In an effort to have a more efficient race weekend for its teams and officials, NASCAR tentatively plans to significantly reduce practice time at several race tracks this year.
Earlier this week, NASCAR released its tentative schedules for its first four race weekends, including three “traditional” race weekends that follow the 10-day Daytona schedule. The release was meant to give teams and media the ability to plan and they could still be altered.
At its Atlanta, Las Vegas and Auto Club (California) races in March, NASCAR Cup teams are scheduled to have 55 minutes of practice Friday and 50 minutes Saturday. In 2016, those tracks all had 85 minutes of practice Friday, and 80-110 minutes Saturday, a reduction of 34 percent to 46 percent of practice time depending on the track. The tracks (Las Vegas and Auto Club) that had two practices Saturday now have one session.
A NASCAR spokesman said the sanctioning body consulted with industry stakeholders to find ways to make the race weekend more efficient, and the consensus was to reduce practice time.
There will be some events at tracks that have been recently repaved where there will be additional practice time.
NBC Sports first reported the reduction in practice time.