NASCAR America: Kevin Harvick’s team failed to keep up with Miami

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Under NASCAR’s current playoff format winning the most races means a lot. It doesn’t win the championship, however, unless one of those victories comes in the season finale.

After the race in Miami, Kevin Harvick was not ready to call his season a failure. He won eight times during the year, tying him for the lead with Kyle Busch. But he was noticeably disappointed by coming up two positions short of claiming his second Cup. Harvick finished behind the 2018 champion Joey Logano and last year’s champion Martin Truex Jr.

“When I look at the 4 team through the whole weekend, they just seemed a little bit off,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “You look at qualifying, it didn’t go well. And then Saturday practice, they had a short run to start off the first practice because he wasn’t happy with the car. He wasn’t able to find the feel in the car. It just seemed like they were searching a little bit.”

MORE: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?

Harvick started the race strong, moving up to the lead on Lap 43 after starting 12th. He won the first stage. When the field pitted, the team did not make any significant changes to the car and Harvick was never quite the same.

Jeff Burton said that indicates the team failed to adjust to the changing characteristics of the track.

“In this kind of race when it all comes down to one race and you just get off that little bit at the wrong time, there’s no time to recover,” Burton said.

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Breaking down Joey Logano’s championship

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Today’s NASCAR America breaks down Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick‘s championships plus the best moments from the 2018 season.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. They are joined by Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the Charlotte studio.

On today’s show:

  • Coming off the heels of a memorable Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we’ll recap Sunday’s thrilling season finale that saw Joey Logano become the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. We’ll break down the key points of the race and get reaction from Logano and team owner Roger Penske.
  • We’ll hear from Championship runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who finished second at Miami in his final start with Furniture Row Racing.
  • Take a look at Tyler Reddick’s championship performance in Saturday’s Xfinity Series finale and what it means for his career going forward.
  • And we’ll look back at some of the best moments from the 2018 NASCAR season.

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.

NASCAR America: Speed makes for ‘easier decisions’ during Championship weekend

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After a week of talk, NASCAR’s Championship 4 in all three national series will finally hit the track Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Cup Series will hold its first practice session and that’s when everyone will get to see who brought their best stuff.

On NASCAR America, Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. discussed how important it is to be fast on the first day of the race weekend.

“I believe that when we unload, speed matters,” Burton said. “That builds confidence throughout the whole weekend, it makes your decisions easier. When you unload and you’re 18th fastest, it makes it way, way more difficult to make decisions. When you’re trying to gain a little bit of speed, it’s a much easier decision. When you’re trying to gain three tenths (of a second), it’s much more difficult. I think how they unload is huge.”

Watch the above video for more.

Harrison Burton to compete for Kyle Busch Motorsports full-time in 2019

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Harrison Burton, the son of former Cup driver and current NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton, will drive full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports next season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, the team announced Wednesday.

Burton, 18, has competed part-time for KBM in the Truck Series since 2016 with 14 starts. He has four top fives, seven top 10s and one pole in that time.

He tied his career-best result last weekend at ISM Raceway, placing third.

Burton won 2017 K&N Pro Series East championship off five wins.

He also has two ARCA Racing Series wins since 2017.

Burton will be sponsored by Safelite AutoGlass in 19 races.

“I’ve worked really hard the last few seasons driving a limited schedule for KBM to prove that I’m capable of running full-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019 and I’m excited for the opportunity to do so with Safelite AutoGlass as my primary sponsor,” Burton said in a press release. “By using all of the resources that I have available at KBM, with the support of Toyota and Toyota Racing Development, I know that I’ll continue to improve as a driver and I’m confident that I’m capable of competing for wins and being a legitimate contender for the Truck Series championship next year. Obviously, to get to this point in my career it has taken a lot of support from a lot of different people, so I can’t thank my parents enough as well as companies like DEX Imaging, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Morton Buildings, RUUD and FIELDS for being great partners.”

Burton’s crew chief and further sponsors will be announced at a later date.

“Harrison has done a great job of balancing being a high school student, as well as a student of racing since making his first Truck Series start for KBM shortly after turning 16 a few years ago,” Kyle Busch said in the press release. “The results of his hard work are starting to pay dividends and we’re confident that his first Truck Series win will be coming shortly and he’ll be able to be in the mix for the championship next year.”

NASCAR America: Is this the best Championship 4 ever?

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In the fifth year of the current format, the question being asked on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America is whether this is the greatest assembly of Championship 4 drivers of all times.

The answer is undeniably yes, according to the Dale Jarrett. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano constitute the best Championship 4 thus far.

“We could sit here and talk about how strong they are,” Dale Jarrett said. “We’ve talked about the Big 3 all year and who was going to be that fourth. Joey Logano showed strength as they got into the playoffs. But you don’t have to believe all that we are telling you. Just look at the numbers.”

It is a phrase repeated all too often, but in 2018 the numbers really do speak for themselves.

With his win last week at Phoenix, Busch tied Harvick with eight wins apiece, Truex earned four wins and Joey Logano scored two. With one race remaining, that totals 22 victories. The most previous to this season came last year when Truex, Busch, Harvick and Brad Keselowski combined for 18 wins including Truex’s Miami win.

The Championship 4 combined for 74 top fives. Last year, they had 62 top fives through the season finale in Miami.

“When we talk about the numbers, it is impressive,” Steve Letarte said. “Joey Logano has had a great year, but it has been dominated by three names. I would expect the race (at Miami) to be no different.”

“I think going into Miami, the big deal is they have all been there before,” Burton said. “Having been there; done that matters. The pressure of being in that situation? They’ve all experienced it.”

This will be the fourth appearance among the Championship 4 for Harvick (previously appeared in 2014, 2015 and 2017) and Busch (2015, 2016 and 2017). Truex (2015 and 2017) and Logano (2014 and 2016) have two appearances each.

The Big 3 have been together twice before (2017 and 2015).

2017: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski (combined for 18 wins, 62 top fives)

2016: Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards (15 wins, 53 top fives)

2015: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. (10 wins, 48 top fives)

2014: Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano (11 wins, 42 top fives)

For more, watch the videos above.

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