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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Scan All Las Vegas, IndyCar’s Scott Dixon

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty in Stamford, Connecticut. Jeff Burton joins from his garage.

On today’s show:

  • The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are in full swing, but today the focus is on Charlotte for NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day. We’ll hear from playoff drivers Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Elliott Sadler, and others.
  • Five-time IndyCar Series Champion Scott Dixon joins the show to talk about his most recent title.
  • We review Sunday’s playoff race at Las Vegas that saw hot temperatures, high tempers, and several playoff drivers involved in accidents. It’s the latest edition of Scan All.

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.

Friday 5: Time for NASCAR to schedule one-day shows

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LAS VEGAS — Indianapolis Motor Speedway showed NASCAR this week what the sport’s future could and should be.

Two series racing on one weekday. No practice. No qualifying. Just racing.

As NASCAR looks to make its schedule more dynamic, the idea of one-day shows for Cup has been discussed.

Those talks should go further.

Run the Xfinity Series on a weekday and the Cup Series that night in prime time.

Fans want racing. Give them back-to-back events. Don’t waste time with practice or qualifying. Set the lineup based on points and go.

“I think that’s the kind of open-mindedness that we need to see more of in NASCAR, honestly,” Denny Hamlin told NBC Sports on Thursday of the idea. “I know that I’ve been in some meetings with TV partners and NASCAR trying to work on weekday races, especially during the summer. Hopefully it’s on the horizon, sooner than later.”

Fans saw a doubleheader Monday at Indy after rain washed out both the Xfinity and Cup races that weekend.

Such a schedule could work for one race, maybe two a season. This isn’t about making the entire schedule one-day shows, but the approach would compress the schedule. That, along with limiting most tracks to one Cup event per season, could put the season finale in September instead of November.

Kevin Harvick, who has talked often about the need for bold ideas with scheduling, told NBC Sports that the key to such a one-day schedule is that “you have to protect the integrity of the racing.” 

But he says one-day shows could be possible.

The biggest challenge could come from track operators, who likely will raise concerns that a one-day event could reduce how many people camp and attend the event.

As NASCAR looks to race on a weeknight, limit how many days teams are at the track and alter the length of the schedule, the overriding question must be what’s best for the sport. In some cases, track operators might lose out to what’s best for the sport. In other cases, maybe it’s the drivers or teams.

To not do anything is the wrong approach. Frankly, that’s not a tactic NASCAR is taking, but words eventually need to be turned into actions.

Harvick suggests more dramatic measures.

He notes that the most talked about race this season is one that hasn’t taken place yet.

The debut of Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval later this month has had those in the industry and elsewhere talking. Chaos, conflict and crashes are common themes from drivers, leery of the race that ends the first round of the playoffs.

“That really is something that everybody sees as unique,” Harvick said. “We need more unique events. You need a story before the story happens.”

He says more can be done with the schedule to create similar stories.

“Why shouldn’t Darlington have a playoff race once in a while?” Harvick said. “Why shouldn’t Bristol have a playoff race once in a while? Why is the championship race in Homestead every year? That’s for us? I don’t think so.

“I think it would be better to rotate (the title race) around. I think coming to Vegas for the first race of the playoffs is great. Not that Chicago was a bad spot to start it (but) starting there every year gets stale. You’ve got to keep it fresh.”

That means new venues, date changes and other ideas. That also should include one-day shows in the summer that have the Xfinity and Cup Series race back-to-back.

“I think the way the world is today and … the ask of the fans, the expense of things, it’s a valid option,” seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said of the notion. “When you look back to the late ‘90s the way fans consumed television and their avid love of our sport and the love of the automobile, all of that, they’d want a seven-day festival for a race.

“It’s just times have changed. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Times have changed.”

The 2019 schedule is set, but 2020 can be a time for the sport to move forward.

2. A tiresome trend

Many drivers talked Thursday at NASCAR Playoff Media Day about needing to avoid mistakes to advance in the Cup playoffs, which begin Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Whether NASCAR is calling tire violations more closely on pit road to set a tone or teams are trying to push things, such penalties are up dramatically the past two weeks.

NASCAR called a total of 11 penalties for tire violations the past two weeks at Indianapolis (seven such penalties) and Darlington (four).

The 11 penalties for tire violations are more than NASCAR called the previous seven races combined (10 such penalties called).

In the last nine races, Martin Truex Jr.’s pit crew has been penalized for three tire violations, more than any other team. Next is Austin Dillon’s pit crew, which has been called for two such violations in that time.

3. Playoff wedding

It’s one thing for drivers to be engaged during the season but married — and during the playoffs?

No.

At least until this season.

Kyle Larson and fiancee Katelyn Sweet are scheduled to marry Sept. 26 — four days before the inaugural Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, which will determine what four drivers will be eliminated from the playoffs.

Why that date?

“Katelyn wants a warm wedding, and I race during the offseason so I didn’t want to mess up my offseason plans,” Larson said Thursday. “It happened to work out that we can do it right before the Roval there. So, it’s coming fast, and I am ready to get it done.”

I have kind of let her handle most of (the planning) and I will be there for the rehearsal dinner, the wedding and hopefully we don’t practice on Thursday. Because that will be rough.”

Cup teams will not practice that Thursday, so Larson will be OK.

4. Fond memories

Rockingham Speedway, which hosted NASCAR races from 1965-2004, was recently sold and the investors want to bring racing back to the 1-mile track at some point.

Jamie McMurray, who has been mum about his future with Chip Ganassi Racing, won the final four Xfinity races there.

McMurray was recently asked about the track and recalled not those wins but a moment with his fellow drivers.

Rockingham used to be the host of the pit crew competition. Drivers left from the backstretch pits and come down the frontstretch pit road for their stop. While they waited for the event to begin, they hung out along the backstretch pits.

“My memory of Rockingham is sitting on the backstretch (pit wall),” McMurray said. “I was sitting back there and Mark Martin, who had won I don’t know how many races at Rockingham (two Cup and 11 Xfinity races in his career). Mark is notorious for never giving himself credit and telling you how great you are. I remember Mark going: “You’re the guy now; you’re the man. I wish I could have done that.’ Like yeah, right, this is Mark Martin.

“That’s one of my favorite memories, my rookie year (in Cup) sitting back there with Jeff Burton and Mark Martin. I think Sterling (Marlin) might have been in that, so there (were) good stories being told.’’

5. Looking to keep a streak alive 

Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one race on a 1.5-mile track 24 consecutive seasons. That streak is in jeopardy this year. Hendrick’s only win so far this season came on the road course at Watkins Glen with Chase Elliott.

Four races remain this year on 1.5-mile tracks: Las Vegas, Kansas, Texas and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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NASCAR America: Brickyard 400 is barometer of success

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If one wants a good indicator of who is going to win the championship and who will eventually join NASCAR’s Hall of Fame, look to the Brickyard 400.

In 24 previous editions of this race, only five drivers have won multiple Brickyard 400s. Two of them are already in the Hall of Fame: Jeff Gordon with his five wins and Dale Jarrett with two. The other three multiple winners will almost certainly join them in the Hall. Jimmie Johnson has four Brickyard 400 wins with Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch at two each.

As Nate Ryan pointed out on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, it has also been a good way to determine who is going to win the championship.

“It’s been an excellent championship barometer,” Ryan said. “Nine times in 24 Brickyard 400s, the winner of this race has gone on to win the championship the same year.

“That tells you everything about how difficult it is to win. You have to be a team that is on its game in terms of horsepower, in terms of aerodynamics. The track is extremely difficult to drive … it’s not built for stock cars, you have to be very precise through every turn at extremely high rates of speed and that’s why the best drivers and the best teams win here.”

The list of multiple winners underscores the importance of winning a Brickyard 400. It is possible to win this race based on strategy, but repeating takes a special kind of driver.

“I think back to what Jeff Burton was saying about the Southern 500 this past weekend. … When you look at the Southern 500 winners list, there’s not a lot of flukes,” Parker Kligerman said. “And when you look at the Brickyard 400 – it’s not a lot of flukes. Yes, we’ve had some crazy one-offs here and there, but when you look at drivers like (the multiple winners) who are certain Hall of Famers … that tells you this race really allows drivers and teams to rise up. The cream is going to rise to the top in these bigger races.”

For more, watch the videos above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: Summertime superlatives

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NASCAR lends itself to superlatives. The words “greatest”, “best” and “most” are tossed about with absolute abandon.

Sometimes, they actually apply.

With Cup off this weekend before a final 12-week stretch, NASCAR America’s Marty Snider, Jeff Burton and Landon Cassill provided their lists of drivers who deserved unparalleled praise.

Most Impressive Driver?
Kyle Busch: “This dude drove by me like 10 times Saturday night.” – Cassill
Kevin Harvick: “This award is like the best coach. … They always give it to a team they didn’t think would do well.” – Burton
Clint Bowyer: “I don’t think we expected him to have two wins at this point in the season.” – Snider

Most Hard-Luck Team?
Daniel Suarez: “Every time they get momentum going, something happens to knock it out from under them.” – Burton
Aric Almirola: “They’ve had bad fortune and in some cases they make their own luck.” – Cassill
John Hunter Nemechek: “With under two laps to go and leading: They lost two races.” – Snider

Surprise of the Season
• Chevrolet: “I’m shocked that Chevrolet hasn’t run as well as they have. … To a man, to a woman, everybody I talked to in the off-season that was involved with Chevrolet, they were like ‘we’re gonna kick their butts.” – Burton
• Hendrick Motorsports: “I did not expect this from Hendrick Motorsports, to struggle this much in 2018.” – Snider
• Superspeedway carnage: “We’ve always seen big wrecks and we always expect big wrecks on superspeedways, but all three superspeedway races we’ve had have all been complete trashed racecars.” – Cassill

Best Strategy Call
• Cole Pearn at Sonoma: “Anytime Cole Pearn makes a strategy call, I’m like ‘that was so awesome.’ “ – Cassill
• Cole Pearn at Sonoma: “Anytime you can surprise this level of crew chief … that to me is really impressive.” – Burton
• Mike Bugarewicz at Michigan: “That was a big call to get them their second win of 2018.” – Snider
Superlatives were also handed out for the wildest wreck, best overall race, funniest moment, best post-race celebration and the championship favorite.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: Hendrick Motorsports could win their 13th championship this year

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Kasey Kahne scored Hendrick Motorsports’ 249th victory at Indianapolis last year. It would take more than a year for them to reach the 250-win milestone when Chase Elliott pulled into victory lane at Watkins Glen earlier this month.

The last three wins for Rick Hendrick came with three different drivers – and that is fitting since the organization’s 250 victories have come with 17 different drivers behind the wheel, according to NBC’s Nate Ryan.

Geoff Bodine gave Hendrick his first win in 1984; 11 years later, Jeff Gordon gave them the organization its first championship.

Jimmie Johnson gave Hendrick Motorsports its 12th Cup championship in 2016 – and now that the organization’s winless streak has ended, the question turns to whether they will be able to get another championship.

“If you’d asked me this a month ago, I would have said ’no, there’s not a chance,’ “ Jeff Burton said on Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “But watching Chase Elliott and the improvement they’ve made – you look at the stage wins they’ve all the sudden started getting, the laps they’ve started leading – they’ve become very consistent.

“Chase Elliott gives them a shot. I don’t see anyone else that has a chance.”

Landon Cassill would toss Johnson’s name in the mix.

“It’s Hendrick Motorsports and it’s a yes all the time,” Cassill said. “And that’s because they’re still one of the most well-funded organizations in the sport, they’ve got some of the most talented people, you can always hang your hat on that 48 team – even though they’re without a win. They can show up and peak at the right time. … The beauty of our sport right now is with the playoff system, it only takes one win to be the champion.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter