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.

 

 

Matt Kenseth wrecks out of Auto Club 400 on late restart

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Matt Kenseth crashed out of the Auto Club 400 on a restart with 16 laps remaining in the race at Auto Club Speedway.

Kenseth had restarted fourth following a caution for an incident involving Gray Gaulding.

Kenseth was in the middle groove exiting Turn 2 when he was tapped from behind by Martin Truex Jr. and slid toward the inside wall, which his No. 20 Toyota hit hard. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was cleared and released from the infield care center.

It is Kenseth’s third DNF in the first five races of the season and his second in as many races. He had four in all of 2016.

Kenseth entered the race 20th in the point standings.

Martin Truex Jr. has commanding performance in Stage 2 win at Fontana

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Martin Truex Jr. has taken over as the most dominating driver in today’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

After pole-sitter Kyle Larson won the first 60-lap stage, Truex won Stage 2. During the session, Truex’s car showed supremacy with nearly a seven-second lead in the closing laps of the stage.

Truex has now won three of the last six stages, having captured both stages two weeks ago en route to his overall race win at Las Vegas.

Larson is in second place, followed by Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.

There has been just two cautions in the race – both coming in Stage 1.

We now move to the final stage, an 80-lap shootout to determine the race winner.

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Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 of Auto Club 400 at Fontana

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Pole-sitter Kyle Larson is almost one-third of the way to winning Sunday’s Auto Club 400. The California native won Stage 1 of the race at his home-state Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Larson (43 laps) and Martin Truex Jr. (12 laps) have led the majority of the laps during the opening 60-lap segment. That segment will be followed by another 60-lap segment, and then an 80-lap final section for 200 laps (400 miles) around the 2-mile low-banked track.

It was Larson’s first stage win of the 2017 season under the new enhanced scoring format in the NASCAR Cup Series. Larson has finished runner-up in each of the last three races and four of the last five (dating back to the 2016 season finale). He has just one career Cup win, last year at Michigan.

Truex is running second, followed by Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch.

Sixth through 10th are Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.

Each of the top 10 finishers in Stage 1 will earn stage points in the NASCAR Cup standings.

Two incidents of note occurred early in the race, both involving Brad Keselowski:

* On the first lap, Keselowski’s car suffered left rear damage when several cars were involved in an accordion-like wreck. Others involved included Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin, but there was no caution called.

* Keselowski continued on without repairing the damage and was spun out on Lap 3 when he was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson, causing further damage to Keselowski’s Ford Fusion. The caution came out for Laps 5 through 7. Johnson claimed there was little or no damage over his team radio, but Johnson has continued to have struggles this weekend. He’s running 32nd, one lap down.

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Bad race start results in damaged cars for Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick

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A bad start by the inside lane at the beginning of the Auto Club 400 resulted in damage to the cars of Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.

Denny Hamlin struggled to get to speed at the drop of the green flag, causing the first few rows of cars to bunch up. It resulted in Newman making contact with Keselowski’s left rear and causing damage. Harvick then ran into Newman as the inside bottlenecked.

On Lap 4, after falling back to 17th, Keselowski was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson on the front stretch, which sent the No. 2 car spinning through the infield grass. Keselowski, the Atlanta winner, was 19th and the first car a lap down when the first stage ended.

During pit stops in the resulting caution, large amounts of tape were put on the front bumper and grille of Harvick’s car and the right-front fender of Newman’s.

With 35 laps left in the first 60-lap stage, Harvick was forced to pit for a flat right-rear tire. He now runs in 28th, a lap down. Newman, who won last week at Phoenix, a lap down in 22nd.

Johnson, a six-time Auto Club winner and the defending winner, was told his No. 48 had damage that could easily be fixed in the pits.  He runs in 20th a lap down. Johnson is winless this season.