Rick Allen

NASCAR America: What was the turning point at Martinsville?

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NBC Sports’ four analysts on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America agreed that the turning point in Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway was when Chase Elliott passed Brad Keselowski on Lap 324 of the 500-lap event.

In my eyes, the turning point happened when Chase Elliott took the lead from Brad Keselowski,” Jeff Burton said. “This was the beginning of Brad and his team having to do something different.”

Added Dale Jarrett: “That was the textbook way to make a pass at Martinsville by Chase Elliott. But this had not happened all day. Okay, so what is going to happen from this point on? Is Brad going to be able to recover from it?”

Elliott would go on to lead the next 49 laps, while Keselowski bided his time and watched the young driver’s tendencies, all of which Keselowski took advantage of when he regained the lead on Lap 373 and held on for the remaining 127 laps.

And this happens,” Burton said of Matt Tifft hitting the wall on Lap 373 to bring out the caution, which allowed Keselowski to exit pit road first and regain the lead. “Always something happens that changes the game. And now, the pressure gets put on the pit crews and who can get that track position and make it happen when pressure is high.”

But all four analysts – including Rick Allen and Kyle Petty – agreed that while it may have seemed like Sunday’s race was a two-horse race between Keselowski and Elliott, there was one other wild card that both drivers had to worry about in the final laps.

But the way our analysts saw it, Busch was more of a threat to Elliott than Keselowski.

That’s the hardest thing as a driver at Martinsville, knowing a guy like Kyle Busch is willing to stick his nose in there,” Jarrett said. “You didn’t want to take too much of a chance, but Kyle Busch made life a little more difficult for Chase Elliott in that respect at that point in time.”

Added Petty: “I thought Chase showed great patience beyond his years because he did know he had a good car. He got hung on the outside, left Kyle to roll on the inside, but would put himself in position to accelerate off and eventually cleared Kyle and took that position.”

One other thing to note: As dominant as Keselowski was, leading 446 of the race’s 500 laps, one stat jumped out that potentially was the biggest key in Sunday’s outcome.

Check this out: (Keselowski) entered the pits first all but one time and left the pits in first each time,” Burton said. “Track position at Martinsville is king and Brad was able to take advantage of it and do his job.

But if not for (Keselowski’s) pit crew, we might be talking about a different winner today.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Martinsville recap, Turning Point

NBC Sports
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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and will recap all the action from the weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.

Kyle Petty is joined by Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett and Rick Allen.

Among the high points they’ll discuss: the turning point of Sunday’s STP 500.

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.

Denny Hamlin posts fastest lap in Saturday morning Cup practice

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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LOUDON, N.H. – Denny Hamlin had the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, leading the field with a lap of 132.942 mph.

He was followed by Ryan Blaney (132.526 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (132.462), Kyle Busch (132.406) and Kevin Harvick (132.356).

Harvick ran the most laps at 50. Harvick told NASCAR on NBC broadcaster Rick Allen in the garage that he ran so many laps to see how much the speed falls off as the tires wear. Jimmie Johnson was next with 42 laps run.

There were no incidents in the 50-minute session.

Ryan Blaney had the best 10-lap average at 131.767 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

NBC Sports to debut ‘NBC Race Team Broadcast’ at New Hampshire

NBCSN
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As part of its way of reinventing how it presents NASCAR races to fans, NBC Sports will present an analyst-only broadcast for the July 22 Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will call the race from the booth. Called from NASCAR on NBC’s traditional broadcast booth above the start-finish line, the “NBC Race Team Broadcast” will bring fans closer to their favorite drivers and teams as pre-playoff competition heats up at “The Magic Mile.”

Lead broadcaster Rick Allen will report from pit road to give fans a different view of the Cup race. Allen will call the Xfinity race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Saturday, July 21 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN alongside Earnhardt and Burton. Letarte will contribute from the Peacock Pit Box.

Allen will return to the broadcast booth for NBCSN’s broadcast of the Cup race at Pocono Raceway on July 29.

The broadcast lineup at New Hampshire is one of many NBC Sports has used and will use to broadcast Cup races this season. Already, NBC Sports has put its broadcasters in two separate booths and had Steve Letarte on the Peacock Pit Box. Additional variations are planned later this year.

“We have a multi-option offense, and are again excited to try a different booth setup for our NASCAR Cup Series race broadcast in New Hampshire,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer & President, Production, NBC & NBCSN. “We’re putting people in positions to make it fun for the audience, and the ‘NBC Race Team Broadcast’ will bring a unique and different perspective to the race.”

 

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. preps for life in the broadcast booth

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When NBC takes over the Cup telecast duties at Chicagoland Speedway on July 1, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be the newest member of the broadcast booth. And his training has already begun.

Two weeks ago, Earnhardt the rest of the broadcast crew went into one of the suites at Charlotte Motor Speedway to practice calling a race.

“I’ve been nervous about going into the booth for the first time and doing it in front of a live audience at Chicago in July,” Earnhardt said on Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America. “So we went to Charlotte. … We are in a suite while the race is going on and we’re watching the broadcast and using that feed. We stand in this booth and basically call the race. It’s allowed me to sort of get in that environment and make mistakes, listen to the feedback that I’m getting from my producers and Sam Flood (Executive Producer, President, Production, NBC & NBCSN) my boss, and sort of clean up some things.”

Earnhardt was a fan before he became a racer and it is that passion for the sport that has made him such a fan favorite. It is also coming out in his approach to being a broadcaster.

“I told those guys, Dale Jarrett and (Steve) Letarte and Rick Allen, ‘y’all are going to have to tether me to the floor when we get to Chicago’ because I’m just so excited about this opportunity to be a fan again.”

On NASCAR America, Earnhardt also revealed that he has recently begun drinking coffee, in part to help with his duties. It turns out that calling a race is not quite as easy as fans might think – especially when one is jacked up on enthusiasm.

“The other thing that I found out just as we did the 600 at Charlotte; we did just the first 200 laps – so half of the race – and I was tired. I never thought, as a driver watching the broadcast that broadcasters get tired. Why would they get tired? They’re just standing there talking. I got wore out because I was so excited at the start of that race.”

For more, watch the video above.