NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 86: Ato Boldon on venturing into NASCAR coverage

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Ato Boldon wasn’t familiar with the pacing of a NASCAR pit stop until recently, but the elapsed times on the wall at Joe Gibbs Racing seemed familiar.

Many were in the 10- to 12-second bracket that wouldn’t have been out of place at a track and field

“They have them all (the times) listed in the (pit crew) practice area, and you guys deal in the same sort of amount of time that sprinters deal in,” Boldon said during a guest appearance on the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “You get obsessed about finding new ways to get faster.

“Because in that sport, as well as in my sport, a hundredth of a second or 10th of a second is everything. So I’m slowly but surely starting to find the things that link two sports that you would not think have any link whatsoever.”

Boldon will explore those links as a new contributor to NASCAR on NBC’s coverage this season for four races, starting this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. He is the lead track and field analyst for NBC Sports Group, which he joined in 2007 after winning four medals for Trinidad and Tobago competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.

During his visit to Joe Gibbs Racing, Boldon tested the limits of his athleticism while helping out in pit stop practice and working out in a facility that “looks like a pro training locker room.

“Those guys are probably 11-12 years younger than me, so I was out there lifting with them, learning how to change tires, jacking up the car,” he said. “Those guys are feeling great. I’m feeling a little sore.

“I truly didn’t (know that pit crew members were athletes) Being in their gym is not that dissimilar from an Olympic training experience. These guys are pushing sleds and doing box jumps and a lot of the same lifts. It speaks to how all sports follow a common thread now. You specialize certainly, but there are certain things that all sports do.”

During the podcast, Boldon also addressed:

–How footwork and choreography to improve times in sprinting is similar to pit stops;

–His love of speed (he is the former owner of a Porsche that raced on an amateur level);

–The similarities between personalities in NASCAR and track and field.

–Being a licensed pilot (and sharing an interest in aviation with some Cup drivers).

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

Erik Jones tops final Cup practice for Brickyard 400

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Rookie Erik Jones was fastest in the final Cup Series practice session for the Brickyard 400 with a top speed of 185.845 mph.

Jones’ top speed came on his third of nine laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Completing the top five were Kevin Harvick (185.824), Ryan Blaney (185.816), Jimmie Johnson (185.487) and Jamie McMurray (185.460).

Matt Kenseth, 20th fastest, recorded the most laps in the session with 34.

Johnson had the best 10-lap average at 180.951 mph. Kyle Busch followed him at 180.864 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.

During the practice session the spotter for Harvick, Tim Fedewa, told the driver over radio that he had his hard card taken by NASCAR after the sandwich he was eating fell from his perch on the Pagoda. NASCAR confirmed it returned his hard card after practice.

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Toyotas dominate opening Cup practice at Indianapolis

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Toyotas took the top three spots and four of the top six spots in the opening Cup practice session Saturday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Denny Hamlin, driving a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, led the way with a lap of 187.414 mph. He was followed by Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., whose Toyota went 185.559 mph. JGR driver Matt Kenseth was next at 185.200 in his Toyota.

Kasey Kahne was fourth for Hendrick Motorsports, leading his Chevrolet to a lap of 185.151 mph. Kyle Larson was next at 185.002 mph in his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. The top Ford was Ryan Blaney. He was eight in his Wood Brothers Racing ride at 184.453 mph.

There were no incidents in the 55-minute session.

Final Cup practice is scheduled to go from 11 – 11:55 a.m. ET on CNBC.

Click here for full practice report

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Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch among those penalized practice time at Indy

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NASCAR announced that the teams of Jimmie Johnson and Corey LaJoie will miss 15 minutes of practice in Saturday’s first session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for being late to inspection before last weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The teams of Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon will each miss 15 minutes in Saturday’s final practice session for multiple inspection failures before last weekend’s race at New Hampshire.

Today’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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Points leader Elliott Sadler continues his quest for his first Xfinity Series championship in today’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Sadler has made five previous Xfinity starts at the historic Brickyard. His two best finishes there have come in the last two races – fifth in 2015 and sixth last year.

Sadler holds a 45-point edge over JR Motorsports teammate William Byron and a 90-point lead on teammate Justin Allgaier.

Here are the particulars for tonight’s Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:37 p.m. Green flag is set for 3:49 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 100 laps (250 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 15

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 30. Stage 2 ends on Lap 60.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 2:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Corey Cox will perform the Anthem at 3:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 3 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 90 degrees at race time with a 23 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 62 of the race’s 63 total laps. Kevin Harvick finished second, while Paul Menard was third. Busch also won the 2015 race.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying begins at 12:45 p.m.