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Big Changes In The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

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Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is a drastic change from years past.  The changes are many and include 3-new tracks, a few tracks have left the schedule and a dirt race is coming to a track already on the schedule.

Permanent road courses at Circuit of the Americas (May 23), Road America (July 4) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (August 15) are the three new tracks.  2021 marks the first time since 1994 that the Cup Series will not run on the IMS oval.

NASCAR will open the season, as it traditionally does, at Daytona International Speedway (February 14) with the Daytona 500 followed by Homestead-Miami Speedway (February 21).

The ‘West Coast Swing’ begins at Auto Club Speedway (February 28) followed by Las Vegas (March 7) and Phoenix (March 14).

The Series returns East for the first of two dates at Atlanta Motor Speedway (March 21).  The Atlanta race is followed by the Cup Series first race on dirt in 50-years at Bristol Motor Speedway (March 28).

Two races in Virginia open the month of April, Martinsville (April 10) and Richmond (April 18).  The Series two smallest tracks are a prelude to a run on the largest track, Talladega Superspeedway (April 25).

The first of two races at Kansas (May 2) opens the month of May followed by the track ‘Too Tough To Tame’, Darlington (May 9), Dover (May 16) before the inaugural visit to Circuit of the Americas (May 23) and a return to most teams home track Charlotte (May 30).

June opens with a road course race in California at Sonoma (June 6) before the All-Star Race, which moves to Texas Motor Speedway (June 13).

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A return to Nashville Superspeedway (June 20) takes place before the series visits the Keystone State for a doubleheader at Pocono Raceway (June 26-27).

Celebrating our nation’s birthday highlight’s the series first visit to Road America (July 4) before a return to Atlanta (July 11) and a trip to New Hampshire (July 18).

Two road courses and two ovals make up the month of August beginning with Watkins Glen (August 8) and followed by Indy (August 15), which will continue as a doubleheader with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Michigan International Speedway loses it’s June date so the only race in the ‘Irish Hills’ takes place August 22 followed by the regular-season ending visit back to Daytona (August 28).

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs begin at Darlington (September 5) followed by Richmond (September 11) and the Round of 16 elimination race at Bristol (September 18).

The Round of 12 begins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (September 26) followed by Talladega Superspeedway (October 3) and the elimination race at the Charlotte ‘Roval’ (October 10).

The Round of 8 consists of a return to Texas Motor Speedway (October 17), a return to Kansas (October 24) and the elimination race at Martinsville (October 31).

The NASCAR Cup Series Championship takes place Sunday, November 7 at Phoenix.

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NASCAR

Kyle Busch Wins Rain-Delayed NASCAR Cup Race At Texas Motor Speedway

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Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is back in victory lane after winning the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday.

Busch beat teammate Martin Truex Jr. by .486-seconds to pick up his first win of 2020 and 57th of his Cup Series Career.

“We haven’t been the best on mile-and-a-half’s this year but we’ve been working on it and strategizing on things that we can do to improve and it was nice to see some of that in that fruit pay off tonight,” said Busch.

Crew Chief Adam Stevens decided to make a strategy call and had Busch stretch his fuel mileage following the last pit stop to keep the No. 18 up front.

“We had to save fuel that entire last stage,” said Busch. “The beginning of the final stage, we were saving fuel there towards the end once Bowyer had to pit, and then after the pit stop, the entirety after the final pit stop I was saving fuel, as well, too. So there was a lot on my mind and things that we were trying to do and accomplish, obviously, with trying to stretch it.”

Truex meanwhile was full throttle trying to catch and pass Busch for the win, a win that would automatically put Truex into the Championship final in two weeks at Phoenix.  Busch was eliminated from the NASCAR Playoffs a few weeks ago.

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“A second place finish kind of gets overshadowed by not winning, and that’s unfortunate for our team and everybody involved in our team because they did a great job and worked really hard,” said Truex. “I felt like we had pretty much a flawless race. Just needed a tiny little bit more speed or a little bit more luck out there at the end with the 18 and fuel-wise.”

Truex is now in a must-win position this weekend at Martinsville Speedway if the No. 19 team wants to advance to the Championship finale.

“A must-win at any track, no matter how good you’ve been there in the past, I think is a challenge,” said Truex. “We’ve got to work hard this week to make sure we’re prepared. I know the guys have already been doing that, so definitely optimistic. It’s a good track for us, but it’s a short track and a lot can happen on restarts and things.  We’ll go there and do the best job we can.”

Truex isn’t the only driver who is in a must-win situation heading into Martinsville.  Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch are also currently below the cut-off to be eligible for the Championship based on points.

Texas Cup Series Results

Drivers Points After Texas

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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Power Wins Grand Prix Of St. Pete Pole; Burton Wins At Texas; Robb Wins Indy Pro 2000

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Joe Skibinski

ST. PETERSBURG, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Will Power wins the pole position for the INDYCAR race at St. Petersburg plus Harrison Burton wins the NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Texas Motor Speedway; Road To Indy Winners and Carvana partners with Jimmie Johnson and Chip Ganassi Racing for their 2021 INDYCAR effort.

Will Power Wins INDYCAR Pole At St. Pete:

  • Team Penske’s Will Power is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  Power’s fast lap of 1-minute, 1.0369-seconds (106.165 mph) was 0.14-seconds faster than Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi (01:01:1730/105.929 mph) in the third and final round of knockout-style qualifying.  Championship contenders Josef Newgarden will start eighth and Scott Dixon will start eleventh after failing to advance past the second round.  The green flag drops at 2:30 p.m. on NBC. St. Pete Starting Lineup

Harrison Burton Wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Race At Texas:

  • Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton took home the victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday.  The victory was Burton’s third this season.  JR Motorsports Noah Gragson finished second followed by Richard Childress Racing’s Anthony Alfredo.  Team Penske’s Austin Cindric finished fourth.  Points leader Chase Briscoe finished 24th. Xfinity Texas Results  Xfinity Drivers Points
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Sting Ray Robb Wins At St. Pete:

  • Juncos Racing’s Sting Ray Robb wired the field in Saturday’s Indy Pro 2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by Cooper Tires.  Robb, who started on the pole position, quickly pulled out to a 1.2-second lead and never looked back. “That was a hard race, even though I was leading the whole way. The team set a goal for me to hold a certain lap time and I did, until I saw Danial starting to catch me. I started pushing harder and set the quick race lap time, bettering my own race record from last year. Two lap records in one day here, that’s pretty special!”  Danial Frost finished second followed by Robb’s teammate Artem Petrov.  Robb will also start on the pole in Sunday’s season finale.  Colin Kaminsky, the goalie for the University of Pittsburgh hockey team, finished ninth.  indypro2000-race-results-r1

Porto Grabs USF 2000 Victory At St. Pete:

  • Kiko Porto claimed a well-deserved maiden Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship victory Saturday afternoon in the USF2000 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Andersen RacePark. Eduardo Barrichello finished in second place for Pabst Racing with Reece Gold taking third for Cape Motorsports.

Carvana Partners With Jimmie Johnson & Chip Ganassi Racing:

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NASCAR

NASCAR Reinstates Kyle Larson

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR is reinstating driver Kyle Larson after suspending him for violating rules this past spring.  He will be eligible to compete in NASCAR sanctioned events beginning January 1, 2021.

Larson was suspended indefinitely on April 13 for violating Sections 12.1 (General Procedures) and 12.8 (NASCAR Member Conduct Guidelines) of the NASCAR Rule Book.

During an online iRacing event on April 12, Larson used a racial slur while attempting to take with his spotter on a private channel.  It turned out that Larson was speaking on a public channel and everyone heard him, including the online audience.

Chip Ganassi Racing fired Larson on April 14 from his duties as driver of the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Chevrolet.  Matt Kenseth was hired to complete the 2020 season.  Ross Chastain will drive the car in 2021.

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NASCAR ordered Larson to attend sensitivity training as a condition of reinstatement and is going to require him to fulfill additional requirements in order to keep his NASCAR membership current.

“NASCAR continues to prioritize diversity and inclusion across our sport,” NASCAR said in a statement. “Kyle Larson has fulfilled the requirements set by NASCAR, and has taken several voluntary measures, to better educate himself so that he can use his platform to help bridge the divide in our country. Larson’s indefinite suspension has been lifted. Under the terms of his reinstatement, he will be cleared to return to all NASCAR racing activities effective January 1, 2021.”

Last week Larson sat down with CBS Sports James Brown for his first televised interview and detailed some of the work he has been doing behind the scenes to educate himself following his remarks this spring.

Larson has six victories in 223 NASCAR Cup Series starts. He joined the circuit full-time in 2014 with Ganassi’s operation.

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