NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode IX: Jeff Burton, Eddie Gossage

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On the day of Mark Martin’s last NASCAR race – the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway – Jeff Burton visited his old friend while confronting a grim reality.

It might be Burton’s last race, too.

“I went down to see him, and I started crying,” Burton said on the ninth episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, which was released Wednesday morning. “Walking back to my car, I couldn’t help it. I knew how hard he had worked. I knew the things we had done together. I didn’t know what was happening with me. I wanted to experience what he was experiencing.”

The retirement plan didn’t work quite how it had been envisioned by the NASCAR veteran, who had wanted to race for one more full season in 2014 before retiring to join NBC Sports. But he also explains on the podcast why the timing still couldn’t have worked any better for him and his new and former employers.

It’s one of many insightful anecdotes and perspectives offered by Burton, who brings analysis to the daily “NASCAR America” on NBCSN and will return to the booth with Rick Allen and Steve Letarte in July to call the final 20 Sprint Cup races of the season.

Among the topics discussed by the South Boston, Virginia, native who scored 21 victories in NASCAR’s premier series in a career stretching from 1993-2014:

–Putting Kyle Busch’s victory at Martinsville Speedway and the likelihood of the defending series champion winning at every track (“He’s in uncharted territory. There’s nothing to compare it to, and that’s what makes it difficult.”);

–The mental anguish that has been Matt Kenseth’s 2016 season (“They can put their shoes on, but they can’t tie them. They just can’t seem to finish a race off.”);

–The postrace media obligations of a Cup driver;

–What the transition to being in the media has entailed;

–How does a driver know when to retire? (“I didn’t.”);

–Why the 2006 Chase still haunts him;

–What’s new for NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage in 2016;

–Who the favorites are at Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR races this weekend.

Wednesday marks 19 years since Burton won the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Texas, and he’ll be inducted Thursday night into the track’s Hall of Fame as its first two-time winner.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage was on hand to present Burton with that first winner’s trophy, and he provides his memories from the past 19 years during the second half of the podcast, including those inauspicious first two seasons.

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 19: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage speaks during the press conference for the unveiling of "Big Hoss" the largest HD video board in the world at Texas Motor Speedway on March 19, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage speaks during the news conference for the unveiling of “Big Hoss” HD video board on March 19, 2014. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

“I don’t know who said a good thing about this place” when it opened, cracked Gossage, noting he “spent tens of thousands of dollars in therapy trying to forget it.” Other topics:

–The moment he couldn’t tell if Jeff or Ward Burton won the first race;

–How Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s opinion changed Texas’ surface;

–The impact of the new lower downforce package;

–Gossage’s case for 500-mile races;

–The impact of the absence of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart on ticket sales, and why Gossage is optimistic about the future stars of NASCAR.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking below or download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.  It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here.

 

Jordan Anderson in fiery crash in Talladega Truck race

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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Jordan Anderson was airlifted to an area hospital after being involved in a fiery crash during Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Anderson’s car caught fire in the middle of a pack of drafting trucks. Flames burst from three areas around the truck as Anderson tried to slow the vehicle and move onto the track apron. The truck hit the inside wall. Anderson climbed from the vehicle in a cloud of smoke as it came to a stop.

Anderson, 31 and a resident of Forest Acres, S.C., was transported to the infield medical center before being airlifted. NASCAR confirmed Anderson’s trip to the hospital.

Fox Sports reported that a team member said Anderson had burns.

Anderson is a part-time driver in the Truck Series. He has a top finish of 14th this season.

Starting lineup for Talladega Cup race: Christopher Bell wins pole

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Six playoff drivers will start in the top 10 for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Christopher Bell won the pole for the race Saturday with a speed of 180.591 miles per hour. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.

MORE: Talladega Cup starting lineup

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

Playoff drivers starting in the top 10 are Bell, Larson, Hamlin, Briscoe, Ross Chastain (sixth) and William Byron (ninth).

Noah Gragson, who qualified seventh, is replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms.

Ryan Blaney, starting 19th, is the lowest playoff driver on the starting grid.

 

Christopher Bell wins Cup Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway

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Playoff driver Christopher Bell won the pole position Saturday for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Bell, 11th in the playoff standings and below the cutline entering Sunday’s race, ran 180.591 mph to edge second-place Kyle Larson at 180.516.

Playoff drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots.

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

The race is the second in the second round of the playoffs. Any playoff driver who wins the race will automatically advance to the next round.

Joey Logano leads the playoff standings.

Noah Gragson, replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms, qualified seventh.

The race (2 p.m., ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

 

 

Sunday Talladega Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

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