NASCAR on NBC analysts offer thoughts on Carl Edwards news

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NASCAR on NBC’s analysts have chimed in on the surprising news that Carl Edwards is leaving full-time NASCAR competition effective immediately.

Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and NBCSports.com lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan took part in a Facebook Live discussion about the news.

Jeff Burton, NASCAR on NBC analyst – “I think it is courageous to follow your gut and say, ‘this is what I want to do.’ The thing I found interesting is how Carl said he ‘lived for the feeling that he got in racing.’ It will be interesting to see what he replaces that feeling with. That is a difficult transition. To have the courage to make this decision without really having a plan, not many people can do that.”

Kyle Petty, NASCAR on NBC analyst – “I’m not as surprised as I am shocked. He is 37 years old, at the top of his game, and contends for Championships. Once you play at the NBA, NFL, MLB level, and once you drive at the top, it is a mindset. You are on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That is the way it is. Once you let it creep into your mind that it is time for you to stop, then it is time for you to back away. You are not the same driver. That is what is amazing to me about this announcement. Carl drove the last 10 races of the year like he was in Championship form. I don’t think the thought of retirement had crossed his mind at that point in time, because he didn’t drive that way.”

Dale Jarrett, NASCAR on NBC analyst – “You just don’t think of someone who was so close to a Championship saying ‘enough of this.’ After listening to Carl this morning, I think we have even more questions than we have answers. I think the main thing is, it shows us just how difficult the business is and the time and effort it takes to be your very best. I admire him for having the courage, at such a young age, to make this decision. He is 37. When I made the decision (to step away) I was 50 years old. The competitive spirit inside of you never goes away. I’m 60 now and I still have that inside of me.”

Krista Voda, NASCAR on NBC host – “The impact Carl Edwards has had on me is genuine. He always made time for me, looked me in the eye and shook my hand. He asked about my family and cared about the answer. He spoke at the funeral of my dear friend and mentor, Steve Byrnes. His words were powerful and poetic. I know Steve respected Carl as I do. As much as I will miss Carl Edwards as a driver, it pales in comparison to how much I will miss seeing him on a weekly basis, simply as a friend.”

Memorial service to be held Friday for Furniture Row Racing team member Jim Watson

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A memorial service for Furniture Row Racing crew member Jim Watson will be held Friday in Lincolnton, North Carolina, his family announced Monday.

Watson, who served in a number of roles for both the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr. and No. 77 of Erik Jones, passed away Saturday night after suffering a heart attack in Kansas City, Kansas, where the teams were preparing for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race.

Watson was 55.

MORE: Furniture Row Racing crew member dies of heart attack

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The memorial will be from 4-6 p.m. ET Friday at the Warlick Funeral Home, 125 Dave Warlick Drive, in Lincolnton.

Watson’s obituary was included in the announcement of the memorial service:

Watson was born Sept. 27, 1962, in Kenosha, Wis., to Betty Paulus Watson and the late David Harrison Watson. He is survived by his wife, Laurie Ann Watson; a daughter, Brittany May Watson; his mother, Betty L. Watson; brother, Mike Watson; stepchildren, Eric James Conover and fiancé Claudia Rodriguez, and Matthew Sean Conover; Michael Patrick Conover, and wife Michele, and Nicholas Ian Conover; three grandchildren, Patrick Michael Conover, Michael Winston Conover, and Coleton Daniel Conover; nieces, Jennifer Watson and Katie J. Ballou; and many other uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to hatsalive.org.

NASCAR America at 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Round of 12 review, Round of 8 preview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and wraps up Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination round at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Nate Ryan from Stamford, Connecticut. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty will join us from NBC Charlotte.

On today’s show:

* The Round of 12 has been whittled down to eight drivers after a lot of drama and action in Kansas yesterday. We will rehash all of the excitement from Martin Truex Jr.’s emotional win and the adversity that only some of drivers were able to overcome.

* 7-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson made it on to the Round of 8 but not before dealing with his own challenges, including two spinouts. Now, Johnson heads to a trio of tracks that have been more than kind to the 48 team over the years.

* Elimination Sunday provided a big surprise with an engine failure for Kyle Larson, one of the favorites to take the championship  this season. Despite his heartbreaking departure from the postseason, he did provide a positive outlook for the future.

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.

NASCAR Cup playoff leaderboard heading into Round of 8

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Two rounds down, eight drivers eliminated, two more rounds to go with eight other drivers remaining.

That pretty much sums up the status of the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

Following Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, which cut the number of drivers still eligible for the Cup championship to eight, the Round of 8 semifinals begin with Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

Kansas winner Martin Truex Jr. continues to maintain his strangehold on the points going into the second-from-last playoff round.

Truex has a 52 point edge above the cut-off line, while Kyle Busch is 25 points to the good and Brad Keselowski is 9 points ahead.

Kevin Harvick is at the cutoff line, while Jimmie Johnson is below the line, even though both drivers are at 0 points.

Denny Hamlin is three points below the cutoff line, Ryan Blaney is eight points below and Chase Elliott is scored eighth, 11 points below the cutoff line.

Here’s the updated playoff leaderboard grid:

Here’s Cup, Trucks entry lists for this weekend’s races at Martinsville

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Martinsville Speedway’s little .526-mile paper clip shaped short track will host two very big NASCAR races this weekend.

First, the NASCAR Cup Series begins the Round of 8 semifinal round with Sunday’s First Data 500.

The original 16-driver field that began the playoffs at Chicago six races ago has been pared to just eight drivers remaining and with four races left.

Also, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicks off the Round of 6 semifinal round with the Texas Roadhouse 200.

Lastly, the NASCAR Xfinity Series enjoys this weekend off. It returns to action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, when all three of NASCAR’s premier series will be in action.

NASCAR Cup Series – First Data 500

There are 40 cars entered in Sunday’s race. While the preliminary NASCAR entry list indicates two driver positions being open, a press release was sent out this morning that one of those vacant seats has been filled.

The No. 51 Chevrolet of Rick Ware Racing is listed as having no driver, but the team announced today that 20-year-old Kyle Weatherman will make his NASCAR Cup debut and drive the car in Sunday’s race.

Weatherman will also drive for RWR at Phoenix in the penultimate NASCAR Cup playoff race.

That leaves just one driver’s seat that needs to be filled for Sunday’s race: the No. 83 Toyota of BK Racing.

Jimmie Johnson won this race last year, one big step on his way to winning a seventh NASCAR Cup championship, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for most championships won by a driver.

Johnson has won nine times at Martinsville. If there’s any place for him to begin his push for a record eighth championship, the tiny southern Virginia track is just the place to do so. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski won at Martinsville this spring.

Click here for the preliminary NASCAR Cup entry list for Sunday’s race at Martinsville.

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Camping World Truck Series – Texas Roadhouse 200

 There are 34 trucks on the preliminary entry list for Saturday’s Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

There are two open driver spots and one open owner position.

Johnny Sauter won last fall’s truck race at Martinsville en route to his first Truck Series championship.

The No. 0 Chevrolet, owned by Jennifer Jo Cobb, does not have a driver listed yet.

And the No. 111 Chevrolet does not have a driver or a team owner listed on the preliminary entry list. However, there is a crew chief slated: Clinton Cram.

 

Johnny Sauter won this race last year en route to his first career Truck Series championship.

There are no NASCAR Cup drivers entered in this race.

Click here for the preliminary NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry list for Saturday’s race at Martinsville.