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NASCAR America at 5 pm ET: Kurt Busch interview, Las Vegas preview and more

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NASCAR begins a West Coast swing in Las Vegas this weekend. We will look ahead to the action in the desert and discuss how race teams will approach the weekend now that the track will be part of the playoffs. Marty Snider hosts and is joined by analysts Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman. Show airs at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
On today’s show:
We’ll have an in-depth and personal conversation with Kurt Busch, and Parker Kligerman continues our analysis when he jumps in the NBCSN Race Simulator – with Jeff Burton alongside – to give us an iRacing look and evaluation of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The No. 22 team is looking for a new perspective after a difficult finish to last year. Dave Burns talks with crew chief Todd Gordon about their start to the new season.
Jeff Burton breaks down the evolution of Atlanta winner Kevin Harvick. How has he developed from his feisty, younger driving days to a more mature leader and a champion of the sport?

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

Bump & Run: Will youth or experience be served on West Coast Swing?

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Youth was served in the Daytona 500 with Austin Dillon’s win and experience was rewarded in Atlanta with Kevin Harvick’s victory. Who you going with at Las Vegas? Youth or experience?

Nate Ryan: A mix of both. Last season, Martin Truex Jr. won ahead of Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. Expect a similar blend of the generations Sunday.

Dustin Long: Youth. The kids are coming.

Daniel McFadin: I expect the young guns to play more of a factor this weekend fighting for the win but with a veteran still coming out on top.

Jerry Bonkowski: Experience. I look for guys like Jimmie Johnson, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Atlanta winner Kevin Harvick as being the most likely drivers to win in Sin City.

After making it another year — and getting through rain without weepers — is it time for Atlanta Motor Speedway to be repaved before next year?

Nate Ryan: A repaving should be considered, but the reasons is apart from the surface’s age or condition. While it’s rewarding to appreciate the strategic dance of a 500-mile race where every pit stop is critical, Atlanta has lacked for memorable finishes since Carl Edwards slammed past Jimmie Johnson in 2005. A repave might not be the full answer but maybe a reconfiguration also should be considered?

Dustin Long: The bottom line is what is best for the sport. Is it worth the risk of having track issues in the future by not repaving it? Is it better to wait to see if technology improves to make a repaved surface one that is racier than seen at many tracks? 

Daniel McFadin: Go ahead and repave it. Atlanta’s first memorable photo finish between Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte came in 2000, three years after the reconfiguration/repave in 1997. If we want a return to those kind of races, it might be prudent to bite the bullet.

Jerry Bonkowski: This is a Catch-22 situation. Drivers like the “character” of AMS’ aging racing surface, which hasn’t been resurfaced for 21 years. At the same time, the track is in serious need of a resurfacing. A new surface would likely make the racing faster and obviously much smoother. It’s time.

What will you be watching for during the West Coast Swing?

Nate Ryan: If Hendrick Motorsports can shake off the malaise from Atlanta, and if the younger set can shine in races that don’t demand as much tire management.

Dustin Long: How well Stewart-Haas Racing runs. Aric Almirola nearly won the Daytona 500, and Kevin Harvick won at Atlanta. Will the SHR Fords be as strong in the next three weeks?

Daniel McFadin: I’m interested to see if Martin Truex Jr.’s dominance on 1.5-mile tracks can continue. He won this race last year and he finished fifth Sunday at Atlanta after starting from the back.

Jerry Bonkowski: To see drivers like Jimmie Johnson (35th place), Ty Dillon (34th) and Kasey Kahne (29th), who are off to a rough start after the first two races, bounce back, particularly Johnson, who does well at all three of the West Coast swing tracks (Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fontana).

How much of a concern is the air gun situation that took place at Atlanta?

Nate Ryan: It bears watching, but it’s reasonable to expect it’ll take several races to get the new equipment fully sorted. If this is still a discussion by the midpoint of the regular season, NASCAR has a major problem. And as Martin Truex Jr. alluded to Sunday, if it somehow were to impact a playoff race, then it’s a debacle.

Dustin Long: Anything new is going to have issues. That doesn’t placate teams impacted by the situation. If air gun issues continue, teams will be in an uproar. Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks.

Daniel McFadin: I’m willing to wait it out a few more races, but teams should expect NASCAR-provided equipment to hold up longer.

Jerry Bonkowski: Four teams out of 36 that started Sunday’s race were impacted. Let’s give it another three to four races to see if the problems continue — and then leave it to NASCAR to fix any issues. It could be something simple as teams having difficulty adapting to the new air guns. Time will tell.

NASCAR America returns to NBCSN on Monday, February 26

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NASCAR America, NBCSN’s daily motorsports show, returns for its fifth season this Monday, February 26 at 5 p.m. ET. The season premiere will provide complete coverage of this weekend’s triple-header action at the year’s first mile-and-a-half track, Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR on NBC reporter Marty Snider (@HeyMartysnider) will host NASCAR America next week, from NBC Sports Group’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn., alongside NASCAR on NBC analyst and the “Mayor” of NASCAR Jeff Burton (@JeffBurton), and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte (@SteveLetarte).

The 2018 NASCAR America season will feature regular appearances by NASCAR on NBC’s newest crew member Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@Dalejr), as well as Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett (@DaleJarrett) and auto racing icon Kyle Petty (@KylePetty). NASCAR on NBC’s pre- and post-race host Krista Voda (@kristavoda), and studio host Carolyn Manno (@carolynmanno), also return as regular hosts of NASCAR America.

NBCSports.com’s lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan (@nateryan), features reporter Rutledge Wood (@rutledgewood), in addition to reporters Kelli Stavast (@KelliStavast), Dave Burns (@tvdaveburns) and Parker Kligerman (@pkligerman) will also return to contribute regular reports and features.

In 2018, NASCAR America will also bring back its extended series My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows. Crossing the country alphabetically from Alabama to Wyoming, the favorite series will showcase and celebrate local race tracks and racing communities in all 50 states across the country.

Airing each weeknight at 5 p.m. ET, NASCAR America will include in-studio driver interviews, regular interviews with crew members from race shops across the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series, regular live i-racing simulator segments, and weekly deep dive Scan All segments with audio from each race weekend.

NASCAR America originates from NBC Sports Group’s headquarters in Stamford, Conn., with contributions from NBC Sports Charlotte, in Charlotte, N.C., Burton’s Garage, in Huntersville, N.C., and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, allowing the show to report directly from NASCAR’s heartland.

NASCAR America is also available on the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TV’s.