“As nervous as we are watching to see if Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott can win this race, think about all the teams on pit road that are in the Chase bubble that this could affect.” – Jeff Burton
“Even if Elliott can’t win today it has already been such a great story, to see the son of a Hall of Famer fill that seat and then come out and lead laps and contend for wins in his rookie season.” – Steve Letarte
“It is about development, it is about commitment, and it is about young people wanting to be in the sport.” – Roger Penske on Fielding a Second XFINITY Team Next Year
BROOKLYN, Mich. – August 28, 2016 – NBC Sports returned to the Irish Hills of southeastern Michigan this weekend for comprehensive trackside coverage of NASCAR action from Michigan International Speedway, highlighted by this afternoon’s presentation of the Pure Michigan 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.
At the conclusion of 200 exhilarating laps, Kyle Larson secured his first Sprint Cup victory and became the 13th different driver to punch their ticket into The Chase. Rookie driver Chase Elliott finished second after leading the race going into the final restart.
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Sprint Cup coverage from Michigan on NBCSN.
Today’s NASCAR America Sunday pre-race show on NBCSN featured an interview with founder and chairman of the Penske Corporation, Roger Penske. Below are highlights from the interview conducted by NBC Sports’ Voda, Petty and Jarrett.
Voda: “I know this is your 50th anniversary celebration of team Penske. You have walked into Michigan a lot of times, but with 50 surrounding you, did walking in today feel any different?”
Roger Penske: “This is really our home track. It was built 50 years ago, in 1966. We bought it in 1973 and came here. It is great to see our home track grow the way it has, and of course have our guys run here. We have had 21 wins here over the years. But a win today is the most important one.”
Petty: “You have been in all forms of motorsports for 50 years. Recently in this sport in particular we have seen an alignment. Have you ever witnessed the alignment of different teams through manufactures in different forms?”
Penske: “To me, when we had the alignment with Ford, it was a great opportunity for us, along with Roush and the Wood Brothers. The Gibbs guys have done a great job with Toyota and Rick has been a stalwart with Chevrolet for so long. To me, it’s a good alignment. I’m glad that we have the Ford boys. It looks like we have got some power for the weekend. We will see what we can do with Joey, Brad and certainly Ryan Blaney has done a great job so far.”
Jarrett: “Looking ahead, you announced a few weeks ago you are starting a second full-time XFINITY team. Is that mainly to develop young drivers, or also crew members and everyone else that goes along with that?”
Penske: “Well you have got to have a bench. I think with the second XFINITY team, which we are hoping to put together for next year, we are on the lookout for a driver. But, we look at crew members too. Because today we have crews working on other cars to bring them up through the organization. You just can’t get that perfect guy when you need him. It is about development, it is about commitment, and it is about young people wanting to be in the sport. To me that is why I think the teams have been so successful, over the years, the ones who have been willing to invest early on with people. This is a sport that takes knowledge of the cars. You have to be the right person from a commercial perspective. And then you have to have a lot of integrity as an individual driver.”
Petty: “You talk about bench, who do you see Penske racing in the next 50 years?”
Penske: “I don’t know I won’t be looking. I’ll let someone else work that out. You can let me know what is going on.”
Voda: “You were a driver yourself, any chance you would want to go 200 mph like these guys are going to go today?”
Penske: “Those qualifying laps at over 200 mph this weekend were outstanding. I think the low downforce package is putting the driver back in the car. Everyone that I have talked to likes it. Certainly there will be things we don’t like but overall I think it is the right way to go. They will see passing. The tires are great. There is going to be an opportunity to see who can hold on the most and who can be there at the end.”
PURE MICHIGAN 400 COVERAGE
Pole sitter Joey Logano to Burton via radio communication before the green flag: “Restarts are probably the most treacherous moments out here. You get this long straight away before you get to turn one, where there is plenty of opportunity to go three or four wide. There is not really that much room when you get to the corner, so that is usually where it gets bottled up…We will be on our game all day and try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes to us.”
Letarte on Alex Bowman’s engine issue early in the race: “I think one of the struggles for a driver like Alex Bowman is the list of things he has to learn to drive this No. 88 car. It is only his second time in it this year. I’m sure they don’t go over everything that has to do with that digital dash.”
Letarte on the issue with Bowman’s No. 88 ignition systems: “It is very frustrating when you see his teammates all running so well. Alex Bowman has done such a great job all weekend. The good news is it wasn’t a mechanical issue. They didn’t have a broken valve spring, or piston, or something in the engine. The frustrating thing is that it is an electronic issue. That is what Kelli (Stavast) meant when she reported they were re-booting. You aren’t allowed to do that on pit wall. To plug into the computer and make any adjustments you have to go to the garage area. Good news and bad news for Hendrick Motorsports.”
Burton on race leader Kyle Larson with 59 laps to go: “This is the part of the race when we have seen this team have issues. When they have been in position to win a race (in the past) this is when the trouble spots have come. With the fastest car on the race track right now, can they make the changes they need to on the car? Can they have the right pit stop? It would be huge if they can finish this thing off, because it would move them into the Chase. But the pressure is only going to build.”
Burton on Chase Elliott and Larson running one and two going into the final restart with 10 laps to go: “Elliott just needs to focus on what he needs to do. Don’t overthink this. Have the same restart you had when you won races in late models. The goal is be leading when you get to turn one so Kyle Larson cannot pass you side-by-side.”
Letarte on race leader Elliott going into the final restart: “Even if Chase Elliott can’t win today it has already been such a great story, to see the son of a Hall of Famer fill that seat and then come out and lead laps and contend for wins in his rookie season.”
Burton as Elliott works to catch Larson with seven laps to go: “This is one of the hardest things to do as a race car driver. You know you have to make up time. You only have seven laps to get it done, and you are a second behind. If you drive too hard you actually go slower. You have to drive the car right on its edge. If not it actually hurts you.”
Burton on the excitement with two laps to go: “As nervous as we are watching to see if Larson or Elliott can win this race, think about all the teams on pit road that are in the Chase bubble that this could affect. We will now have an unbelievable battle between cars trying to make the Chase.”
Allen on a weekend full of first-time winners: “And once again we have had a weekend sweep. Every winner this weekend, in each Series of NASCAR, got their first win. Brett Moffitt won in the Truck Series, Michael McDowell in the XFINITY Series and now Kyle Larson in the Sprint Cup Series.
Jeff Burton on race winner Larson: “How much fun that is, to win your first race and put you and your team into the Chase.”
Race winner Larson to Snider after stepping out of the car in victory lane: “I’m at a loss for words. I feel like I need to sit down.”
Larson’s full interview is available here.
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–