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Ty Dillon has a few ideas the sport can do for fans

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Ty Dillon was asked Friday about the sport’s status, bringing more fans to NASCAR and what else can be done for existing fans.

“I have a lot of thoughts on it,” Dillon said.

And he proceeded to share a few of his ideas. Here’s what he had to say:

“I think if you look at Charlotte last week for the 600, we had great attendance and an amazing race. And viewership has been up most of the year this year for our sport. As technology grows, we’ve got to do things different. Sitting still in the stands is just not the way that the world is going to keep going. I think the fact that we’re taking out stands isn’t as bad of a thing as if we can find new ways to bring fans to the track in just a different way.

“I think we can take out stands and add entertainment decks and change the outlook. I think tracks are doing a good job of adding more motorhome parking for fans. That’s the high-end kind of side, but we need more for the college kids to sit by the track, listen to a concert, and watch the race. We need multiple dimensions of entertainment at our sport. We’ve got to get them here, because once they get here, they love our sport. Our sport is incredible. It’s one of the best live sports there is.

“So, taking out stands doesn’t need to be seen as a negative. We’ve just got to find an approach to keep whether it’s standing room or a party deck or like at Indy where they have, I think it’s the (Snake Pit). We need to do that everywhere and not just confine our fans to sitting in the stands. As a young person myself, you go to concerts and parties and people want to move around. They want to see different angles and it’s the way that the mind is kind of growing with the younger ages. You’ve got to be able to entertain them at multiple levels so, if they can move around to different parts of the track and it’s more of an open atmosphere.

“If I were to rebuild a track, I’d build a short track or a mile-size track with no grandstands but find a way where the track is viewable from all standing sections and then find ways to make money in that way. And, I am no track promoter. This is just a dream of a race car driver, but I think we’ve got to continue to find new ways to entertain.”

Dillon also had other ideas for tracks, saying:

“I think (Pocono, which will host a Cup doubleheader weekend next year) has always been the first to say hey, we’ll take on something new. And it’s worked out.

“I think more tracks should be aggressive in approach as far as trying something new. It worked out for Charlotte last year with the Roval. That was a great race.

“I was running this morning and I know we have a road course (at Pocono). And that’s an interesting thought if we, way on down the road, (ran the) triangle (one day) and then we did the road course the next day.

“I think we’ve just got to keep finding new ways to entertain. Our sport doesn’t need to go to the same tracks the same weekends, I think, every weekend every year. I think we’ve got to give new opportunities.”

Dillon had other ideas on what could be done for fans not at the track, noting:

“I think another thing that would be cool for the future of our sport is if we could live stream from inside of every single car. If we had an in-car camera in every single car and each driver could live-stream that view from their social account, I think that would be big. It creates that interaction. Now we get back to our phones and we go through and see and we can answer questions that they might have seen and we could replay it and go back through it with them.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have in-car cameras in every single car these days, and provide more specific information for the specific fan. You can stream every minute of every sport on your phone right now. And the more access we give to a younger crowd, the more we’re going to attract that younger crowd.

We have a sport that we can put people inside the car, and we’ve got to use it. We’ve got to use it to our advantage. We’ve got to use some kind of communication to put a driver communicating to a fan from inside the race car during the race. Whether everybody complains about it or not, it’s going to take us to another level as far as the future goes.”

Denny Hamlin hopes teams don’t shoot selves in feet with pit guns

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Denny Hamlin is the hottest driver on the Cup circuit. He has two wins – including Saturday night at Bristol – as well as two runner-ups, and a third- and fifth-place finish in the last six races. He’s also moved up to third in the rankings in that string.

But Hamlin isn’t taking anything to chance, particularly some of the smallest details – such as loose lug nuts and wheels.

Hamlin appeared Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On-Track” show and was asked about how not only his team, but also other Cup teams, can overcome the loose lug nuts and wheels issues.

Hamlin said a significant part of the problem – particularly at a place like Bristol Motor Speedway – is pit guns, which are allocated and issued in a pre-race lottery by NASCAR, rather than have teams use their own guns.

MORE: Denny Hamlin earns hard-fought win over Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol

Hamlin does not like that system and explained why:

“(Bristol) puts probably some of the biggest loads we have on our tires. Truth be told, over the last two years since we’ve had these guns issued to us, they’re not capable of getting all the wheels tight, they really aren’t.

“It’s a lottery whether you get a gun that’s good enough to get ‘em tight. Through JGR, Stewart-Haas and other teams that have documented it, in the spring race there were over 20 loose wheels. This is not just a team thing. It’s just that the equipment is not quite up to par as far as what it’s capable of.

“We keep track of all the guns and how good they are and how bad they are. It’s a lottery system of whether you’re going to get (a good or bad one). It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you can hold the gun on there and it’s just not going to get the torque quite tight enough.”

Hamlin experienced a loose wheel that forced him to pit under green on Lap 186 of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, leaving him two laps behind the leaders. Hamlin had another loose wheel on Lap 374 and pitted while running 10th.

Thus far this season, in addition to several loose wheels in races, Hamlin’s team has also been penalized four times for loose lug nuts after races: Fontana, Bristol spring race, Chicagoland and the July race at Pocono.

This isn’t the first time Hamlin has publicly complained about pit guns and loose lug nuts and wheels.

NBC Sports has reached out to NASCAR for comment.

Check out what Hamlin said about that after Saturday night’s race in the video above (Hamlin talks about this issue starting around the 6:00 mark).

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Preliminary entry lists for Xfinity, Trucks this weekend

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While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

There are 39 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

There is no driver listed yet for the No. 117 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET FS1)

There are only 28 Trucks listed for the entry list.

All seats are filled.

Click here for the entry list.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. thanks all who have ‘lifted us up’ since plane crash

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. issued his first public comments Monday since he and his family survived a plane crash last Thursday afternoon at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport.

Earnhardt offered thanks to “everyone who has lifted us up with phone calls, messages and prayer since last Thursday. We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries, including our daughter, our two pilots and our dog Gus.”

Earnhardt also thanked the pilots, emergency personnel, law enforcement and hospital staff.

He stated that wife “Amy and I continue to be very appreciative of the privacy extended to us to process everything. It has been important to do that together and on our own time.”

Earnhardt stated that because of the ongoing investigation “we will not be speculating or discussing the cause of the accident.”

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected this week. Ralph Hicks, a senior investigator for the NTSB said in a briefing last Friday that “the airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right wing landing gear. You can actually see the right wing landing gear collapsing on the video (from nearby buildings). The airplane continued down the runway, off to the end, through a fence and came to a stop … on highway 91.”

Both pilots have been interviewed and Hicks stated that what they said was “very consistent” with what the video showed. Hicks also said investigators had talked to the Earnhardt family.

NASCAR America 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Recapping Hamlin’s Bristol win

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs on NBCSN at a special time, from 6-7 p.m. ET, and will recap Denny Hamlin’s win at Bristol.

Steve Letarte will be joined by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and A.J. Allmendinger to discuss Hamlin’s win and other storylines.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch 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 for the special start time at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.