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NASCAR to shorten Cup weekends

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The latest trend in NASCAR is trimming race weekends, with three speedways announcing they have scheduled qualifying and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup racing on the same day this year.

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That schedule will be followed at Pocono Raceway July 30, Watkins Glen International Aug. 6 and Martinsville Speedway Oct. 29.

It’s a dramatic change for NASCAR, which traditionally has scheduled time trials and racing on separate days. How fans will react remains to be seen, but at least one NASCAR team owner – Roger Penske – has concerns about the concept.

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For virtually every major team, race morning typically is a time when driver “hospitality” events are scheduled. Team sponsors invite representatives and clients to races, and race-morning meetings with drivers at the track locations have been considered important in satisfying sponsor expectations.

“We need to have that show-and-tell,” Penske said Saturday in St Petersburg, Florida. His teams will race at both Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NASCAR) and in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (IndyCar) Sunday.

“There’s no question. I think if we’re going to have a two-day show, they have to figure out how to qualify on Saturday.

“What I say doesn’t make much difference. These guys (NASCAR and track officials) have to decide it. If we don’t like it, we don’t have to show up. But I’ll tell you one thing — they start hurting our commercial value with these schedules, then you’ll see me put my hand up.”

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