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SMI executive says it won’t add Roval concept to its other tracks

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CONCORD, N.C. — Don’t expect the Roval to be incorporated into other tracks owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. even after Sunday’s debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I’m not looking at any of our properties to add a road course …  Rovalizing as you said,” Marcus Smith, chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said after Ryan Blaney’s victory. “I feel like this is unique to Charlotte, and we’ve got other speedways out there that produce their own unique action.”

MORE: Roval provides roller coaster of emotions to playoff drivers

SMI owns eight tracks that host 12 Cup points races annually. SMI’s tracks are 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.

Charlotte Motor Speedway spent millions to upgrade the road course in its infield and attach it to the oval to create the 17-turn, 2.28-mile track. The move was made to add excitement to Charlotte’s playoff date, an event that had seen a steady decline in attendance in recent years.

Sunday’s race was one of the most anticipated NASCAR races in years because of the new concept and unknowns in a first event.

Charlotte has been innovative through the years. It was the first large NASCAR track to have lights. But after many other tracks added lights, the concept was no longer novel or fresh for fans.

Smith doesn’t want that to happen to the Roval.

“I do think that we can learn from our history,” he said.

Also, he suggests additional Rovals aren’t needed at his company’s tracks — even though five of SMI’s tracks are 1.5-miles long — because of the 2019 rules package that NASCAR is set to unveil this week. The new package, which has elements of what was run in the All-Star Race in May, is intended to tighten the competition.

“I’m really excited about all the things I’m hearing about next year’s racing with the new aero and power package,” Smith said. “I think it’s going to be fantastic for the whole sport.”

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: A new way of thinking about NASCAR’s future?

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When examining NASCAR’s future are most people looking in the wrong direction?

There are those who say the schedule — 36 points races, two non-points races and the Daytona qualifying races in a 41-week stretch — is too long.

Maybe it’s not enough.

So said Brad Keselowski earlier this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

While some says less is more for the sport, Keselowski suggests that the Cup schedule should have 50-60 races a year and no weekend off in the summer.

His plan is this:

Cup should race on Sundays and the middle of the week from February to early October (instead of ending the season in November). Keselowski also says that no track should host more than one weekend race. So, a track with two dates would get a weekend date and a midweek date.

One thing he notes is that any midweek race should take no more than three hours, meaning a number of races likely would need to be shortened

Keselowski’s idea is a novel concept and presents a new way of thinking when looking ahead in NASCAR. It’s always good to be forced to look at issues in different ways. But there are many challenges to his plan.

One question is what about the costs to teams. It would be easy to see teams saying such a schedule would cost them too much with the additional travel, expenses of preparing cars and repairing cars for example.

“The race teams will adjust, they’ll figure it out,’’ Keselowski said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Here’s what most people don’t understand. When a car owner complains about money, almost every race team out there has 20 or 30 engineers that don’t build the cars that make good wages and are smart people. What that tells me is they’ve got money and they’re just deciding to allocate it.’’

That might be a harder sell to teams. Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing and chairman of the Race Team Alliance spoke during All-Star weekend about cost to teams.

“It’s a joint concern, so it will be a joint solution to come up with how it works,’’ Kauffman said of working with NASCAR. “To get something like that in place will require quite a bit of collaboration.’’

Another concern would be tracks. A reason why there hasn’t been a midweek race yet is because a track executive has not volunteered to be the first.

The challenge with a midweek race is that the track likely won’t draw as many fans. Track officials note that they still have a significant percentage attend their races traveling from a few hours or more away. Not as many of those fans would probably make such a trip in the middle of the week. That could be lost income for the tracks.

Those are just among some of the key issues. It is a tangled web of trying to appease, teams, tracks, media partners, sponsors and fans as NASCAR forges ahead.

While there are many challenges to Keselowski’s plan — making it seem unlikely — that doesn’t mean such thinking should be immediately dismissed. Keselowski could be right in that bold thinking is what the sport needs as it looks ahead.

2. Kyle Busch could have company

While Kyle Busch became the first driver to win at every Cup track he’s competed with his Coca-Cola 600 victory, a couple of other drivers are not far behind.

Kevin Harvick has won at all but two tracks on the circuit (not including the Roval). He has yet to win at Kentucky (0 for 7) and Pocono (0 for 34).

Jimmie Johnson has won at all but three tracks on the circuit (not including the Roval). He has yet to win at Chicagoland (0 for 16), Kentucky (0 for 7) and Watkins Glen (0 for 16).

3. Back in the Day

LeBron James made his eighth consecutive NBA Finals appearance Thursday night. The last time he wasn’t in the NBA Finals was 2010.

That season in NASCAR:

Jimmie Johnson was on his way to a fifth consecutive Cup title.

Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Charlotte fall race.

Denny Hamlin won a series-high eight races.

Kevin Conway was Cup Rookie of the Year.

Joey Logano had just turned 20 years old.

Brad Keselowski won the Xfinity Series title.

Kyle Busch won 13 of the 29 Xfinity races he started.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was Xfinity Rookie of the Year.

Kyle Larson finished 10th in the Chili Bowl Nationals (Cole Whitt was second to winner Kevin Swindell).

William Byron wouldn’t turn 13 until November of that year.

4. France Family Group adds to portfolio

In a recent SEC filing, International Speedway Corp. stated that the France Family Group owns 74.11 percent of the combined voting power of common stock.

The France Family Group owned 73 percent, according to ISC’s 2016 annual report.

The France Family Group owned 72 percent, according to the ISC’s 2015 annual report.

As a comparison, Bruton Smith and son Marcus own 71 percent of Speedway Motorsports Inc.’s common stock. They owned 70 percent, according to SMI’s 2016 annual report.

5. A year later …

There will be much talk this weekend about how Jimmie Johnson has gone a year — it will be a year on June 4 actually — since his last Cup victory, the longest drought of his career.

But something else to ponder: In the last 36 races (a full season’s worth), Toyota has 19 wins, Ford has 12 and Chevrolet has five.

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Bristol Motor Speedway in running to manage Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway

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Bristol Motor Speedway is among at least two groups under consideration to manage Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, track officials told NBC Sports on Wednesday evening.

“We can confirm that Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) has submitted a proposal to manage the historic Fairgrounds Speedway and would be honored to serve as its promoter,” BMS executive vice president and general manager Jerry Caldwell said in a statement.

UPDATE: Bid to run track to go to current owner, Tennessean reports

The .596-mile track, which has a seating capacity of 15,000, was previously known as Nashville Speedway and Music City Motorplex.

The Speedway last held a NASCAR Cup race in 1984 (Geoffrey Bodine won), while its last Xfinity race was in 2000 (Randy Lajoie won), the same year of its last Truck race (Randy Tolsma won).

More recently, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East last raced there in 2008, the same year as the NASCAR Southwest Series also raced there.

Caldwell continued: “Bruton Smith, executive chairman and Marcus Smith, chief executive officer (of BMS’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc.), have a vision that the venue can again become a premier destination and they have a solid reputation of creating world-class facilities.

“If selected, the BMS team stands ready to work in collaboration with the city of Nashville to boost the fan experience, improve safety and produce iconic events at the Fairgrounds Speedway. We are confident that great success can be achieved for the racetrack while balancing the quality of life for its surrounding neighbors.”

According to a report in The Tennessean newspaper, BMS is one of at least two groups vying to manage the track, which is the second-oldest continually operating track in the U.S. The other group is headed by current facility manager Tony Formosa, who has operated the track since 2010.

The prospect of BMS caught the attention of several current and former NASCAR drivers on social media:

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Buy racing video game, get voucher for in-person race ticket

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Race like the real thing and then go watch the real thing in person.

Speedway Motorsports Inc. and 704Games have announced a unique promotion that will make both race fans and gamers happy.

In each retail version of the NASCAR Heat 2 video game, buyers will receive a $50 voucher off the purchase of a ticket to any NASCAR race at any of the eight SMI tracks for either the remainder of this season or during the entire 2018 season.

“Our fans can race as their heroes in NASCAR Heat 2 and, with this special offer, watch them perform live at our speedways across the country,” said SMI chief strategy officer Mike Burch.

Fans can use the $50 voucher to purchase a ticket for either a NASCAR Cup, NASCAR Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series race.

SMI tracks are 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.

The vouchers cannot be used at any International Speedway Corp. tracks, or independent tracks such as Dover International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Eldora Speedway, Gateway Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Road America or Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

NASCAR Heat 2 will be released Sept. 12. Gaming platforms it will be available on include PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC on Steam. Pre-orders are currently being accepted at retailers.

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