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Bump & Run: Will there be 16 different winners before the playoffs?

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Nate Ryan, Dustin Long and Daniel McFadin tackle this weekend’s questions:

Austin Dillon became the eighth driver to be eligible for the playoffs with a win. With more than half the regular season to go and 13 of the top 20 drivers in points not yet qualified for the playoffs with a victory, will there be 16 different winners before the playoffs begin?

Nate Ryan: No. I see the possibility of a maximum seven more drivers earning wins – Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Matt Kenseth. And I’m not convinced all seven of those will win in the next 14 races.

Dustin Long: No. I still think at least two drivers will make the playoffs on points. Some drivers who have wins will grab more in the next 14 races.

Daniel McFadin: We’re bound to get at least two new multi-race winners – Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch – and one Chris Buescher-like freak winner. But I don’t think we’ll get to 16 separate winners.

Name one driver outside the top 16 in points not yet qualified for the playoffs via a win you think could make the playoffs.

Nate Ryan: Erik Jones. If he can match teammate Martin Truex Jr.’s speed and build some consistency, he can make it on points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. can make it by winning Daytona, of course, but I’m not sure there are many other avenues for him reaching the playoffs in his last season.

Dustin Long: Kasey Kahne will surprise some and pull out a win to earn a playoff spot.

Daniel McFadin: Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reason: Daytona.

If you were given the choice of taking Jimmie Johnson or the field to win at Dover this weekend, which would you take?

Nate Ryan: The field. It’s been two years since the last top five at Dover for Johnson, and he hasn’t finished on the lead lap there since his May 31, 2015 win, either. He probably hasn’t lost his edge, but the dominance has dissipated.

Dustin Long: The field. Could see Martin Truex Jr. winning.

Daniel McFadin: I’ll take the field because answering with Jimmie Johnson is frankly boring.

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte: Denny Hamlin showing ‘remarkable consistency’

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Things have been going relatively well for Denny Hamlin on the track in 2018.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway sixth in points. Through five races, he’s finished outside the top six once (17th, Las Vegas).

NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan discussed his season so far in addition to Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.

Letarte said Hamlin has displayed “remarkable consistency.”

“Denny Hamlin is in my mind a super star driver that I know I am guilty of leaving him out of super star conversations,” Letarte said.

Ryan pointed to mistakes on pit road that have prevented Hamlin from enjoying more success this season and in his career overall. His result at Las Vegas was the result of a speeding penalty.

“Five races this season, four pit mistakes,” Ryan said. “He overshot his box at Daytona, he did that at Fontana, he sped in the pits at Phoenix. While I think they’ve had speed, I think that team is still stumbling in the same ways it has in the past. Unless they correct that, I don’t know if they’re championship level yet.”

Hamlin heads to Martinsville where he has won a career-best five races.

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Trevor Bayne on Charlotte Roval: ‘You have to be on your game’

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Rain washed out the second day of Goodyear tire testing Wednesday on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval. Goodyear has tentatively scheduled May 1 as a make-up test date.

Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson took part in the test Tuesday.

“I just took some slow pace laps and got a feel for the race track,” Bayne said in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t anxious because I was never going to go out there and make qualifying laps. We worked our pace in and our plan, we stuck to it. I felt really good by the end of the day.

“You have to be on your game, that’s for sure. You can’t really let your guard down anywhere. There’s no room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it pretty quickly. If you try to do something and it doesn’t work, you’ll pay the price. It’s going to be a survival race. … If you’re smart, you take care of your car and you don’t make mistakes, you’ll have a really good shot at the end for a good finish. I enjoyed it. It was a challenge for me – something new – and I enjoyed that part of it.”

Organizational tests at Charlotte will be in July. There will be two different sessions. Each team is allowed to test at one of the two sessions, which will be July 10 (rain date of July 11) and July 17 (rain date of July 18).

The Charlotte Roval hosts the final race of the first round of the Cup playoffs on Sept. 30 on NBC.

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NASCAR issues two fines for unsecured lug nuts at Auto Club Speedway

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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

No other penalties were announced.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Drivers to watch, favorite sports upsets

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to look forward to this weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan from the “Big Oak Table” in Charlotte.

What to expect from today’s show.

  • The same names have been dominating the headlines in the first five races in the 2018 season. We will take a look at some of the other drivers to be on the lookout for as the season rolls on.
  • One of NASCAR’s most historic tracks is up this weekend – Martinsville! We’ll check out some of the recent drama “The Paperclip” has provided ahead of the race.
  • In the spirit of March Madness, our panel will tell us about their most memorable sports moments, as well as some of NASCAR’s biggest upsets.
  • Plus, The Indianapolis 500 will have a new home in 2019. We’ll have all the details on NASCAR America.

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.