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Practice time not scaled back in schedule released

NASCAR has backpedaled on plans to significantly reduce practice time at most tracks this year.

Tentative schedules released a few weeks ago for race weekends early in the season showed a reduction in practice time of 34 percent to 46 percent, but the most recent schedule for the March 5 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway shows the same 165 minutes of practice time for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers as a year ago.

In its tentative schedule released Jan. 24 to help teams and media plan, NASCAR initially had dropped 30 minutes from each of the Friday and Saturday sessions at Atlanta, but it added back the 30 minutes in a schedule released Monday.

NASCAR was looking to streamline race weekends, but a NASCAR spokesman confirmed Monday that the schedules will be more similar to last year.

The issue of practice time isn't as simple as trying to figure out how much preparation drivers and crews need. Track operators often want more track activity to attract fans, and the practices often are televised.