The runup to the start of the 2017 NASCAR season continues with another 90-minute episode of NASCAR America today, beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Carolyn Manno hosts with Dale Jarrett in Stamford, Connecticut and Steve Letarte joins them from Burton’s Garage.
Here’s what to expect from today’s episode.
· Change is often considered the only constant, especially in NASCAR. We break down the major enhancements further with our resident crew chief, Steve Letarte.
· The dynamic duo of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have been together for 15 seasons. After winning a record-breaking seventh Cup championship last season, they can be called the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick of NASCAR. Our Nate Ryan sat down with Knaus to get his side of the story.
· Cup Series cars will hit the track at Daytona for the first time on Friday, so we continue our breakdown of teams as the Daytona 500 draws closer. We’ll see which teams are poised for a successful year and the ones that are looking to improve.
If you can’t catch the show on TV, you also can 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 plug-in that information, you’ll have access to the stream.
Click here at 5:30 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.
NASCAR Cup rookie Erik Jones was fastest in the first of two practice sessions Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Jones drove his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota to the top of the speed charts at the Fontana, California track with a best lap of 187.251, the only driver to exceed 187 mph.
Jones was followed by Chase Elliott (186.843), Ryan Newman (186.732), Jimmie Johnson (186.384) and Brad Keselowski (186.292).
There were two incidents of note during the session:
* With just over nine minutes remaining in the practice session, Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet hit hard into the outside retaining wall, sustaining damage on the right side.
However, the team chose to repair the damage rather than go to a backup car.
Prior to the incident, Harvick’s car was sixth-fastest (186.128 mph).
* In the final two minutes, David Ragan spun and impacted the Turn 3 wall. It appeared something came loose from under Ragan’s car before impact.
Given the amount of damage, Ragan will likely have to go to a backup car.
Click here for how Saturday’s first of two practice sessions played out:
Danica Patrick wants her money back. Or she at least wants to know what it bought.
Fined $70,000 over the past 17 months for intentionally wrecking a rival driver under caution and tossing and walking onto the track to gesture at another, Patrick was asked Friday at Auto Club Speedway how she felt about Austin Dillon avoiding a fine for crashing Cole Custer under caution at Phoenix.
“Give me my money back,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said. “I think NASCAR makes a really big mistake of fining for some stuff, especially something that happens in the car because it makes for good TV, just like fights and all that stuff. We can handle it.
“I think it’s a mistake. I might be speaking too much, but I’ve been fined a few times, and I think that it makes for good TV, and I think that we handle it out on the track ourselves.”
NASCAR has said it funnels the fine payments to the NASCAR Foundation, which supports several charitable organizations.
Patrick would prefer NASCAR avoid fining everyone but is curious about how the money gets earmarked.
“I would actually rather know what it did,” she said. “I would actually love to see like the playground that got built for it, or homeless people that got food. I would like to see actually what the money does for fines because it’s supposed to go to charity, right? So what does it really do? I would like to see that.”
After four races, Xfinity Series regulars have won twice (Ryan Reed at Daytona and Justin Allgaier at Phoenix) and Cup drivers have won twice (Kyle Busch at Atlanta and Joey Logano at Las Vegas). The Xfinity Series regulars will look to take the lead in that category at Auto Club Speedway.
Here are the particulars for today’s race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: Stu Crum, COO of Service King, will give the command for drivers to start engines at 4:07 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 4:16 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 150 laps (300 miles) around the 2-mile oval.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 10 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 2:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:35 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Karen Waldrup will perform the Anthem at 4:01 p.m.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Its coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com. MRN’s coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 63 degrees at race time with a 7 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.
LAST YEAR: Austin Dillon took the lead on a wild final lap and went on to win. Kyle Busch led and cut a tire. Daniel Suarez took the lead but ran out of fuel. Busch managed to retake the lead. Dillon got by Busch for the lead in Turn 4 after hitting the wall. Busch finished second and Darrell Wallace Jr. was third.
STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying at 12:30 p.m.
The Xfinity Series ends its part of the “West Coast swing” today with the Service King 300.
But the day is filled with Cup Series practice and Xfinity qualifying prior to the race.
Here is the full schedule for the day with TV and radio info.
All times are Eastern.
Saturday, March 25
10 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open
11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)
12:30 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single vehicle/two rounds (FS1)
2:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting
2:30 – 3:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)
3:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions
4 p.m. – Service King 300 Xfinity race; 150 laps/300 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)