Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Blaney seem to be putting friendship to the test

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Blaney say they’re friends, but that friendship seems to keep being tested.

First, Junior was miffed at how Blaney called him out — not to mention a choice name — over the team radio at Phoenix a few weeks ago.

And then there’s the supposed make-good gift – a case of beer – that Blaney promised to make amends, but apparently has yet to deliver to Junior’s camp.

Adding to the tension is the incident they were involved in at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday’s STP 500.

“Well, we’re friends,” Earnhardt said in an exclusive interview with NBCSN’s Marty Snider. “Friends usually don’t run over each other on the racetrack.

“I kind of got loose in front of him, but he didn’t do me any favors. He had a run, I slid the back end up in front of them. I ran him in the fence on the front straightaway, so I kind of understand if he was a little upset.”

Earnhardt went so far as to say that maybe he and Blaney – even though they’re still friends – may need some time away from each other on the racetrack.

“We don’t need to be racing around each other until we can figure out how to do that without any problems,” Earnhardt said.

Asked about his radio transmission Sunday that Blaney would receive no more free beer after the spin, Earnhardt joked it probably wouldn’t have much of an impact.

“Well, he has his own beer,” Earnhardt said. “I don’t think that really bothered him too much when I said, ‘No more free beer.’ ”

But somehow, some way, Earnhardt said he has to impress things upon Blaney to right their respective ships on the racetrack.

The question that Earnhardt keeps asking himself is how?

“I don’t know what it is that will get his attention,” Earnhardt said of Blaney. “Maybe I need to buy his house back from Brad (Keselowski) and raise the rent. I don’t know what I need to do.”

But the little tiff between friends likely will run its course. As for when, who knows.

“He’s a really good guy,” Earnhardt said of Blaney. “Got a ton of talent. Really good talent. Awesome on social media, great personality. I hate this has happened the last few weeks.

“I almost am old enough to be his daddy (Earnhardt is 42, Blaney 23). I don’t want to preach to him too much. Hopefully we won’t have any more problems the rest of the year.”

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NASCAR America’s Jarrett, Letarte, Petty recap 2017, make 2018 predictions

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The 2017 NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series seasons have only been over for a few days.

And while it’s understandable that on Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, analysts Steve Letarte, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty reflected back on the recently completed race seasons, they also took a very bold move:

The new season is still three months away, but our analyst team is ALREADY making predictions for 2018.

We don’t want to spoil the surprise or show their hands. If you want to hear how they’re already viewing 2018, click on the video above.

Justin Hartley from NBC’s ‘This Is Us’ on Dale Jr.’s special bond with fans

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Even though Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now officially retired as a NASCAR Cup driver, the special bond between the former driver of the 88 will likely never go away.

Sure, Alex Bowman is replacing Junior in the 88, which will likely pick up some of Junior Nation to cheer for him. Others will gravitate to cheer for other drivers, perhaps youngsters William Byron, Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and others.

But one thing is for certain: once a Dale Jr. fan and a member of Junior Nation, ALWAYS a Dale Jr. fan and a member of Junior Nation.

Justin Hartley, who plays Kevin on NBC’s top-rated “This Is Us,” is proud to call himself a card carrying member of Junior Nation. In the video above, Hartley shows what it’s like to be a Dale Jr. fan, what the third-generation driver meant to so many people for so many years, and how his legacy will continue on for decades to come.

Check out the video above to see what Junior Nation is all about, as well as thoughts from our NBC analysts, Kyle Petty, Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett.

NASCAR America: Nate Ryan on how 78 rode roller coaster to Cup crown

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If the 2017 NASCAR Cup season was an amusement park ride, it definitely would be a roller coaster for Martin Truex Jr., crew chief Cole Pearn and the rest of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team.

Up and down the season went, from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.

There was adversity on the track and tragedy off the track, with Pearn losing his best friend to a freakish infection, and team member Jim Watson passing away in Kansas one day before the Cup race that Truex would go on to win and dedicate to his fallen teammate.

And through it all, Truex and longtime girlfriend Sherry Pollex dealt with the recurrence of ovarian cancer with strength, inspiration and fortitude.

The 78 team’s dedication, sticking to the plan and rallying together as a family was the difference.

NBC Sports’ and NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan presented a touching pre-race tribute to Truex and his team before Sunday’s race. On Tuesday’s NASCAR America, Ryan gave an updated version of that tribute, capping it off with the best way possible: recalling how Truex and the 78 team won it all.

Check out the video above to see Nate’s touching piece.

 

Scan All: Miami — the best from the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400

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This week’s Scan All: Miami combined not only regular scanner traffic from team radios during Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, but also studio cut-ins of Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn talking about their road to the Cup championship.

Here’s some of the best exchanges:

Martin Truex Jr. on coming into the race: “I felt good all weekend, I really did. I was relaxed and knew that no matter what happened, we had a great season and a lot to be proud of and a lot to build upon for the future.”

Truex on his team radio just before the green flag: “We’ve been working a long time to get here. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of you guys and what you’ve done. Thank you for an unbelieveable season. Let’s cap it off tonight.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. just before the green flag: “I just want to thank everybody that’s had an impact on my career. I’ve made friendships and relationships that’ll last a lifetime, and I’m just so thankful for that.”

Aric Almirola on his last start for Richard Petty Motorsports: “King, if you’re on the air, thanks for that phone call six years ago. It’s been a lot of fun driving this 43 car.”

Crew chief Darian Grubb to Kasey Kahne on his final start with Hendrick Motorsports: “I know it’s an emotional day for everybody. I’m proud to be able to call you teammate and even more proud to be able to continue to call you friend after this, bud.”

Kahne’s reply (while holding back tears): “Thank you guys for everything, man.”

Kahne’s spotter, Kevin Hamlin, to Grubb: “Man, you’ve got to make him cry before we go green?”

Cole Pearn on Kyle Larson getting a run: “The 42 is running the wall. He’s hauling ass.”

Clayton Hughes, spotter for Truex: “How about this, Martin Truex Jr., you are the champion, baby!”

Truex in studio cut-in on winning championship: “It was our time. There’s no doubt in my mind that it was our time. Sometimes, things are meant to be.”

Check out the whole Scan All segment in the video above.