Getty Images

Five intriguing changes for NASCAR in 2019

1 Comment

The 2019 NASCAR season is one of significant change.

From a multitude of drivers and crew chiefs switching teams to a brand new rules package in the Cup Series, the NASCAR we’ll see in action in February will be a far cry from what we saw in November.

Which changes have us the most eager to get the season underway in 31 days?

Same Team, Different Car

How long will it take before Chad Knaus accidentally visits the wrong hauler during a race weekend?

It seems like a plausible scenario given that NASCAR’s most successful crew chief of the 21st Century is working on a car not driven by Jimmie Johnson for the first time since 2001.

And Knaus himself said it could happen.

“Look, I had 18 years working on that 48 car, so I guarantee I’m going to walk into the wrong transporter,” Knaus said Friday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.” “At some point, I’m probably going to key the radio and start to say ‘Jimmie,’ by accident. I may look at the 48 as it rolls down the front straightaway and get confused, but hell, I’m getting old, so I get confused anyhow. So, that’s just part of life.”

2019 sees Knaus instead shepherding the sophomore effort of fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron in the No. 24 Chevrolet.

Meanwhile, Johnson and the No. 48 team will head to Speedweeks in Daytona with Kevin Meendering as its crew chief. After three years working with Elliott Sadler in Xfinity, Meendering gets his first shot in Cup with a seven-time champion near the end of his career.

It truly is a brave new world.

Old School Sonoma

A Cup Series road course will see a major change to its circuit this year.

No, Watkins Glen is not going to run “the Boot.” But Sonoma Raceway is bringing back “the Carousel.”

Almost lost in the hoopla of the inaugural race weekend on the Charlotte Roval last year was a press conference announcing the course alteration for Sonoma’s June 21-23 Cup race weekend.

The move, made to commemorate the track’s 50th anniversary, returns the track to its original 12-turn, 2.52-mile layout.

Cup races used “the Carousel” until 1998, but that was on a 1.99-mile layout. IndyCar also raced on “the Carousel.”

You can see the revised layout below.

 

Graphic courtesy Sonoma Raceway.

 

Ryan Preece

In the Cup Series’ rookie class for 2019, Ryan Preece stands out in a significant area.

He’s actually won a NASCAR race.

While Matt Tifft, Daniel Hemric and Tanner Berryhill have never visited victory lane, the new driver for JTG Daugherty Racing enters this season with two Xfinity Series wins. Both came on short tracks at Iowa and Bristol Motor Speedway.

MORE: Ryan Preece turns the page on his career

Those two oval wins are more than the number earned by the driver he replaces in the No. 47 Chevrolet. AJ Allmendinger ended 2018 with three NASCAR wins, but all came on road courses.

Preece hasn’t competed in Cup since he ran five races in the series in 2015, but it will be interesting to see what the 28-year-old can muster in a rookie campaign that coincides with the introduction of a rules package intended to create closer racing.

Restrictor Plates-ish

The 2019 rules package – complete with a tapered spacer – will make its superspeedway debut with the season’s first visit to Talladega Superspeedway in April.

This is significant because it will be the first NASCAR race on a superspeedway without a restrictor plate since 1988.

While the tapered spacer is meant to serve the same, but more efficient purpose of the restrictor plate, we won’t know how it performs until the series visits Alabama. Taking into account how Stewart-Haas Racing dominated at Talladega last October, it will be interesting to see what kind of race unfolds.

Fewer Cup-backed cars in Xfinity

The Xfinity Series will have a little bit less competition in 2019.

A full field will now consist of 38 cars, down from 40. But the series will also have less of a Cup Series influence.

There will be two less Cup-backed teams in the series with Roush Fenway Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing shutting down their Xfinity operations. Roush fielded two cars in 2018 with the No. 16 and No. 60 while Ganassi was set to field Ross Chastain in the No. 42.

Richard Childress Racing will not have just one full-time driver in the series with Tyler Reddick in the No. 2 Chevrolet. They’re expected to field a second car with the No. 21.

Just two years ago RCR fielded as many as five cars throughout the season.

MORE: Five Can’t Miss NASCAR Cup Races in 2019 Beyond the Daytona 500

 and on Facebook

NASCAR Cup Series race start times announced for 2019

Getty Images
1 Comment

NASCAR has announced its race start times for the 2019 Cup Series season, with a notable change in start time for the playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

After a start time of 3 p.m. ET this year, next season’s race will begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on NBCSN.

“Moving the start time for the September race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is fitting because it will deliver a better experience for our fans attending the race, and kick off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in primetime,” said Steve Herbst, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Broadcasting and Production in a press release. “Each race weekend, including Las Vegas, is unique, and we work collaboratively with broadcast partners, teams and tracks to ensure the ideal timing is selected for our events.”

Other notable start times:

  • The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
  • The March 31 race at Texas Motor Speedway will start one hour later, moving from a 2 p.m. ET start to 3 p.m. ET. The race also moves to FOX.
  • The start time for New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s July 22 starts one hour later, moving from 2 p.m. ET to 3 p.m. ET.
  • Martinsville Speedway’s Oct. 28 playoff shifts a half-hour later to a 3 p.m. ET start.

Here’s the full schedule with start times and TV and radio networks:

DATE

RACE

NETWORK

RACE START (ET)

RADIO

Sun, Feb 10, 2019

Daytona 500 Qualifying

FOX

12:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Feb 10, 2019

The Clash

FS1

3:00 PM

MRN

Thu, Feb 14, 2019

Duel at Daytona

FS1

7:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Feb 17, 2019

Daytona 500

FOX

2:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Feb 24, 2019

Atlanta

FOX

2:00 PM

PRN

Sun, Mar 03, 2019

Las Vegas

FOX

3:30 PM

PRN

Sun, Mar 10, 2019

ISM Raceway

FOX

3:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Mar 17, 2019

Auto Club Speedway

FOX

3:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Mar 24, 2019

Martinsville

FS1

2:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Mar 31, 2019

Texas

FOX

3:00 PM

PRN

Sun, Apr 07, 2019

Bristol

FS1

2:00 PM

PRN

Sat, Apr 13, 2019

Richmond

FOX

7:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Apr 28, 2019

Talladega

FOX

2:00 PM

MRN

Sun, May 05, 2019

Dover

FS1

2:00 PM

MRN

Sat, May 11, 2019

Kansas

FS1

7:30 PM

MRN

Sat, May 18, 2019

All-Star Open

FS1

6:00 PM

MRN

Sat, May 18, 2019

All-Star Race

FS1

8:00 PM

MRN

Sun, May 26, 2019

Charlotte

FOX

6:00 PM

PRN

Sun, Jun 02, 2019

Pocono

FS1

2:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Jun 09, 2019

Michigan

FS1

2:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Jun 23, 2019

Sonoma

FS1

3:00 PM

PRN

Sun, Jun 30, 2019

Chicagoland

NBCSN

3:00 PM

MRN

Sat, Jul 06, 2019

Daytona

NBC

7:30 PM

MRN

Sat, Jul 13, 2019

Kentucky

NBCSN

7:30 PM

PRN

Sun, Jul 21, 2019

New Hampshire

NBCSN

3:00 PM

PRN

Sun, Jul 28, 2019

Pocono

NBCSN

3:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Aug 04, 2019

Watkins Glen

NBCSN

3:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Aug 11, 2019

Michigan

NBCSN

3:00 PM

MRN

Sat, Aug 17, 2019

Bristol

NBCSN

7:30 PM

PRN

Sun, Sep 01, 2019

Darlington

NBCSN

6:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Sep 08, 2019

Indianapolis

NBC

2:00 PM

IMS

Sun, Sep 15, 2019

Las Vegas

NBCSN

7:00 PM

PRN

Sat, Sep 21, 2019

Richmond

NBCSN

7:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Sep 29, 2019

Charlotte

NBC

2:30 PM

PRN

Sun, Oct 06, 2019

Dover

NBCSN

2:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Oct 13, 2019

Talladega

NBC

2:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Oct 20, 2019

Kansas

NBC

2:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Oct 27, 2019

Martinsville

NBCSN

3:00 PM

MRN

Sun, Nov 03, 2019

Texas

NBCSN

3:00 PM

PRN

Sun, Nov 10, 2019

ISM Raceway

NBC

2:30 PM

MRN

Sun, Nov 17, 2019

Homestead-Miami

NBC

3:00 PM

MRN

 and on Facebook

Joey Logano, Ryan Newman among Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists

Leave a comment

On Wednesday, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the three finalists for the 2018 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, which includes Team Penske’s Joey Logano, Richard Childress Racing’s Ryan Newman and Sonoma Raceway President Steve Page.

Comcast, which owns NBCSN and NBC and sponsors NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, presents the award annually to recognize the philanthropic efforts of individuals within the NASCAR industry.

The award is in its fourth year and gives $60,000 to the winner’s affiliated charity and $30,000 on behalf of the two remaining finalists’ selected charities. The 2018 winner will be announced on Nov. 15 at W South Beach Hotel in Miami as part of the NASCAR Championship Weekend.

Below are profiles on each finalist. Watch the above video for more on Newman’s charity.

Ryan Newman – Newman and wife Krissie founded Rescue Ranch, an 87-acre facility that works to promote respect for all animals, the earth and the environment through a wide variety of educational programs in the community, in 2012. The Ranch is home to more than 85 animals that receive around-the-clock care, and serves as host to various school curriculum-based field trips, Scout badge programs, summer camps and more. In an effort to increase programs available to children and adults with special needs, Ryan and Krissie raised $500,000 for an inclusive playground where kids of all abilities can play together. The Ranch also incorporated additional Special Needs Summer Camp weeks to create more opportunities for children to have a successful camp experience.

Most recently, Rescue Ranch provided Search and Rescue aid to animals affected by Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, and is continuing to gather and donate items needed for their care to the community. When he’s not on the track, Newman dedicates his time to maintaining the Rescue Ranch grounds to provide a safe environment for the animals, as well as a fun and educational atmosphere for the children who visit. Outside of Rescue Ranch, Newman plays an active role in supporting the NASCAR Green initiative, helping to plant trees with the Arbor Day Foundation in various regions across the country to honor fallen soldiers.

Joey Logano – Founded the Joey Logano Foundation in 2013 to support organizations across the United States that provide aid to children and young adults during times of crisis offering them a second chance. Since its inception, the Joey Logano Foundation has invested more than $2.7 million to hundreds of organizations through a multitude charitable programs. The Joey Logano Foundation created the JL Kids Crew to help provide opportunities for children with serious illnesses to spend time at the race track and be part of the No. 22 race team. Part of this special race package includes Logano gifting each JL Kids Crew recipient with their own matching fire suit and placing their names on his No. 22 Ford Fusion.

Through JLF’s Grant Funding Program, the Foundation delivers grants to organizations dedicated to helping families that care for sick children, foster children and children of veterans. Over the course of the NASCAR season, the Joey Logano Foundation also has a program that brings Comfort Care Backpacks to multiple race markets. The Joey Logano Foundation has donated over 600 backpacks filled with essentials to underprivileged, foster and terminally ill children. The Joey Logano Foundation also uses its powerful platform during NASCAR’s playoffs to aid 10 non-profit organizations in 10 different NASCAR markets, via their Chasing Second Chances program, an effort to help racing communities prosper.

Steve Page – Page has shown long-standing commitment to the people of Northern California through his work with the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, along with his efforts to assist in supporting and rebuilding areas affected by last October’s devastating wildfires. To help provide relief to those impacted by widespread fires, Page opened the gates of Sonoma Raceway to provide a refuge for those who were evacuated from their homes, hosting more than 100 campers and serving as a temporary evacuation center.

Page, whose family was also evacuated, served meals and sorted donations to provide clothing and necessities to evacuees. He also helped mobilize the local community in thanking public safety personnel, spearheading a “Laps of Appreciation” fundraiser that generated more than $72,000 for the Sonoma County Resilience Fund and the Redwood Valley and Santa Rosa Community Recovery Fund. Throughout the raceway’s NASCAR race weekend in June, Page oversaw “Sonoma Rising,” an initiative designed to honor fire survivors, salute first responders and lend support to the North Bay’s ongoing rebuilding efforts.

As part of that effort, the raceway distributed more than 1,100 tickets to allow fire survivors to attend the 2018 race at no cost. Since 2001, Page and Speedway Children’s Charities have distributed more than $6 million to Sonoma County organizations that serve local youth. This year the Sonoma chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities established a ‘Fire Resilience Fund’ to distribute grants to youth-serving groups that have increased or created programs to support the amplified needs after the fires.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. announces weather guarantee for fans

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.

Martin Truex Jr. looks to match Tony Stewart’s road course win streak from 2004-05

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Martin Truex Jr. were to win Sunday at Watkins Glen International (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC), he’d do something that hasn’t been accomplished in the Cup Series since 2005.

A card-carrying member of this season’s “Big 3” with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, Truex will try to defend his win in last year’s race at the road course in Watkins Glen, New York.

A trip to victory lane would be his third consecutive on a road course after he won in June at Sonoma Raceway.

The last driver to claim three consecutive road course wins was Tony Stewart.

Stewart’s trifecta began in 2004 when he won at Watkins Glen. He then followed that up with wins in 2005 at Sonoma and again at WGI.

Like Stewart in 2005, Truex enters Watkins Glen with four wins on the season. That trails the six wins by Busch and Harvick.

“I raced go karts on road courses and always had fun learning the challenges of road racing,” said Truex in a press release. “I can remember the first time I raced at Watkins Glen. It was in a Busch North Series car. It took a while to figure out the track – it was crazy. I kept asking myself ‘How are these guys going so fast around here?’

“I have a lot of years of experience racing at the Glen. And right now I am with a great team which gives me all the pieces to be able to win races at different tracks. Hopefully we can go to the Glen this weekend and do it again. We know that a good qualifying spot is key. Starting up front sets the tone for the race.”

Starting from the front row hasn’t resulted in a winner at WGI since 2008 (Busch).

What is working in Truex’s favor?

For one, he’s finished every lap in all 12 career starts at The Glen.

Second, he’s led the most laps in the last three road course races. Last year, he led 25 laps at Sonoma before an engine issue knocked him out. He then led 24 laps at WGI and 62 laps this year at Sonoma.

Truex would be the sixth driver to ever win three consecutive road course races. That includes Stewart, Tim Richmond, Rusty Wallace and David Pearson.

Another driver won three straight but then doubled it. Jeff Gordon holds the all-time mark with six consecutive road course victories.

A victory in Sunday’s race would also tie Truex with Busch for four career wins on road courses, which leads active drivers.

Going back to 2005, Truex is  trying do something else Stewart achieved that season.

Win his second Cup title.

 and on Facebook