NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. to start second in Daytona 500

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While Dale Earnhardt Jr. has driven his No. 88 car a few times since last December, Sunday was the first time he had done so with stakes since July.

Earnhardt qualified second for the Daytona 500 and will start the race next to his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott.

Thursday’s Can-Am Duel will be his first NASCAR Cup Series points event since a concussion forced him to miss the last 18 races of 2016. Earnahrdt spoke with Nate Ryan after qualifying.

“That’s the funny thing about racing, you realize being out of the car how much you took it for granted,” Earnhardt said. “Then you just want to get back in, then when you get back in you just want to win, then when you get close you’re disappointed. But in the grand scheme of things, this is awesome. To be back in the car, to be running well. To have such a good day, to see the 24 car do so well, it means a lot.”

NASCAR America: Parker Kligerman takes to simulator to show Xfinity changes at Indy (video)

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While Saturday will mark the sixth straight year the NASCAR Xfinity Series will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there will be significant changes. 

Among the changes: the use of restrictor plates, as well as adding aero ducts to aid cars with the draft.

On Tbursday’s edition of NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took a spin around the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway — on the NBCSN iRacing Simulator, that is — to show how some of those changes will impact the cars and potentially the race.

Check it out in the video above.

Friday’s NASCAR schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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Friday will be somewhat of an easy, relaxing day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Cars will only take to the track twice in the afternoon — both being Xfinity Series practice sessions, which will be on the NBC Sports App.

IMS will host the NASCAR Cup Fan Fest from 4:30 – 8 p.m. ET, followed by the NASCAR Cup hauler parade that will see transporters enter the Speedway around 9 p.m. ET.

Here’s the rest of Friday’s schedule (all times Eastern):

FRIDAY, JULY 21

9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1 – 1:55 p.m. – First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.