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NASCAR America: Pete Pistone asks when innovation becomes cheating

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For a couple of days after last week’s race at Texas, the fans on The Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio had some interesting storylines to consider. Then came Wednesday – and the news of Kevin Harvick‘s penalty for an illegal spoiler hit co-host Pete Pistone and the fans in their collective gut.

As Nate Ryan pointed out, it seems that NASCAR can’t have the good without an equal dose of the bad.

Now the sport is forced to debate the line between cheating and innovation.

“That line of demarcation – where is it?” Pistone asked. “Is it a little tolerance over here … past the line, have to go back in tech – is that cheating? This one feels like cheating. You have a part that wasn’t approved. It was moved to a place – from what I understand – the team felt like they didn’t check that part of the car for like two years, let’s give this a shot.

“When NASCAR comes down with an L1 penalty and takes away the win in terms of how it doesn’t count to go to the next round of the playoffs, I don’t know how you cannot look at that and say, ‘Boy, that was cheating.’ But there’s so much gray area here and that’s the problem.”

According to Pistone, the lasting effect of scandals such as this harms NASCAR at a time when new sponsors and fans must be brought in to insure the sport’s health.

“We’re trying to bring new people into this sport,” Pistone said. “Is it a hard sell to try and bring somebody in who thinks this is a sport that sort of puts itself around the word cheating and sort of celebrates that? I think it is and I think that’s why it bothers me so much.”

The line between cheating and innovation is one NASCAR has walked since the sport began, according to Ryan

“There is sort of a part of rule breaking that is endemic to what you’re supposed to be doing when you’re in NASCAR,” Ryan said.

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m.: Kevin Harvick’s penalty and preparations for Miami

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m ET on NBCSN with a look at the repercussions of Kevin Harvick‘s Texas penalty.

Carolyn Manno is in Stamford and is joined by Kyle Petty and Nate Ryan from the Charlotte studio.

On today’s show:

  • Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 team’s major penalties from Texas are still reverberating. No longer locked into the championship four, Harvick holds the final spot by only a few points. But with the playoffs heading to Phoenix, he’s coming to his best track – and a 10th win in the desert would send him to Miami. Today, we’ll focus on Harvick and the Bottom 4 – Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, and Clint Bowyer – as they head for the biggest race of the season!
  • SiriusXM’s Pete Pistone joins the show with his thoughts on the Harvick penalties, including how they’re being perceived beyond the NASCAR world. Teams constantly pushing the limits to gain performance is a fact of life in the garage. But when a team crosses the line, does that tradition end up hurting the sport’s image?
  • Already in the championship four with a win at Martinsville, Joey Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske crew are having to balance preparations between this weekend and the finale in Miami. Crew chief Todd Gordon shares how they’re doing it in an interview with Marty Snider. Plus: How has the continuity of the No. 22 pit crew and road crew helped Logano contend for a title once again?
  • The Xfinity Series is heading for its own playoff elimination race on Saturday at Phoenix, where Elliott Sadler hopes to lock into the championship four. No matter what, Sadler faces the final two races of his career as a full-time driver. Can the 43-year-old veteran earn an opportunity that few athletes receive – to go out as a champion?

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 at 5 p.m. ET: Looking ahead to Martinsville

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Today’s NASCAR America airs from 5-5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Carolyn Manno hosts and is joined by Parker Kligerman.

On today’s show:

  • With Martinsville on the way, we want to know what you’re thinking! Send us your questions about this weekend’s race with the hashtag #NASCARAmerica and we may answer yours on today’s show. Plus – Parker Kligerman gets in our NBCSN iRacing simulator to show us the keys to success at this notoriously difficult half-mile.
  • Pete Pistone of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio joins the show to share his outlook on the Round of 8. Which of the three races have fans the most excited? And which non-Playoff drivers could steal a victory from those in title contention?
  • And our friends at Rotoworld have early suggestions for NASCAR Fantasy Live at Martinsville. Find out who you’ll need on your team this weekend.

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: Charlotte Roval is most anticipated debut since Indy

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Pete Pistone, co-host of “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, joined NASCAR America Thursday to share what the fans have been saying about Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBC) when they call into his show.

If their excitement holds, NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway already have a hit.

According to Pistone, the Charlotte Roval is the most anticipated debut since the Brickyard 400, more than two decades ago.

“I’ve got to think all the way back to 1994 when NASCAR first went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first Brickyard 400,” Pistone said about the expectancy. “But even in that case I don’t remember the drivers being as nervous about the race that’s coming up at the Roval.

“The listeners on SiriusXM NASCAR radio for the most part are really excited about this because it’s something new. It’s something different. It’s something they don’t know what to expect.”

Pistone believes that excitement will carry over to Monday – even if some playoff contenders are eliminated because of Sunday incidents.

“I think the fans in this case are going to side on the race track,” Pistone said. “They want it to be hard. It’s supposed to be hard.”

The reason fans will continue to be enthusiastic is because NASCAR has listened and given them something they have wanted for several years.

“Fans want more short tracks – more road courses,” Pistone said. “They’ve been given one; a very unique one and it’s one that, I think if it causes chaos, for the most part … that’s what the fans are looking for and they’re hoping to get that both Saturday and Sunday.”

The question of who this track will favor will not be answered until the checkers wave, but Pistone has one dark horse in mind.

“The one guy who’s name just keeps coming up, for whatever reason, is Jimmie Johnson,” Pistone said. “Chad Knaus said on our channel this week, he’s giddy about getting there because he thinks that the way this track is laid out, it’s suited for Jimmie Johnson and for him to do well on Sunday.”

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Martin Truex Jr.’s recent performance fuels Silly Season questions

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In the last four races, Martin Truex Jr. seems to be losing ground to Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in the playoff battle.

On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, Pete Pistone, SiriusXM’s co-host of “The Morning Drive,” pointed to Truex’s recent performance and how it may be part of a bigger concern in the team.

Truex’s last four races have resulted in three results of 14th or worse.

“To be fair, some of that is circumstantial,” Pistone said. “Two weeks ago at Bristol he had a really fast race car. He was in contention to win the race and he got in the incident with Kyle Busch, but there just seems to be something off there.”

The reason behind the dip in performance might not all be bad luck. Truex is part of this year’s Silly Season rumors after 5-Hour Energy announced it will not return as a sponsor in 2019.

MORE: Martin Truex Jr. laments timing of 5-Hour Energy’s decision not to return 

Truex’s contract is up at the end of the season and that inevitably led to speculation about his future.

“You can’t help but wonder with all the things that are swirling around this team … where that team is going to wind up, where Martin Truex Jr. might be going next year – if some of that is getting in the way and taking a little bit of the eye off the ball there,” Pistone said.

The relationship between Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn has been one of the secrets to the success of the No. 78 team, but that bond can get strained if one of them believes a breakup is pending.

“A crew chief and a driver, it’s like being brothers, it’s like being married, it’s like being cousins – it’s everything,” Kyle Petty said. “And once one party decides the grass may be greener, the other guy … will turn their back on you in a heartbeat because they feel hurt.”

For more, watch the video above.

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