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Volume 24 No. 216

Facilities

Charlotte Motor Speedway's "Roval" road course has been "modified and now appears ready for this season’s NASCAR playoffs," according to Brendan Marks of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The track was "originally introduced at 2.42 miles with 18 turns." But some drivers and SMI President & CEO Marcus Smith "took issue with some of the track’s tighter, slower turns." The new design will "instead be 2.28 miles long and 17 turns, cutting out one major turn that will save an estimated 15 to 20 seconds per lap." That will help keep the "race length down to comparable lengths with other races instead of stretching it into a drastically longer event" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/23). NBCSPORTS.com's Daniel McFadin noted there will be "more than 35 feet of elevation changes between Roval Turn 4 -- the lowest point in the track -- and Roval Turn 9, the highest point." An artificial turn has also been "added to the backstretch right before the entrance of Turn 3 of the oval." The track is "adding 440 temporary rumble strips" (NBCSPORTS.com, 1/22). NASCAR Exec VP & Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said, "Drivers want to put on the best race possible, and we felt like this adjustment offered a little quicker lap. We had input from everybody. The tire manufacturer, the teams, the drivers all came together and said they felt like this was best" (USA TODAY, 1/23).

Speedway Motorsports Inc. yesterday announced plans for a new club area called the "Restart BAR Zone" at Texas Motor Speedway, an "indoor/outdoor seating area above the restart zone at the start of the dogleg section on the frontstretch," according to Drew Davison of the Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM. The area will be "approximately 26 rows high and is expected to have a capacity in the range of 200-350 fans." The goal is to have the new area "ready for the first race weekend" of '18, the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader April 6-8. Fans in the section will have the "ability to watch races in outdoor seats at half-round tables, bar stools and fixed seats." The outside section will also "feature space for fans to play tailgate-type games such as cornhole." SMI announced "similar concepts for Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/23). In Atlanta, Leon Stafford notes AMS is adding a "Restart Bar" to the Hampton destination, about 20 rows "above the track in the Earnhardt Grandstand." The bar, which will "open in late February, is designed to accommodate up to 300 guests" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 1/23).

Billy Joel will return to Wrigley Field this summer for the "fifth consecutive year of headlining the ballpark," according to Miriam Di Nunzio of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Joel is "slated for a Sept. 7 concert, marking his 7th overall appearance at Wrigley." Previously announced Wrigley concerts in '18 include Def Leppard/Journey on July 14, Foo Fighters on July 29-30 and Fall Out Boy on Sept. 8 (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/23). PATCH.com's Joe Vince noted an "accidental leak on Pearl Jam's website Friday revealed possible dates and venues for some of the shows" on the group's upcoming tour this year and "concerts set for Chicago in August were included in the listings, which have since been pulled down." Possible Wrigley Field concert dates "seem like a given for the band, especially if ballpark venues will be the tour's focus." Pearl Jam played two shows at Wrigley in '16, and those concerts "were the basis for the band's 'Let's Play Two'  documentary" released last year (PATCH.com, 1/22). In Chicago, Rick Morrissey wrote it is "time to retire Wrigley concerts," but that is "not going to happen." The Cubs have "never been known to turn down a dollar" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/20).