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.

 

 

NASCAR America: Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones get a feel of how Olympians train (video)

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NASCAR drivers talk almost continuously about how they have to be in top physical condition to endure sometimes often very difficult conditions while on a racetrack and behind the wheel.

One only needs to look at seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson to see the rewards of being fit.

But going to one of the Olympic training centers in the U.S. is a whole other thing, something that separates folks who think they’re fit from those that really are.

Ask Toyota drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, who recently participated in a two-day training session at an Olympic training facility.

We wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still nursing sore muscles, given the workouts they endured – and which gave them new appreciation for what many Olympians must go through to be the best.

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NASCAR America: Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch ready for Daytona fireworks (video)

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NASCAR’s summer classic, the Coke Zero 400, celebrates this country’s independence, its military heroes and concludes with a great fireworks show.

But as Clint Bowyer and this year’s Daytona 500 winner, Kurt Busch, will vouch for, there’s also a lot of fireworks during the race, as the 2.5-mile, high-banked tri-oval can be one of the most difficult and intimidating places to race upon.

If a driver isn’t dodging fellow drivers, he or she is trying to stay in the draft to gain forward movement and momentum. Unfortunately, a lot of times when dodging and draft collide, so too do a lot of cars and drivers, as well.

It may not be the Daytona 500, but winning at Daytona in July is still a big prize that everyone wants to win. And don’t forget, because it’s Daytona, it’s also a place to be careful at because of the danger that can pop up at any moment.

Find out why by clicking on the above video.

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NASCAR America: Steve Letarte kicks off weekly feature honoring pit crews (video)

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They’re the unsung heroes of NASCAR, the guys who typically don’t get enough praise when things go right, and then oftentimes have the finger of blame pointed at them when things go wrong.

We’re talking about one of the most important jobs in NASCAR: pit crew member.

Starting with Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, a guy who knows a lot about pit crews – former crew chief turned NBC NASCAR analyst Steve Letarte – kicked off a feature that will run each week for the 20 remaining weeks of the season.

Letarte’s series will spotlight the importance of pit crews, and he’ll also choose pit crew all-stars to recognize their contributions to the sport and their perseverance on pit road.

This week’s first bunch of pit crew all-stars are Caleb Hurd, gasman for Denny Hamlin; Jeff Zarella, tire specialist for Kurt Busch and Frank Mathalia, engine tuner for Austin Dillon.

Give them and their peers some love and check out the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants one final Daytona win for himself and his father (video)

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Daytona International Speedway has been a bittersweet place for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It’s been the place of his biggest NASCAR Cup career wins, including the Daytona 500 in 2004 and 2014.

But it’s also the same place where he lost his father  in a last-lap wreck in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Now, Earnhardt returns to the “World Center of Speed” for what will be the final time in his 18-year NASCAR Cup career.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Earnhardt reflected upon all the good and bad Daytona has meant to him and his family.

On his first time back to Daytona after his father’s death nearly five months earlier: “Once we got to Daytona, we drove by the racetrack, pulled in, parked in Turn 3, got out and walked around. The track was empty, quiet and I’d never been to the crash site. That’s where dad, in my mind, lost his life. That was where we all remember him last.”

Returning to Daytona for the first time after his father’s death there: “I felt like that was a place I wanted to visit. And every time I go to Daytona, even today, I go around that racetrack, I look at that spot, I look at that knoll of grass before the exit of Turn 4. I wanted to go there and see how I felt and see what kind of emotions happened so that I could get whatever was going to be out of the way.

“I told myself what I was going through is the same sadness that some guy somewhere in the Midwest is dealing with right now. Who am I to go on and on about how hard it was, because somebody, somewhere right now is dealing with a loss.”

How he wishes his father was still here to see the man and driver he’s become: “I’d have loved it if he’d stuck around a lot longer, but that’s not the way it was supposed to be. And we figured out how to make it (when he won the 2001 Coke Zero 400 in his father’s honor).”

On wanting to win one last time at Daytona in a Cup car this Saturday night: “I’d love to win at Daytona and add another win to the Earnhardt column. Every time I win there, I think it’s another win for me and dad because his success there stretches far beyond the Daytona 400 and July 400. But any time I win there, that’s one more stake in the ground that we claim this track as a place we dominate.”

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