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Report: After 45 years, NASCAR’s Cup may have reached its end

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The Cup for NASCAR’s premier racing series may have run dry.

According to Adam Stern of SportsBusinessDaily.com, the sanctioning body will soon have a new entitlement sponsor to replace Sprint, but the new series name may not include Cup, such as the “(fill in the blank) Cup Series.”

NASCAR’s premier series has carried the “Cup” moniker since 1971. Over the ensuing 45 years, it has been known as the Winston Cup, Nextel Cup and Sprint Cup.

“Sources close to the talks said the organization has been pitching prospects on a deal without the word ‘Cup’ in the new name,” Stern wrote. “In at least some sales pitches, NASCAR has referred to the Cup Series as its ‘premier series’ with no reference to the word ‘Cup.’ ”

If that happens, Stern’s story continued, it “would represent a notable brand change if it comes to fruition. Whether NASCAR had pitched any companies on a deal that would keep ‘Cup’ included was unclear.”

NASCAR officials declined comment on the report, Stern added.

NASCAR continues to hold talks with several potential series entitlement sponsor replacements for Sprint. Recent reports claim discussions have reached an advanced stage with at least one potential suitor, Monster Energy.

If those talks end with an agreement, it is possible that a Monster Energy Cup or Monster Cup will not necessarily be a foregone conclusion.

“If Monster landed the deal and ‘Cup’ was dropped from the name, the new series would thus have a name along the lines of the ‘NASCAR Monster Series,’ ” Stern wrote.“Sources said the motivation was giving whoever lands the new title sponsor a fresh start.”

NASCAR officials have not said when the new premier series entitlement sponsor will be announced.

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The 2016 Sprint Cup season by the numbers

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Whether you like it or not the 2016 Sprint Cup season came to an end last night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With its conclusion, it’s time to take a look at notable stats that were accumulated over the course of the 36-race season, which consisted of 10,523 laps and 13,929.5 miles of competition.

Here’s just some of the interesting numbers from the 2016 season.

  • 61 – Drivers who competed in at least one race in 2016, 30 competed in all 36. Four drivers made their Cup debut: Dylan Lupton, Ryan Reed, Gray Gaulding and DJ Kennington.
  • 13 –  Drivers who won in 2016, including first-time winners Chris Buescher (Pocono II) and Kyle Larson (Michigan II).
  • 14 – Drivers who earned poles in 2016, including first-time pole-sitters Chase Elliott (Daytona 500) and Alex Bowman (Phoenix II).
  • 5 – Races won from the pole.
  • 6 – Times qualifying was cancelled.
  • 3 – Races won by Martin Truex Jr when qualifying was cancelled.
  • 1,809 – Laps led by Truex, leading all drivers.
  • 3 hours and 57 minutes – The length of the Southern 500, the longest race of the year based on time for the second year in a row.
  • 18.3 – Tony Stewart‘s average finish in his final Sprint Cup season.
  • 12 – Wins by Joe Gibbs Racing, the most of any team.
  • 6 – Races impacted by rain (Texas I and Texas II, Pocono I and Pocono II, Bristol II and Charlotte II).
  • 10 – Races that went into overtime, including four in the Chase (Chicagoland, Talladega II, Phoenix II and Homestead.
  • 96 – Days until the 2017 Daytona 500

Tire wear and pit strategy could determine race, championship

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Crew chief Todd Gordon feels strategy cost Joey Logano a win two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon hopes to avoid the same issue in today’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:30 p.m., NBC).

Tire wear and short-pitting — pitting before a fuel run ends — could determine who wins today’s race and the championship. Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, says lap times will fall by two seconds after only about 20 laps (a fuel run is about 55 laps).

“I think it’s awesome because I think that definitely provides opportunity for strategy, and definitely activity on pit road,’’ Knaus said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.’’

Teams are using the same tire this weekend that was run at both Texas races and at Chicagoland Speedway this season. The Texas race saw teams pit early because it was an advantage to get new tires ahead of the rest of the field.

“I feel like we got beat by it,’’ Gordon said of short pitting in the Texas race for Logano. “Martin Truex ran us down a little bit there in the middle of the race and actually got to our inside and pitted, and that short pit sequence only being a lap … got us from the lead to third and took us a while to recover from it. It’ll definitely play on this tire.’’

Dave Rogers, crew chief for Carl Edwards, admits short pitting will be “tempting” today.

“If you’re the leader and you have a five-second lead, you’re probably going to stay out and let a few people hit pit road first just to make sure everyone gets onto pit road cleanly,’’ Rogers said. “Once they do, then you’ll come down pit road.

On the other hand, if you’re running sixth and you’ve got to make up lap time, you’re probably going to gamble and short pit as much as you can. Everyone is going to be playing the strategy.  All these crew chiefs know the game.’’

Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, admits that short pitting “bit us’’ last weekend at Phoenix.

“We tried to come a little bit early and two cars got together coming onto pit road and we had to take the wave around as we were a lap down during that pit cycle,’’ he said. “The outcome of the race can change in a hurry and sometimes that risk is rewarded and sometimes it’s not.’’

NASCAR’s Friday schedule at Phoenix International Raceway

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It will be a busy day for NASCAR at Phoenix International Raceway today with all three national series preparing for the final elimination races of their respective Chases.

The day ends with the Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150.

Here’s the full schedule.

All times are Eastern

10 a.m. – Truck Series garage open

10:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup garage open

10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Xfinity Series garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. – Truck Series practice (Fox Sports 2)

12:30 p.m. – 1:25 p.m. – Xfinity Series practice (NBCSN)

1:30 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. – Sprint Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

3 p.m. – 3:50 p.m. – Final Truck Series practice (Fox Sports 2)

4:10 p.m. – Truck Series driver/crew chief meeting

4:30 p.m. – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity Series practice (NBCSN)

6:45 p.m. – Sprint Cup qualifying; multi-vehicle, three rounds (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

8:30 p.m. – Truck Series qualifying; multi-vehicle, three rounds (Fox Sports 2)

9:35 p.m. – Truck Series driver introductions

10 p.m. – Truck Series Lucas Oil 150; 150 laps, 150 miles (Fox Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Crew chief for Joey Logano fined $10,000 for lug nut violation

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NASCAR fined Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, $10,000 for a lug nut violation discovered Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Logano’s car was found to have 19 of 20 lug nuts secured after the race. This is the first time the team has been penalized for this infraction.

Should the team be penalized again for the same infraction this season, NASCAR would issue a $20,000 fine.

No points are deducted for a lug nut violation for a first-time offense unless three or more lug nuts are not secured.

NASCAR also announced that Kevin Meendering, crew chief for Elliott Sadler in the Xfinity Series, has been fined $5,000 for a lug nut violation after the Texas race. Sadler’s team was found to have 19 of 20 lug nuts secured. The team did not receive any other penalties since this was its first offense for this violation.