NHRA cuts Pro Stock competition from 24 to 18 national events in 2019


In a major and surprising move, the National Hot Rod Association on Saturday announced that it will reduce the number of national events that the Pro Stock class competes in during the 2019 season.

Long a staple of the 24-race NHRA national event tour, the Pro Stock class will now run in only 18 events in 2019.

In a media release, the NHRA said “competitors believe (18 races) is the ‘sweet spot’ of the category.’”

Josh Peterson, NHRA vice president of racing administration issued a statement on behalf of the sanctioning body:

“We think the new schedule will increase participation by relieving the economic burden and time commitment that comes with 24 events, which will ignite more intense competition.

“All of that should make for compelling action and drive fan interest.”

The majority of races that will be eliminated from the Pro Stock schedule are from their usual place in the early-to-middle part of the season.

For example, following the DENSO Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas April 5-7, Pro Stock doesn’t return to action until more than a month later in the Virginia Nationals, May 17-19, in Richmond, Virginia.

Events and tracks that will no longer have Pro Stock compete at their venues are: the Springnationals in Baytown, Texas; the Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, North Carolina; the Southern Nationals in Commerce, Georgia; the Heartland Nationals in Topeka, Kansas; the Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tennessee; and the New England Nationals in Epping, New Hampshire.

The Top Fuel and Funny Car classes will continue to compete in all 24 national events next season, while Pro Stock Motorcycle will also continue its 16-race schedule.

Here is what the revised schedule looks like for 2019:

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock Schedule:

* Feb. 7-10 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Pomona, Calif.

* Feb. 22-24 NHRA Arizona Nationals Phoenix

* March 14-17 Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals Gainesville, Fla.

* April 5-7 DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals Las Vegas

* May 17-19 Virginia NHRA Nationals Richmond, Va.

* May 30-June 2 Route 66 NHRA Nationals Chicago

* June 20-23 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Norwalk, Ohio

* July 19-21 Dodge Mile-High NHRA Nationals Denver

* July 26-28 NHRA Sonoma Nationals Sonoma, Calif.

* Aug. 2-4 NHRA Northwest Nationals Seattle

* Aug. 15-18 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Brainerd, Minn.

* Aug. 28-Sept. 2 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Indianapolis

NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs:

* Sept. 12-15 Dodge NHRA Nationals Reading, Pa.

* Sept. 27-29 AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals St. Louis

* Oct. 11-13 NHRA Carolina Nationals Charlotte, N.C.

* Oct. 17-20 AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals Dallas

* Oct. 31-Nov. 3 NHRA Nevada Nationals Las Vegas

* Nov. 14-17 Auto Club NHRA Finals Pomona, Calif.

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IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”