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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.

NASCAR America: Expect big things from Erik Jones

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Erik Jones is one of two drivers making their first appearance in the playoffs. Alex Bowman is the other.

Often, knowing what one doesn’t know is the right first step. But Jones has some insight into what to expect this week.

Jones’ biggest obstacle will be “the pressure of it,” he told NBC’s Dave Burns at NASCAR’s Playoff Media Day on Thursday. “Making sure you’re doing everything you need to do to be locked in and riding, ready to go. There’s so many things you … can’t control, but you want to do everything in your power to make sure you’re doing the right thing.”

Jones was part of the Xfinity playoffs in 2016 – finishing fourth in the standings. He enters the Cup playoffs as among the hottest drivers with an average finish of 6.9 during the past nine races. That is second to Kevin Harvick’s 6.4 and ahead of Kyle Busch with a 9.0.

“I expect big things from him,” Kyle Petty said of Jones on NASCAR America. “I think he is a Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin-type driver that’s going to be in the playoffs every year.

“If he can make it as far as the third round – make it as far as that elite eight … that speaks volumes for where he is a driver, where they are as a team and what to expect from them for next year.”

Parker Kligerman has raced alongside Jones in the Cup series and knows firsthand what Jones brings to the track.

“What he’s been able to do in the last couple of weeks is definitely going to play into the playoffs momentum-wise and you’re starting to see what he’s capable of. And I feel like many of us that are in the sport who have raced against Erik and seen what he can do in a race car expected this out of him.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: A wild card is Jimmie Johnson best chance to advance in the playoffs

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By now, everyone is aware that Jimmie Johnson has not had the best season. He hasn’t won since Dover last June and has only two top fives through the first 26 races of the season.

Johnson is the only driver to be in playoff contention all 15 years NASCAR has used that format to determine the championship. He’s been the most successful driver in that era with seven Cups to his credit and his name is always bandied about as one of the contenders.

Until 2018.

This year, Johnson is mentioned only as a dark horse – a fact that the seven-time champion seems oddly comfortable with.

“”It’s just my reality right now,” Johnson told NBC’s Nate Ryan during media day at Las Vegas. “When I look at the 2018 season so far and I look at the second half of 2017, we haven’t led the laps, we haven’t won the races that we’re used to seeing. So I just think it’s the truth. We are the dark horse.”

Johnson has had time to get comfortable with the situation. He crashed and finished 38th at Daytona. He failed to score a top-five finish in the first seven weeks and his single top 10 was a ninth at Auto Club.

“I came to that realization in the spring of this year that we’re just now where we want to be,” Johnson said.

Even though the No. 48 lacked speed, Johnson believes consistency is what got him into the playoffs. He accepts that Round 1 will be difficult, but a combination of consistency and the potential to pull a rabbit out of his hat might allow him to progress through the playoffs.

“I don’t care if you’re a Jimmie Johnson fan … you heard him say the Roval is a wild card,” Kyle Petty said in Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America. “The Roval makes Talladega pale as a wild card race anymore. Those are comments he said … and then in the next breath he says our best shot is the Roval. And what he’s saying is our best shot is a wild card.”

It is difficult to count on a wild card win, but Petty believes the bigger struggle will be in elevating his consistency.

“When you look at it, all the signs point to Jimmie exiting in the first round, because his consistency only got him to 15th in the points,” Petty said.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: NASCAR could own Wednesday summer nights

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With three tracks in the playoffs that never hosted playoff races before and conversation surrounding a dramatically new aero package for next year, it seems that change is in the air for NASCAR.

On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, fans used the hashtag #WednesDale on social media to see just how far those changes could go.

Their questions began a conversation between Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Petty and Nate Ryan about how NASCAR could alter their summertime calendar to consolidate the schedule without lessening the number of races run.

The panelists were uniform in their desire to see most tracks host only one NASCAR Cup race per year.

“I hate to say this Jason, but … I wouldn’t want any of the tracks to get a second date,” Nate Ryan said.

“I don’t really want to run anywhere twice,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined in.

“I like Daytona a couple of times, but I’d like to see everyone go to one … and let’s consolidate and make it special,” Petty said.

Taking away the second dates would create opportunities for new tracks to join the senior series – opening up new markets in the process. But there is also an opportunity to make the schedule more compact.

The answer for Earnhardt, Petty and Ryan is mid-week races.

“We don’t have to shorten the amount of races; let’s shorten the time of the season,” Earnhardt said. “Run on some Wednesdays. Do even some doubleheaders and stuff like that. … But I think they should go to all the racetracks once and then add Iowa, Nashville Fairgrounds – places like that.”

Brad Keselowski has talked about this,” Ryan said. “That dead of summer period, June, July when NASCAR could really own some Wednesdays.”

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Chase Elliott, Erik Jones highlight playoff underdogs

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Whether it’s the Big 3 of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. or the Dynamic Duo of Busch and Harvick who are expected to dominate the playoffs, the remainder of the field has been relegated to the status of underdog before this week’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Throughout the season, the quest has been underway to determine who will be the driver most likely to join the Big 3 at Homestead with a shot at winning the Cup.

Brad Keselowski has “won two races; he’s still not my guy,” Kyle Petty said on Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “Even Brad said it a Darlington. Darlington and Bristol are anomalies. You can win there and not have the fastest car. … You just have to make things work. When we went to Indy, he didn’t have the fastest car. He just won on strategy. He’s not going to … use ‘strategery’ for the last 10 races of the year.”

With Keselowski out of the final four picture for Petty, attention turns to Chase Elliott.

“Chase Elliott’s my guy. … Here’s the way I look at it,” Petty said. “There’s the Big 3 – and Martin is just teetering right now – and then there’s another seven, eight cars that are all the same to me. Nobody jumps out. … But if I take that middle group, Chase Elliott’s my guy.”

“I look at Chase Elliott and I see a guy who – the last two years, Alan Gustafson has figured out … as soon as we hit the track at Vegas, we’re going to be on another gear,” Nate Ryan said.

Elliott has run so well, however, that Ryan does not consider him an underdog. He’s a favorite to make the final four.

Instead, Ryan is going with a driver in his first Cup contention.

“If I’m looking for an underdog, I think Erik Jones,” Ryan said.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter