Steve Letarte on Kyle Busch’s victory: “I can’t get my brain around sweeping a weekend.”
Jeff Burton on Kyle Busch’s Continued Success: “The way he is winning races is unbelievable. I watch it with amazement.”
Jeff Gordon on the Call He Received from Rick Hendrick: “He said, ‘You’ve been enjoying that good life long enough!’”
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– July 24, 2016 – NBC Sports returned to the World Center of Racing this weekend for comprehensive trackside coverage of NASCAR action from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, highlighted by this afternoon’s presentation of The Brickyard 400 on NBCSN. NBC Sports’ lead broadcast team of Rick Allen, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton called the race. Krista Voda, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett hosted Countdown to Green along with post-race coverage. Marty Snider, Mike Massaro, Kelli Stavast and Dave Burns reported from pit road.
After two attempts at an overtime finish, Kyle Busch became the first driver, in NASCAR history, to sweep both Sprint Cup and XFINITY series poles and secure victories in one weekend. Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon took a farewell lap after the checkered flag to thank fans and commemorate the former Champion’s final Sprint Cup race at The Brickyard.
The following are highlights from this evening’s Sprint Cup coverage from The Brickyard on NBCSN.
COUNTDOWN TO GREEN PRE-RACE COVERAGE
Today’s Countdown to Green pre-race show on NBCSN featured an interview with legendary driver Jeff Gordon, who returns from retirement this weekend to fill in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. as he recovers from concussion-like symptoms. Below are highlights from the interview conducted by NBC Sports’ Voda, Petty and Jarrett.
Gordon: “First and foremost, my thoughts are with Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was great to hear the news that he is seeing some progress. All of us at Hendrick Motorsports and everyone at NASCAR can’t wait for him to get back behind the wheel of this 88 car. I’m also proud of Greg Ives and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for the job they’ve done to get me in the car, fitted and up to speed. Qualifying did not go as well as we hoped, but that last run we had on Friday was very encouraging and I’m just excited to get the green flag today. I didn’t anticipate this, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and working with this great team.”
Jarrett: “What was it that Rick Hendrick said that brought you back here today?”
Gordon: “I think he said, ‘You’ve been enjoying that good life long enough!’ Rick Hendrick does not ask me for many things. Usually, we were asking him for something to make our race car, or our race team better, and he’s always been one to give. He sent me a text when I while I was in France on vacation that said, ‘Call me.’ I knew that I had to sit down and make that call, and when he told me what was going on, I didn’t hesitate. I hated the circumstances and my thoughts are with Dale Jr., but I also know that I love this race team and this organization. I also love this race track.”
Petty: “Realistically, what are your expectations going into today?”
Gordon: “They continue to change throughout the weekend… This is a challenging race track, a challenging aerodynamic package, and then you take the competition, and wow you’re dealing with a steep learning curve. But I feel like with every lap I’ve been on the track I’m getting a little more confident and better communication with Greg and the team. I want to get this green flag and get into a rhythm.”
Jarrett: “Is there anything you’ve been able to do in this short amount of time to get ready for today?”
Gordon: “What has been really eye opening for me are the muscles that I have not been using, that I use in the car. My hamstring, that left lumbar area where I’ve had some back issues is a little sore and tight, and my right triceps. Those are the muscles that you use at these types of race tracks. So I’ve been getting a lot of conditioning work done on my body to try and stay loose and I’ve been hydrating.”
Gordon closed the segment, saying: “Thanks to all of the fans for supporting not only Dale Jr.’s recovery, but supporting me being in this 88. I know not many Earnhardt fans ever wanted to see a Gordon filling in for an Earnhardt, but I take a lot of pride in it and am looking forward to that opportunity.”
BRICKYARD 400 COVERAGE
On Lap 88, Letarte on the risks associated with pitting early: “A lot of these teams are pitting earlier than they had originally planned. With only 73 laps to go, they are trying to get on and off of pit road, but mistakes can be made, as we saw the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) with speeding penalties. There are more speed lines now on pit road—there used to be seven, now there are 12—and that’s a big change as more drivers are getting caught.”
On Lap 117, Burton on Kyle Busch’s attempt to lap Jimmie Johnson: “We’ve been talking about Kyle Busch’s domination of this race, but guess what– now he’s coming up on lapping six-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie is not going to make this easy.”
Allen added: “We need to amplify that. Kyle Busch has been so good today, that he’s about to lap Jimmie Johnson! And Jimmie has won at this race track four times.”
Letarte: “As all of these teams look to reduce mistakes, that speeding penalty on the 48 pushed him back to the 17th position, where he’s now aggressively trying to hold off Kyle Busch.”
Burton on Kyle Busch’s continued success: “The way he is winning races is unbelievable. I watch it with amazement. Many times this team and the organization make it look easy. The way Toyota has worked with Joe Gibbs Racing and Furniture Row Racing and pulled everything together is working. The formula is working. These guys are the teams to beat.”
Letarte on the No. 18’s domination with just under 25 laps to go: “NASCAR is all about the man and the machines. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas all have roughly the same equipment. So I think it is worth noting what Kyle Busch and Adam Stevens are doing with their equipment. They have taken advantage of it.”
Kyle Busch to Burton via radio communication during the red flag caution with seven laps to go: “The (team) has done a great job, they gave me a great driving car so I have not had to work as hard as probably many others out here. We worked on some of the cooling so I feel fresh and ready to go.”
Burton on racing in the back of the pack: “To run 15th you actually have to work harder than the guy running first. It is so hard to understand that. You hear rookies come into the series, and they are racing in the back and keep saying ‘I can’t believe how hard you have to race for 25th.’ The competition is tough back there.”
Letarte on Kyle Busch’s victory: “I can’t get my brain around sweeping a weekend. This performance by Kyle Busch is truly legendary. Kyle Busch is starting to write a resume that compares with major names.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–