NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode VII: Kyle Larson

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Kyle Larson, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver in the midst of an extended homecoming, is the primary guest on the seventh episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast.

Larson, a native of Elk Grove, California, has been spending much of his time on the West Coast since the 2015 season ended, celebrating the holidays in his native state and then enjoying the Phoenix Open golf tournament. He also is attending a family wedding (where his 14-month-old son, Owen, will be the ringbearer) this week in California before Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana

The 23-year-old is a fan of being a fan at other professional sporting events – he has tweeted photos from his courtside seats at Oracle Arena for Golden State Warriors games (which he scored through a friend who’s a financial advisor).

“It was really cool,” he said. “The Warriors are unbelievable right now, especially Steph Curry and how great of a player he is. To sit courtside and watch him is really cool.

“Going to any other basketball game, when a player hits a 3-pointer they get a round of applause. But when Steph or Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer, that place would go nuts.”

Larson also attended a Charlotte Hornets game recently as a guest of point guard Jeremy Lin, who came to the Chip Ganassi Racing shop last year for a tour.

“Jeremy is a really good guy, super, super normal,” Larson said. “I was blown away by how normal of a guy he was.”

As an Asian-American driver in NASCAR, Larson can relate to the impact Lin has made in diversifying the NBA’s fan base

“I definitely have noticed more Asians at the racetrack wearing my race gear,” he said. “It’s cool to play a small role of helping out the sport.”

During the podcast, Larson also discusses:

–The rigors of traveling the NASCAR schedule with a young family and how Owen is adapting to his immersion in the racing lifestyle;

–How he and girlfriend Katelyn Sweet handle parenting on the road;

–How members of his generation feel so comfortable with expressing themselves on social media and why it’s important for Larson to be so blunt about his performance on Twitter;

–Evaluating his 2016 performance and the outlook for Fontana.

To hear those discussions and more, listen to the podcast by clicking below, or download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here.

A breakdown of the Kyle Larson interview with time cues for easy referencing:

5:30 – Not a golfer, but the Phoenix Open was fun

7:00 – Courtside seats for the Warriors …

8:30 – … but he once was a Kings fan

10:00 – The atmosphere at Oracle Arena

10:30 – Being Jeremy Lin’s guest at a Hornets game

10:50 – “Jeremy is a good guy, super normal”

11:50 – The Asian-American sports connection

13:30 – On the joys of traveling with a baby boy

15:15 – A girlfriend who also grew up in the rigors of racing

16:00 – Immersing Owen in the racing experience

17:00 – “I don’t want to spoil him, but he’ll get to do what he wants.”

18:00 – “Before he turned 1 year old, he was making race car noises”

19:15 – How kicks beneath the covers decide who awakes in the middle of the night

20:15 – The disarming nature of social media for Millennials

22:00 – “I try and take the blame as much as I can”

22:50 – On hearing drivers destroy their teams on the radio

23:45 – His team appreciates the Twitter candor

24:15 – The state of the No. 42 Chevrolet

26:00 – Outlook for Fontana

27:15 – Why he likes the bigger speedways

28:15 – “I hope Owen doesn’t eat the ring” as ring bearer in uncle’s wedding

nascar on NBC podcast logo

In the second half of the podcast, NASCAR Talk managing editor and writer Dustin Long joins to evaluate what has been learned through the first four races of the Sprint Cup season.

Among the topics:

–The dominance of Sprint Cup powerhouses over the past two seasons and if there is any hope for the underdogs (covered in this week’s “Upon Further Review” feature by Dustin);

–What the future might hold for Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing after his victory at Phoenix International Raceway;

–The abysmal start to the 2016 season for Clint Bowyer and its potential repercussions.

Again, you can subscribe to the podcast (and receive automatic downloads via your smartphone) by clicking here.

 

 

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