“The ‘Big Three’ once again flexed their muscles.” – Jeff Burton
“Nobody is going to sleep this week.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. looking ahead to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL
“I enjoy driving a car, but in the booth is where I want to be.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
RICHMOND, Va. – September 22, 2018 – NBC Sports Group surrounded the second race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 16, with more than 15 hours of trackside coverage this week from Richmond Raceway, in Richmond, Va. Coverage was highlighted by this evening’s Cup Series race on NBCSN, which saw Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota take the checkered flag. The win marked Busch’s 50th career win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR on NBC’s lead race announcer Rick Allen called the action, alongside Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte, from NBC Sports’ traditional broadcast booth above the start/finish line. NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr., and 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton, provided additional insight from NBCSN’s “Drivers Booth.” Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Dave Burns reported from pit road alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.
Coverage began on NBCSN at 6 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. ET. Krista Voda hosted pre- and post-race coverage alongside auto racing icon Kyle Petty, and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
The following are highlights from this evening’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBCSN.
Letarte on next week’s ROVAL course: “This race we are going to see next week is such an unknown. It is more terrifying to these drivers than Talladega. They don’t know what is going to happen. That is why you see such excitement out of Martin Truex Jr. not winning. Mission accomplished, he has locked himself in (to the next round).”
Earnhardt added: “Nobody is going to sleep this week…If Kevin Harvick says that he is worried, the rest of these guys are really going to be nervous.”
Burton: “The ‘Big Three’ once again flexed their muscles.”
Allen with 14 laps to go: “It has happened again, the ‘Big Three’ have become the top three.”
Earnhardt on Austin Dillon: “Who would have thought he would be in the Top 10. His team just hasn’t had the speed all year long. They won Daytona and disappeared, but tonight they are showing up.”
Earnhardt as Brad Keselowski held off Kyle Busch for the lead with 45 laps to go: “This is too much pressure. You don’t want him this close, especially Kyle Busch. He wants to have a 10-15 car length cushion. He doesn’t want to feel this kind of heat.”
Letarte added: “How about right behind them? Kevin Harvick is just lurking. He is right there waiting for these two guys to make contact.”
Burton on the lack of cautions in the first two stages: “In the spring race here there were no cautions in the first two stages and four in the last stage. So don’t get too comfortable.”
Burton on Keselowski: “Did any of us think that Keselowski could be a favorite to win this Championship going into the Playoffs? I didn’t. Three in a row, and now he is showing winning speed here again tonight.”
Letarte on Denny Hamlin’s ninth place finish: “Denny Hamlin is going to drive all the way back into the top ten, after pitting in the middle of the stage. It is not a stage win, but that has to be a moral victory.”
Letarte on Hamlin with four laps to go: “If he somehow scores a stage point, I’m impressed. New tires or not, to work through traffic like Denny Hamlin has, it’s impressive.”
Letarte on Larson before the green flag: “When I look at the names on that Playoff leader board, I have some concerns. Kyle Larson in eighth position, he is 19 points up. You would think that would be enough, but his numbers at the road courses are not good. He averages outside the Top 15. I think the winner from last year in this race Kyle Larson needs to try and repeat to guarantee an advancement to the next round.”
Jarrett on Playoff pressure: “I think you have to be as aggressive as you possibly can here tonight. You don’t want to do crazy things, but you are going to have to be aggressive. A late race restart could cost you five or six positions…Those are points that may matter after next Sunday’s race at the ROVAL, so I think you have to really keep the pedal to the metal.”
Earnhardt on his experience driving in Saturday’s Xfinity Race: “I really didn’t know what to expect. We ran this race last year and didn’t run that well. I wasn’t sure what to think about coming back (to Richmond), and where I thought we would run. But, leading laps was so fun…I enjoy driving a car, but in the booth is where I want to be.”
Earnhardt on taking a pre-race photo with daughter Isla: “I can’t even imagine what it feels like for a father that works in this business, no matter what he does, to watch his son come up through that same business and follow in his footsteps. I can’t even imagine! Just having my daughter here to take a picture, and be able to show that to her down the road will be great. But to watch your own child grow up and try to be involved in this business must be some really high highs and very low lows. The emotions must be incredible.”
A link to Earnhardt’s interview is available here.
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–