NASCAR

323771Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images / NASCARmedia.com

NASCAR's efforts to increase diversity are starting to pay dividends behind the wheel. Last year, Daniel Suarez became the first foreign-born driver to win a national title in what's essentially a NASCAR minor league. This year, the 25-year-old from Mexico will race full-time in the sport's top circuit. He's a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, and he's one reason the sport is becoming more popular among Latinos.

The NASCAR industry is focused on Charlotte this week. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is hosting the 35th annual NASCAR Media Tour, which is essentially the sport's preseason media blitz.

322807Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

Driver Jimmie Johnson cemented his place in NASCAR history Sunday night by winning his seventh championship. But NASCAR's playoffs struggled with TV ratings this year.

Jimmie Johnson sealed off his competitors on the final lap and raced his way into the record books.

Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images / NASCARmedia.com

An aggressive and controversial NASCAR driver will hit the gas one last time at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night. Tony Stewart has won three championships, become co-owner of a race team and paid numerous fines over his 18 seasons. His style has certainly created some enemies, but it's also why his fans love him and other drivers respect him.

Michael Tomsic

NASCAR is trying to increase its diversity, and its efforts go beyond who's behind the steering wheel. Pit crews have become essentially a sport within the sport, as race teams train former college athletes to sprint around cars, changing tires and lugging equipment. In Concord recently, NASCAR held its first national pit crew combine, and its purpose was to attract minority athletes.

Michael Tomsic

As NASCAR begins its new season with the Daytona 500 this weekend, it’s making another big change to be more like other sports. Two years ago, NASCAR shifted from a convoluted points system to a winner-take-all playoff. This year, its racing teams will become more like NBA or NFL franchises rather than independent businesses.

Michael Tomsic

Racing executives say NASCAR is in its best shape since the recession as the sport enters its new season. NASCAR leaders made their case in uptown Charlotte on Tuesday as part of an annual media event.

NASCARmedia.com

The driver who helped NASCAR connect with a new generation of racing fans is retiring soon. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon came from a different part of the country and had a very different style than the racing legends that preceded him. More than 20 years later, many in the sport say he's been key to broadening its appeal and polishing its image.

North Carolina is giving $5 million in grants to a television pilot, an HGTV show and an independent film under the state incentives program.  On Friday, Commerce Secretary John Skvarla announced the grants, which were chosen from 17 applications. 

Jennifer Roberts and Edwin Peacock.
The Charlotte Observer

Early voting begins Thursday in Charlotte’s mayoral primary and a new poll shows there are clear front-runners for the two major parties.  With voting set to begin ahead of primary day, Sept. 15, The Charlotte Observer reports that Democrat Jennifer Roberts has support from 39 percent of likely primary voters, just short of the 40 percent needed to avoid a runoff. Current Mayor Dan Clodfelter is a distant second at 21 percent.

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