“I don’t think anyone could have predicted a finish like the one we had today.” – Steve Letarte on the Bank of America 400
“I need a couple days off after watching this race.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Charlotte Motor Speedway took a huge gamble on this course, but it resulted in some incredible racing.” – Rick Allen on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL
CONCORD, N.C. – September 30, 2018 – NBC Sports surrounded the final race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 16, and the debut of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s all-new ROVAL course, with more than 18 hours of trackside coverage from the “Mecca of Motorsports,” in Concord, N.C. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s Cup Series race on NBC, which saw Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Team Penske Ford take the checkered flag and advance to the Round of 12.
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 NBC’s “Drivers Booth.” NASCAR on NBC’s Parker Kligerman served as a special on-track analyst, adding his perspective from different locations around the 17-turn ROVAL. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Dave Burns reported from pit road alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.
Coverage began on NBC at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 1:30 p.m. ET. Krista Voda hosted pre- and post-race coverage alongside Kyle Petty and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett.
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBC.
Letarte on the finish: “Think of everything that could have changed these race results and the Playoff standings. Every stage and every lap matters, and these drivers proved it here today. I don’t think anyone could have predicted a finish like the one we had today.”
Earnhardt added: “I need a couple days off after watching this race. There was no shortage of drama. Jimmie Johnson was trying to do the right thing, but that’s racing.”
Allen on Jimmie Johnson: “It’s official, Jimmie Johnson will not have an opportunity this year for an eighth championship.”
Petty: “This thing lived up to all the hype, but now we will have to wait for eight.”
Allen on the finish of the race, following a collision between Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson: “Ryan Blaney was able to make it through the wreckage. It’s good to be lucky sometimes.”
Earnhardt with 25 laps to go: “This entire race has been tight. The way all of these guys are driving, it’s going to be close down to the very last lap. It’s anyone’s race.”
Burton on Jimmie Johnson: “He’s not driving like he just wants to win stages and win enough points to make it in to the next round, he’s driving like he wants to win this race.”
Earnhardt on the collision between Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski on lap 49: “Those two should be battling for the win, but by taking each other out it now changes the entire strategy for both of them.”
Earnhardt on lap 1: “We thought these guys might start out slow, figure out the course, and then adjust, but Kyle Larson is showing everyone early on that he doesn’t plan to tiptoe around this track.”
Snider on Kyle Larson: “We have been hearing teams and crew chiefs preaching patience here, but I don’t think that word is in Kyle Larson’s dictionary.”
Allen on the battle for the lead between Larson and Kurt Busch on lap 10: “I might need some Tums myself as they go through heartburn turn.”
Petty on the debut of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL: “Nail biting, hand wringing, floor pacing. These guys have to be nervous. They have to be wondering what’s going on. It was a nerve racking evening last night, and today is a nerve racking race day for these drivers.”
Jarrett on the ROVAL: “This new track is a total unknown to them. They don’t know what to expect or what may happen. Everything is unknown here. Whether it’s the start of the race, the restarts, where they are going to pass, or everything else. This being a cutoff race makes the drivers even more nervous about what could happen here today.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–