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CUP: Charlotte In NASCAR Spotlight

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The Charlotte area, home to most NASCAR teams, is widely known as the center of the NASCAR universe, but it will be even more so over the next week.

A series of events will keep NASCAR drivers and officials busy for most of the next seven days.

On Friday, dozens of teams are scheduled to test the new Gen-Six Sprint Cup car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The two sessions (from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET) became much more important after a scheduled day of testing was washed out by heavy rain Thursday.

On Saturday, attention turns to the National Motorsports Press Association’s annual two-day convention in Charlotte. The highlight of the weekend will be the Saturday night induction of broadcaster Ken Squier, the late track owner Joe Mattioli and the late NASCAR official Jim Hunter into the NMPA Hall of Fame. The Hall is located at Darlington Raceway, but the induction ceremony is scheduled in Charlotte.

The NMPA convention will continue Sunday with driver interviews and the group’s annual awards banquet, which will include the presentation of the organization’s Richard Petty Driver of the Year award.

Monday will make the beginning of the 31st annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Sprint Media Tour, which will bring more than 220 journalists to the Charlotte area for previews of the upcoming NASCAR season.

Among the stops on the tour will be Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Penske Racing, Richard Childress Racing and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Other teams will host interview sessions near the speedway.

Sprint, the primary sponsor of NASCAR’s top series, and NASCAR are expected to make announcements during the week.

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 31 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.