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Kevin Harvick glad to see evolving Cup schedule, but wants more changes

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – If Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts a Cup race on its infield road course just once it would be worth it to Kevin Harvick.

For Harvick, the buzz around the Sept. 30 event is an example of what good can come from experimenting with the 36-race Cup schedule.

“If we don’t ever run it again, think about all the conversation that it has created,” Harvick said Tuesday at the NASCAR Media Tour. “If you did it every year, it would just be another race. Those are the types of things that we need to create. We need to create events and moments.”

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has been one of the most outspoken drivers in recent years regarding a desire for NASCAR to shake up its schedules, including a return to short tracks in the Truck Series.

In 2015, Harvick said 90 percent of tracks that host Cup events should only have one race a year. A few months later he advocated moving Saturday night races to Sunday afternoons and said Iowa Speedway should be given a Cup race.

Harvick expressed approval of changes NASCAR has made this year, including the swapping of race dates.

“You see Richmond in the playoffs (Sept. 22) and Indy in a date (Sept.  9) where the fans can sit in the stands and not burn their rear ends off,” Harvick said.

Another change is Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosting two Cup races, including the playoff opener on Sept. 16. The second race date was moved from New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Both tracks are owned by Speedway Motorsports, Inc.

“Going to Vegas to kickoff the playoffs is a good move from a market standpoint,” Harvick said. “It is a great race track but the market itself is something you have to pay attention to.”

According to Accuweather.com, the average temperature in Las Vegas on Sept. 16 is 93 degrees.

Harvick, the 2014 Cup champion, also expressed his desire for a rotation of the championship race.

The Cup season has ended at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a 1.5-mile oval, since 2002.

“I think it gets stale,” Harvick said. “It is a great race track but it isn’t all about the race track. It is about the event. How many times have you had a crappy Super Bowl but everybody goes to the Super Bowl because it is an event. That is what we need to create.”

The swapping of race dates and the creation of the Charlotte road course have occurred while NASCAR is in the middle of a five-year sanctioning agreement with tracks. The agreement ends in 2020.

Harvick presented other ideas for getting tracks more attention and creating unique events, including the prospect of a wild card race.

He also believes tracks should be able to lease their race dates to other tracks, especially when they’re undergoing renovations.

“You renovate your race track, then you have the right to take your date and lease it to someone else during the renovation process so that you can go try new markets and you can go have a unique event,” Harvick said. “Then that gives that particular race track a grace period to get all the work done and not have a race so they can keep working and get the renovations done in a shorter amount of time. That allows you to keep the race tracks renovated and still make money off their race by working a deal out with another race track with their sanctioning agreement.”

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Cup Series start times, TV/Radio info for 2018 announced

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NASCAR has released the full 2018 Cup Series schedule with start times and TV/radio broadcast information.

The schedule includes new start times for select races, including the 60th running of the Daytona 500 and the exhibition Clash that is held the week before.

No race next season is scheduled to begin before 2 p.m. ET. All times below are Eastern.

The Clash is set to start at 3 p.m. on Feb. 11 on Fox Sports 1. This year it was originally scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Feb. 19 before weather rescheduled it to the following afternoon.

The start of the Daytona 500 has been pushed back 30 minutes to 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 on Fox.

The Feb. 25 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will start at 2 p.m., moving it up from 2:30 p.m.

The April 8 race at Texas Motor Speedway will start at 2 p.m after beginning at 1:30 p.m. this year.

The April 21 race at Richmond Raceway is set for 6:30 p.m. on Fox. It returns to a night setting after starting at 2 p.m. this season.

The spring race at Dover International Speedway will be run on May 6 after previously being held in early June. The race is set for 2 p.m. after previously starting at 1 p.m. ET.

The May 12 event at Kansas Speedway will now begin at 8 p.m., a change from 7:30 p.m. this season.

The start times of the June races at Pocono and Michigan have been moved up one hour to 2 p.m.

The NBC networks begin airing the Cup schedule on July 1 at Chicagoland Speedway. The race is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. on NCBSN.

The following week, the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway begins at 7 p.m. on NBC, a move up from 7:30 p.m.

The July 22 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will start at 2 p.m. after starting at 3 p.m. this season.

The July 29 race at Pocono will begin at 2:30 p.m., a move up from 3 p.m.

The Aug. 5 race at Watkins Glen International and Aug. 12 race at Michigan will start 30 minutes earlier at 2:30 p.m.

The Sep. 9 Brickyard 400, which now concludes the regular season, will start 30 minutes earlier at 2 p.m. on NBCSN.

The postseason begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 3 p.m. on Sept. 16 on NBCSN.

The first race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course is set for 2 p.m. on Sept. 30 on NBC.

The Oct. 21 race Kansas will start at 2 p.m., a move from 3 p.m.

The start time for the Oct. 28 Martinsville race has been moved up 30 minutes to 2:30 p.m.

The Nov. 4 race at Texas Motor Speedway has been moved back one hour to 3 p.m.

The championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway is set for 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 18 on NBC.

Below is the full schedule.

 

Date
Location
Network
Race Start
Radio
2/11
Daytona 500 Qualifying at
Daytona International Speedway
FOX
12 p.m. ET
MRN
2/11
The Clash at
Daytona International Speedway
FS1
3 p.m. ET
MRN
2/15
The Duel at
Daytona International Speedway
FS1
7 p.m. ET
MRN
2/18
DAYTONA 500 at
Daytona International Speedway
FOX
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
2/25
Atlanta Motor Speedway
FOX
2 p.m. ET
PRN
3/4
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
FOX
3:30 p.m. ET
PRN
3/11
Phoenix Raceway
FOX
3:30 p.m. ET
MRN
3/18
Auto Club Speedway
FOX
3:30 p.m. ET
MRN
3/25
Martinsville Speedway
FS1
2 p.m. ET
MRN
4/8
Texas Motor Speedway
FS1
2 p.m. ET
PRN
4/15
Bristol Motor Speedway
FOX
2 p.m. ET
PRN
4/21
Richmond International Raceway
FOX
6:30 p.m. ET
MRN
4/29
Talladega Superspeedway
FOX
2 p.m. ET
MRN
5/6
Dover International Speedway
FS1
2 p.m. ET
MRN
5/12
Kansas Speedway
FS1
8 p.m. ET
MRN
5/19
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Open at
Charlotte Motor Speedway
FS1
6 p.m. ET
MRN
5/19
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at
Charlotte Motor Speedway
FS1
8 p.m. ET
MRN
5/27
Charlotte Motor Speedway
FOX
6 p.m. ET
PRN
6/3
Pocono Raceway
FS1
2 p.m. ET
MRN
6/10
Michigan International Speedway
FOX
2 p.m. ET
MRN
6/24
Sonoma Raceway
FS1
3 p.m. ET
PRN
7/1
Chicagoland Speedway
NBCSN
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
7/7
Daytona International Speedway
NBC
7 p.m. ET
PRN
7/14
Kentucky Speedway
NBCSN
7:30 p.m. ET
PRN
7/22
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
NBCSN
2 p.m. ET
PRN
7/29
Pocono Raceway
NBCSN
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
8/5
Watkins Glen International
NBC
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
8/12
Michigan International Speedway
NBCSN
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
8/18
Bristol Motor Speedway
NBCSN
7:30 p.m. ET
PRN
9/2
Darlington Raceway
NBCSN
6 p.m. ET
MRN
9/9
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
NBCSN
2 p.m. ET
IMS
9/16
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NBCSN
3 p.m. ET
PRN
9/22
Richmond International Raceway
NBCSN
7:30 p.m. ET
MRN
9/30
Charlotte Motor Speedway
NBC
2 p.m. ET
PRN
10/7
Dover International Speedway
NBCSN
2 p.m. ET
MRN
10/14
Talladega Superspeedway
NBC
2 p.m. ET
MRN
10/21
Kansas Speedway
NBC
2 p.m. ET
MRN
10/28
Martinsville Speedway
NBCSN
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
11/4
Texas Motor Speedway
NBCSN
3 p.m. ET
PRN
11/11
Phoenix Raceway
NBC
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
11/18
Homestead Miami Speedway
NBC
2:30 p.m. ET
MRN
 

Kevin Harvick: Current state of Truck Series schedule ‘makes me mad’

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Not long after NASCAR unveiled the 2018 schedules for its three national series, Kevin Harvick went on a rant about the current state of the Camping World Truck Series schedule, saying “it makes me mad.”

“The Truck schedule is racing at a ton of the wrong race tracks,” Harvick said Tuesday on his weekly SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show “Happy Hour. “They should be back at Louisville (Motor Speedway), they should be back at some of these grassroots race tracks. The Truck Series should be helping us build our grassroots program, from Late Models on up, by having a Truck race there.”

With NASCAR trying to find ways to win the hearts and minds of new fans, Harvick believes the Truck Series, which debuted in 1995, is an unused tool for strengthening the sport’s fan base.

“In order to help our sport to produce from the bottom up, we have to help figure out how to get the grassroots program where they need to be and that’s what we need to be using the Truck Series for,” said Harvick, a 14-time Truck winner and former Truck team owner. “Go to these grassroots race tracks and guess what? That’s where the Trucks need to be racing because they’re going to put 10 to 15,000 people in the grandstands every week to watch these races because they’re unique events.”

“They don’t want to show up on a Friday at Dover (International Speedway) and watch these trucks drive around the race track because they’re going to show up on Sunday to watch the Cup cars. Take the trucks somewhere where everybody wants to see them, because there’s short tracks across the country that want to see them.

“Sorry, I’m on a rant. It make me mad.”

Harvick’s thoughts about reaching fans are in addition to those made by Kyle Larson earlier this year about how NASCAR should encourage its stars to race at short tracks in smaller series.

Harvick is doing a variation of this later this season. He will competes in the K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway the weekend of the Cup Series race on the road course.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver broke into NASCAR via the Truck Series in the first year of its existence. He made his debut in 1995 at Mesa Marin Raceway in his hometown of Bakersfield, California.

Of the 18 tracks the series competed on in 1995, it still races at only three – Martinsville, Phoenix Raceway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

“The Trucks should be opening up in January like they used to at Tuscon Raceway Park or the Copperworld Classic when it was at Phoenix,” Harvick said. “Let the Truck Series start our season in January so they can have exposure on TV by themselves. If the Cup guys want to go out there and race, that’s fine. Let them go race. Because that’s going to help put fans in the grandstands.

“Myself and Greg Biffle and Ron Hornaday and Mike Skinner, guess what? We’d never make to it to Cup racing, Truck racing or anything else that we do because we wouldn’t have been on TV if they didn’t have ‘Winter Heat’ and all these different series. In order to produce young stars and expose them to the public you have to start them from the grassroots level up.

“You can’t keep lollygagging along with the Truck Series at these race tracks and expect people to show up.”

Harvick cited the lack of SAFER barrier at short tracks as an excuse given for why the Truck Series doesn’t race at more short tracks.

“Let’s figure out a way to help these tracks get soft walls if that’s what it takes for them to get a Truck race,” Harvick said.

Next year, the Truck Series will have 23 races beginning on Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway and ending on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The biggest change to the schedule is the Truck Series loses it standalone race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September. Instead, the Truck Series will visit the track with the Cup and Xfinity Series twice on March 2 and Sept. 19.

The March 2 race in Las Vegas gives the Truck series three straight races to begin the season. For the last three seasons, the series competed at Daytona and Atlanta before going quiet until late March at Martinsville Speedway and then taking another month off until an early May race at Kansas Speedway.

From 2012-14, the series held no races between Daytona and Martinsville. Atlanta was added the week following Daytona in 2015.

The Truck Series’ Dover race moves from early June to May 4 next year, which shortens the break following the Martinsville race. The series will not be returning to New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the track loses one of its NASCAR weekends.

The Truck Series will now only have four standalone events in 2018: Texas Motor Speedway (June 8), Gateway Motorsports Park (June 23), Eldora Speedway (July 18) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (August 26).

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NASCAR’s Speedweeks schedule leading to the Daytona 500

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Four days remain until the 59th Daytona 500.

The final stretch to the “Great American Race” begins today with practice for the NASCAR Cup  and Camping World Truck Series.

The day ends with the scheduled Can-Am Duel, which will set the starting lineup for the Daytona 500.

Here is the remaining Speedweeks schedule.

All times are Eastern. 

Thursday, Feb. 23

8:30 a.m. – 11 p.m. – Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Truck Series garage open

11 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

Noon – 12:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

2 – 2:55 p.m. – Truck practice (FS1)

4- 4:55 p.m. – Final Truck practice (FS1)

5:15 p.m. – Cup driver – crew chief meeting

6:40 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

7 p.m. – Can-Am qualifying duel No. 1; 60 laps, 150 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

8:40 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

9 p.m. – Can-Am qualifying duel No. 2; 60 laps, 150 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Friday, Feb. 24

9 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – Truck garage opens

10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

Noon – 12:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (FS1)

1 – 1:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

2 – 2:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

4:30 p.m. – Truck qualifying; single vehicle/two rounds (FS1)

6:15 p.m. – Truck driver – crew chief meeting

7 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – NextEra Energy Resources 250; 100 laps/250 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, Feb. 25

9 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

10:30 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single car/two rounds (FS1)

11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

12:10 p.m. – Xfinity driver – crew chief  meeting

12:30 – 1:55 p.m. – Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

3 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3:30 p.m. – PowerShares QQQ 300; 120 laps, 300 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Feb 26

8 a.m. – Cup garage opens

Noon – Driver – crew chief meeting

1:15 p.m. – Driver introductions

2p.m. – 59th Daytona 500; 200 laps, 500 miles (Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR’s Saturday schedule at Iowa Speedway

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The Camping World Truck Series holds its eighth race of the season tonight at Iowa Speedway.

Here’s the schedule up to the Speediatrics 200, including Xfinity Series qualifying.

All times are Eastern. 

11 a.m. – Truck garage opens

2 – 8 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

4:45 p.m. – Truck series qualifying; multi-truck/three rounds (FS2)

6:15 p.m. – Truck driver-crew chief meeting

6:45 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (FS2)

8 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

8:30 p.m. – Speediatrics 200; 200 laps, 175 miles (Race will start on Fox Business from 8:3o-9 p.m., then switches to Fox Sports 1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)