Here is who the NBC Sports staff is picking for today’s Daytona 500.
The ace in the hole for Brad Keselowski is the law of averages. Or as he eloquently put it on Daytona 500 Media Day, “I know we have the car that can win this race this year. We have the speed. I feel I have the knowledge and intuition. The last few years, we haven’t caught any breaks (at Daytona). And that pendulum is going to swing and we’re going to catch some good breaks. I believe that in my heart, and I believe this is the year to do it.” Hard to argue with that.
Brad Keselowski has become the most proficient restrictor-plate racer in the last few years. Add that he has Ford power and likely will have fellow Fords with him at the front and this is shaping up to be the year he finally wins the Daytona 500. Looking for a dark horse? Stay in the Ford camp with Ryan Blaney.
After learning from the end of his Can-Am Duel, two-time Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will officially mark his return to Cup racing with a win. Dark horse: Aric Almirola
While he’s had a relatively quiet Speedweeks, that changes when Kurt Busch finally breaks through to win his first Daytona 500. The older Busch brother has finished second in the “Great American Race” three different times. Back with Ford power, today will be his day.
After a week of NASCAR America returns today with the next edition of “50 States in 50 Show,” with a look at the state of New Jersey, which is the home of Martin Truex Jr., Hall of Fame nominee Ray Evernham and the subject of today’s segment, Wall Stadium Speedway.
The 1/3-mile speedway is located in Wall Township, which is about 40 miles east of the Trenton.
Evernham called into NASCAR America to discuss the track, which has been hosting races since 1950.
“Growing up on the Jershey shore, there was a lot of stock-car racing in that area,” Evernham said. “That was a pavement track and it was a Saturday night place to go. .. The racing was great. It’s because of the banked track. There was a lot of dirt tracks and flatter tracks around there, but at the time Wall promoted that it was banked just like Daytona (International Speedway).”
Watch the video for more from Evernham, Truex about the track.
NASCAR America: Aric Almirola recounts Kansas crash that caused back injury
Following Almirola’s account, NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Kyle Petty discussed the accident and the state of safety in the sport today.
With the many years his family has been in the sport and the tragedies it has experienced seen, including the death of his son Adam Petty in a 2000 Busch Series practice session at New Hampshire Motor speedway, Kyle Petty said Almirola’s accident hits “close to home.”
“When you’ve been in the seat and another family trusts you to take care of their son or their husband or their father, whatever it may be, and it’s our responsibility to look after Aric,” Petty said. “We talk about frontal impacts, we talk about rear impacts, we talk about side impacts. There’s been so much written and spoken about concussion. … But how many times do you see a car fall out of the air? You can’t cover everything. That’s what NASCAR continues to look at, that’s what we all continue to look at. But this sport is never, ever, ever, ever going to be completely safe.”
Watch the rest of the video below for all of Petty and Kligerman’s thoughts on the Almirola and safety in NASCAR.
Ryan Blaney to drive Kyle Petty’s 1987 paint scheme in Southern 500
The countdown to this years’ throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway began Monday with Ryan Blaney revealing his retro paint scheme on NASCAR America.
With the help of NBC Sports analysts Kyle Petty, Blaney announced his No. 21 Ford will have Petty’s 1987 paint scheme in the Sept. 3 Southern 500, which will air on NBCSN.
This is the third year for NASCAR’s throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway
Petty drove for Wood Brothers Racing from 1985-88, when he earned two of his eight Cup wins with the team and scored 19 top five and 48 top-10 finishes. He placed in the top 10 in points in three of his four seasons with the Wood Brothers.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Petty’s win in the Coca-Cole 600.
Blaney will be making his third start in the Southern 500. His best finish in his first two starts was 13th last season.
“When he was with us, Kyle used to build his own aluminum seats,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said in press release.. “He won a total of eight Cup races. He’s a talented singer and guitar player. He’s done great work with the Victory Junction Camp and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, and he’s an excellent TV commentator.
“Kyle can do anything he wants to do. He’s that talented. We’re happy to have his name back on our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Fusion for the Southern 500 at Darlington.”