NBCSN celebrating 2016 season with special NASCAR America episodes

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NBC Sports will celebrate the 2016 season and their second year back covering NASCAR with 30-minute special editions of NASCAR America.

NBCSN will air seven episodes beginning Friday, December 16 with a look at the memorable wins, interviews, and storylines from this past season.

Here’s a complete breakdown of the upcoming episodes:

Champions of 2016 Features segments on record-tying seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, first time Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez and Camping World Truck series champion Johnny Sauter. Highlights also include a look at K&N Pro Series and Whelen All American Series winners and a Tony Stewart goodbye in true “Tony” fashion.

Behind the Wheel – Looks back at some of the most riveting interviews conducted by NASCAR on NBC’s production team throughout the season, including Steve Letarte’s conversation with Dale Earnhardt Jr. about his future in NASCAR.

Legend Tony Stewart – Celebrates Stewart’s career and tremendous impact on the sport of NASCAR. From Stewart’s final championship in 2011 to qualifying for this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR on NBC’s on-air team shares their favorite memories and moments from the three-time Champion’s storied career.

Memorable Wins of 2016 – Examines the most impressive victories of 2016. From Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating win in Charlotte to Kyle Larson’s first Sprint Cup victory in Michigan and Jimmie Johnson’s championship run in Miami. NBCSN relives the 2016 victories that took our breath away.

NASCAR Top Moments of 2016 – Counts down the most impressive moments of 2016, from Denny Hamlin’s incredible Daytona 500 win to Jimmie Johnson’s come-from-behind championship victory in Miami.

NASCAR Scan All Special Championship Edition – Examines the radio scanner audio from the November 20th NASCAR Sprint Cup championship race in Miami.

NASCAR Best of Scan All – Highlights the best radio scanner moments of the 2016 season, including the wildest wrecks, the worst tempers, and the wackiest moments.

The TV schedule is as follows:

Fri., December 16

Stories of NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart

5:00 PM

Stories of NASCAR Memorable Wins of 2016

5:30 PM

Sat., December 17

Stories of NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart

2:00 AM

Stories of NASCAR Memorable Wins of 2016

2:30 AM

Tue., December 20

NASCAR Scan All Special Championship Edition

5:00 PM

NASCAR Best of Scan All

5:30 PM

Stories of NASCAR Champions of 2016

6:00 PM

NASCAR Top Moments of 2016

6:30 PM

Wed., December 21

Stories of NASCAR Behind the Wheel

2:30 PM

Thur., January 5

NASCAR Scan All Special Championship Edition

5:00 PM

NASCAR Best of Scan All

5:30 PM

Stories of NASCAR Champions of 2016

6:00 PM

Fri., January 6

Stories of NASCAR Behind the Wheel

5:00 PM

Stories of NASCAR Legend Tony Stewart

5:30 PM

Mon., January 9

Stories of NASCAR Memorable Wins of 2016

5:00 PM

NASCAR Top Moments of 2016

5:30 PM

Tue., January 10

Stories of NASCAR Champions of 2016

5:00 PM

Stories of NASCAR Behind the Wheel

5:30 PM

Wed., January 11

NASCAR Scan All Special Championship Edition

5:00 PM

NASCAR Best of Scan All

5:30 PM

Martin Truex Jr.: VHT ‘a huge factor’ in Coca-Cola 600 — but wouldn’t work as well elsewhere

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CONCORD, N.C. — Though the rain paid a visit to the Coca-Cola 600, the traction agent applied high in the corners of Charlotte Motor Speedway was a “huge factor” in NASCAR’s longest race, according to Martin Truex Jr.

Truex, who led a race high 233 laps, lauded the VHT chemical used to improve racing at the 1.5-mile track after a dud of an All-Star Race.

“I think last weekend the middle groove, middle to high middle, was nonexistent,” Truex said after finishing third early Monday morning. “It was the slickest part of the racetrack.”

But that changed Sunday. Following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, NASCAR and the track reapplied refresh coats of VHT to the upper grooves in the turns after consulting drivers and crew chiefs. Even after a downpour swept over the track on Lap 143, Truex said the traction compound was a factor for 375 of the race’s 400 laps.

“It was the main groove,” Truex said of the higher grooves. “Where typically there is the least grip (there) on this racetrack, it was the most tonight. It definitely played a factor. It changed the race quite a bit. I think the downforce rules this year changed it quite a bit as well. The bottom of the racetrack is so bumpy and so slick, I’m telling you after 10 laps it’s all you can do to make laps without crashing down there.

“It definitely changed the race tonight. It made it a lot of fun. I thought it was a good addition.”

Winner Austin Dillon thought the VHT – also known as PJ1 TrackBite – benefited the race. But the Richard Childress Racing drive would like to see a change in where the agent is applied to the track surface.

“The middle groove had a lot of speed, took away from the bottom,” Dillon said. That’s usually dominant here. The bottom got good again. After the rain, the bottom was pretty dominant. As the race went on, I could actually see the VHT leaving the track. It was getting clean higher and higher.

“We’ve got something there as far as trying it. It’s not a bad thing. I really think we should try it more often. I think the next thing you look into is the placement of it. I feel like we needed more on the very top because the middle was really dominant, but you couldn’t really get into the top of it like you needed to. That would be my next shot at it. It’s not a bad thing at all. I like it.”

What’s next?

The chemical has been used on the concrete high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway and the asphalt of Charlotte and been mostly praised.

Should it be tried at any other tracks on the NASCAR circuit?

“I don’t think so,” Truex said. “I think this track is so unique, the pavement here, the geometry of the racetrack, the bumps that are in it. It’s almost got a concrete feel the way the bumps are. They’re really, really small, high‑frequency bumps, almost like a washboard, kind of the feeling you get at Dover (International Speedway). Most asphalt tracks are not bumpy that way. They’re more of a swell. The car kind of goes through swells, a place like (Chicagoland Speedway) or Atlanta (Motor Speedway).

“It’s very, very different here. The pavement is different than anywhere we go. The bumps in the racetrack are way different than anywhere we go. I think both of those things kind of contribute to us needing to do some different things here to change-up the racing.”

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. defends Kyle Busch’s surly mood after the Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. – A second-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 left Kyle Busch in an irate mood, which is perfectly fine, according to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A seemingly agitated Busch, cupping his face in his hands after sitting down, entered the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway Center shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday. It was roughly 10 minutes after Austin Dillon scored the first victory of his career in NASCAR’s premier series by stretching his final tank of fuel for 70 laps.

Was Busch surprised that Dillon made the checkered flag? What did it mean for a driver to get his first win?

“I’m not surprised about anything,” Busch snapped. “Congratulations.”

He dropped the mic on the dais. There were no further questions. (The video is available above).

Shortly afterward on Twitter, Earnhardt took up for his peer (whom he replaced at Hendrick Motorsports in 2008).

Busch, who hasn’t won since last July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a span of 28 races) gave more elaborate answers shortly after exiting his No. 18 Toyota, which finished 0.835 seconds behind Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet.

He apparently didn’t realize until late in the race that his pass of Martin Truex Jr. (who led a race-high 233 laps) with a lap remaining was for second instead of the victory.

“This M&M’s Camry was awesome tonight,” Busch said. “It was just super fast. I mean we had one of the fastest cars all night long and then (Truex) was probably the fastest. There at the end, somehow we ran him down. You know he got a straightaway out on us, but there that last 100 laps we were able to get back to him and pass him so you know that was promising for us there at the end in order to get a second-place finish, but man just so, so disappointed.

“I don’t know. We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t – it wasn’t the right game. We come up short and finish second.

“It’s a frustrating night, man. There’s nothing we could’ve done different.”

Others took a different view of Busch’s tirade.

But some agreed with Earnhardt’s stance.

After defending Busch, Earnhardt also poked some fun at him later Monday, too.

 

Martin Truex Jr. takes Cup points lead after Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. took over the Cup points lead with a third-place finish in Saturday’s Coca-Cola 600.

The Furniture Row Racing driver, who led a race-high 233 laps, also extended his lead in the playoff standings by winning the second stage and bringing his total to 16 points.

Kyle Larson, who had led the standings for eight consecutive races since Phoenix International Raceway, fell to second in the rankings after crashing and finishing a season-worst 33rd. Larson trails Truex by five points in the race for the regular-season championship (and 15 playoff points).

Click here for the points standings after Charlotte.

Results, stats for the 58th annual Coca-Cola 600

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With a fuel gamble, Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 for his first NASCAR Cup win.

It comes in his 133rd start and is the second win for Richard Childress Racing this year.

Following him was Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

Click here for the full results.