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Matt Kenseth not worried about JGR’s slow start in 2017

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Given how the four Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup teams have fared in the first two races of 2017, some observers might ask “What’s wrong with JGR?”

Two races into the season and at 15th in the standings, Matt Kenseth is the highest-ranked JGR driver, followed by Denny Hamlin (18th), Kyle Busch (24th) and rookie Daniel Suarez (30th).

Don’t count Kenseth among the naysayers. He’s adopted a “What, me worry? Nah.” attitude.

Well, I mean, man, you’re only two weeks in,” Kenseth said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “Really it’s hard to count Daytona. It’s so easy to get caught up in a wreck there, and like our wreck at Daytona, I really didn’t have anything to do with that. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so there’s just nothing you can do about that.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in where you leave in the points standings after Daytona. I just never have because it doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the season.”

Hamlin, the 2016 Daytona 500 winner, could not repeat in this year’s edition of the “Great American Race,” finishing 17th, tops of the four JGR drivers.

Suarez was next among the Gibbs crew (29th), followed by Kyle Busch (38th) and Kenseth (40th).

This past Sunday at Atlanta, Kenseth rebounded from his Daytona showing to become the highest-finishing JGR and Toyota-powered driver at third place.

Busch was next at (16th), followed by Suarez (21st) and Hamlin (38th).

Still, it’s not a lot to concern Kenseth this early in the season.

“Last week, Denny had mechanical failure, not sure about Kyle,” Kenseth said. “I thought we ran pretty well really the whole day. We just had those (two) speeding penalties.

“As far as that, we knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast. When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments. Where now you went through them last weekend so fast like if you ever did get one light over or whatever, there was no time to correct.

“But for us we just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”

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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.