changes since it was first laid out in late 2017, the fact remains that we treat the Roval as a road course from a tire perspective. The Roval is definitely unique in the NASCAR world, and requires us to be aware of many factors.

Similar to other road courses, we have to bring a tire and recommend air pressures that reflect the hard braking and acceleration on and off the corners. The main difference is the use of the oval as part of the course, where loads on the right-front will be higher than any other corner of the car.”

Teams will also have wet weather tires at their disposal should conditions warrant. Cup teams are allowed two sets of “wets” for practice and qualifying and up to four sets for the race, while Xfinity teams are allowed two sets of “wets” for practice and qualifying and up to two sets for the race.

The ‘Goodyear’ and Eagle lettering on the sidewalls of the wet weather tires is white, not the standard Goodyear yellow.

Here is the information for this weekend’s tires at Charlotte’s Roval:

Tire: Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials

Set limits: Cup: Three sets for practice, one set for qualifying and eight sets for the race (seven race sets plus one set transferred from qualifying or practice); Xfinity: Six sets for the event

Tire Codes (same on all four tire positions): D-4940

Tire Circumference: 2,240 mm (88.19 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 26 psi; Right Front — 28 psi; Left Rear — 20 psi; Right Rear — 20 psi

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IndyCar champ Josef Newgarden to make Roval run after Cup qualifying

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Newly crowned IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden will extend his season a bit Friday when he wheels his No. 2 Shell-Pennzoil Dallara/Chevrolet Indy car in an exhibition run around the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Newgarden’s jaunt around the Roval will take place following NASCAR Cup qualifying.

Sunday marked the second time Newgarden has won the IndyCar championship in the last three seasons.

Newgarden grew up in NASCAR country in Hendersonville, Tennessee, north of Nashville. He recently moved back to that area after living in Charlotte the last two years.

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