Dale Jr. ‘felt super comfortable’ in the NBCSN booth

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For the first time since 1999, a Sprint Cup restrictor-plate race did not feature Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the field.

Instead, still recovering from the effects of a season-ending concussion, the 10-time restrictor-plate winner was a guest in the NBCSN booth for a portion of Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

It was Earnhardt’s first time in the NBCSN booth after previously having been a guest for a Fox Sports 1 broadcast of a Xfinity Series race earlier this year.

“That was so much fun,” Earnhardt said on his Dale Jr. Download podcast. “I felt super comfortable up there, being great friends with (former crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and knowing Jeff Burton very well. Rick Allen, those guys are pros. I got a new respect for those guys, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and all them. There’s a lot going on up there in that booth, and those guys are on top of it. It was really impressive. It’s fun to be a witness to that.”

Earnhardt doesn’t plan to retire from racing in the near future, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver is unsure if his post-racing career path will be similar to Gordon’s and lead into TV.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever have a future in broadcasting, but it’s a personal experience for me to be able to get up in there and look at it,” Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt joined the broadcast about halfway through the race and discussed how difficult it is to advance through the field and how he chooses who’ll he’ll team up with during plate races.

“To get an opportunity to go to all these different avenues and see all kinds of angles and perspectives of what goes into a Sunday at the race track is pretty neat,” Earnhardt said. “I felt very lucky.”

Earnhardt’s day overlooking Talladega didn’t end with the NBCSN booth. He also “took the opportunity” to visit the MRN booth for a time.

“Same thing there, never really had that chance to do that and put it on myself to go check that out and experience it,” said Earnhardt, who was part of the ceremony that renamed Talladega’s MRN booth after the late Barney Hall in September. “Doing the radio vs. TV, two completely different things. The radio guys, they really describe the action as they’re seeing it on the racetrack and they’re tossing this invisible baton to each other around the racetrack as they describe the action.

“The guys on TV don’t really cover the action as much as they talk about why you’re seeing what’s happening, describing drafting and explaining how that stuff works. You’re actually seeing the racing action, so they don’t really talk about what’s happening as much as they’re describing how the sport works.

Earnhardt said he doesn’t “know which one I enjoyed better. They’re both pretty unique and fun.

“I hope the fans at home enjoyed the insight I was able to give. I’m not a professional broadcaster, but I hope that I was easy to understand and did a good job explaining myself. The draft is a real technical thing. I like to try to explain what’s going on to folks.”

Fans will be able to get Earnhardt’s perspective again Sunday. Earnhardt will rejoin the NBCSN booth for a portion of the broadcast of the Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Results, point standings after Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell led a race-high 120 laps to win the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. It’s his second career Xfinity win.

Bell beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Noah Gragson, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Click here for the race results.

Points

Elliott Sadler continues to lead the point standings through eight races. He has a 29-point lead over Bell.

Completing the top five is Tyler Reddick (-31 points), Daniel Hemric (-38) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Richmond

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Christopher Bell fended off teammate Noah Gragson to break through and win his first Xfinity race of the year Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bell led the final 79 laps around the .75-mile track to score his second career win. He had finished in the top five in four of the first seven races this season.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “Had to work for it. My teammate was really good and I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for last couple of weeks and it’s really shown.”

Gragson placed second in his first career Xfinity start. He bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty early in the race.

He hounded Bell for much of the last 15 laps, but could never pull even with him.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Gragson told FS1 of his first series start at the short track. “I found a little something in the track, a little speed there at the end of the second stage on old tires. I kept it in my memory bank until the end and I told me team, ‘I got something, when it’s time to go tell me when.’ About 18 to go, I told them, ‘Can’t wait any longer, I don’t have any more patience.”

Gragson, who drives full-time in the Camping World Truck Series, led 10 laps.

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric.

With his third-place finish, Sadler won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Bell, Sadler, Tifft and Cindric will be eligible for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus next week at Talladega.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Elliott Sadler, first stage win of season

MORE: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric earned his first career top five after starting from the rear for an unapproved adjustment … Matt Tifft earned his fourth career top five … Ryan Truex placed seventh to give Kaulig Racing its fourth top 10 of the year. It earned five last year … Jeremy Clements placed eighth, earning his first top 10 since he won at Road America in August.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: After winning Stage 1, Daniel Hemric lost his right front tire with three laps to go in Stage 2, but made it to the end. He finished 29th, four laps down … Justin Allgaier spun after ramming into the back of Spencer Gallagher with 86 laps to go. Chase Briscoe was also received damage in the incident. Allgaier finished 14th. Briscoe placed 26th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “My wife’s already spent it.” – Elliott Sadler to FS1 after winning the Dash 4 Cash bonus.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway at 3 p.m. ET on April 28 on Fox.

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

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Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Martin Truex Jr. wins pole for Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway

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Martin Truex Jr. qualified first for Saturday’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, winning his third pole of the season.

Truex claimed the pole with a speed of 123.859 mph around the .75-mile track. The Toyota Owners 400 will mark Truex’s 450th Cup start. Truex had DNFs in the last two races.

“It’s definitely been a crappy two weeks,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “But that’s part of racing. This team, I’ve got so much faith and confidence in them and everything we’re doing. You can’t let those kinds of things get you down. It was nothing we did, just circumstances. Just proud of the effort today.”

The pole matches Truex’s total from last year.

Chase Elliott qualified second (123.621 mph). The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Ryan Blaney will start 12th, followed by Ryan Newman, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel Hemric will start 22nd in his first Cup start.

Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both failed to advance out of the first round. Keselowski will start 28th and Busch will start 32nd.

“We didn’t make a mock run in practice and then we thought the spread would be about three tenths (of a second),” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It wasn’t, it was faster than that. We only ran two laps trying to make sure we preserve out tires for later on deeper into the session. A bunch of those guys ran three laps and obviously we needed that third lap. It would have picked up. For some reason the tire here today, even in race trim, your fastest lap was the seventh lap. So just takes awhile for everything to come in. Just trying to short cut it a little bit and it didn’t work out for us.”

Click here for qualifying results.