Who will win today’s Daytona 500? NBC Sports analysts make their picks

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The wait is nearly over. The NASCAR Sprint Cup season opens today with the Daytona 500. Who will win? Here’s a look at what some NBC Sports analysts say.

Jeff Burton Dale Earnhardt Jr. … I believe Jr. wins the 500. His car is crazy fast and he knows how to manage a plate race as well if not better than anyone.

Steve Letarte — I won’t pick a winner for the 500 but my three favorites are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. I think this is going to be a classic duel between all three manufactures.

Dale Jarrett — Dale Earnhardt Jr. … Best car with best restrictor-plate driver = Victory!!

Kyle Petty — Jimmie Johnson … He’s the team leader now. I liked what I saw in the Duels. He picked up spots on pit road with a perfect stop. I think this is his year.

Parker Kligerman Dale Earnhardt Jr. … He is a closer.

Mike Massaro — Dale Earnhardt Jr. … Over the course of his career, he’s displayed an unparalleled understanding of the draft and how to use it to his advantage. That, coupled with having a strong car, which he certainly does this year, will make him incredibly difficult to beat.

Kelli Stavast — Dale Earnhardt Jr. … In four plate races last year, he had two wins and four top 3’s. It’s only been two years since his last Daytona 500 win. He looked really fast in Thursday night’s duel race and even last year’s 500 winner Joey Logano admitted that he wasn’t sure how he was going to beat Junior on Sunday. Hard to pick against him.

Krista Voda — Denny Hamlin. … Denny has become one of those drivers who is always in the mix at Superspeedway races. While his performance at the Unlimited further cemented that notion, it was actually Dale Jr.’s words about Denny, and the similarities Dale sees in the moves they both make at Daytona, that made him my pick.

Nate Ryan — Kyle Busch … Joe Gibbs Racing’s long drought in the Great American Race finally ends as the defending series champion picks up where he left off with an overdue Daytona 500 win.

Rutledge Wood — Ryan Blaney. I think fate will shine down again on the Wood Brothers team with another historic win that I hope will create an exemption with the RTA & give a charter to whoever wins the biggest race of the year:)

Dustin Long — Denny Hamlin. … I like what I’ve seen from his car this week and his driving style on plate tracks. It also doesn’t hurt to have a JGR car.

Jerry Bonkowski — Kurt Busch. … He is probably in the best place he’s been in personally and professionally in a long time. He kicks off a potential championship season with a win in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Daniel McFadin — Denny Hamlin. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Thursday night it’s getting harder for him to hold the field off in plate races and Hamlin and JGR can only be denied so many times before they get it right.

NASCAR video: Truex’s huge victory lane celebration in Coca-Cola 600

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Martin Truex Jr. put on a heck of a show both during Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, as well as in victory lane afterward.

Check out the video of Truex’s celebration.


NASCAR video: Truex puts exclamation mark on dominating run in Coke 600

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Martin Truex Jr. put on one of the most dominating race victories in NASCAR history in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

When he crossed the finish line with his fourth Sprint Cup career victory, Truex wound up leading all but eight of the 400 laps in Sunday’s race.

Check out the video as he closes in on the finish line and the win.





After 12 years as owner, Barney Visser finally sees team win in person

Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser, left, and driver Martin Truex Jr.
(Getty Images)
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Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating performance in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 was special in and of itself.

But for team owner Barney Visser, it was all the more special and sweeter.

Even though Visser has owned Furniture Row Racing since 2005, he never had been there in person to see one of his drivers win a Sprint Cup race.

Visser missed Regan Smith’s win in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington. He missed Truex’s win at Pocono last June, Truex’s first victory for FRR.

But not Sunday night.

Visser was there, front and center at Charlotte Motor Speedway, when Truex crossed the finish line and rolled into Victory Lane with his fourth career Sprint Cup win and second since joining Furniture Row in 2014.

“I’m really excited that Barney was here tonight,” Truex said. “It’s the first time he’s been at the racetrack when one of his cars has won, so that’s a big deal for all of us.

“We’ve been so close to winning for him this year, and for him to be here tonight, to get to victory lane in the 600 was amazing.

“All in all, the whole weekend was really one of them fairy-tale weekends where it seemed like we couldn’t do anything wrong. Cole (crew chief Cole Pearn) and the guys did a great job with the car obviously all weekend, and it just seemed like everything was going the way we needed it to do.”

When asked about finally seeing his first FRR team victory in person, Visser didn’t want to steal the spotlight from Truex’s win.

“It’s good to have a driver that can get this kind of stuff done,” Visser said. “I think Martin is as good as anybody out there right now, and that’s really fun to watch.”

But Truex could tell his boss was caught up in the moment.

“It was the most excited I’ve ever seen him,” Truex said of Visser, adding with a laugh, “I’m pretty sure he even hugged me.

“No, honestly, it was great to see that. We’re so happy to have him here. He does so much for this team, for Cole and all the guys. He really and truly treats them like family. I know it’s really a big deal for all those guys to get to share this with him tonight. We appreciate it.”

Truex now returns to Pocono Raceway to defend last year’s win. How much do you want to bet Visser will be there?

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Watch LIVE: NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Recapping Coke 600, Indy 500 and F1 in Monaco

nascar america logo 10-19-2015
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Today’s special Memorial Day holiday edition episode of NASCAR America airs from 5 – 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Carolyn Manno hosts, with Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett at NBC Sports Charlotte.

Here’s the lineup for today’s show:

* We recap Martin Truex Jr.’s win in the Coca-Cola 600, including an interview with the winner.

* We also reflect on rookie Verizon IndyCar Series driver Alexander Rossi’s Indianapolis 500 triumph

* We look at Lewis Hamilton’s outstanding F1 victory at Monaco.

* We also salute the military tributes from Sunday for today’s Memorial Day.

If you’re not near a TV, you can watch online at the NASCAR stream on NBC Sports.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.