NASCAR America — Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett: Winners that break rules should be DQ’d, face six-figure fines

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Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett have seen and had enough.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, the two NASCAR on NBC analysts and former NASCAR Cup drivers reacted strongly to some of the penalties that were handed out earlier in the day by NASCAR.

In short:

Which brings us back full circle to Burton and Jarrett, who made their feelings on the penalties very clear.

Burton:

“I think it’s time to start disqualifying people. I think it’s time in today’s world where Denny Hamlin won that race and by him winning that race, that kept someone else from winning the race, and no one got those five points moving into the playoffs.

“It’s time to disqualify people. It’s time to say, ‘If you’re illegal, here’s the rules.’ Whether you like the rules or not, that’s not the question. These are the rules as written. If you are found to break the rules, and it’s not a mistake, it 100 percent happened  — and even if it is a mistake, you have to be responsible for them.

“It’s time to start taking wins away. It’s time to give the points to the person that won the race. Any team that wins and did it illegal didn’t win the race. Every short track in the country takes wins away, but we can’t do it here.”

Jarrett:

“I agree 100 percent with Jeff that we’re going to start disqualifying people. And the two of us can understand that: Jeff and I had wins taken away in the Xfinity Series, the only two people that I know of that had that happen since 1982. Mine was at Michigan (and Burton’s was in Pulaski, Virginia). So, it can be done.

“It’s not fair that on Wednesday, we find out that the winner of the race has cheated — has bent the rules. I hate the word ‘cheated,’ but everybody’s trying everything they can.”

Jarrett also called for a new system where cars should be inspected before they go to victory lane. If the car passes at-track, but violations are found when the winning car is taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina, Jarrett said throw the book at the offending teams.

“Then if they want to take the cars back and find something wrong, then it’s a huge financial penalty — I’m talking hundreds of thousands of dollars — to put a stop to this.”

Another point brought up today: Why are penalties attached to drivers and not teams?

Check out the video below for more:

 

Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 at Miami, Brad Keselowski leads Championship 4 drivers

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Kyle Larson won Stage 1 of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, dominating by leading 67 of the stage’s 80 laps, holding a nine-second edge when he took the checkered flag.

Meanwhile, here’s how the four Championship 4 drivers finished after the first 80 laps of the scheduled 267-lap event: Brad Keselowski is second, Kyle Busch is third, Kevin Harvick is fourth and Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.

Truex, with six of his seven wins this season coming on 1.5-mile tracks like Homestead-Miami, wasted little time to take the lead away from pole-sitter Denny Hamlin.

The first caution of the race came out on Lap 6 when Joey Gase appeared to blow a tire and hit the Turn 1 wall hard.

During the subsequent pit stop, the only Championship 4 driver to hit pit road for four new tires was Keselowski, putting him off-sequence of the other contenders.

The move worked, though, as Keselowski quickly climbed from ninth on the restart on Lap 9 to third by Lap 12 and second by Lap 14.

Larson, who also pitted with Keselowski, took the lead away from Truex on Lap 13 and held on for the remaining 67 laps of the stage.

On Lap 38, Jimmie Johnson blew a right rear tire and came to pit road for four new tires. Even though there was no caution, all four championship contenders pitted over the following two laps.

On Lap 58, Harvick passed Truex and into third place for the first time in the race, zeroing on Keselowski in second.

Johnson got into the wall again on Lap 60, even though there was no caution, and sustained moderate damage, pitting for four tires and fuel.

Kyle Busch passed Harvick to take over third on Lap 77.

Sixth through 10th were Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer.

Watch: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fans on what the driver means to them

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The fan base of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is large and devoted.

Those fans, affectionately called “Junior Nation,” has voted Earnhardt as NASCAR’s most popular driver 14 years in a row.

Justin Hartley of NBC’s “This is Us” is a member of Earnhardt’s fan base. The actor narrates the above essay on the close relationship between the driver and his fans.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks to Bob Costas about his career, legacy before final Cup start

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Sunday marks Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s last start as a full-time Cup driver in NASCAR.

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas sat down with the 14-time most popular driver before the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to get Earnhardt’s thoughts before he climbed in the No. 88 Chevrolet for the last time.

Earnhardt addressed what he hopes his legacy will be after 20 years in the sport as a driver, including his impact on attitudes towards concussions in sports in general.

Earnhardt, who will join NBC Sports in 2018, also talked about what life has in store for him in the near future.

Earnhardt also made sure to credit his devoted fan base for making his career possible.

“I understand the driving force behind my success and opportunity in this sport, whether it be inside the car or outside the car, is all because of Jr. Nation,” Earnhardt said. “This year we’ve tried our best to show appreciation to them.”

Watch the above video for the full interview.

 

Furniture Row Racing going for Cup title after year of success, tragedy

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It’s been a historic year for Furniture Row Racing, the Cup team that has its base of operations in an old water bed factory in Denver, Colorado.

With Martin Truex Jr. piloting the No. 78 Toyota, they won a team record seven races and a series record six races on 1.5-mile tracks. Combined with a dominating performance under the new stage racing format, Truex has put the team in its second Championship 4 in three years.

But it’s also been a season of perseverance and tragedy.

NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan narrates the above video essay on the story of Furniture Row Racing’s 2017 season.