Jeff Burton ready for new role as NASCAR on NBC analyst

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For all that is new to Jeff Burton as one of NBC’s NASCAR analysts, much remains the same from his racing days.

This weekend at Daytona International Speedway marks Burton’s debut as NASCAR returns to NBC. Burton joins race announcer Rick Allen and former crew chief Steve Letarte in the booth for NASCAR Sprint Cup races this season.

But how Burton – who won 21 Cup races and finished in the top five in points four times – will prepare for each of the races remains similar to how he prepared as a driver.

Before Burton headed to the booth, he chatted with NASCAR Talk about his role and what he’ll look to offer fans the second half of the season.

NASCAR Talk: Define your role as analyst.

Jeff Burton: I view my job as an opportunity to share over 20 years of experience that I have in the sport, to kind of give a driver’s viewpoint of things that are going on during the race, things that are going on during the week. I was lucky enough when Jack Roush and then Richard Childress, they allowed me to be more than just a driver. I also understand the business of the sport. I understand racecars, so I can bring a perspective about more things than just driving.

NT: Instead of being in the car, now you’re in the TV booth overlooking everything on the track. How does your view change going from driver to analyst?

Burton: I don’t think it has. My focus is still on the competitive side of things. For me to do my job, I still have to look at it as a competitor. I have to look at it from a competitor’s eyes to be able to tell the story, to be able to tell what’s really going on either right in front of you or behind the scenes. I don’t want to quit being a racecar driver mentally. I still want it to be about the competition and look at it from a driver’s standpoint and a car owner’s standpoint. That, to me, is my job.

NT: How do you have to prepare for this?

Burton: I think it’s very similar, but I will tell you this, I don’t 100 percent know. I’m still learning. What I used to do to prepare from a driver’s perspective was I watched a bunch of video, the last couple, three races. I’ll still do that. I still take notes. I’ll take notes as soon as the race is over about things that happened so when we go back to that racetrack you can remember those things. Racetrack knowledge is a lot of the job. Drivers change, cars change, tires change, the racetracks, yes, they get a little older and change a little bit, but they change less than the rest of it. Every racetrack has its own personality. Every racetrack changes throughout an event.

NT: How will you balance criticism of competitors while also maintaining relationships with those in the garage to keep abreast of the latest changes in the sport?

Burton: I believe when I signed up for the job, I signed up to tell the truth. I also believe you can say almost anything but how you say it is very important. Jack Roush perhaps did more for me in my racing career than anyone, but they’ve run terrible. They have some problems. It’s not my job to cover that up. It’s my job to try to understand it. They know they have problems. I think you have to be respectful in talking about it. A lot of it is looking with people with respect first and trying to figure out what’s going on or what just happened. People know that I’m being objective, and it’s my job to call it like I see it. It’s also my job to analyze it. That falls on me to analyze it correctly. When I don’t, I’ve got to be man enough to say I didn’t and make the apology and make it right.

NT: What do you hope to get across to fans?

Burton: I’m excited about varying viewpoints that we have in the booth, that we have on pit road. All the little things. Yes, I know that Jimmie Johnson took the lead but how did he do that? Answering the question why. That was the first meeting I had with NBC. That was it. They said your job is to answer the question why. Why and how.

 

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings