NASCAR: Bristol spring weekend shifting to April

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The first of NASCAR’s two annual visits to the Bristol Motor Speedway has been moved back a month.

BMS announced today that its spring NASCAR weekend, which features the Food City 500 for the Sprint Cup Series and a 300-mile Nationwide Series undercard, will go off on April 17-19, 2015.

“This is a great day in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway thanks to our passionate fans,” said Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager and executive vice president, in a statement.

“[Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO and president] Bruton and Marcus Smith and NASCAR heard the relentless plea for a true spring race date. The fans can look forward to a 2015 landmark celebration April 17-19 in Thunder Valley.”

The Food City 500 has been held in March since the 2005 season, but weather conditions for the race have varied considerably.

This past March, Carl Edwards won after rain delayed the start for two hours and then delayed it again in mid-race for an additional three hours and change – causing it to end under the lights. notes that a spring date change for Bristol has been under consideration for some time, citing a Bristol (Tenn.) Herald Courier interview from last year in which Caldwell said that such a move would be “a game-changer for all of us.”

“I just remind [NASCAR officials] what we’re dealing with and what the race fans need,” added Caldwell in the interview.

Now, Caldwell and BMS have gotten their wish.

Position of F1 start lights altered to compensate for safety halo

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The position of start lights will be altered on Formula One tracks this season, in a bid to ensure the drivers’ line of vision is not impeded by the controversial halo protection device.

The halo is a titanium structure introduced this year in a bid to ramp up driver safety, forming a ring around the cockpit top. It is designed to protect the drivers’ head from loose debris and offer better safety during eventual collisions.

Although drivers largely understand the need for it, very few like it. They are worried it impedes visibility, it looks ugly and also that fans will no longer be able to identify a driver properly from his race helmet. Drivers also take longer to climb in and out of their cars.

Formula One’s governing body has addressed concerns and asked every circuit “to make the lights at a standard height above the track,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting said.

“Pole position seems to be the worst case scenario with the halo,” Whiting added at the season-opening Australian GP. “Maybe the driver can’t quite see the lights, or see only half of them, and he might have to move his head too much.”

The new start lights were positioned lower for Friday’s first two practice sessions at Albert Park. Drivers were also allowed the rare chance to rehearse grid starts at the end of both sessions.

“We haven’t normally allowed practice starts on the grid here because it’s quite a tight timetable,” Whiting said. “What I thought would be a good idea was to give the driver sight of those lights, rather than for the first time on Sunday evening.”

A repeat set of lights has been moved from its usual position halfway up the grid to a more convenient position to the left.

“Those repeat lights were normally halfway up the grid, and they were fitted round about 2009, when the rear wings became higher on the cars,” Whiting said. “But now the wings have been lowered, there’s no need for those halfway up the grid.”