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

 

All-Star Race, Open entry lists

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It’s officially All-Star Race week.

For the first time the annual exhibition event that awards $1 million will be held at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET Wednesday on FS1).

Twenty drivers will compete in the 140-lap, four-stage main event. Sixteen drivers currently make up the field following Cole Custer’s win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway.

Three drivers will qualify for the main event via the All-Star Open, the 85-lap preliminary race that’s divided into three stages. The winners of all three stages will advance. The remaining driver will advance via a fan vote.

Here are the entry lists for each race.

All-Star Race 

Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star Race: Those who won points races in 2019-20, past All-Star Race winners and previous Cup champions.

Drivers who have clinched an All-Star Race spot: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the entry list.

All-Star Open

Twenty-two drivers are entered in the preliminary race.

Notable drivers include Clint Bowyer, Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, rookies Tyler Reddick, William Byron and John Hunter Nemechek, as well as Bubba Wallace.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight

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Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, says that series officials will keep an eye on Harrison Burton and Noah Gragson moving forward but that the sanctioning body feels it is in a “good place” with those drivers after their fight last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Gragson punched Burton after Burton repeatedly shoved him in the garage area as they discussed their contact on the track late in Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway. A NASCAR spokesperson said Friday night that no penalties were anticipated.

Asked about where matters stood between NASCAR and the two drivers, Miller told “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday morning:

“I personally wasn’t in the post-race conversations. (NASCAR Xfinity Series Managing Director) Wayne Auton does a great job with that and the report that I got from him is he talked to some of the crew members that were involved and obviously both of the drivers. I think we got to a good place. They’re going to have some words this week and try to make sure we’re in a good spot when we start the weekend next weekend in Texas. We feel like we’re OK.

“This is an emotional sport and there’s going to be things like that that crop up. It’s not a great situation for us to deal with as a sanctioning body, but we also want the emotion in the sport. That’s what makes it so special. Those things are unfortunate, but we do know from time to time those are going to happen. If we feel good about the conversations we’ve had, in a lot of cases we’re going to move on from that and keep an eye on those individuals moving forward.”

Race and Sports in America: Conversations to air at 8 p.m. ET Monday

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Damon Hack will host two roundtables with athletes and former athletes for a conversation on race and sports in America. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and the NBC Sports Regional Networks.

Appearing with Hack will be Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, NBA superstar Steph Curry, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, NFL player Kyle Rudolph, pro golfer Troy Mullins, former tennis player James Blake, Major League Baseball player James Rollins and Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith.

Among the topics discussed are: The conversations they’ve had with family in the last few months, what they hope things will be like in a year’s time, the level of optimism vs. pessimism and their experiences.

 

 

Winners and losers from Kentucky

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WINNERS

Cole CusterHe entered Sunday’s race well out of a playoff spot at 25th in the points. He took advantage of a series of events in the final laps to score a dramatic victory and earn a playoff spot.

Martin Truex Jr.Lost the lead on the last lap but recorded his first top-five finish since his Martinsville win last month.

Matt DiBenedetto He was 18th with 14 laps to go and finished third.

Christopher BellSeventh-place finish was his fourth finish of 12th or better in the last six races.

Austin Cindric Had not won on an oval in the Xfinity Series before sweeping both series races at Kentucky Speedway.

LOSERS

Matt KensethA week after finishing runner-up at Indianapolis, he spun twice and finished 25th at Kentucky.

Ryan PreeceFinished last for the second race in a row. He was eliminated in a pit road accident at Indy and by transmission issues at Kentucky. He has failed to finish five of 17 races this season (29.4%).

Jimmie JohnsonWas third on a late restart when contact with Brad Keselowski spun him. Instead of contending for his first victory since 2017, Johnson finished 18th and had a little warning for Keselowski.