It’s time for our weekly Friday tour around the racing world. From hot laps to the main event, here’s what’s on our mind this week.
Hot Laps: Sold Out
Three months before the 66th running of the Daytona 500 Feb. 18 at Daytona Int’l Speedway, grandstand seats and camping spots are sold out for The Great American Race. It’s the ninth consecutive sell-out for the NASCAR Cup Series season opener. That’s impressive.
Qualifying: Sin City Sensation
The inaugural RISK360 Open Wheel Showdown is on tap tonight and tomorrow at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Promoted by Davey Hamilton Jr., the three-division event is headlined by a $50,000-to-win winged sprint car event.
Catch all the action on SPEEDSPORT.tv.
First Heat: Honesty
There’s nothing better than when a racer provides an honest and entertaining quote.
NASCAR Cup Series veteran Michael McDowell during a media appearance at the season-ending banquet, said: “It’s taken me a long time not to suck.” McDowell won the second Cup Series race of his career and finished 16th in points this year.
Second Heat: Channel Surfing?
How do you watch the race? That’s going to be a commonly asked question during the 2025 season, with NASCAR’s new big-money television package spreading its three national touring series across FOX, NBC, TNT, The CW, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports and Max.
It’s going to be a challenge for many to find NASCAR programming.
Third Heat: Condensed NASCAR Banquet
The days of the NASCAR Awards banquet lasting more than four hours are long gone, and that’s a good thing.
The streamlined awards ceremony is an improvement for everyone involved. Thursday’s Nashville affair honoring Ryan Blaney was over before anyone had the chance to loosen their tie or pull off their shoes.
Fourth Heat: Popularity Contest
Despite missing numerous races and not winning a NASCAR Cup Series race this season, Chase Elliott won his sixth consecutive National Motorsports Press Ass’n Most Popular Driver Award in the series.
It’s the 22nd for the Elliott family as Elliott’s Hall of Fame dad, Bill, won the award 16 times.
Dash: Heavy Hitters
The fourth annual Race Industry Week saw appearances from many of motorsports’ heavy hitters, and they had plenty interesting things to say. From NASCAR President Steve Phelps, to IndyCar’s Jay Frye, Rick Hendrick, Tony Stewart, Chip Ganassi, John Force and The King, Richard Petty, watch replays of their appearances at epartrade.com.
B Main: Money, Money, Money
Earlier this week, NASCAR released the details of its new media rights package for the NASCAR Cup Series.
Estimated to be worth $8.8 billion, the contract with FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon and TNT Sports, a division of Warner Bros., Discovery, will pump huge money into the sport over a seven-year period beginning in 2025 and concluding in 2031.
The questions that need to be answered will concern exactly how that wealth will be distributed among the key stakeholders in the sport, the race teams, race tracks and various other vendors.
Feature: Head To Head
Let the fun begin.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series released its 86-race coast-to-coast schedule on Thursday, while the High Limit Racing Series unveiled a 60-race slate on Friday.
Both series will feature big money races and crown jewel events. Both will visit California, with the High Limit Racing Series trekking through the state one month before the Outlaws.
As a result, the 70th running of the Mike Curb Gold Cup Race of Champions (under High Limit sanction) at Silver Dollar Speedway, will boast a record $100,070-to-win prize, but will move up two weeks and be run Aug. 22-24 instead of its traditional early September date.
It appears the two series will each have dates at Eldora Speedway, Kings Speedway, Thunderbowl Raceway, 81 Speedway, Atomic Speedway and Riverside Int’l Speedway.
The series will run back-to-back at Eldora, with High Limit sanctioned the July 17-18 Joker’s Jackpot and the World of Outlaws overseeing the historic Kings Royal July 19-20 at the half-mile speedway.
Both series will open the campaign in Florida. The Outlaws kick of Feb. 7-10 at Volusia Speedway Park, with High Limit opening its season Feb. 12-13 at East Bay Raceway Park. While the two series venture into the same regions of the country, there are few cases where the series are in close proximity to each other on the same night.
While a few long-standing WoO tracks now appear on the High Limit schedule, the WoO slate shows plenty of interesting new stops, which may level the playing field among longtime series racers and newcomers.
It’s going to be a very interesting season.