Matt Kenseth unsure how rain, cool weather will impact Bristol’s treated surface

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After its first use last August, NASCAR drivers will get a second chance to race at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend with its track surface treated by VHT in the corners.

A substance used by the NHRA to add grip on its starting lines, VHT was added to the bottom grove for last summer’s night race – which became a day race – in order to improve the competition on the half-mile track. It worked.

The 20 lead changes in the race were the second most at Bristol in the past eight races there. NASCAR recorded 2,454 green-flag passes, ranking fourth at the track since the statistic was first kept in 2005.

But how will the track react to the substance in April over August, especially with the threat of rain looming over the Bristol area all weekend? But most importantly, will the spreading out of the substance higher in the turns make the racing better?

If anyone knows what “old Bristol” was like, it’s Matt Kenseth. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has made 34 starts in “Thunder Valley” beginning in 2000 and he has four wins, the most recent coming in the 2015 spring race.

Kenseth addressed the repeated application of the substance Wedesday after Joe Gibbs Racing’s sponsorship announcement with Circle K at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I went to lunch with (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) before we got here, and we got to talking about the fall race a little bit, and I have to go back and watch the whole ending of the race and see how it went,” said Kenseth, who placed 37th with a DNF last August after a Lap 373 crash. “I feel like Bristol, Martinsville and Dover are very sensitive to heat. I think if you get a really cold, overcast day up there and you get all the rain you’re supposed to get, I’m not really sure how it’ll affect it, because sometimes the top never comes all the way in.”

The Food City 500 is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET Sunday. The weather site wunderground.com currently forecasts a temperature of 59 degrees with a 57 percent chance of rain at that time.

“It has to get warm enough for the rubber on the tire to pack into the racetrack and then that stuff seems to make a lot of grip,” Kenseth said. “Last year, it seemed to have a lot. It seemed to go away at the end of the race that I recall. But it definitely seemed to open up some grooves and passing, especially on restarts and shorter runs.”

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.