Officials at Michigan International Speedway are in the midst of planning for the race track's next marquee event but on Friday the track announced a change in its August NASCAR race weekend schedule.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 will be held Aug. 17 instead of its original date of Aug. 18. The Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 19.
Brad Kuhbander, manager of media relations at MIS, explained that rescheduling Sprint Cup qualifying in August was a decision made by NASCAR.
"It increases track activity for the fans," Kuhbander said. "It provides a better scheduling consistency for the fans and for the teams, because they know exactly what happens everyday, and the teams can focus on race setups on both Friday and Saturday."
Kerry Tharp, NASCAR's senior director of competition communications, said in an email to the Blade that MIS was one of several NASCAR venues that expressed interest in moving Sprint Cup qualifying sessions to Friday. Earlier this week, Atlanta Motor Speedway announced it would return to Friday qualifying for its Sept. 2 Sprint Cup race, the AdvoCare 500.
"This was a collaborative effort and decision on the part of NASCAR and the race tracks," Tharp said. "We worked with [tracks] from a scheduling standpoint to help make that happen."
MIS will begin track activities at 9 a.m. Aug. 17 -- designated as "Gatorade Pole Day." The facility will host practice sessions for the Camping World Trucks Series and the Sprint Cup Series prior to qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400, scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. on the 2-mile oval in Brooklyn, Mich.
MIS will not host a Nationwide race in August but will host the Camping World Trucks Series VFW 200, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Aug. 18, a day before the Pure Michigan 400.
The Pure Michigan 400 will be held less than a month from the start of the "Chase for the Championship," the final 10 races of the Sprint Cup schedule for the top 10 drivers in the points standings and two drivers who are 11th through 20th in the standings with the most race wins. The Chase begins Sept. 16 with the Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
The Sprint Cup schedule continues today with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
MORE TIRE TESTING: MIS will host Goodyear tire testing on July 30, with a rain date scheduled for July 31. The track also hosted Goodyear tire testing in April. Last month, Goodyear officials said the company's racing division is in the process of determining what tire or tires will be run at the Pure Michigan 400 in light of driver concerns over tire blistering during the Quicken Loans 400 in June.
NASCAR UNITES: A Facebook campaign profiling military heroes and their families kicked-off this week. Fans can visit Facebook.com/NASCAR and leave messages as NASCAR salutes various American heroes and their battalions this week, leading into the Coke Zero 400. The page includes homage to the USS Vicksburg families who will be hosted at the track over the race weekend. Fans can also use the hashtag #NASCARUnites on Twitter.