NASCAR America: Should Sprint Cup drivers be allowed in Xfinity races?

3 Comments

After a weekend that saw Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch win the Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway and Cup driver Kyle Larson hinder Xfinity title contender Erik Jones‘ chances of a win or strong finish, talk has again surfaced on if Cup drivers should be competing in the Xfinity Series.

Earlier this week, NASCAR executive Steve O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that fans should “stay tuned” for an announcement “fairly soon” on the issue.

With all of that brewing, NBC Sports analysts Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman debated the issue.

“It’s a very difficult solution,” Burton said on NASCAR America. “The reason I became a Cup driver is because of the opportunity to run in the Xfinity Series and race against Harry Gant, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt. Every now and then I could run with them. If none of them were there, I could win. But that propelled me, that gave me the opportunity to get to the Cup Series. A Cup owner, Billy Stavola and Mickey Stavola, they watched me run in the Xfinity Series, they said, ‘Hey, that guy every now and then can run with Mark Martin, maybe he can be a Cup driver.’ Without that opportunity I don’t think I’m ever a Cup driver.

“I will say this, when I raced against Mark Martin, he didn’t drive (in the Xfinity Series) for Jack Roush. When I raced (against) Harry Gant, he did not drive for his Cup team. When I raced Dale Earnhardt, he ran his Xfinity team out of a small shop on his property. I wasn’t racing against Richard Childress Racing. I was racing against smaller race teams. As the Xfinity Series has evolved, they’re not miniature Cup teams.”

Burton also said that permitting Cup drivers to race in the series allows Xfinity drivers to stand out to show that they can compete in the Cup level.

Kligerman said: “I’m going to play some devil’s advocate with you and say, ‘OK, if tomorrow Kyle Busch and all the other Sprint Cup regulars could not run the Xfinity Series, then we would not evaluate drivers, young drivers coming up by saying ‘If they can beat Kyle Busch or beat Brad Keselowski.’ ”

Burton noted that “the way we’ve always done things doesn’t mean that is the right way to do it. Racing is always an evolution … and we need to be looking at better ways to do things.”

NASCAR America: Chase Elliott ‘biggest surprise’ of Cup playoffs

Leave a comment

Only two drivers are safely in the third round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs. Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski secured spots through their wins at Charlotte and Talladega.

That leaves six spots to be decided Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty broke down the drivers competing for spots. Both of them agreed that Chase Elliott, who has finished in second in three of the five playoff races, has a great chance to make it all the way to the championship race in Miami.

“If Talladega had played out, he was either going to be in victory lane or in the top two or three,” Petty said. “When you look at that, he has had the most solid playoffs of any driver out there. We keep talking about the big three: Larson, Busch and Truex. This guy is a sleeper. But he’s my No. 4.”

Said Kligerman: “He’s been the biggest surprise. That 24 team has been incredible through the playoffs. One thing I’ve noticed about that team, just speaking to (crew chief) Alan Gustafson, speaking to Chase, it’s almost as if they want that first win more than they care about the playoffs.”

Watch the above video for more on the playoff drivers.

Friday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Things get started today for the pivotal weekend at Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Cup Series will have its elimination race in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400, where four of the 12 remaining playoff drivers will not advance to the Round of 8.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series begins its Round of 8 with Saturday’s Kansas 300.

But it all begins today, as Cup has its first practice (the other two are Saturday) and qualifying, while the Xfinity Series will have its two practice sessions.

Here’s how today’s schedule shapes up:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. — Cup garage open

12 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity garage open

1 – 2:25 p.m. — First Cup practice (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network)

2:30 – 3:25 p.m. First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

5 – 5:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, 3 rounds) (NBCSN, MRN)

NASCAR: Will Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch advance in playoffs?

Leave a comment

The last two drivers to win NASCAR Cup titles are in precarious positions ahead of the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Kyle Busch, the 2015 champion, is outside the top eight in ninth. He sits seven points behind defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

NASCAR America analysts Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman debated who they think had the best chance to advance to the Third round after Sunday.

Petty put his money behind Busch, who has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts at the 1.5-mile track.

“He’s one of the big three: Truex, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson,” Petty said. “I don’t see where these (last) two races (Charlotte, Talladega) have changed anything. The one thing Kyle Busch brings into Kansas City … he brings speed. These guys have had speed all year-long.”

Johnson on the other hand has produced only four top fives all season and just one since he won at Dover in June.

But Kligerman explained why he thinks the seven-time champion will prevail on Sunday.

“Jimmie Johnson knows how to pass and that is what has become evident throughout this season,” Kligerman said. “No, they have not had the fastest cars at Hendrick Motorsports. No, they have not qualified well. They’ve actually been sort of abysmal at qualifying of late.

“… He has three wins this year. Two of those he started at the back.”

Watch the video for more.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

NBCSN
Leave a comment

Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. 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.