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NASCAR America at 5 p.m., ET: Discussing All-Star race, rules

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno hosts from our Stamford, Connecticut studio and is joined by driver Landon Cassill. Jeff Burton joins from Burton’s Garage.

On today’s show:

  • With a special rules package in place, Saturday night’s All-Star Race produced a memorable show at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But in the end, a familiar face was in Victory Lane. We’ll break down Kevin Harvick’s $1 million victory. Plus – should NASCAR use this package again this season? Make your choice at NBCSports.com/NASCARvote.

 

  • We’ll look ahead to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 announcement Wednesday. Will Jeff Gordon become a first-ballot Hall of Famer? And who else could join the Rainbow Warrior in being inducted?

 

  • Plus: U.S. Army troops at Fort Bragg give Austin Dillon and his pit crew a taste of Army life in the first edition of our ‘Mission 600’ series, where NASCAR’s top drivers visit military bases representing all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

 

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.

William Byron to drive Jeff Gordon’s ‘Rainbow Warriors’ scheme in Southern 500

Hendrick Motorsports
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CONCORD, N.C. — One of the most famous paint schemes in NASCAR history will ride again in the Sept. 2 Southern 500.

The rainbow paint scheme Jeff Gordon drove for the first eight years of his Cup career will be resurrected for William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet.

The scheme was announced Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a presentation with Gordon, Byron and artist Sam Bass, who designed the scheme that debuted in the 1992 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race was Gordon’s series debut.

Gordon drove the scheme full-time from 1993-2000 when he was sponsored by Du Pont. He drove it one last time in the 2015 Bristol night race during his final full-time season.

The scheme was used by Dylan Lupton in last year’s Xfinity Series race at Darlington.

Gordon, now an analyst for Fox Sports, never dreamed his paint scheme would be used in a throwback fashion decades later.

“I was just a young kid that was anxious to get out there and show what I could and excited about the opportunity to be at Hendrick Motorsports and hoped that I would be able to do my part and go on and win a race, let alone 93 of them,” Gordon said. “I certainly never looked far enough ahead that I would have ever thought we were creating something that would be part of NASCAR history or a throwback to the history at Darlington with a 20-year-old kid behind the wheel that wasn’t me.”

The four-time champion is a nominee for the 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class. The class will be announced Wednesday.

Byron, 20, is in his rookie season with Hendrick Motorsports and will compete in his first Southern 500.

“Jeff’s got a huge history in the sport and to follow that and be able to carry his legacy and hopefully have success with it is my goal,” Byron said.

Byron is 19th in the point standings through 12 races.

Bass told the story of how he came to get the job of designing Gordon’s car in 1992.

“(Jeff Gordon’s crew chief) Ray Evernham came over to my shop looking for a birthday present for Jeff,” Bass recalled. “He picked up a print, he was getting ready to leave and wanted to pay me for it. I said, ‘No, I don’t want your money. I want you to give me a shot to design the race car for Jeff Gordon.’ I didn’t really think he would do it, but he called me back in a couple of weeks and said, ‘Hey, you got a shot.’ I worked on three designs and had two of them done the day it was due. On the way driving to work, I kept thinking in my mind Du Pont had said they wanted a rainbow of color. They wanted to car to show that they could produce a rainbow of colors.

“I went back to the shop and started working on something, and I knew when I got it done that if they would paint it that way it would definitely be different. I thought the guys in the body shop were gonna kill me when they saw it because they knew how difficult it was going to be to paint. To their credit, they did it and they were so proud of it.”

 

Matt Kenseth to pay tribute to Mark Martin in Saturday’s All-Star Race

Roush Fenway Racing
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In 1998, Mark Martin scored the first All-Star Race victory for Jack Roush. Two decades later, Matt Kenseth will pay tribute with a special paint scheme.

The No. 6 Ford will sport the iconic black, red, orange and yellow livery that Martin drove to the win that year.

“Our paint scheme this week is a nod to Jack’s first All-Star win in 1998 with Mark,” Kenseth said in a release. “Obviously those two have meant so much to my career, and it’s cool to honor both of them this weekend.”

Roush went to victory lane three more times, including another win for Martin in 2005.

But it is that first win that sticks in Martin’s mind.

“The 1998 All-Star Race was really cool for me,” Martin said. “We were running third with two laps to go and passed Bobby Labonte coming off of (Turn 4) for the white flag. Jeff Gordon was gone up front and about the time I passed Bobby, Jeff pulled over to the inside and slowed. I was like, ‘Wow!’ All of the sudden, we were in the lead. We had no idea we were going to win the race, and it happened just that quickly. Those can be some of the best wins, because you just never see it coming.”

Kenseth, who made his first start in the All-Star Race in 2000, added to Roush’s total in 2004. In 18 consecutive appearances, he has scored seven top fives and 12 top-10s.

Carl Edwards earned Roush’s fourth and most recent victory in 2011.

“The All-Star Race has gone through a lot of changes over the years,” said Kenseth. “But the addition of the restrictor plate may be the biggest. I honestly don’t know what to expect other than the cars will be slower. We’ll just have to see how it plays out this weekend.”

Kasey Kahne also will have a throwback paint scheme on his No. 95 this Saturday. It will commemorate the 10th anniversary of his 2008 All-Star victory.

Kevin Harvick on his hot start: ‘Now it feels like a game’

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After dominating victories earlier this season, Kevin Harvick rallied to win, deflating his competition Saturday night at Kansas Speedway and serving notice that his team seeks more wins.

Sixth on a restart with nine laps to go, Harvick charged to pass Martin Truex Jr. before they took the white flag and pulled away for the victory.

“Now it feels like a game,” Harvick said after his 42nd career Cup victory. “It really does, because of the fact that you want to see how many races you can win. You want to see how many laps you can lead. 

“We know that we’re riding a momentum wave that is hard to come by, and you need to capitalize on it as many times as you can because it may never come again. I’ve never had it in my career, and I’ve been doing this for 18 years.’’

Harvick has been a regular to Victory Lane this season, winning five of the first 12 races. The last driver to do that was Jeff Gordon in 1997.

Harvick’s five wins are the most in a season since he had as many victories in 2014 — when he won the championship. He’s never won more than five races in a season.

“I think when you look at a night like tonight, it really shows the experience of the team because I feel like this is the kind of cars that we had in 2014 but we had a lot of parts failures,’’ Harvick said. “We were all new. We made a lot of mistakes and just didn’t really know how to deal with it like we do now, and it’s ‑‑ but yeah, it’s addicting. Now it’s a game.’’

Except to the rest of the field, which saw him win three in a row earlier this year and now two consecutive races.

Even more difficult for teams is how much Harvick said his team struggled this weekend.

“The coolest thing that came out of the weekend is just the grit of the race team,’’ Harvick said. “You look at everything that we battled through in practice and not really getting all the laps that we would like to in practice and struggling to get the car where we wanted it to be in the race, but we just kept grinding on it.’’

The result was a pole Friday and the victory — one that seemed as if it wouldn’t happen.

Harvick had pitted with some of the leaders with less than 20 laps left. He worked his way to sixth and just missed being collected in a seven-car crash that brought out the red flag 13 laps from the finish.

On the final restart, Truex pulled away and led by nearly one second before Harvick, with fresher tires, closed.

“Tried all I could to hold off Kevin,’’ Truex said after the race. “He got through traffic too quick and he was too fast. I thought with five to go, we were going to be in good shape. We were running some really fast lap times and actually pulling away, and then actually the switch flipped and I got tight and started shaking the right front tire, and I knew I was in trouble. He started coming quick after that.

“They’ve got a great balanced race car and they’re doing all the right things. I feel like we’re just a step behind that. But we’ll keep digging hard and fighting, and we’ve got a good bunch, too, and we’ll figure some things out.’’

But until they do — or anyone else does — Harvick’s victory total could grow significantly.

“I love days like today because the message that it sends is we aren’t going to quit, we didn’t quit, and we won,’’ Harvick said. “That sends the message, the guys on the team, the guys in the shop, and it sent a message to our competitors.’’

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NASCAR America: Kevin Harvick treats every race like a playoff race

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When a driver is on a streak of success like Kevin Harvick current enjoys, “Sundays cannot come soon enough,” according to NASCAR America analyst Dale Jarrett.

“You’re ready to get back and prove that what you’re doing is for real. Not only to everyone else, but to yourself that you can continue this pace.”

 

If Harvick can continue at his current pace, he will win 13 races this season – tying a modern era record in the process (Richard Petty won that many in 1975 and Jeff Gordon repeated the feat in 1998). At this current pace, Harvick will earn 20 stage wins and 26 top fives, both of which also tie or beat modern records.

For more, watch the above video.