Drivers agree: Charlotte Roval race is ‘going to be crazy’

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Whether drivers and teams are ready, Roval week is here for the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series.

Four drivers will be eliminated from title contention in Sunday’s Cup race (2 p.m. ET on NBC) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Xfinity race (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN) is the second race in the opening round of that playoffs. Xfinity teams will get to run the road course/oval configuration for the first time Thursday. When Cup teams tested in July, a number of them got off course. 

Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer are the four drivers outside the cutoff line to advance to the next round. Ryan Blaney holds that final cutoff spot heading into Charlotte. Click here for the standings.

Here’s what drivers are saying about the Roval:

Denny Hamlin (29 points out of final cutoff spot)

I learned quite a bit from the Charlotte test, I thought we were one of the best cars there at that test. I am optimistic, but I tell you it’s going to come down to qualifying well with the limited amount of passing zones at that race track, you can definitely get stuck behind somebody for an extended period of time.”

Jimmie Johnson (6 points out of final cutoff spot)

“I learned a lot at the road course test, but I don’t know if I have a better feeling about how the race is going to go. The track has countless areas for bad things to happen; things will just end your day. So passing zones are going to be extremely difficult to figure out, I think it’s going to be a day about really minimizing your own mistakes and you’ll be able to maintain track position pretty well. But, it’s going to be crazy.”

Alex Bowman (5 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)

“Best places on the track to pass are going to be pit road. I have one of the best pit crews in the business so, I plan on using that. And the most treacherous is the whole track, so it’s going to be interesting for sure. It’s a very treacherous race track. There are really very few passing opportunities at all. It’s super narrow. Obviously you’re out on the oval for some of it, but I don’t really think you’re going to have the opportunity to use that to pass. All the breaking zones are pretty tight and technical and it’s going to be pretty tough to pass. … If you’re going in there and need to make up points, or whatever, it is going to be a tough day.”

Austin Dillon (10 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)

“I think the whole track is treacherous, there are places that you could bust your tail at any moment being over aggressive. (It) can gain you speed but also can take you out from jumping a curb.”

Kurt Busch (15 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)

“That Roval cutoff race is going to be gut-wrenching for plenty of different reasons. The extra stress that is going to come with the Roval, that one’s going to be a tough one.”

Kyle Larson (17 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)

“It’s really easy to step over the line and crash. I think it is going to be a crazy race. Don’t really know what to expect. And it is hard to pass, I don’t really know where you can pass. We will find out when we get out there on the track.”

Aric Almirola (23 points ahead of first driver outside cutoff)

“I think the hardest part of the Roval is all of it. I really don’t know what the best opportunity to pass is. I have got some ideas but until you get cars on the race track running around each other … it is going to be hard to identify that. Running by yourself, you know you can gauge on what you could think would be an opportunistic place. I could tell you one place that is going to be incredibly hairy to pass and it is going to be that chicane on the back straightaway or trying to run two wide through there is going to be about impossible. So it is just the matter of whether or not you get position on the other guy and if he is willing to give it up or not.”

Ryan Blaney to appear on NBC’s Taken tonight

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Ryan Blaney will guest star on the NBC show “Taken” at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

When a dangerous weapons dealer smuggles his wares into New York City, Bryan (Clive Standen) teams up with an FBI agent (Blaney) in a race to stop the weapons dealer before he reaches the safety of international waters.

“When I first read the script I didn’t know what to expect,” Blaney said. “But I was excited when I read it and then when we actually started to do the chase scene, it was really cool being behind the wheel of the car and working with Clive, who was in the passenger seat. To see his passion for all of this, and how much of a cool guy he is, he’s definitely a great actor and great to talk to as well. It’s been nice getting to know him.”

Blaney also said he appreciated what happened behind the scenes.

“Being out in the freezing weather in Toronto has been a humbling experience for sure,” he said. “I always like to see how other professions work, and honestly, the film and TV industry reminds me of the racing side, because a lot of people just see the finished product – they just see us going on the track, or they just see what’s on TV and they don’t realize how much work goes into making it. There’s a lot more work behind the scenes and it definitely opens your eyes as to how much work goes into just one scene, let alone a full episode.”

NBC Sports NASCAR America Fantasy League kicks off Monday

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Ready to challenge NBC analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton in NASCAR Fantasy?

You also can compete against NBC’s Dale Jarrett, Kyle Petty, Parker Kligerman and many other broadcasters and writers who bring you NASCAR coverage on NASCAR America, at NASCAR Talk and the races on NBC and NBCSN.

Play in a special 10-week NASCAR Fantasy League with the NBC team. But hurry. Only 4,000 spaces are reserved to match wits with NBC’s team.

Fans can enter the league at nascar.com/nbcsportsfantasy, and see their names alongside NASCAR on NBC analysts and hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr), Dale Jarrett (@DaleJarrett), Jeff Burton, (@JeffBurton), Kyle Petty (@KylePetty), Steve Letarte (@Steveletarte), Rick Allen (@Rickallenracing), Krista Voda (@Kristavoda), Marty Snider (@HeyMartySnider), Dave Burns (@TVDaveburns), Kelli Stavast (@KelliStavast), Parker Kligerman (@Pkligerman), Rutledge Wood (@RutledgeWood), Nate Ryan (@nateryan), Dustin Long (@dustinlong), Leigh Diffey (@Leighdiffey), Carolyn Manno (@Carolyn Manno), Landon Cassill (@landoncassill), Daniel McFadin (@danielmcfadin) and Dan Beaver (@FantasyRace).

The NBC Sports NASCAR America Fantasy League begins now. The first race is this weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. The 10-week league goes through the June 24 race at Sonoma Raceway – the final race before NBC and NBCSN take over in broadcasting the rest of the Cup season.

The “NBC Sports NASCAR America” fantasy league results will also be featured weekly on NASCAR America. NBCSN’s daily motorsports show will include recurring segments each Monday and Thursday, breaking down each broadcaster’s picks for the weekend, analyzing results, top scorers and league standings. Fans who win the 10-week league will be announced live on NASCAR America, prior to NBC Sports Group’s return for its fourth season of NASCAR racing on Sunday, July 1, at Chicagoland Speedway.

Rotoworld.com is the official fantasy news provider for NASCAR America and the “NBC Sports NASCAR America” fantasy league. Rotoworld’s NASCAR fantasy news section includes driver updates, power rankings, columns, as well as race-specific fantasy previews and reviews.

So come on and join the fun.

Join the league here: nascar.com/nbcsportsfantasy

 

Star of NBC show ‘Taken’ to serve as pace car driver at Bristol

Photo by: Jeff Riedel/NBC
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Clive Standen, who plays covert operative Bryan Mills on the show “Taken” on NBC, will drive the pace car for the start of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway next month.

Standen, who also has appeared in the films “Everest” and “Hammer of the Gods,” will have the chance to reunite with Ryan Blaney at Bristol. Blaney will appear as an FBI agent in an episode of “Taken” at 9 p.m. EST on April 20.

“It is such an honor to be asked to drive the pace car at a NASCAR race that I am beyond excited,” Standen said in a statement. “I’m also pretty hyped up to see Ryan Blaney race, especially after witnessing his great performance on our upcoming episode of ‘Taken.’ It’s such a fun opportunity to get to be part of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and lead my co-star to the green flag!”

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Ryan Blaney to guest star on NBC’s ‘Taken’ next year

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Ryan Blaney has a particular set of skills; skills that he’s developed through years of professional auto racing.

The Team Penske driver will get to display those skills next year on NBC’s “Taken” TV Series.

The show serves as a prequel to the 2008 Liam Neeson film of the same name.

Blaney, 23, will guest start on the second season of the series, which premieres Jan. 12. He will appear in an episode titled “Imperium” as a special agent who knows his way around a car.

Here’s the plot synopsis for the episode.

“When a dangerous weapons dealer smuggles his wares into New York City, Bryan Mills (Clive Standen) teams up with the FBI in a race to stop him before he reaches the safety of international waters.”

This won’t be Blaney’s first time in front of a camera playing someone else. He had two movie cameos this year in Logan Lucky and Cars 3.

Blaney was filming his role in “Taken” on Tuesday in Ontario. See his tweets from the set below.