NASCAR America: Steve Letarte “most excited” for Xfinity Series in 2019

Leave a comment

Five full-time Xfinity Series drivers who won in 2018 – Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer – are confirmed to be back full-time next season.

Reddick will be the first Xfinity champion to return the following season since Chase Elliott did in 2015.

Bell will enter his sophomore season after earning seven wins in his rookie campaign, the most in a season since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999.

Because of this NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte said the “series I’m most excited about” in 2019 is “the Xfinity Series. … I love the reduction in the Cup drivers taking part and I love the returning talent we’re going to see.”

Dale Jarrett said he’s looking forward to seeing how Bell handles “the disappointment of not winning the championship after being the talk all year that he’s the driver to beat. ”

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?

1 Comment

Kyle Busch was one of the dominant drivers of the season with eight wins during the season to his credit and an incredible number of bonus points as the playoffs began. Two of his wins came during the playoffs, which led many to consider him one of the co-favorites to win the championship along with Kevin Harvick.

Instead, Busch finished a distant fourth in the race and the championship.

“There was nothing in the 18 car that was magical,” Steve Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “The 4 (of Harvick) when they dropped the green drove right to the front. … The 22 (of Joey Logano) at times, you said ‘he’s got great short run speed; if it comes down to a short run, he should be good.’ The 78 (of Martin Truex Jr.) had great long run speed. The 18 had none of the above.”

Busch was forced to gamble in the championship race to simply have a shot at winning. Staying out longer than most of the competition, he entered the pits on Lap 248 as the leader and rolled off pit road as the leader. When the green flag waved on Lap 253, he fell back quickly.

“(Busch) wasn’t better in any category,” Letarte added. “And that’s what really surprised me: A team that didn’t have a lot of weaknesses coming into the race really raced with nothing but weaknesses. Average pit crew, average speed, I think decent pit calls by Adam Stevens was the only thing that kept them in the picture for that last restart.”

Letarte went on to describe what he was watching in the final laps. While Logano drove to the front, Busch fell four seconds off the pace.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Breaking down Joey Logano’s championship

NBCSN
Leave a comment

Today’s NASCAR America breaks down Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick‘s championships plus the best moments from the 2018 season.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. They are joined by Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the Charlotte studio.

On today’s show:

  • Coming off the heels of a memorable Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we’ll recap Sunday’s thrilling season finale that saw Joey Logano become the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. We’ll break down the key points of the race and get reaction from Logano and team owner Roger Penske.
  • We’ll hear from Championship runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who finished second at Miami in his final start with Furniture Row Racing.
  • Take a look at Tyler Reddick’s championship performance in Saturday’s Xfinity Series finale and what it means for his career going forward.
  • And we’ll look back at some of the best moments from the 2018 NASCAR season.

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: Is this the best Championship 4 ever?

Leave a comment

In the fifth year of the current format, the question being asked on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America is whether this is the greatest assembly of Championship 4 drivers of all times.

The answer is undeniably yes, according to the Dale Jarrett. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano constitute the best Championship 4 thus far.

“We could sit here and talk about how strong they are,” Dale Jarrett said. “We’ve talked about the Big 3 all year and who was going to be that fourth. Joey Logano showed strength as they got into the playoffs. But you don’t have to believe all that we are telling you. Just look at the numbers.”

It is a phrase repeated all too often, but in 2018 the numbers really do speak for themselves.

With his win last week at Phoenix, Busch tied Harvick with eight wins apiece, Truex earned four wins and Joey Logano scored two. With one race remaining, that totals 22 victories. The most previous to this season came last year when Truex, Busch, Harvick and Brad Keselowski combined for 18 wins including Truex’s Miami win.

The Championship 4 combined for 74 top fives. Last year, they had 62 top fives through the season finale in Miami.

“When we talk about the numbers, it is impressive,” Steve Letarte said. “Joey Logano has had a great year, but it has been dominated by three names. I would expect the race (at Miami) to be no different.”

“I think going into Miami, the big deal is they have all been there before,” Burton said. “Having been there; done that matters. The pressure of being in that situation? They’ve all experienced it.”

This will be the fourth appearance among the Championship 4 for Harvick (previously appeared in 2014, 2015 and 2017) and Busch (2015, 2016 and 2017). Truex (2015 and 2017) and Logano (2014 and 2016) have two appearances each.

The Big 3 have been together twice before (2017 and 2015).

2017: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski (combined for 18 wins, 62 top fives)

2016: Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards (15 wins, 53 top fives)

2015: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. (10 wins, 48 top fives)

2014: Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano (11 wins, 42 top fives)

For more, watch the videos above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: Distractions may get the best of Martin Truex Jr.

1 Comment

At the beginning of the season, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick swapped victories seemingly weekly. Martin Truex Jr. was close behind during most races, keeping the pair honest until these drivers became known as the Big 3.

In the first 20 races of the season, Truex recorded four victories and 14 top fives. Included in that early run was a span of four races in April when he failed to crack the top 10 a single time and finished outside the top 25 on three occasions.

In the last 12 races, Truex has no wins and only four top 10s. All of those were top fives, making Truex an all-or-nothing driver.

On Friday’s edition of NASCAR America, the analysts evaluated his potential to win this week at Martinsville (they are not encouraging) and what may be at the center of his current issues.

In early September, Furniture Row Racing announced they would cease operations at the end of 2018.

“We know what’s going on with that team,” Jeff Burton said. “(NASCAR America analyst) Steve Letarte keeps talking about how hard it is to keep everybody lined up, focused, paying attention to what’s at hand. And I think that’s going to become harder as these last four races continue.”

“Even if everyone knows where they’re going, it has to be a distraction,” Parker Kligerman added.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter