NASCAR America: How NASCAR will change in 2018 with young vs. veteran drivers

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The 2017 NASCAR Cup season has only been over for eight days, but already teams are moving into high gear to get ready for 2018.

Numerous changes will occur, including a number of drivers having new homes when the Daytona 500 rolls around in mid-February. There will also be drivers who aren’t coming back, like the retired Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Danica Patrick, whose last Cup race will be the Daytona 500. And who knows where Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth will wind up.

On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte spoke about many of the changes in personnel for next season, including newcomer William Byron, Alex Bowman replaces Earnhardt, Erik Jones switches to Joe Gibbs Racing, Aric Almirola replaces Patrick, Bubba Wallace replaces Almirola at Richard Petty Motorsports and several others.

“It’s just the cycle of the sport and it will play itself out,” Kyle Petty said. “In a few years we won’t be talking about Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon except for what they did for the sport, but not that we miss them, we appreciate what they did for the sport but now we have guys like Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, guys like that.”

Dale Jarrett agreed with Petty:

“Most of the time we get to see our top drivers perform for a long period of time and maybe for longer than most other sports. … We generally get to see drivers get close to 20 years at the top of their sport.

“The sport isn’t going away by any means. This is things that have happened over the years, but over the last three years, we’ve lost a lot of the faces. But I’m really looking forward to these young new drivers coming on and who’s going to take the sport and run with it now.”

For more, check out the video above, as well as this video below that focuses on how the young drivers and things such as stage racing and the playoff format will force some of the sport’s longtime veterans to revise some of their strategy on-track.

“When you take out the veterans that have a certain way to race on the race track and replace them with very young (drivers),” Letarte said. “I think the way the races go down and how the competitors attack each other on the racetrack is going to change as well.

“It’s not just who is going to win these races, but how they’re going to win these races? What moves now and what level of aggression have become acceptable? I think that we learned this year that is a moving target every race, if not every year.”

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.

Watch the above video more


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

Photo: Charlotte Motor Speedway
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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.