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NASCAR America 5 p.m. ET: Kaz Grala interview, Landon Cassill in simulator

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno is joined by Landon Cassill in Stamford, Connecticut. Parker Kligerman joins from Burton’s Garage.

On today’s show:

 

  • With the Cup Series off this weekend, the Xfinity Series takes center stage this weekend in Iowa! And with no Cup drivers in the field, it’s a big chance for the series’ young stars to get a win and a playoff berth. We’ll preview Sunday’s race and get a ride with Hawkeye State native Landon Cassill in the NBC iRacing Simulator.

 

  • A win on Sunday could mean more than a trophy for Xfinity Series driver Kaz Grala. It could mean a chance to secure his racing future! The 19-year-old driver joins the show to talk about his tumultuous season, which has taken a successful turn recently with the new Fury Race Cars team.

 

  • And in the spirit of Father’s Day this weekend, NASCAR Hall of Famer and broadcasting icon Ken Squier looks back at some of NASCAR’s most memorable father-son moments.

 

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 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Bump & Run: Superlatives, surprises, bold prediction

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What is a performance that has stood out to you so far this season?

Nate Ryan: Joey Logano. He quietly is tied for the series lead in top 10s (12) with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch but ranks only 10th in laps led, which indicates he is maximizing his finishes.

Dustin Long: Kevin Harivck’s dominance. This reminds me of how strong Harvick was in 2014. The only difference is that in 2014 he lost the chance at a number of wins because of various issues from mechanical to pit road and such. Harvick and his team aren’t having those issues this season. Their ability to run mistake-free races week after week has been as impressive as the speed the No. 4 car has.

Daniel McFadin: Joey Logano. He’s third in points coming off his horrid season in 2017. He’s tied with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch with 12 top 10s and he has a better average finish (8.1) than Harvick (9.3). He only has one win, but he should be in the conversation for being part of the “Big 4” this season.

Dan Beaver: Clint Bowyer’s performance at Martinsville – especially as it came on the heels of Martin Truex Jr.’s win at Auto Club. For a moment, it appeared the competitive landscape was going to open up.

What is something that has surprised you about this season?

Nate Ryan: The number of winners. It seems improbable that with 11 races to go, there are still 10 provisional playoff spots based on points. Based on how Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have run this season, and their performances at the upcoming tracks, there is a real possibility that half the playoff field will be determined by points – which could make for some nail-biting storylines down the stretch and at the Brickyard.

Dustin Long: The dominance of the veteran drivers this season.

Daniel McFadin: Kyle Larson‘s inability to have consecutive clean races. His spin at Michigan came after similar spins at Phoenix and Charlotte, wrecks at Texas, Talladega, Daytona and Kansas and his spin from contact with Ryan Newman at Bristol. He bounced back to nearly win at Bristol, a seventh-place finish at Charlotte and a fourth at Kansas. Imagine the season Larson could be boasting if some of these incidents hadn’t occurred. He’s been the strongest Chevy driver all year, but he’s also been arguably the sloppiest.

Dan Beaver: The sheer domination of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. It is not only that they are winning so many races, but that no one else has been in the same league as them through 15 races.

Eleven more races remain until the playoffs begin. Give me one bold prediction about what might take place before then.

Nate Ryan: Despite going winless in the regular season, Hendrick Motorsports still qualifies three for the playoffs as Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman each earn berths via points.

Dustin Long: Two drivers currently outside the top 20 in points each win a race and make the playoffs.

Daniel McFadin: Alex Bowman and William Byron will win as Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott founder.

Dan Beaver: The inevitable leveling of the playing field. Chevrolet will catch up before the playoffs, but they are not going to have a dominant performer like Ford’s Harvick or Toyota’s Busch and that is going to spread the wealth around.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Michigan

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

Nate Ryan

Martin Truex Jr. He becomes the latest to win consecutive races this season, erasing the memory of Last August’s near-miss here.

Dustin Long

Kevin Harvick. He hasn’t won in two races. He’s due.

Daniel McFadin

Joey Logano grabs his second win of the season.

Dan Beaver

Martin Truex Jr. is ready to join Harvick and Kyle Busch as the elite three.

Bump & Run: Most bizarre scenes at the track

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The pace car crashed before Sunday’s IndyCar race at Detroit. What’s a bizarre scene that stands out to you that you’ve seen in NASCAR?

Nate Ryan: It’s tough to top the runaway gigantic inflatable orange during Xfinity Series qualifying in 2004 at Chicagoland Speedway, which seemed straight out of a Roald Dahl book. But even more unforgettable might have been the disconcerting prerace ceremony Feb. 23, 2003 at Rockingham Speedway. With winds gusting at more than 40 mph, eight members of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Team still attempted to land on the frontstretch before the national anthem. Only three were successful, and the results were increasingly disastrous for others. One bounced off the top of the Cup garage; another just avoided getting impaled on a wrought-iron gate near the row of parked team haulers; and another was snared by an antenna mounted from an infield trailer. The worst was a jumper who landed hard on the asphalt behind the pit wall and required airlift transport to Charlotte for a leg injury (the other injuries were minor, thankfully).

Dustin Long: I’ll go with something more recent. Last year, an ambulance caused cars to jam on pit road during a caution and the damage ended Matt Kenseth’s race at Richmond last September. Kenseth entered the race in the final cutoff spot for the playoffs. The incident didn’t keep him out of the playoffs. Kenseth later tweeted a picture of him on a golf cart being blocked by an ambulance on the way out of the track, adding to the bizarre night. At least Kenseth was smiling in the picture. 

Daniel McFadin: Four words: Montoya. Jet Dryer. Daytona. On second thought, I should just say the 2012 Daytona 500. What didn’t it have? An exploding jet dryer, Brad Keselowski tweeting from his car and then Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a foot race to a porta potty.

How many of the 16 playoff drivers do you think will have to earn their way in via points?

Nate Ryan: With Martin Truex Jr. making a bid to join the Kevin HarvickKyle Busch world domination tour, it feels as if there could be maybe four new winners this season over the next 12 races. So, at least six spots will be determined by points, which could make the season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway quite entertaining (particularly if the new aero package is used with success).

Dustin Long: Five.

Daniel McFadin: With only six drivers currently in the playoffs via wins and 12 races left in the regular season, I see about six drivers having to get it on points. But with the stranglehold Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. have on the series right now, that could be conservative.

As the series heads into the summer stretch, give us a driver to keep an eye on.

Nate Ryan: Alex Bowman. He is just outside the points cutoff for the playoffs, is trying to assert himself with veterans whom he has said don’t show him enough deference and likely is feeling the most pressure among Hendrick Motorsports drivers to excel with a new Camaro that the team still is learning. The heat turns up figuratively and literally for drivers and teams during the schedule’s June-July-August slog, and it looms as make or break for Bowman’s season.

Dustin Long: I want to see how Alex Bowman does provided the Hendrick cars continue to improve and show signs of being more competitive.

Daniel McFadin: Jimmie Johnson. Though he notably led his first laps since last October on Sunday (during green flag pit stops), his eighth-place finish was his fifth top 10 in the last seven races. The 48 team could make some big strides as the second half of the season gets underway.

Staff picks for today’s Cup race at Pocono

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Here’s a look at who the NBC Sports staff is picking to win today’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

Nate Ryan

Kyle Busch. The season of streaks continues as the No. 18 driver resumes his turn at the top.

Dustin Long

Kyle Busch. He leads. He wins. He sweeps the weekend. Enough said.

Daniel McFadin

Kevin Harvick gets his first Pocono win, leaving Kentucky as the only active Cup track he has yet to win on (not counting the Roval).

Dan Beaver

Pocono has been kind to first time winners in recent years, so this is the week Chase Elliott finally gets it done.