NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 62: Carolyn Manno on NASCAR America and a new podcast

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NASCAR America host Carolyn Manno joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast to discuss her path into racing coverage — and soon a new podcast.

Manno was raised in Florida and has a grandmother who lives in Daytona Beach, so she had a lifelong awareness of NASCAR. But she admittedly had much to learn when approached by executive producer Sam Flood about being involved with broadcasting the sport.

“I was very interested when we acquired the property,” Manno said during the podcast. “Because this is something the company just made a really big investment in and was going to matter. It was obvious right off the bat that NBC and Sam Flood cared about NASCAR and really was invested in the sport long term and doing it really, really well.”

Manno has worked on NASCAR America (which will return Feb. 13 to NBCSN) since 2014 but will become the program’s primary host this year. She was in Charlotte last week to interview drivers during two days of media availability.

“This year, I’ll be able to really get to know the players involved, get out to the track, host nearly every show we have and make that my own, which is exciting for me,” Manno said.

Most of her NASCAR education has been through working alongside NBCSN analysts Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty (who has become a playful on-air foil).

“What’s really neat is I’m very curious about the influence that our analysts have,” she said. “As a newcomer when I met all these guys, I knew them as Kyle and DJ and Jeff and Steve — as generous and kind people willing to educate me on the sport and could not be nicer. I’ve worked across a lot of sports and met a lot of different players and coaches and was struck by how authentic these characters were.

“But I didn’t know them as Kyle Petty, son of Richard Petty or Dale Jarrett, the Hall of Famer. I knew him as DJ. So now when I’m out and see the impact they have in the sport, it’s a wakeup call we have some of the most important voices in the industry.”

Before joining NBC Sports and NBCSN as a full-time anchor in 2013, Manno worked in South Bend, Ind., and then as a sportscaster and reporter for Comcast SportsNet New England, which included covering the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick.

“Even though he’ll scoff at the media, he pays attention to everything that happens in that (media) room,” Manno said of the famously gruff coach. “Some interactions, I’d go in there ready to be curious and ask him to explain things about the way they operated. He was always very respectful of that and wanted to educate but in a different way.”

Manno also revealed details behind the new podcast that she will be launching this month with NBCSN analyst and NASCAR driver Parker Kligerman, whom she views as “a little brother.” Their Monday morning podcast will feature a weekly recap of Sunday’s race.

“We have so much fun (on the NASCAR America set) and this irreverent quality when we’re hanging out that’s very relaxed,” she said. “Parker and I have a great chemistry, and I hope the podcast will be a new way for fans to see us and the show. Parker is incredibly valuable when it comes to race assessment.”

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

 

 

My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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