The NASCAR Cup playoffs begin this weekend and it’s time to dissect them to death.
NASCAR America analysts Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty shared what they thought were the biggest storylines entering the first round of the playoffs.
Jarrett is looking at how different the first three tracks are in Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover, how teams will points race and whether Jimmie Johnson and the rest of Hendrick Motorsports can get its act together.
Petty’s three storyline are whether Martin Truex Jr. can continue to dominate, will drivers have to rely on playoff points to advance if they have poor round performances and if Johnson will perform, especially with Dover in the first round.
“He’s not running in the top 10,” Petty said. “Dover will be a big, big sign for where Jimmie Johnson will be in this (playoff) I believe.”
Petty attribute’s Johnson’s poor performance the last few months to general woes at Hendrick Motorsports.
“They are as an organization … they’re not as good this year as they were last year,” Petty said. “We can talk this summer slump and we can talk ‘seven-time’ as much as we want to. But you’ve got to be in the game at some point in time and they have not been in the game.”
Johnson finished eighth at Richmond for his best finish since winning at Dover in June. Between the two races he never finished better than 10th.
“They don’t seem to have speed,” Petty said. “It seems OK to talk about Joey Logano and Brad (Keselowski) not having speed, but if you say Hendrick doesn’t have speed or Jimmie Johnson doesn’t, oh my gosh, the world’s coming to an end.”
Watch the video for the full discussion. In the video below, Nate Ryan shares his top storylines for the playoffs.
Back in April Erik Jones told reporters at Daytona International Speedway that when it comes to friends, he brings his to the track. He doesn’t get too close to his fellow drivers in the garage.
On NASCAR America, Jones talked with Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett about the origins of that mindset.
“My dad was always big on it, because at first when I started out my racing career in go karts I just wasn’t that aggressive,” Jones said. “He was like, ‘we bring our friends to the race track. You need to go out there and get aggressive. If you’ve to move someone out-of-the-way, do it.'”
Since then, Jones said his philosophy “never changed.”
“We show up, it’s a late-model team, it’s me a three guys so it’s like, ‘I’ve got all my buddies I need right here,'” Jones said.
Watch the above video for more.
After a feature looking at his upbringing in Byron, Michigan, Furniture Row Racing driver Erik Jones spoke with NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Marty Snider about the early years of his racing career.
The journey to his NASCAR career began with a yard cart that his late father, Dave Jones, brought home one day when he was 3.
“I rode that all day long around the yard,” Jones said. “Winter time would and we had like a gravel circle driveway in front of our house. When it would snow over I would get the kart out and ride it around in the snow because I could slide and I thought that was pretty cool. I would get it stuck about every five minutes out in the snow.”
Jones would then get out of the kart and find his dad in their barn to come out get him out.
Now 21, Jones also discussed how much his dad was involved in his career until his death in June 2016 after a battle with cancer.
He also explains how he’s never stayed in any series for more than one year in his career.
Watch the video above for the full discussion.
“I sure as (expletive) hope that’s all out of our system.”
That’s what Kyle Busch had to say over his radio after he finished 15th, a lap down in the Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.
Busch’s day went south after the first stage thanks to two pit miscues the sent him two laps down.
Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. dominate the field to win his fifth race of the year and advance to the second round of the playoffs.
In the latest “Scan All,” True and crew chief Cole Pearn recap their day, which saw them bounce back from their own pit road mistakes.
Here are other highlights from this week’s “Scan All.”
- “Can’t drive in a straight line. Something’s not right with the front end.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just before he made contact with the outside wall. A commitment line violation resulted in Stenhouse finish multiple laps off the lead.
- “Tell the 1 (Jamie McMurray) I don’t know what happened there but we both got the short end of the stick.” – Ryan Newman after contact between him and McMurray sent McMurray spinning on a restart.
- (Expletive), that 24 (Chase Elliott) can be so much (expletive) faster than us.” – Kasey Kahne after being told he was two laps down.
Watch the above video for more.
Erik Jones, the rookie driver for Furniture Row Racing in the No. 77 Toyota, joined NASCAR America Wednesday for a special show from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The 21-year-old driver won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title and is teammates with Martin Truex Jr.
With Marty Snider, Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte, Jones discussed the challenges and lessons he’s faced in his first full-time season in the Cup Series.
“The biggest (milestones) for me were trying to win a race and making the playoffs,” Jones said. “Obviously, making the playoffs didn’t happen. … I look back at the last few seasons and rookies that have been in the sport and it’s so hard to win races now. You just don’t see rookies do it a lot.”
Jones also discussed finishing second to Kyle Busch in the Bristol night race and his relationship with the driver who brought him into NASCAR beginning with the Truck Series.
“A lot of times when I was racing in Trucks and Xfinity and Kyle would come to race I’d always run second to him,” Jones said. “I’m like, ‘you know what the problem is? This is the guy who taught me how to race these cars. So I’m good at all the same tracks he’s good at. Except he’s been doing about 10 more years than I have.”
Watch the video for more.