Kelli Stavast

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. to join NBC’s Indianapolis 500 broadcast

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NBC Sports announced its broadcaster lineup for this year’s Indianapolis 500. Here is the release from NBC Sports:

Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of racing’s most popular personalities and an NBC Sports motorsports analyst, will attend his first Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, as a member of NBC Sports’ broadcast team when the 103rd iteration of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing airs on NBC for the first time.

This marks the latest in a series of major announcements for NBC Sports’ first-ever presentation of the Indy 500. Earlier this year, NBC Sports announced that Mike Tirico will host its coverage, and former IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick will serve as an analyst alongside Tirico. In addition to Earnhardt Jr., NBC Sports motorsports host Krista Voda and reporter Rutledge Wood will contribute to the network’s Indy 500 presentation.

Earnhardt Jr. made 17 career appearances and registered five top-10 finishes in NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will serve as a roving reporter on race day, exploring the expansive scene that includes hundreds of thousands of spectators at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and contributing to NBC Sports’ pre-race, in-race, and post-race coverage alongside Wood. Earnhardt Jr. will also be featured on NBCSN’s Indy 500 coverage originating from Indianapolis Motor Speedway during race week.

Earnhardt Jr. amassed 26 NASCAR Cup Series victories during his storied career, including two Daytona 500 wins, and joined NBC Sports’ NASCAR broadcast team following his retirement from full-time racing in 2017.

“Dale Jr. is one of the most popular personalities in racing history, so adding Dale to our inaugural broadcast the Greatest Spectacle in Racing on NBC was a no-brainer.” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President, Production, NBC Sports & NBCSN. “Dale has never been able to attend the 500, and now he will have the opportunity to experience every aspect of this massive event –  from the party in the Snake Pit and the hundreds of thousands of fans in the grandstands, to the key strategic decisions and bold moves on track that will ultimately crown the 103rd Indy 500 champion.”

“I can’t wait. This is an event I have wanted to attend for as long as I can remember,” said Earnhardt Jr. “To get this first Indy 500 experience in this capacity – as part of the broadcast team with NBC Sports – is a dream. That said, I fully understand the responsibility we have of bringing this race to television viewers across the country. There’s no better broadcast team to do it. I’m blessed to be a part of it.”

In addition to his work on NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage, Earnhardt Jr. has also contributed to the network’s presentations of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, Super Bowl LII, and the Stanley Cup Final.

NBC SPORTS ANNOUNCES FULL INDIANAPOLIS 500 BROADCAST TEAM

Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), Townsend Bell (analyst) and Paul Tracy (analyst) will call NBC Sports’ inaugural Indianapolis 500 broadcast on NBC, which will feature a total of 14 commentators, the most-ever for NBC Sports’ coverage of IndyCar. Bell and Tracy have combined to make 19 career Indy 500 starts. Tracy was the runner-up in the 2002 Indy 500, while Bell registered a career-best fourth-place Indy 500 finish in 2009. Diffey, who will call his first Indy 500 this May for NBC, has called many of motorsports’ most prestigious events, including the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

NBC Sports’ comprehensive Indy 500 commentary team includes host Mike Tirico and former IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick (studio analyst). Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rutledge Wood will provide on-site reports from in and around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and Krista Voda will also host pre- and post-race festivities.

Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee and Jon Beekhuis will serve as pit reporters for NBC Sports’ Indianapolis 500 coverage, along with IndyCar Insider Robin Miller and reporter Dillon Welch.

The 2019 IndyCar season is the first under a new media rights agreement that was announced in March 2018 in which NBC Sports Group acquired the exclusive rights to all NTT IndyCar Series races – including the Indianapolis 500 for the first time – qualifying and practice sessions, and Indy Lights races across its numerous platforms. Click here for more information.

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series continues Sunday, April 7, with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama from Barber Motorsports Park at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app.

NBCSN to broadcast special NASCAR America, Cup Awards at 8 p.m. ET

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NBCSN will have complete coverage of tonight’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards from Las Vegas, as the sport salutes Joey Logano‘s championship.

A special edition NASCAR America will air at 8 p.m. ET. with red carpet coverage. Carolyn Manno hosts and is joined by Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman. Marty Snider will be on the red carpet for driver interviews. Reigning Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon also will serve as a reporter on the red carpet.

The Awards show airs at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Rutledge Wood and Kelli Stavast host. Along with honoring Logano, the show will feature the announcement of the National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. an analyst for NBC Sports, his streak of 15 consecutive Most Popular Driver awards will end.

NASCAR America: Playoff crew chiefs look back at Martinsville, prepare for Texas

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Even though Kyle Busch left Martinsville with a 46-point advantage over the cutoff line, crew chief Adam Steven is cautious about how the playoff picture is shaping up entering Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

But that team is not the only one with questions with two races left to determine the drivers who will race for the championship in Miami.

Clint Bowyer, who is 42 points behind the cutoff line, practically needs to win to advance to Miami.

NASCAR America’s Kelli Stavast visited the shops of three playoff teams and talked to crew chiefs about what went right at Martinsville, what went wrong and their outlook for the remainder of the Round of 8.

Busch was one of the favorites to win last week’s race after securing the pole and running well in practice. He finished fourth. Stevens does not consider a trip to championship spot entirely safe.

“The cutline is flexible,” Stevens told NASCAR America. “It depends on how many (playoff) winners and non-(playoff) winners we have. We know for a fact there’s going to be one car get in on points, but it might only be one and it could be three. If someone could tell me what that number is going to be, I’d feel a lot better about it. The main thing is we try to keep that lead over the 78 and the 4.”

While Busch can be encouraged by a strong Martinsville run, Bowyer had a series of misfortunes that left him a lap off the pace in 21st. It was the third time in the playoffs that he finished outside the top 20.

The team expected to contend for the victory, given its win at Martinsville in March.

“It was way more of a struggle than we were anticipating,” Bowyer’s crew chief Mike Bugarewicz said. “Qualifying well, really competitive in practice, really close in setup. … That car pretty much sat in the corner ready to go back to (Martinsville); never raced anywhere else all year. We were a little shocked.

“I’m some senses I really felt like in the position we were in, no matter what, you were going to have to win one of these races to move on. I don’t think our position approaching the next two races really changes. Gotta just try and win one if we can.”

Chase Elliott entered Martinsville fourth in the standings, three points above the cutline. He finished in the top 10 (seventh), but left the short track 31 points behind.

When Stavast visited the Hendrick Motorsports’ shop, Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson told her if a team is too stressed out or anxious, it’s just a sign they are preparing for failure.

Elliott has a strong record at both Texas (four top 10s in five starts) and Phoenix (second last fall, third this spring), so they expect to be very relaxed.

For more, watch the videos above.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Reports from shops of playoff teams

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5 – 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Carolyn Manno hosts from Stamford, Connecticut.. She is joined by Kyle Petty and Nate Ryan

On today’s show:

  • Kelli Stavast is crisscrossing Charlotte to see where several of the top playoff teams stand as they look toward this weekend’s race at Texas. Here’s what to expect on Kelli’s Shop Tour:
    • Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team are sitting in good shape after a top-five finish at Martinsville. Kelli talks with the team’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, to see why they’re confident of even more success in Texas.
    • Kelli also goes one-on-one with Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief for the No. 14 team of Clint Bowyer. After a promising day at Martinsville went south with a late-race spin, how does the 14 team plan to rally and score a win to reach the Championship race?
    • Another Playoff driver in trouble is Chase Elliott, who’s gone from hottest driver in the sport to facing elimination in just one week. Kelli checks in with the No. 9 team, which still has optimism for the rest of the Round of 8 – and they have a good reason for it.
  • The sights and sounds from Joey Logano’s thrilling victory in Scan All Martinsville
  • A preview of the upcoming Xfinity Series Playoff race at Texas
  • And with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers set to face off this weekend on Sunday Night Football, we’ll ponder over who can lay claim to being NASCAR’s G.O.A.T.

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: Joey Logano: Roger Penske having his back ‘means the most’

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Roger Penske made clear Sunday night where he stood on how Joey Logano raced Martin Truex Jr. on the last lap of the Martinsville playoff race with his bump-and-run in the final turn.

“I think that Joey drove a great race,” Penske said. “He didn’t knock him off the race track. It was side-by-side racing at the end. Nobody lifted. My position, I thought it was fair, I thought it was square. Joey deserved to win.”

A day later, Logano expressed pride in that Penske has “my back” and that “means the most.”

“A guy that’s a legend in motorsports, not just NASCAR, in all of motorsports from all these different angles, from owning race tracks to owning race teams, driving himself,” Logano told NASCAR America’s Kelli Stavast. “If I have him behind me that’s the most important one.”

Logano was still content that he took the right actions to get his first Martinsville win.

“It’s what I had to do,” Logano said. “I owed it to the race team to give it everything I’ve got. They gave (me) an amazing race car and the pit stops were incredible. That kept us in position all day. I had to win that race for them.”

Watch the above video for more from Logano.