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NASCAR America Scan All: ‘Three in a row at Vegas. Cha-ching, baby’

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In NASCAR, drivers have to be both lucky and good – something that Kyle Busch and Adam Stevens learned at Las Vegas.

After spinning on Lap 233 while running 18th, Kyle Busch was lucky that his splitter did not get torn off the car. Unfortunately, the right front tire went down in that incident.

“It’s not going to stay together,” Busch said as he limped around the track back to the pits. “We’re gonna [expletive] go a lap down.”

“There’s nobody one lap down here, so we can afford to go one down,” Stevens replied.

Their luck held. On Lap 247, teammate Denny Hamlin spun into the grass at almost the exact spot, but his splitter dug into the grass and was ripped from the car.

“We’ll be the Lucky Dog here,” Stevens told Busch over the radio. “We have a set of stickers left. I don’t think hardly anybody on the lead lap has a set of stickers.”

With fresh tires, Busch charged up to seventh.

Here are some of this week’s highlights from Scan All:

  • “Championship run starts now. We’ve got a good car; something we can win with today. Give ourselves a good shot in Miami.” – Joey Logano
  • “I am a [expletive] 10 tight. I don’t know what we’re doing to this thing, but we might as well [expletive] start over.” – Kyle Busch
  • “Listen to me. I know it’s frustrating, but we are right in the middle of this thing.” – Jeremy Bullins, Ryan Blaney’s crew chief said after Blaney and Aric Almirola made contact on the track
  • “I know. I’ll calm down.” – Blaney
  • “No you won’t, but it’s ok. I still love you.” – Bullins
  • “It don’t matter if I speed, slide into the box. It don’t [expletive] matter. We’re going to get our [expletive] kicked when we get to the pit box.” – Austin Dillon
  • “Hey. Listen here. These guys know they were slow, ok? They know. We’re talking about it.” – Danny Stockman, Dillon’s crew chief
  • “I love everybody on this team, but we’re not going to have a shot doing this.” – Dillon
  • “Guess we know what’s wrong. Piece of [expletive] tires.” – Kevin Harvick
  • “If we could have had the lead, we’d of been fine. I just got to wait for it to come to me.” – Martin Truex Jr.
  • “Three in a row at Vegas. Cha-ching, baby.” – Brad Keselowski’s spotter

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Does Martin Truex Jr.’s Vegas finish change anything?

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Martin Truex Jr.’s team is disbanding at the end of the 2018 season, which has led to speculation that the No. 78 could become distracted before the end of the year.

Truex made a statement that would not be the case in the opening playoff race at Las Vegas. He won Stage 1 of the South Point 400 and was contending for the win with the checkers in sight. He finished third and took the points lead.

But does that change how the No. 78 should be viewed when assessing their playoff potential?

“They’ve proven to have the speed, but can they continue to have the speed throughout the playoffs? There’s nothing to point in any direction to say that they cannot,” Steve Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “All I will say is the distraction of the team closure will become louder and more noisy as they get to the end of the year.”

More: Don’t look for an immediate falloff from Martin Truex Jr. 

“What about the other 60 plus employees back in Denver? Those people are going to be looking for jobs,” Kyle Petty said. “Those people are going to want to get out of Denver sometime in November and be moving east if they are going to go to work for a Joe Gibbs or a Richard Childress or a Roger Penske or a Rick Hendrick.

“If they are going to find other jobs, if they’re closing down, that’s where the team will begin to disintegrate a little bit – begin to have cracks in it. Not what goes on at the racetrack, but the product they get to the racetrack with.”

And yet, as if winning a second straight championship was not difficult enough, Cole Pearn and Truex are now engaged in a delicate balancing act akin to jogging on a tightrope.

“Cole Pearn and Martin are doing a wonderful job managing the respect for the team and what they have next year and allowing their people to do whatever they need and somehow bringing that eye of the tiger approach” Letarte said.

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Pit stops have been one key to Brad Keselowski’s three-race win streak

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For all the focus put on individual drivers, NASCAR is a team sport.

In football, a quarterback needs to be able to read the defense and anticipate several plays ahead – but it is the team that helps execute his plan. NASCAR racing has some of those same elements, and according to NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte that is precisely where Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 team excel.

“Brad Keselowski has always been a very cerebral driver,” Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “He’s always thought how he could do it differently. How he can do it better. More than just one corner or one lap. Whether it’s pit strategy with Paul Wolfe, whether it’s getting in and out of the pit box – he seems to always be looking for an advantage.”

That is the key to Keselowski’s recent success. He has won three of the most important races of the season: the Southern 500, Brickyard 400, and the first playoff race. And he’s won them in consecutive weeks.

The driver has done his job behind the wheel, but he’s been provided the opportunity by his team.

“He did a nice job at Darlington, managing one of the toughest racetracks on the circuit, leaving himself in a position for someone else to make a play,” Letarte said. “And that other person was his pit crew. They made the play at Darlington.

“Go to Indianapolis and once again – doesn’t have the best car, needs another team member to make a play. At Indianapolis, it was Paul Wolfe that made the play … at Indianapolis, he has the freshest tires. He did get a lucky yellow at the end, but they put themselves in a position to use those tires.”

Races are won and lost in the pits. Beating Kyle Larson out of the pits at Darlington was the key to Keselowski’s Southern 500 win. But perhaps the best example of the contribution by his crew came at Las Vegas.

“The difference at Las Vegas was that it wasn’t just a moment – it wasn’t one pit call – it wasn’t one pit stop,” Letarte said. “It was domination on pit road by that pit crew all day long that gave Brad Keselowski the chance to win.”

Keselowski regularly made up positions on pit row, leaving as the leader on Laps 112, 150, 184, 218 and 234.

“The second-place car comes off Turn 2 (in) third, sometimes fourth,” Letarte said. “We saw a lot of wheel spin and trouble on the restarts, but being the leader allowed Brad Keselowski to continue to set the tone.”

It can look like luck – or perhaps, another driver hopes it is luck so that it can be discounted.

“Brad clearly found the horseshoe. Three races in a row, he’s won – he has not had the best car,” Martin Truex Jr. said from the Las Vegas media center after finishing third to Keselowski. “Obviously he hasn’t led the most laps in any of those races, and he showed up at the end with good pit stops and good short run speed.”

For more, watch the videos above.

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Katherine Legge to make first oval start at Richmond

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Katherine Legge will make her first stock car start on an oval track and third overall this weekend at Richmond Raceway driving for JD Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.

The announcement came via social media.

Legge has made two previous starts in Xfinity – both on road courses.

Legge’s first start ended 10 laps early with a blown engine at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Her second was much more successful. Legge scored a top 15 (14th) at Road America after qualifying 26th.

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NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: How Las Vegas impacts the championship

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with a look back at the chaotic playoff opener at Las Vegas.

Carolyn Manno and Kyle Petty will be joined by Steve Letarte from Jeff Burton‘s garage.

  • The Monster Energy Series playoffs got underway Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and for the third consecutive week, Brad Keselowski drove his way to victory lane. The win not only secured a spot in the Round of 12 for Keselowski, it also gave team owner Roger Penske his 500th major motorsports victory.
  • Sunday’s race also had several playoff drivers – including championship favorite Kevin Harvick – involved in accidents. We’ll see how those affected the playoff leaderboard as the series heads to Richmond this weekend.
  • Plus, we’ll revisit Saturday’s Xfinity Series race where Ross Chastain gambled on himself and drove to victory lane for the very first time in his NASCAR career. What does this win mean for his future?
  • And, we’ll recap Sunday’s IndyCar Series finale at Sonoma Raceway, where Scott Dixon added to his legend by claiming his fifth championship.

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