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Xfinity Series Spotlight: Owner Rod Sieg

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If you’re ever trying to spot Rod Sieg in the Xfinity Series garage, just look for the man full of energy and radiating positivity.

Sieg is the owner of Ryan Sieg Racing and the No. 39 car, driven by his son, Ryan. The family-owned business has been successful in NASCAR, moving from the Camping World Truck to Xfinity Series. They are one race away from qualifying for the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase.

Ryan sits 12th on the Chase grid entering Chicago this weekend. As for Rod, whether the team makes the playoffs, one would be hard-pressed to find him not having fun.

“Nobody comes to the racetrack to finish last, do they?” Sieg asks NBC Sports. “Life has been good. I’ve had fun, and everywhere I go I have fun. I don’t want to be in a bad mood. Even after Bristol (where Ryan finished 37th) I didn’t get upset – we just left early, and it was a quiet ride home.”

Sieg’s life in business started in 1982 when he and his father-in-law, Colie Wilson, co-founded S&W Towing. Based out of Tucker, Georgia, where the family originates, Wilson was the one who had an affinity for racing, which rubbed off on Sieg.

“We’d race go-karts and all that stuff, and then we bought some Late Models and got into those then decided to go Truck racing,” Sieg said. “We were going to run Trucks and Xfinity, and heck we ran so good we were like, ‘Why are we going to go Truck racing when we can go over here?’ That’s how it just goes, and it’s been an easy progression.”

Sieg has fielded entries in NASCAR since 2009. And just like the sport, he admits he lives his life at full-throttle.

“That’s the only way to live, isn’t it?”

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: Is the team shop still based in Georgia at the S&W Towing location?

Sieg: It was until this last year. I could walk out back from my office and go to the garage and work right in the garage. But it got too small. We’ve moved to a different location and run a business out of there that is a towing service, but we built a big warehouse up there. It’s pretty nice now.

NBC Sports: How much did your father-in-law influence your decision to get into racing?

Sieg: My wife’s dad raced dirt, and I worked for a guy named Randy Couch when I was like 16, 17, 18 and he was an All-Pro champion. Ever since then we’ve been racing, and he even came over to the shop and helped us work on our Late Model cars when we ran around the Southeast. I actually tried to deter Ryan from racing; I sent him down to a guy named Wayne Anderson in Florida and said go with him. I called Wayne and said ‘I want you to be as brutal as you can on him,’ and Wayne treated him awful. Ryan would say, ‘We worked on Wayne’s cars all day, and we’d push mine out for 30 minutes, and I’d have to race Wayne.’ He’d follow him to the track, and that’s how he really got into it. He actually did good as Wayne told him, just follow me around.

Wayne Anderson raced for a long time and he was in Late Models out of Florida and Ryan would drive back and forth from Florida to our house every week, and did it by himself. I was wanting him to quit because people don’t understand how hard racing is from week to week, and he was determined to do it. I was trying to be mean as I could, I really was.

NBC Sports: Is it difficult to be both the owner of the race team and the father of the driver?

Sieg: I treat him like I would any other driver. I don’t cut him any slack, but I don’t really say much. We’ve been racing so long you don’t get real high or real low. Daytona (when Ryan finished third) I got real high! That was a high point. When you get through Daytona, and you can finish it, it’s always a good day because we’ve had two bad years of bad luck down there. Running good, but just got caught up in a wreck. Boy, when you can finish one, it just tickles you to death.

NBC Sports: Do you just oversee the operation when you come to the track or do you get involved?

Sieg: I’ll do anything they ask me. I’ll jump in and pick up tires and put them on if that’s what I need to do. I want everybody to be in a good mood because you know what, one gets in a bad mood, everybody gets in a bad mood.

NBC Sports: What is your approach or philosophy for business, seeing that you run two different ones?

Sieg: I just treat everybody the way I want to be treated. I mean, we got a guy that does nothing but polish the car, and I treat him the same way I treat the crew chief.

NBC Sports: Is the current business model in the Xfinity Series sustainable to a small team like yours?

Sieg: We’ll have to see. We haven’t got that far yet. I take it a year at a time, a race at a time. We prepare our car a week in advance, and some of these guys have their cars prepared months in advance. We haven’t mapped out anything for the future.

NBC Sports: With as outgoing and energetic as you are, do you have any other hobbies besides racing?

Sieg: We go up to the lake house all the time, I have a lake house in Georgia. We have jet skis and boats and all that and I’m constantly doing things that nearly kill me. (Crew chief Kevin Starland) rented a campsite once and we have two jet skis that are real fast, and I came in about 70 miles-per-hour and wide open. There were rocks there on the coast, and I turned the wheel real hard, and I flipped about five times. I was hiding under the water cause the jet ski flipped and they’re all running out screaming, ‘Rod, Rod, Rod!’ and I jumped out saying, I’m all right!

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NASCAR America: What should Joe Gibbs Racing do about Kyle Busch’s pit crew?

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The first race of Kyle Busch‘s 2017 playoff run did not go well.

After leading 85 laps and winning the first stage, Busch’s day was plagued by consecutive miscues by his new pit crew, which had just been swapped with the one for his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Daniel Suarez.

After pitting early in the stage because of a loose tire, the No. 18 was penalized for crew members going over the wall too soon.

Busch went two laps down and ultimately finished in 15th, one lap down.

On NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman and Kyle Busch addressed the situation Busch’s team finds itself in after one playoff race and what they should do. Both believe JGR should continue with the pit crews as is.

“Is this nerves? Here’s a team that Daniel has run sixth, seventh and eighth (with)” Petty said. “Now you’re asking them to pit for a car that’s running for the championship. The pressure ramps up. Everything’s a little more intense at the sharp end of the stick than when you’re lost in the crowd. Did that get them yesterday? It was just a mental let down. A mental mistake by the gas man to step over the wall. Over than that, I think they could’ve recovered and I think they will recover. This is one race.”

Said Kligerman: “I agree with the decision of going with the 19’s pit crew, because they used analytics. … I’m glad to seem them do that. They saw the numbers, they said ‘this team is better, let’s use them. This is what we’re going to go off of.’ But that doesn’t account for the human factor, which is that you are pitting for a different driver and drivers enter the box differently.”

Watch the video for the full discussion.

NASCAR America: Testing of tires during races ‘fairly common practice’ for NASCAR

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Eyebrows were raised during Sunday’s Cup Series playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway when NASCAR officials disappeared into a blue tent to test tires belonging to the teams of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., dunking them in water.

But Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said it is a “fairly common practice” Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“It’s been going on for a few years,” O’Donnell said. “It’s something we’ve done just to make sure for the competitors, everybody’s on a level playing field. It helps us with Goodyear as well to make sure the tires are legit, which we’ve always found they are.”

It’s an issue the crew chiefs for Busch and Truex are OK with.

“Usually when you’re running good, they’re going to come take them,” Cole Pearn said Sunday. “That’s fine. They’re just doing their due diligence, doing what they should be doing. No issue there.”

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman weighed in on the story and why fans need to know about NASCAR’s practices concerning tires.

“This is something fans haven’t known about,” Petty said. “This is something maybe the guys inside that square, fenced-in area called the garage area all know about and just take for granted. But the fan … they want to know. ‘Why are you guys doing this? What’s this all about?'”

Said Kligerman: “It’s good that they’re doing this because they’re checking on the fact that teams could be trying to cheat the rules a little bit by making the airs leak out of the tires, therefore having a car on the long run that would be really fast because it would keep the right air pressure.”

Watch the above video for more.

Report: Lawsuit reveals Farmers Insurance paid $666,000 a race to sponsor Kasey Kahne

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Almost a year after Farmers Insurance announced it would cease sponsoring Kasey Kahne following the 2017 season, a report by ESPN reveals that Farmers Insurance paid Hendrick Motorsports roughly $666,000 a race to sponsor the No. 5 Chevrolet in 2017.

ESPN’s report is based on documents in a lawsuit filed by Sports Marketing Consultants related to “a dispute on the percentage of commissions owed on the deal” between Farmers Insurance and Hendrick Motorsports.

Farmers Insurance, which has sponsored Kahne for six seasons, was the primary sponsor on the No. 5 car in 12 races from 2015-17. There are three races left on the 2017 deal.

Farmers was on the No. 5 when Kahne won the Brickyard 400 in July.

Great Clips announced it would also cease sponsoring Kahne in May. A few weeks after the Brickyard win, Kahne’s only victory since 2014, Hendrick announced he would not be back in the No. 5 next season.

Farmers’ initial contract ran from 2012-14, when it sponsored the No. 5 for 22 races each season. Farmers paid Hendrick $13.5 million in 2012, $14.04 million in 2013 and $16.348 million in 2014, according to the ESPN report.

With the decrease to 12 races a year beginning in 2015, the company paid $7.6 million that season, $7.8 million in 2016 and $8 million this season.

The report also describes various performances bonuses for Hendrick in the initial three-year deal, such as winning a race ($450,000-$550,000) and the Cup championship ($1,157,895).

Read the ESPN story for more details on the contracts.

MORE: Kasey Kahne has new crew chief for rest of playoffs

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Social Roundup: Jimmie Johnson helps out with Lowe’s Hurricane Irma relief efforts

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A day after opening the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Jimmie Johnson went to work helping victims of Hurricane Irma in Florida.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver traveled with one of his daughters to Naples, Florida, to work with his sponsor, Lowe’s, to help those whose lives were upended by the storm that impacted the state last week.

Johnson helped to install air conditioning units, clear away fallen trees and more in his efforts.

The trip to Florida comes after Johnson and his fellow Hendrick drivers established the Team Hendrick Disaster Relief Fund in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. With a goal of $500,000, the fund has raised just over $341,500 so far.

Below is a look at Johnson’s day in Florida.