Steve Letarte

NBCSN

NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET, features Ryan Newman at the Hall of Fame

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Ryan Newman joins Marty Snider, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty from 6-7 p.m. ET today on NASCAR America from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Newman, whose in in the playoffs because of his win at Phoenix earlier this year, will discuss:

  • His journey to NASCAR, which includes a memorable story about how he got to his first big meeting at the track.
  • How his Richard Childress Racing team is preparing for this year’s playoffs.
  • He & wife Krissie’s mission to protect animals through their Rescue Ranch organization.

We’re also taking fan questions for Newman to answer during the show. Send your question using the hashtag #AskRyan.

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 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Steve Letarte: Kyle Larson laid foundation for Michigan win earlier in race (video)

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We all know how Kyle Larson made the race-winning move on the final restart of Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400.

But on Tuesday’s NASCAR America, NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte said Larson laid the foundation for the win even earlier in the race.

“While that last restart was very impressive, and without a doubt was the moment that the 42 actually won the race, I think it started way earlier in the race,” Letarte said. “About the 75 percent mark, we had a lot of leaders running on the race track under green and it was pretty stretched out.

“The 78 of Martin Truex Jr., who at this point looked like he had the race under control, came to pit road for four tires. He drew the 2 of Brad Keselowski with him, but not the 42 (Larson). The (42 crew) decided to leave the 42 on the racetrack, stuck with their guns and strategy, and it ended up paying off.

“When the 22 came to pit road and debris from his car created the next-to-last yellow, that was an important point because that’s what the 42 needed. The decision to pit was pretty easy for fuel, but I think the tough decision was how many tires. (Crew chief) Chad Johnston made a very gutsy move, he put four tires and I think that made a big difference.”

 

NBC Sports Group partners with MRN for Xfinity race broadcast at Watkins Glen

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NBC Sports Group and Motor Racing Network will partner to present NASCAR Xfinity Series race coverage from Watkins Glen International, at 2 p.m. ET Saturday, August 5 on NBCSN. Featuring a collaboration of NBC Sports Group and MRN’s expertise covering live NASCAR races, Saturday’s race telecast will be called from multiple vantage points throughout the historic 2.45 – mile road course in Watkins Glen, NY.

NASCAR on NBC race announcer Leigh Diffey (@leighdiffey), and Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte (@steveletarte), will call the race from NBCSN’s traditional broadcast booth above the start-finish line. In addition, MRN announcer Mike Bagley (@TheMikeBagley), as well as NASCAR on NBC analysts Jeff Burton (@Jeffburton) and Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman), will each contribute to the race telecast from three individual locations around the track.

In total, NBCSN’s lap-by-lap coverage of Saturday’s race will be called from four different vantage points, offering viewers comprehensive coverage from NBCSN’s broadcast team strategically positioned around the road course. Bagley will be stationed in “The Esses” along the track, and will report as the cars make their way through the preliminary turns. Kligerman will catch the cars next, in the “The Carousel,” and Burton will add perspective as the cars maneuver through “Turn Six.” The differing vantage points will allow NBCSN to cover the on-track battles first-hand, throughout the course.

“The final road course of the season is the perfect location for this unique presentation,” said Jeff Behnke, Vice President of NASCAR Production, NBC Sports Group. “The four-point perspective, with our veteran road course specialist Leigh Diffey behind the mic, will add a compelling element and fresh viewpoint to the telecast.”

“I’m excited to bring the traditional radio perspective to NBCSN’s XFINITY telecast,” said Bagley. “Road course racing presents a unique and challenging opportunity to provide turn-by-turn in-depth analysis.”

Serving in their customary race day roles, NASCAR on NBC pit reporters Marty Snider (@HeyMartysnider),Kelli Stavast (@Kellistavast) and Dave Burns (@tvdaveburns) will contribute coverage, from pit road.

The Motor Racing Network’s traditional live radio broadcast of Saturday afternoon’s race from “The Glen” will also be available across MRN’s nationwide network of radio stations as well as live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

Select members of the NASCAR on NBC broadcast team join The Morning Drive, on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Wednesdays at 9 a.m. ET, to review and discuss the latest NASCAR news.

NASCAR ON NBC

In 2017, NBC Sports Group will present the final 20 NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, final 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series events and select NASCAR Regional & Touring Series events.

NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR programming also includes NBCSN’s daily motorsports show NASCAR America, coverage of NASCAR’s Awards Ceremonies, the annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony, as well as original programming specials. NBC Sports Group concluded the 2016 NASCAR season presenting more hours of trackside coverage and programming than ever before.

In 2016, NBC Sports Group continued to innovate and entertain race fans with 630 hours of NASCAR programming, including interactive watch parties, documentary specials and new shoulder programming, in addition to its 366 live trackside hours from 22 different states. In 2016, overall consumption of NASCAR content on NBC Sports’ Digital properties was up 50% vs. 2015, and NASCAR on NBC’s social platforms generated a triple-digit increase in video views, as well as double-digit increase in fan base and impressions compared to the 2015 season.

Bump & Run: Are Chevrolet teams in trouble with playoffs looming?

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Is Chevy in trouble after hardly contending at Pocono and scoring the fewest top-10 finishes in the last four races among the manufacturers?

Jeff Burton: Chevy lost a major asset when Stewart-Haas Racing left. I think it would be unrealistic and look at their numbers and expect their numbers to be as good as last year. The other problem I have is if you look at the number of wins that have come from Hendrick Motorsports, by far the majority of those wins have come from one team. That’s no disrespect to any other team, but the facts don’t lie. The facts are that the 48 team has carried Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas last year helped carry Chevrolet. They don’t have the number of teams and the teams they have, they don’t have as many good teams as they had last year.

Steve Letarte: My concern is, not to get too technical, but with the shifting at Pocono and the RPM range that used to be a Chevrolet track. For some reason it is going away. When I look at the teams they support, it looks really fragmented. They have Hendrick Motorsports, they have Chip Ganassi Racing, they have Richard Childress Racing. RCR, while they’ve won two races, we don’t see them leading many laps and competing for wins week in and week out. Hendrick and Ganassi’s production has just been average. I do think that Chevrolet has to go to the drawing board with their approach and decide whether it’s time to condense some of their efforts and by efforts I purely mean financial dollars. Would they be better to support less cars and put more money behind them?

Nate Ryan: It isn’t too late, but there definitely are some portentous signs that a tough playoffs could loom. Richard Childress Racing has been erratic (and mostly down) since the wins by Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon. Hendrick Motorsports has victories and consistent top-10 speed, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. detailed its recent deficiencies after Pocono. Chip Ganassi Racing seemed on the upswing until the past two races, which again have been critical barometers. There still is time to get things righted, but it’s been a tougher summer than anticipated.

Dustin Long: Not liking how Chevrolet teams have run lately, but they still have time to get things turned around and have multiple teams challenge for a championship.

Has Kyle Busch replaced Kyle Larson as being the co-championship favorite with Martin Truex Jr.?

Jeff Burton: Temporarily. These are moving targets. If I had to put my money today on somebody, yes, it would be Kyle Busch. As good as Kyle Larson and his team were when they were their best, he still won only two races. To win this championship, you’re going to have to beat people that have won a lot of races. I still wonder when you get into that pressure-filled, playoff-winning championship time, it’s different. I wonder where they are  compared to those other teams that have been there and done that.

Steve Letarte: Here’s the truth. What I’ve learned after breaking down the last two or three seasons is I’m not going to tell you the championship favorite until about race four of the playoffs because it doesn’t matter who is good now. It truly matters who finds the right package in the last four or five races. Right now, Martin Truex Jr. has to be the favorite. Kyle Busch has got to be on the list. My four are very simple: Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson.

Nate Ryan: Definitely. He has one fewer win, but Busch is matching Larson in most major Loop Data categories, and his No. 18 team has been top notch the past three races at a critical juncture of the season when many teams begin rolling out their best cars.

Dustin Long: Yes, but it doesn’t matter at this point. The championship four won’t be set for three months. Kyle Larson’s team has dipped a bit lately and it is concerning, but they still have time to recover. Also, at this point a year ago, many viewed Martin Truex Jr. as the title favorite and he didn’t even make it to the championship race.

Will Joey Logano make the playoffs?

Jeff Burton: It’s hard for me to say that Joey Logano is not going to make the playoffs. The evidence says he won’t, but my racing intellect tells me that they’ll find a way. If I look at the numbers and I look at how they’re running and the things they’re going to have to do, I would say no but I don’t believe that they’re out of it. I don’t think they have to win a race. I still think there’s enough turmoil in the tracks coming up that it only takes one of those teams ahead of them to have a couple of bad races and if they can run well, I still think they can get themselves in. You think about the races coming up, Watkins Glen, Bristol, Darlington, there’s some very difficult races coming up.

Steve Letarte: No. Because they’re not fast enough. They’re not executing enough. They’re not scoring enough points. The only way the 22 makes the playoffs is to win Richmond. That was way easier in years past when 15 drivers didn’t care where they ran at Richmond. When you go to Richmond right now, those 15 other drivers care where they won. So winning the last race at Richmond is nowhere as near as easy as it used to be.

Nate Ryan: He has been so good on road courses the last few years, it’s feasible Logano could carry his No. 22 Ford to a win at Watkins Glen (where he won in 2015). He might be able to wrestle the car to wins at Bristol and Richmond the same way. But a victory seemingly would require a swing for the fences by Logano’s lagging team, which seems better suited to improving by getting the basics right.

Dustin Long: Don’t see it happening. Not enough speed. With the new format giving drivers incentive to race harder with so many playoff points available, his path won’t be easy.

Bump & Run: Examining race for final playoff spots, who raises most concern

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NBC Sports’ Steve Letarte Slugger Labbe, Nate Ryan and Dustin Long discuss this week’s hot topics.

Who are you most concerned about making the playoffs: Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth or Clint Bowyer?

Steve Letarte: I actually feel that it’s a coin flip between the three. It’s hard to believe that we’re this far in and Joey Logano, from the outside looking in, I don’t know what the summer funk that they’re in is, but it’s real. They seem to continue to struggle. Matt Kenseth, the news of just this last week of not coming back to the 20 car, I don’t know if that’s going to change the way he’s been driving or take the pressure off. He actually looked much better at Kentucky until the last-lap crash. Clint Bowyer has been kind of close but no cigar. I really don’t know. I think that’s going to be a fascinating race over the course of the summer. I think it just comes down to a few good decisions and a few fortunate breaks.

Slugger Labbe: Joey Logano. Team Penske is lacking speed since the encumbered win at Richmond. NASCAR has tightened up the inspection process for the teams and this has seemed to have affected the Ford teams the most. The best chance for Joey to win will be this weekend at New Hampshire; otherwise this team will have a long road ahead to Richmond 

Nate Ryan: Matt Kenseth. Last week’s revelation that he isn’t returning to Joe Gibbs Racing could be a rallying cry for the team … but history shows it usually goes the other way for lame-duck drivers in their final seasons. Kenseth assuredly will give it his all, but the No. 20 Toyota already has lacked speed this year relative to teammate Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. It’s hard to see Kenseth securing a playoff spot in his final season at Joe Gibbs Racing as the internal atmosphere with this team figures to become more difficult, particularly the longer he remains without a ride for 2018.

Dustin Long: Joey Logano. The lack of speed from this team in recent weeks is worrisome. Without that speed, it will be hard to win races. With additional winners likely, that will mean fewer playoff spots via points and drop Logano further behind for the cutoff. This team has been in pressure situations before but it often had more speed in those cases. Let’s see what this team can do now.

What team not in the spotlight you are keeping an eye on?

Steve Letarte: This driver is going to be in the spotlight at some point, the driver of the No. 77, Erik Jones. I think he’s doing a tremendous job and is being overlooked because it’s easy. His teammate (Martin Truex Jr.) is so fast. He’s doing what a rookie should do, which is not make the news. I haven’t seen him wreck anyone. I haven’t seen him wreck himself. I haven’t seen a lot of rookie mistakes.

Slugger Labbe: AJ Allmendinger. AJ can send the playoffs into madness with a win at Watkins Glen but the team has to provide a solid race car and must eliminate the mechanical and pit road issues. New Hampshire marks the final race on a playoff track before the playoffs begin. What will you be looking for this weekend as you gauge playoff teams?

Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin. It’s been an unusually quiet season, but the fourth place at Kentucky Speedway shows he’s poised for a breakout. Everyone is expecting Kyle Busch will end JGR’s winless drought, but Hamlin seems to stand just as good of a chance, particularly at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (where he has dominated before).

Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick. They’ve had some struggles in the switch to Ford this season but this is a seasoned team that knows how to win in pressure situations. Don’t overlook this team when the playoffs start. I want to see in the coming weeks if this team builds momentum and shows more speed.

New Hampshire marks the final race on a playoff track before the playoffs begin. What will you be looking for this weekend as you gauge playoff teams?

Steve Letarte: In years past, I think this was a very accurate question because there were not a whole lot of other things for the playoff teams to be racing for over the points, but I think the playoff points have almost nullified this question. I don’t think this race at New Hampshire is any more important to Kyle Larson or Martin Truex Jr. than next week’s race or at Watkins Glen or Bristol because of what’s at stake, those potential playoff points. Without a doubt, they’re going to want to leave New Hampshire with a good notebook but with this traction compound put down, I think that’s going to drive the storyline at New Hampshire more than what car is good or bad. This system is different. We’re learning as we go over the course of the summer.

Slugger Labbe: New Hampshire is a very hard race track to adapt to. Restarts and mechanical grip for the long run are very important. A lot of the teams already locked in the playoffs will use the first New Hampshire race as an experiment to find the best set up as they prepare for the fall race at New Hampshire, which is the second race of the playoffs. I’ll be watching for the teams that can maximize both keys to running well there. 

Nate Ryan: In the past, this race would have been a prime opportunity for qualified teams to gamble on setups (such as the No. 48’s aggressive experimentation with lower tire pressures in the July 2014 race). But with stage racing, that luxury is gone, so it should be a more accurate barometer of where teams are at the halfway point. It also has been five years since a Hendrick Motorsports car won at New Hampshire, and it bears watching if the team is any closer to ending that trend.

Dustin Long: I will keep an eye on Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. They both should be good this weekend and it will be important for them to be so, especially if they don’t win before the playoffs begin and enter with few playoff points. That will mean they will have little margin for error in the first round, which includes New Hampshire, to advance. If they struggle this weekend, that could be a troubling sign.