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Brad Keselowski looks to join NASCAR history at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – Brad Keselowski has the chance to join an exclusive club Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

A victory in the Hellmann’s 500 would give the Team Penske driver three wins in the four restrictor-plate races this year.

Winning three of the season’s four plate races would make Keselowski just the third driver to accomplish the feat. The others were Pete Hamilton in 1970 and Dale Earnhardt in 1990.

Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500 and swept both Talladega races. Earnhardt won three straight restrictor-plate races in 1990 when he captured wins in the spring Talladega race, the summer Daytona race, before closing it out with the fall Talladega event.

Keselowski enters Talladega having won the spring race at the 2.66-mile track as well as the July race at Daytona International Speedway.

In addition to becoming the third driver to win three of the four plate races in a season, Keselowski could join Earnhardt as the only driver to win three consecutive restrictor-plate races.

“That’s a cool stat, but I’m not counting any chickens,” Keselowski told NBC Sports after qualifying second. “We’ve got to put the work in and deliver on Sunday, so I guess maybe I’m not really thinking about that stat now because I haven’t done it.” 

With four Talladega victories on his resume, Keselowski is tied on the track’s win list with Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker. He sits behind Dale Earnhardt Sr. (10 wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6), and Jeff Gordon (6) for the most Talladega victories. With neither Earnhardt Jr. or Gordon in Sunday’s field, Keselowski is the winningest active driver.

His first Talladega win in 2009 came after a memorable last-lap crash where Carl Edwards, who attempted to block Keselowski, flew into the catchfence in the tri-oval. At the time, Keselowski was competing on a limited basis for James Finch.

Keselowski’s second win came in the spring 2012 race while his third was a must-win situation in October 2014 in order to advance in the Chase. Keselowski also has one Xfinity win at Talladega in five starts.

“I don’t know if I would say there is one thing that’s clicked,” Keselowski said. “You have good runs and you build some confidence and you build good cars and that builds some confidence, and you pair that together and the next thing you know you win a few races. I don’t think there’s really any magic to it.

“As far as clicking, one of things that’s really difficult with this track is the techniques and styles are always evolving, so what worked here the first time I won doesn’t even close to work (now). I think you have to keep evolving as well.”

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte on challenges of avoiding speeding penalites

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NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.

Watch the video to hear his thoughts.

NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.


Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.