NBC’s broadcast of Southern 500 includes throwback theme from announcers to apparel

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Retro paint schemes are only part of the throwback celebration with the Southern 500’s return to Labor Day weekend for the first time since 2003.

NBC, which will broadcast Saturday’s Xfinity race and Sunday night’s Sprint Cup race from Darlington Raceway, also will add to the nostalgia.

Among the nods to years past in Sunday’s broadcast:

  • Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett will call the race at some point, taking over briefly for NBC’s crew of Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.
  • Features during the Countdown to Green show include Squier’s essay on Darlington Raceway, Kyle Petty talking with Bill Elliott and Chase Elliott on the 30th anniversary of Bill Elliott’s Southern 500 win that also earned him the Winston Million bonus, and Jeff Burton going around the track in the NBC Sports Toyota Camry On Track Car while Petty is on track as well in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 car from 1971.
  • Booth and studio talent will appear in 1970s-era clothing.
  • Also featured throughout the weekend will be retro highlights, graphics and music.

“To bring it back on Labor Day, I think this is perhaps one of the best moves that NASCAR had made in a decade,’’ Squier said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday about the Southern 500’s return to this date.

He isn’t the only one pleased to see the Southern 500 back on this holiday weekend.

“I think it’s hugely important for the sport,’’ Dale Jarrett said. “You can’t ever go back as they say, but we’re proving this weekend that maybe you can for a little bit.’’

Said Burton: “I think it’s so important to kind of understand where you came from to be able to really understand where you’re going. What a perfect weekend to do it. The coolest thing about this weekend is it’s a time where we can celebrate the past. I think with everything that’s going on this weekend from a current standpoint, we also have a lot to celebrate what’s going on right now. If you think about the battle to make the Chase, you think about we’ve seen a lot of teams that looked really good early in the year that don’t look so good now.’’

Said Petty: “I think a lot of times we all wax nostalgically about things that went on and things that happened, but here’s an opportunity to educate fans. When you see that 17 car of Ricky Stenhouse painted up like the old Holman-Moody 17. When you see the 16 car painted up like Tiny Lund and that kid that has just been a fan since 2000 says, ‘Who is Tiny Lund?’ Then it’s an opportunity to educate fans to the history of the sport.’’

Said Letarte: “I think the word ‘education’ is a great point. My first year in the sport was 1995. I was born in 1979. I, as a huge race fan, don’t have a firsthand experience of all this past of NASCAR. When I sit at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and hear these stories and walk through the Hall of Fame and see these pieces written on these great pioneers of our sport, that educates me. I look at this weekend as an awesome opportunity for me to go back and not re-live the past because I wasn’t there to live it the first time. It’s a great opportunity for me to maybe find a little more firsthand appreciation to what has built the sport into what it is.’’

Countdown to Green begins at 3 p.m. ET Saturday followed by the Xfinity race at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC. NASCAR America Sunday begins NBC’s broadcast of the Southern 500 at 5 p.m. ET. The race broadcast begins at 7:20 p.m. ET

 

Updated entry lists for Cup, Truck at Martinsville

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Here are the entry lists for this weekend’s races.

Cup – STP 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-six cars are entered for the sixth Cup race of the year. D.J. Kennington is listed in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports entry.

Jeb Burton is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 Ford.

Click here for the entry list.

Gander Outdoors Truck – Martinsville 250 (2 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered. Those also entered in the Cup race are Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain. Bubba Wallace is entered in AM Racing’s No. 22 truck.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America Motormouths at 5 p.m. ET with Bubba Wallace

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

Rutledge Wood hosts with Kyle Petty and they’ll be joined by special guest Bubba Wallace.

Fans will have the chance to call into the show to ask questions.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online 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.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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Bubba Wallace entered in Truck race at Martinsville

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AM Racing announced Wednesday that Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 22 entry in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

AM Racing tweeted: “In an effort to advance the performance component of our program, we will be putting a different Chevrolet driver in the seat of the No. 22 Chevrolet Silverado for Martinsville Speedway this weekend.”

AM Racing stated that Wallace “has been selected with very specific objectives regarding program feedback and development. His record at the track speaks for itself.”

Wallace, who will be on Wednesday’s NASCAR America (5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN), has two wins in four starts in the Truck series at Martinsville. He won there in 2013 and in 2014. Both times he won driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Austin Wayne Self had driven the No. 22 entry in the first three Truck races of the season. He finished ninth at Daytona and followed that with a 27th-place finish at Atlanta and a 15th-place finish in Las Vegas. He is 12th in the points.