DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East opener just over a week away – marking the official start to the 2017 NASCAR touring series season – the attention will return to the exciting on-track action. While there hasn’t been a race since November, it’s been a busy offseason.
Beginning in December, NASCAR officials met with the car owners of all the U.S. and Canadian-based touring series, a move designed to further the dialogue between the sanctioning body and the teams. The conversations included covering some changes as well as an open discussion of how best to collectively grow the NASCAR touring series.
“We had overwhelmingly positive and productive discussions,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR senior director of the touring series. “NASCAR has really great racing throughout our touring series, but there are always ways to work to toward cost efficiency, make the sport more cost-effective and increase the level of competition for all involved. As in the case of our national series, we always strive to have an open dialogue during the race season, but it’s also a great benefit to meet away from the track and the daily demands of the race season. We received a lot of great feedback from all our owners and look forward to working together.”
Highlights of the 2017 offseason include:
- NASCAR announced today that Cherie Putnam will take over as the NASCAR Pinty’s Series director. Putnam, a native of Windsor, Ontario, has been involved in the sport for over 25 years. She was part of a Sunset Speedway championship and two NASCAR Pinty’s Series titles, and has worked the last five years as a NASCAR official. The NASCAR Pinty’s Series, the national championship for racing in Canada, will open the season on its traditional Victoria Day Weekend (Sunday, May 21) at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
- Chris Wright was appointed to be the series director of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Wright, who has been the director for the K&N Pro East since 2013, will oversee both the East and the West. In addition, Andy Mitchell will become the head technical inspector for both the East and West, as NASCAR continues to align the top developmental series. Jimmie Walker was named the race director for the K&N Pro West, while Les Westerfield will continue in that position in the K&N Pro East.
- Following the format change set forth by NASCAR’s three national series, NASCAR’s four U.S. and Canadian-based series will switch from a green-white-checkered finish to an overtime line for its races. The location of the line will be determined on a track-by-track basis, and will typically be entering Turn 3 on ovals. If the event goes past the advertised distance due to a caution, on the restart, if the leaders reach the overtime line before another caution comes out, it will be considered official. If the caution comes out prior, the race will have another restart.
- Starting with the K&N Pro Series East opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 19, NASCAR announced the move to group qualifying on ovals. There will be single-car qualifying at select events, like the NASCAR Whelen Modified races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Qualifying groups will be set by practice times.
- The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedules will feature a unique format for one of its events in each series: Twin 100-lap features. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will be first up at California’s Irwindale Speedway. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will run twins at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway, and the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will do so at Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The starting lineup for the second 100-lap race will be determined by the fastest lap run in the first race.
- The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West doubleheader is part of four races at three tracks in seven daysto kick off the season that includes a $100,000 NAPA 500 Challenge bonus award if a driver wins all four races. The season opens at Tucson Speedway in Arizona on Saturday, March 18.
- Earlier this month, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series announced its 12-race schedule. Made up of six ovals and six road courses, the national championship for stock car racing in Mexico will open on Sunday, March 26at Autódromo Monterrey, a 2.1-mile road course in Apodaca, Nuevo León. The series held an exhibition event in December following the announcement of a multi-year agreement with Old World Industries (OWI) to make PEAK the series entitlement sponsor.
- The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series announced a date change for its race at the prestigious Hockenheimring. The American Fan Fest will now be held July 29-30and conclude the series’ regular season before its two rounds of playoffs. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will open on April 8-9 at Valencia, Spain. The series, though, will have a number of drivers competing in the U.S. during Speedweeks, most notably two-time champion Anthony Kumpen in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway and 2016 Elite 2 champion Stienes Longin in the PPG/Tower Sealants Pro Late Model 100 as part of New Smyrna’s 51st World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
- NASCAR has implemented mandatory pre-license drug testing for drivers in all its U.S.-based touring series as part of NASCAR’s evolving substance abuse program.
- Earlier this week, Safety-Kleen, the Official Environmental Services Supplier of NASCAR, was announced as entitlement sponsor for the first race of the new unified NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The race, at South Carolina’s historic Myrtle Beach Speedway, will be the Performance Plus 150 for Safety-Kleen’s new brand of high-quality, high-performance motor oil.
NASCARHomeTracks.com will continue to be the digital home of all the NASCAR touring & weekly series, including Spanish-language content of the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. Fans can also follow the news and action on Twitter at @NASCARHomeTrack and through the designated series hashtags: #KNEast, #KNWest, #NASCARPeak, #NWES, #NASCARPintys, #NWMT and #NWAAS.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen