Steve Letarte

NASCAR America: Is NASCAR ‘dumbing down’ the sport for ‘parity’?


NASCAR will see a number of changes in 2018, from Dale Earnhardt Jr. being officially retired to an even greater presence of young drivers.

There’ll also be rules changes, particularly the number of crew members that will be allowed over the wall to service race cars. One of those changes will include gas men being unable to do anything else but just fuel cars (in the past, they’ve been able to make adjustments and help out their fellow crew members, if needed).

On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty all gave their thoughts on the new rule changes, particularly the over-the-wall limits.

Here’s some of what they had to say:

LETARTE: “Going from six to five, in my opinion, I’m not a fan. I don’t like it. I liked pit stops better than there were seven (over the wall members). While parity is the goal and while the rules should be in place to give every team the opportunity to go out and compete, I don’t see how limiting the number going over pit road is helping this at all.

“Now there is no argument over safety. Less people over the pit wall is safer, there’s no argument. But going from six to five and basically making the gas man only the gas man, means the other four have to be the most elite athletes, the best of the best, and I don’t think that creates parity.

“If anything, I think it’s the opposite. I think that the biggest teams, the ones with the deepest pockets, the ones that can get the best of the best, the Tom Brady’s of tire changers or jackmen, will have a distinct advantage. If anything, I think this separates the playing field more than it levels it.”

JARRETT: “I just see this as being something I’m not going to be a fan of. We’ll see how it works out. NASCAR has done a lot of good things to enhance the competition over the years, but every year we seem to get in a cost-saving mode, these owners are going to spend whatever it takes and some people will probably make better money because of this.”

PETTY: “There’s been lots of innovations on pit road, and almost always when a change is made on pit road, it’s for safety. You’ll never hear me arguing about safety. … This is 2017, 2018. This is the way the game is played.

“But the problem I have for this announcement is parity, to change the sport and make it equal. We’re dumbing the sport down. We’re taking Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing have worked their rear ends off to develop (air) guns and things and to be better, now we’re saying, ‘That team over there, they can’t do that, so guess what, you don’t get to use it this week.’

“(That’s like) the Patriots play and the other team’s quarterback doesn’t have the same quarterback rating as (Tom) Brady, Brady doesn’t get to play because we’re just going to dumb the sport down so we play it to the lowest common denominator.

“That’s my problem with parity. We should not have it. It’s up to the teams to go out and know how to win, to work towards winning. It’s not NASCAR’s job, and I’ve never felt to make me a winner. … If I can’t do it, that’s life, dude. I go out of business. That’s life in the coffee, farm and grocery store business. It’s not their (NASCAR’s) job to equal the field. It’s my job as an owner or driver to put the right people in the right places to go out and win races.”

For all that Petty, Letarte and Jarrett had to say, check out the full video above.

NASCAR America, 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Offseason changes, Daytona 500, driver news

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Today’s edition of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Krista Voda and Kyle Petty host from Stamford, Connecticut. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte join them from NBC Charlotte.

Here is what’s on today’s show:

  • It’s eight days into the NASCAR offseason, but we’re already looking ahead to 2018. Driver movement is set to shake up the sport, schedule changes will impact the race to Miami, and new rules will force crew chiefs to get creative. We’ll focus on all of those aspects, and what effects they could have.
  • The 2018 Daytona 500 will take on a different look compared to past Daytona 500s. Our resident crew chief, Steve Letarte, will break down the differences and the preparation that needs to get worked out before February.
  • The Thanksgiving weekend generated some exciting news for a few NASCAR drivers. We’ll check it out in today’s Social Pit Stop.

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


NASCAR America: Will William Byron’s dominance in Trucks, Xfinity transfer to Cup?

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William Byron dominated the Camping World Truck Series in 2016 with 7 wins, but came up short of the championship, finishing fifth.

He was one of the top drivers this season in the Xfinity Series and ultimately did what he fell short of the year before, capturing the championship and Rookie of the Year honors.

What’s ahead of Byron in 2018 when he is a rookie in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving for Hendrick Motorsports? Could he make it two championships in a row?

On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, our team of analysts – Parker Kligerman, Steve Letarte, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty – gave their thoughts about Byron’s chances for immediate success in the Cup Series.

Check out the video above. You might be surprised by some of their answers.

NASCAR America’s Jarrett, Letarte, Petty recap 2017, make 2018 predictions

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The 2017 NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series seasons have only been over for a few days.

And while it’s understandable that on Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, analysts Steve Letarte, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty reflected back on the recently completed race seasons, they also took a very bold move:

The new season is still three months away, but our analyst team is ALREADY making predictions for 2018.

We don’t want to spoil the surprise or show their hands. If you want to hear how they’re already viewing 2018, click on the video above.

Bump & Run: Should NASCAR have penalized Denny Hamlin at Martinsville?

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Should NASCAR have penalized Denny Hamlin for wrecking Chase Elliott at Martinsville?

Steve Letarte: Absolutely not. NASCAR has been clear in every conversation I’ve ever had with them that they’ll get involved in a case like Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano when one car is multiple laps down and it’s true retaliation. When it comes to two cars running for position, whether it was on purpose or not on purpose is between the drivers. I don’t think we want the sanctioning body becoming referees. They are the officials, and they have to run the race and make sure everybody runs the race according to the rules, but as far as rough driving or not rough driving when it comes for a position on the race track, I don’t think that’s the sanction body’s position to get involved.

Nate Ryan: No. NASCAR shouldn’t penalize a driver for trying to win a race, particularly when a championship berth is on the line.

Dustin Long: Why start now? NASCAR has made it abundantly clear that if two cars are racing for the lead they’re not likely to get involved. NASCAR Chairman Brian France says this is a contact sport. So NASCAR is going to let there be contact.

What are the chances Chase Elliott makes it to the championship round in Miami?

Steve Letarte: Without a doubt, it’s going to be an uphill battle. I think when you look at Chase’s numbers throughout the playoffs, they’ve been outstanding. While Martinsville was chaotic, I think Texas will be chaotic as well. No telling what can happen at Phoenix..

Nate Ryan: He has to win at Texas or Phoenix. He still has a shot at doing the former.

Dustin Long: With Kyle Busch locked in and Martin Truex Jr. penciled in with his big points advantage, it likely leaves two spots. The question is can Chase Elliott win one of the next two races to earn a spot in Miami? I still need to be convinced about this team.

Should Joey Logano have pitted when he had a tire rub to ensure there was no caution since his teammate, Brad Keselowski, was leading in the final laps and close to earning a spot in the championship round?

Steve Letarte: I don’t think this falls on Joey Logano at all. The real question is should his crew chief, Todd Gordon, have called him into the pits unless it’s a safety situation, which then of course the driver should make the decision. Obviously, Joey Logano felt like it was safe to continue. Then it’s purely on Todd Gordon to pull him into the pits if looking at the bigger picture. To be honest, I think that’s a conversation these bigger companies need to have. It’s easy to throw stones at Todd Gordon now. Todd Gordon is hired to present the best case for the No. 22 car. He obviously felt that was to stay on the race track. Numbers would say it’s stay on the race track. Even if you spin out at Martinsville, normally you don’t make severe contact. It’s easy to say now that he absolutely should have pitted. Perhaps that’s a conversation that should have happened before now. What if a guy has an engine down a cylinder and your other car is leading? Should you just park that car so it doesn’t blow up and bring a yellow? I think that conversation is worth having at all the big teams.

Nate Ryan: Ultimately, the decision should rest with the team and driver on whether it’s worth the risk to continue (though NASCAR also could intervene). But given the playoff implications in this instance, Logano probably should have pitted and ensured his teammate gained passage to Miami.

Dustin Long: Yes. Someone in upper management should have made the call for Logano to pit. Both Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe said after their Talladega win that Martinsville was a must-win situation for them based on how the other tracks likely would play out in this round. Joey Logano’s team might cost Keselowski and his team a chance at the championship and that is inexcusable.