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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 96: Clint Bowyer on improving the race fan experience

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As a high-energy Type A personality who always is seeking ways to stay occupied, Clint Bowyer occasionally spends down time at racetracks keeping tabs on fans’ down time.

During a recent episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver explained how he likes touring the infield during race weekends to understand the fan experience.

“It’s about the experience,” Bowyer said. “It’s not about a race or practice or qualifying. It bums me out when I see people at a lull or void in our program. They just look like they don’t know what to do with themselves.”

Bowyer does think there have been some improvements made this season, starting with the reconfiguring of the fan midway with the return of the merchandise haulers at many tracks. That has helped rebuild a “carnival-type feel” to make fans feel entertained, Bowyer said. “It’s not enough in today’s day and age just to be entertained now and then. You’ve got to have something for these people every single moment, every minute they’re at the racetrack.”

He also approves of Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s hosting and promotion of concerts with bands such as the Chainsmokers.

“They’ve learned how to capture that young audience,” he said. “Everyone says our demographic is getting older, getting long in the tooth. If you want to capture kids, 30-year-old guys, that’s me. It’s going to take a lot to keep me entertained for three days. You’ll have to have stuff going on, a party going on. I want to be entertained the whole time I’m there, and by the way, I’m a race fan. I want to see cars on the track.”

Bowyer owns a dirt late model race team and said the dirt racing experience also sets a good example.

“Those Late Models, they’re going to put on a great show for the fans,” he said. “There will be moments in that race that people will be talking about for weeks to come. That is something we’ve got to work on in our sport. We’ve got to create more moments that people come and talk about for weeks to come.”

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The free subscriptions will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

Kyle Busch is fastest in final NASCAR Cup practice at Chicagoland

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JOLIET, Illinois – Kyle Busch put some icing on his pole position for Sunday’s Tale of the Turtles, being fastest in the final NASCAR Cup practice session Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Busch covered the 1.5-mile oval with a speed of 180.252 mph, nearly one mph more than second-fastest Austin Dillon (179.438 mph).

Third through 10th were Brad Keselowski (179.289), Chase Elliott (179.134), Clint Bowyer (178.542), Kevin Harvick (178.359), Denny Hamlin (178.312), points leader and defending Chicagoland race winner Martin Truex Jr. (177.871), Joey Logano (177.643) and Ryan Blaney (177.515).

Of the 16 drivers in the NASCAR Cup playoffs, eight were in the top 10 and 12 were in the top 17. Four playoff drivers that struggled for speed were Kurt Busch (22nd, 176.016 mph), Matt Kenseth (23rd, 175.793), defending series champion Jimmie Johnson (24th, 175.701) and Kasey Kahne (27th, 174.803).

Only 36 of the 40 qualified drivers took to the track for the final practice.

Click here for the full final practice speed grid.

NASCAR America: Scan All — the best from Richmond

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Relive the sights and sounds from the Federated Auto Parts 400 that saw Kyle Larson take the checkered flag in the final race of the regular season.

Among highlights:

  • “We ain’t going home without a fight tonight,” Mike Bugarewicz, Clint Bowyer‘s crew chief.
  • “Hey Joey, let’s have a good one tonight, let’s bring her home,” team owner Roger Penske. To which Joey Logano replied, “10-4. Tonight’s the night. We’ll make it happen. We know what we’ve gotta do.”
  • “That would be a guaranteed caution on Lap 1,” Todd Gordon, Joey Logano’s crew chief, about how cars were four-wide on the parade lap, but didn’t take the chance of starting the race that way.
  • “Right here, this place needs to be a dirt track,” Austin Dillon said. “I’m putting it in for a vote. If y’all are listening, NASCAR, Richmond needs dirt on it.”
  • On the caution called for Matt Kenseth braking hard that resulted in smoke from his tires: “Dumbest caution ever,” said Jimmie Johnson‘s crew chief, Chad Knaus. Added Kyle Busch, “Really, you had a guy in the fence last week and you keep it green? Hah!”
  • “You’re about to get your feelings hurt pretty bad, but just let her go,” Knaus telling Johnson after he was passed by Danica Patrick.

And perhaps the best line of the night, courtesy of Clint Bowyer after he was caught in an accordion wreck on the entrance to pit road due to a wayward ambulance that stopped right at the commitment line:

  • “That stupid (expletive). We got (expletive) damage. NASCAR is a (expletive). An ambulance is in the damn pit. What the (expletive). This is ridiculous.”

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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not entering Chicagoland — NASCAR Cup playoff edition

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As the 10-race NASCAR Cup playoffs begin, attention turns to the 16 playoff drivers and what type of momentum they have going into this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of this race. Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick are both two-time winners there, while Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin have single wins there.

Cup – Who Is Hot

No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (Hot)

  • Finished 20th at Richmond, wrecked in OT while running top 5, led 198 laps
  • Passed for the win within 3 to go in three of the last four races
  • Finished in the top-10 17 times this season, the most
  • Won 18 stages this season, the most
  • 53 Playoff Points this season, includes 15 points for clinching the regular season
  • Wins at Las Vegas, Kansas, Kentucky and Watkins Glen
  • Led a series high 1646 laps in 2017, led the most laps in eight races
  • Won this race last year, only finish better than ninth in 11 races
  • Only driver to finish top 10 in all six 1.5 mile races this season, winning three of them

No. 42 Kyle Larson (Hot in 2017, Decent at Chicago)

  • Won at Richmond, first win NOT on a 2.0 mile track
  • Four wins in 2017, had one entering this season
  • Finished second in seven races this year
  • Finished top 10 in two of his three starts at Chicago, best of third in 2014

No. 18 Kyle Busch (Hot)

  • Finished ninth at Richmond, sixth straight top 10 finish
  • Two wins this season, both came in the last six races (Wins at Pocono and Bristol)
  • Won at least one stage in six of the last eight races of 2017
  • One Chicago win, 2008
  • Finished top 10 in the last five races at Chicago
  • Finished top five in the last three 1.5 mile races

No. 20 Matt Kenseth (Hot)

  • Finished 38th at Richmond, six top-10 finishes in the last eight races, all but Michigan, flat tire in OT 
while running 3rd and an ambulance problem at Richmond
  • One Chicago win, 2013
  • Finished top 10 in the last four races at Chicago (his only starts there with JGR)

No. 2 Brad Keselowski (Warm, Great at Chicago)

  • Finished 11th at Richmond, fifth straight result outside the top 10
  • 11 top fives, tied for the most in 2017
  • Two Chicago wins, 2012 and 2014
  • Finished top 10 in the last six races at Chicago

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson (All about the wins)

  • 8th at Richmond, broke a streak of six races without a top 10 finish
  • Two top 10s in his last 11 races (10th at New Hampshire, 8th at Richmond)
  • Three top 5 finishes this season, all wins
  • Best Chicago finish is second, three times
  • One of three active winless tracks (Kentucky and Watkins Glen)
  • Only two finishes worse than 12th in 15 Chicago starts

No. 77 Erik Jones (Hot, Good in NXS at Chicago)

  • Finished 6th at Richmond
  • Finished top 10 in the last six races, best streak of his career
  • First Cup start at Chicago
  • Two NXS wins at Chicago

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (Hot, Good at Chicago)

  • Finished fifth at Richmond, third straight top-five finish (longest ever streak of top-fives is four races)
  • Top-five finishes in nine of the last 12 races, including two wins
  • One Chicago win, 2015
  • Finished top 6 in the last three Chicago races

No. 4 Kevin Harvick (Hot, struggled lately at Chicago)

  • Finished 15th at Richmond
  • Five fewer top fives and top 10s in the regular season this year compared to last year
  • Two Chicago wins, the first two races in 20o1 and 2002
  • Finished 20th and 42nd the last two years at Chicago

No. 41 Kurt Busch (Hot, Ok at Chicago)

  • Finished 4th at Richmond, third straight top five finish
  • First time he has scored three straight top 5s since 2015 (career longest streak if four races)
  • Best Chicago finish in 16 races is third in 2015, finished top 10 in three of the last four races there

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Has two wins this season)

  • 19th at Richmond, last top 10 was his win at Daytona
  • Zero wins in first 157 starts, two wins in last 17 starts
  • Only one finish better than 17th at Chicago, eighth in 2013

No. 31 Ryan Newman (Pretty Good lately)

  • Third at Richmond, top-10 finishes in the last four races, his best streak since Spring 2015
  • One Chicago win, 2003
  • Top-10 finishes in four of the last six at Chicago

No. 24 Chase Elliott (Starting to turn things back around)

  • Finished 10th at Richmond, only three top 10s in the last six races
  • One series start at Chicago, finished 3rd last year
  • Won Xfinity race at Chicago in 2014


Cup – Who Is Not

No. 3 Austin Dillon (Has a win but is NOT HOT)

  • Finished 21st at Richmond
  • Won on fuel mileage at Charlotte
  • Only four top-10 finishes this season, had 10 at this point last year
  • Best Chicago finish is 14th in three starts

No. 5 Kasey Kahne (Not, Not, Not… won)

  • Finished 12th at Richmond, only one top-10 finish in the last 16 races, win at Indy
  • Six DNFs because of accidents this season
  • Won at Indianapolis, ending a 102-race winless streak
  • Best Chicago finish is third, twice
  • Finished seventh at Chicago last year, only top 10 in the last four years there

No. 21 Ryan Blaney (Mixed)

  • Finished 18th at Richmond
  • Nine top-10 finishes this season but none have come in back-to-back races
  • Only two top-10 finishes in the last eight races
  • One Cup start at Chicago, finished fourth last year

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (Decent)

  • 14th at Richmond, fifth straight top-15 finish
  • 13 top-10 finishes this season, four more than this point last year
  • One top 10-finish in the last six races at Chicago

Even though they failed to make the playoffs, there are three other drivers that fans will likely be watching as potential playoff spoilers:

No. 14 Clint Bowyer (Disappointing 2017)

  • Finished 24th at Richmond, contact behind an ambulance
  • Was 88 points out of a playoff spot
  • Finished runner-up three times in 2017
  • 10 top-10s in 2017, had only three in all of 2016
  • 11 Chicago starts, best of fourth in 2010

No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Not)

  • 13th at Richmond, last top 10 was Sonoma in June (sixth)
  • Only two top 10s in the last 14 races
  • One Chicago win, 2005
  • Did not run at Chicago last year (concussion symptoms)

No. 22 Joey Logano (Disappointing season, good at Chicago)

  • Second at Richmond, only fourth top-10 finish since encumbered win at Richmond in April
  • 10 finishes outside the top 20 in the last 17 races
  • First time he missed the playoffs with Team Penske
  • Top-10 finishes in four of the last five races at Chicago including Chicago best 2nd last year

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Cup drivers with most speeding penalties during regular season

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Trevor Bayne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. tied for the most speeding penalties with seven each during the regular season, which ended last weekend at Richmond.

Matt Kenseth was the playoff driver with the most speeding penalties with six.

The Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs start Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m., NBCSN).

Here’s a look at the most speeding penalties this season:

All Drivers

7 — Trevor Bayne

7 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

6 — Matt Kenseth

5 — Kyle Busch

5 — Michael McDowell

5 — Reed Sorenson

4 — Aric Almirola

4 — Clint Bowyer

4 — Matt DiBenedetto

4 — Timmy Hill

4 — Joey Logano

4 — Ryan Newman

3 — Austin Dillon

3 — Denny Hamlin

3 — Kasey Kahne

3 — Corey LaJoie

3 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

3 — Darrell Wallace Jr.

3 — Cole Whitt

Playoff drivers

6 — Matt Kenseth

5 — Kyle Busch

4 — Ryan Newman

3 — Austin Dillon

3 — Denny Hamlin

3 — Kasey Kahne

3 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2 — Ryan Blaney

2 — Kurt Busch

2 — Chase Elliott

2 — Kevin Harvick

2 — Jimmie Johnson

2 — Brad Keselowski

2 — Kyle Larson

2 — Martin Truex Jr.

1 — Jamie McMurray

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