“This just shows us what a championship-caliber team and driver this No. 78 group really is.” – Dale Jarrett
“These guys are peaking at the right time.” – Kyle Petty on Chase Elliott
“It has given us the opportunity to celebrate one of the most brilliant and hardworking people I’ve ever known in this sport.” – Dale Jarrett on NASCAR’s pre-race tribute to Robert Yates
CONCORD, N.C. – October 8, 2017 – NBC Sports Group surrounded the first race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12, with more than 20 hours of trackside coverage from Charlotte Motor Speedway, in Concord, N.C. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race on NBC. Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota won the race, and secured a position in the Cup Series Playoffs Round of 8.
NBC Sports Group’s lead NASCAR announcer Rick Allen, Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett, 21-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton, and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte called the race from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman reported from pit road, alongside features reporter Ato Boldon.
Coverage began on NBCSN at 11 a.m. ET with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at Noon ET on NBC. Krista Voda anchored pre-race coverage alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett.
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR PLAYOFFS ROUND OF 12 STANDINGS
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||3106|
|12||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||3034|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage on NBC.
Jarrett on race winner Truex Jr.: “This just shows us what a championship-caliber team and driver this No. 78 group really is. They did not have the best car by any stretch at the beginning of this race, but they made adjustments, found a groove, and held off all the challengers.”
Petty on Chase Elliott: “These guys are peaking at the right time. I don’t care if he doesn’t have a win in his column. When you run second, three times, at this level in the playoffs, you are going to bust through and get that win.”
Allen on race winner Martin Truex Jr.: “Just like he won the first race in the Round of 16, he has won the first race in the Round of 12, and will advance on to the Round of 8.”
Jarrett added: “I know one driver that will have a good week of sleep. Sometimes it is a little sweeter, when you have to work extremely hard for it. Today was a strong body of work by everyone involved.”
Jarrett on Kyle Busch as he collapsed after the race: “Just a terrible situation to be in. You have to admire this man for staying in the car and doing what he had to do. You can see the exhaustion.”
Burton on the battle between Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. for the lead: “You know that Harvick wants to take the No. 78 down. Truex Jr. has been the favorite. Everyone has talked about how good they are at mile-and-a-half tracks. If Harvick takes him down, that makes a statement that Harvick is a championship contender.”
Burns on Kyle Busch and the No. 18’s in-car situation: “During the last caution, Kyle Busch radioed into his team saying, ‘After the race I’m going to need medical attention, air, water, etc.’”
Burton added: “It is not a hot day, but it is very humid. When you knock the crush panels out of the car, and do damage, now there is hot air and carbon monoxide coming in the car. It makes conditions way worse.”
Letarte on technology assisting performance on pit road: “That is a perfect example of how racing has changed over two or three decades. Everyone knew there could be time gained, but without technology to measure it, and camera angles to capture it, it was hard to optimize. Now drivers get reports on Wednesday. ‘You were too slow to pit road, on pit road or off pit road.’ All of your performance is measured.”
Jarrett after the end of Stage 2: “I’m not surprised by Kevin Harvick’s strength. I knew the Ford cars were getting there, and he loves this race track.”
Letarte added: “Kyle Busch’s accident is a major turning point. That was a car I think we all thought had a guaranteed spot in the Round of 8. I’m not sure that guarantee is so secure, now that he is two laps down after the accident.”
Kligerman with just over 50 laps to go in Stage 2: “Many teams are talking about saving fuel, because they believe that they can make it to lap 180, the end of Stage 2. There is rain in the area, so if we were to get past Stage 2, this race would be official. So these drivers are racing very hard while being mindful of their fuel.”
Letarte on the importance of stage points: “Look what has happened already in the first round of the playoffs. The cars at the bottom of the playoff field, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman, had very few stage points. They all failed to advance. It is very clear to me, that if you want to advance on to the next round, you have to find yourself in the top 10 at the end of each stage.”
Letarte on Ryan Newman’s race ending crash on lap 45: “Newman was either pushing up the race track, or didn’t know the No. 14 was there. He made contact, and that was it. They were going too fast, at too low of grip, to be making contact at that point in the race track.”
Jarrett on participating in NASCAR’s pre-race tribute to Robert Yates: “Thank you to NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway for allowing us to honor Robert Yates and his family.”
Burton added: “When I saw the No. 88 car going around, I had chills. I followed that car too many times.”
A clip of Dale Jarrett driving the pace car is available here.
Jarrett on honoring Robert Yates by leading the field to the green flag in his historic No. 88 car: “This is for all of the drivers who were at Robert Yates Racing and were fortunate enough to understand what it was like to have the best engine builder and person you could ever want to race for. This has been a bittersweet week. It has been very tough to lose one of my best friends, but it has given us the opportunity to celebrate one of the most brilliant and hardworking people I’ve ever known in this sport.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–