“Kyle Busch is taking a step toward his second NASCAR Cup Series Championship.” – Rick Allen
“He has put himself in position to win a championship.” – Jeff Burton on Kyle Larson
“You want your crew to be pushing the limits, but you need to be willing to accept the consequences that come along with that.” – Dale Jarrett on Joey Logano
LOUDON, N.H. – September 24, 2017 – NBC Sports Group surrounded the second race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, with more than 10 hours of trackside coverage from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, in Loudon, N.H. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on NBCSN. Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota won the race, and secured a position in the Round of 12.
NBC Sports Group’s lead race announcer Rick Allen, 21-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton, and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte called the race. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman reported from pit road alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.
Coverage began on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET. Krista Voda anchored pre-race coverage alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett.
|5||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||2149|
|12||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||2044|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage on NBCSN.
Voda on race winner Kyle Busch: “The first time Kyle Busch has ever advanced with a win in the Playoffs. The last time he was a Playoff driver and won a Playoff race, it was the Championship race. When he wins so often, we have to look for new things. The sense of relief is new.”
Jarrett on the Playoff picture: “We have a real battle at the bottom of the Playoff field. Those guys may look safe, but I do not know if you could ever feel safe when you go to Dover next weekend, where anything can happen.”
Allen on race winner Kyle Busch: “Kyle Busch is taking a step toward his second NASCAR Cup Series Championship.”
Letarte on Kyle Busch: “Two races into the Round of 16, and the two favorites, the No. 78 and the No. 18, have checked the box off in the win category. Both have done so in dominant fashion.”
Burton on Kyle Larson’s 2017 season: “This year has been all about learning how to be a champion. We have seen Kyle Larson, in the past, make late race mistakes. We have seen him have speed, but not be able to execute. But when you think about how he has won races this year, they are the same races he would have lost last year for late race issues. This year he has learned how to execute. Even when he hasn’t been able to win, he has learned how to manage the day. He has put himself in position to win a championship.”
Letarte on Clint Bowyer: “I think the Playoff cars have to be worried about the No. 14 car in the front row. He is on a 176-race winless streak, and personally I don’t think he cares if the other cars are in the Playoffs. He is here to win the race. It has been a long time since he has gone to victory lane.”
Burton added: “He has two race-wins here. This is the kind of race track that Clint Bowyer has been very good on. Not a big surprise.”
Letarte on Kasey Kahne’s track bar issue: “This is going to be a huge blow to Kahne and what they were trying to do with the points.”
Letarte on Martin Truex Jr. with just under 50 laps to go: “You kind of ask yourself, the No. 78 has a win, why is he fighting to get to the front again? We talk about a proverbial switch, that everyone wants to get in Playoff mode. I think the No. 78 has proven you don’t want to take a week off, or even a couple hundred laps off.”
Burton on implications of the crash in the final lap of Stage 2: “This is Kevin Harvick’s first DNF ever here in New Hampshire. This is why the regular season matters. The points that Harvick earned in the regular season give him a little wiggle room to have a bad race. In the past, if you had a bad race in the Playoffs you would be out. Now if you did a good job in the regular season, you have a few points to lean back on.”
Letarte added: “This is also why the win and you advance element really takes the pressure off of the No. 78. While they do want to fix the car and be competitive, that win last weekend in Chicago has guaranteed those guys a spot in the Round of 12.”
Burton on the battle between Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin with 11 laps to go in Stage 2: “Denny Hamlin has his hand out the window like, ‘Why are you racing me like this.’ And Jimmie Johnson is saying, ‘Because we are racing for a Championship.’ It is just a difference of opinion between the two drivers.”
Letarte on the competitive Playoff field: “That is the problem, you see the No. 31 at minus 10 on the Playoff leaderboard. He is running 18, but every other Playoff driver, beside Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is ahead of him. The numbers for these Playoff cars are just unbelievable. The field of drivers, in this race today, has won 25 races here at New Hampshire, and 21 of those races were won by Playoff drivers.”
Allen on Stage 1 winner Truex Jr.: “Truex Jr. gets his 19th stage win. He has dominated. As he moves into the Round of 12, those stage points continue to add up. He has just taken another step closer to the 2017 Championship.”
Snider as Truex Jr. took the lead with 33 to go in Stage 1: “How many home tracks does Martin Truex Jr. have? He is leading laps here at ‘home’ once again here in New Hampshire.”
Burton in response: “Dover, New Hampshire, everywhere we go is Truex Jr.’s home track. It is absolutely no surprise that Truex Jr. has taken the lead. This is what they do. They have had fast race cars all year long.”
Letarte on the pressure of the Playoffs: “You have to manage your Playoffs. No team comes to mind more than the No. 5 team of Kasey Kahne. They have made a crew chief change to try and manage these Playoffs. They are trying to find a way to improve.”
Petty on Joey Logano’s final practice penalty: “I would like to put all the penalty stuff behind us. We need to change the narrative to what is going on, on the race track. The narrative needs to be about what is going on in the Playoffs.”
Jarrett added: “It has been the same battle, the garage area vs. the rules, for all 70 years of NASCAR. As a driver, you want your crew to be pushing the limits. But, you need to be willing to accept the consequences that come along with that.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–