NBC Sports

Getty Images

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway

Leave a comment

Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Kevin Harvick. His first oval win since Kansas Speedway a year ago validates the team’s 1.5-mile speed in the playoffs.

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch. Mark it down, he wins and advances to the next round to continue his quest for a second title.

Daniel McFadin

Martin Truex Jr. keeps his foot on the throat of the competition and gets his sixth win of the year at a 1.5-mile track.

Jerry Bonkowski

Kyle Larson is starting 13th but expect him to get to the top five within the first 20-30 laps. He needs a strong run to give him momentum heading into the Round of 8 and he gets it Sunday.

Bump & Run: Who makes the cut at Kansas, who doesn’t?

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Which four drivers will fail to advance in the playoffs after Kansas?

Kyle Petty: Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr (points deficit too great to make up in one race), Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson (for these two I think it comes down to stage points).

Dale Jarrett: Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. Even though Kenseth has the capabilities of qualifying well and getting the stage points, they haven’t been able to finish off races. I think Ryan Blaney is fast enough to get stage points and can manage a top-10 finish and keep him ahead of Jimmie Johnson.

Nate Ryan: Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray. I think Blaney and Kenseth have shown the speed to be worthy of advancing, but the consistency has been absent.

Dustin Long: Ryan Blaney, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jamie McMurray. While Blaney has finished no worse than 11th in the last three 1.5-mile tracks, he’s scored two stage points in those races combined. Doesn’t give much confidence he’ll score enough to stay ahead of those behind him Sunday.

Why do you think or don’t think Kyle Busch will advance?

Kyle Petty: Kyle Busch makes it! Two reasons: 1. He has speed, others that are ahead of him have struggled on 1.5-mile tracks. 2. He can score stage points and ultimately win! He’s proved that all year.

Dale Jarrett: Kyle Busch runs up front all day and might even get somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 stage points and then is going to finish in the top three, if not win the race. I think that is enough to get him in there.

Nate Ryan: I think he could win Kansas, and at the very least, I think he will amass enough stage points to propel him back over the cutoff line.

Dustin Long: Wouldn’t surprise me if he won or scored another top five at Kansas to advance. I think the odds are much greater he advances even with his deficit.

What is the best place for Talladega in regards to the playoffs? Regular-season finale? Beginning of a round? Middle of a round? Last race in a round?

Kyle Petty: I like where it is in the middle of a round as a fan. It can help your driver or at least give you hope your driver can come back from a bad Talladega. As a driver I would want it as the first race in a round. So no matter what happened I had two races to recover. As a fan or driver, I hate it as a cut race because, as we saw Sunday, so much that happened is because of plain old luck, good or bad.

Dale Jarrett: I wish we would pose this to the drivers and see where they might want it. I honestly think it’s in the perfect spot right now. I don’t like the idea of it being the first race in a round. I think there is more attention to it and more pressure put on it by being right there in the middle. I think it gives a driver and a team opportunities to look at that first race, which this year was Charlotte, and try to see about getting something done as Martin Truex Jr. did and not have to worry about the consequences of Talladega. Then it also gives you an opportunity on the back end to see where you are and what you need to do. My crazy self as a fan and a media person would love to see it at some point in time be either one of two things — the final regular-season race or the final race of the season to determine the champion.

Nate Ryan: I think Denny Hamlin and the Drivers Council are correct in moving it to the regular-season finale. That seems the best of all worlds – offering protection for drivers already with victories while providing an opportunity for a long shot hoping to snatch a spot. And for winless drivers trying to earn a berth on points, no one likely would be safe – which also feels right.

Dustin Long: I like where it is, but if people want to move it, make it the opening race of the playoffs when then are 16 playoff contenders. That could enhance the next two races as those with bad finishes at Talladega scramble to make it to the next round.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Talladega

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Talladega SuperSpeedway.

Nate Ryan

Dale Earnhardt Jr. He goes out at Talladega the same way his father did, 17 years later to the day.

Dustin Long

Landon Cassill. Days after finding out he won’t be back with Front Row Motorsports, he wins as Ford continues to dominate restrictor-plate racing.

Daniel McFadin

Dale Earnhardt Jr. does what Jeff Gordon did in 2015 (Martinsville) and Tony Stewart in 2016 (Sonoma) and earns his potential last Cup win at the one track you would expect him to.

Jerry Bonkowski

Brad Keselowski. If not him, look for another Ford driver to take the checkered flag.

Amy Earnhardt to drive pace car for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final Martinsville race

Getty Images
4 Comments

Amy Earnhardt will drive the pace car and lead the field to the green flag for the Oct. 29 First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, the final Cup race for husband Dale Earnhardt Jr. at that track.

“I was very excited when the track approached me about driving the pace car,” Amy Earnhardt said in a statement from the track. “Martinsville is one of Dale’s favorite tracks and seeing how happy he and the team were in Victory Lane in 2014 is something I’ll never forget. I appreciate the track letting me be a small part of Dale’s last race at a place that means so much to him.”

Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell said having Amy Earnhardt drive the pace car is a way to give back to Dale Earnhardt Jr. for all he has done for Martinsville Speedway and NASCAR.

“The Earnhardt family has meant so much to Martinsville Speedway through the years, Dale in particular, and we wanted for him to be able to share his last Cup race here with the person closest to him,” Campbell said in a statement from the track. “Dale has often talked about how much Amy has meant to him and this is one small way in which we can say ‘thank you’ to the both of them; to Dale for what he has meant to the sport and to Amy for what she has meant to Dale.”

The First Data 500 is the opening race of the Round of 8.

 

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Hall of Fame show with Danica Patrick

NBCSN
Leave a comment

Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and originates from the NASCAR Hall of Fame as part of our weekly driver interview shows.

Today’s featured guest is Danica Patrick, who will be sitting down for the hour with Krista Voda, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.

As she prepares for her final start at Talladega Superspeedway with Stewart-Haas Racing, Patrick will discuss her race preparations, her driving roots, her future plans inside and outside racing and her impact on fans and diversity in NASCAR.

She also will be taking questions from fans who submit them by using the hashtag #AskDanica.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. 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.