“We are going to Miami with four heavyweights.” – Steve Letarte on the Championship Four
“The ‘Big Three’ have become the ‘Big Four.’” – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“You either love him or hate him, but there is no question he is one of the most talented drivers NASCAR has ever seen.” – Rick Allen on race winner Kyle Busch
AVONDALE, Ariz. – November 11, 2018 – NBC Sports Group surrounded the penultimate races of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series Playoffs, with more than 15 hours of trackside coverage this weekend from ISM Raceway, in Avondale, Ariz. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s Cup Series Playoff race on NBC, which saw Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota take the checkered flag. The win secured Busch a position in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday, November 18 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
With their respective 4th and 14th place finishes in today’s race, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. secured the final two spots in the 2018 Championship Race, based on points. Busch, Harvick, and Truex Jr. join Joey Logano as the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Four, and will compete for the Championship next weekend.
Lead NASCAR on NBC race announcer Rick Allen called this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 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. teamed with 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton in NBC’s “Drivers Booth.”
Coverage began on NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR America. Krista Voda anchored pre-race coverage alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns and Parker Kligerman reported from pit road alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.
2018 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR DRIVERS
|Martin Truex Jr.|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage on NBC.
Letarte on the Championship Four: “We are going (to Miami) with four heavyweights. We are going with a guy that won in the final round, Joey Logano, and then the ‘Big Three’ all year long who continued to dominate.”
Earnhardt added: “The ‘Big Three’ have become the ‘Big Four.’”
Burton added: “These four have had the best race cars, they have been the fastest, and they’re willing to do things others aren’t.”
Allen on race winner Kyle Busch: “You either love him or hate him, but there is no question he is one of the most talented drivers NASCAR has ever seen.”
Earnhardt with 13 laps to go: “I’m nervous. I feel like I’m in one of these cars getting ready to restart.”
Letarte on the last 30 laps: “The morals of these Championship contenders are going to be tested. If I’m Kyle Busch, I don’t want to see Kevin Harvick competing against me for a Championship in Miami.”
Letarte on Kurt Busch being penalized for passing the pace car: “This is something that all the drivers were reminded of this morning in the drivers meeting. It’s very simple, you cannot pass the pace car on pit entry. Sometimes it can be difficult to see in the corner, but Busch clearly accelerates ahead of the pace car as he comes to pit road. You can’t do it. They were just reminded this morning. This penalty could be a big, big, issue late in this race.”
Burton added: “That penalty on the No. 41 is a huge break for Harvick and the No. 4 team. That completely changes their day and game plan for others in this race.”
Burton on Harvick with 36 laps to go: “A major difference that this race has from the other Playoff races is the length of the race. Harvick had a problem at the end of Stage 1, but he doesn’t have that long to get back to the front. He can’t just methodically take his time to get to the front. With less than 200 laps to go, it’s going to be hard to pass. He has to have a sense of urgency, because this race is so short.”
Letarte on Harvick’s flat tire with 2 laps to go: “This is double trouble. You see the damage to the car, but you also know the trouble this will cause for the team. The damage to the car and loss of points could remove the No. 4 from being a contender in the Championship, but there is still a lot of racing to take place here today. Unless the car has major damage, I expect Harvick to still be competing late in this race.”
Letarte on Truex Jr. racing outside the top four late in the stage: “Missing points this early in the race could be very costly to Truex and the No. 78 team’s Championship hopes. This is not what the 78 team needs to be doing at this point in the race.”
Jarrett on Harvick and the Round of 8 drivers: “The Round of 8 drivers all know that Kevin Harvick is the man to beat. If they don’t beat themselves first, then it will be hard for any of the non-Championship contenders to cause them major problems. The thing to keep in mind is the restarts here. It is going to get crazy late in the race. If we get one really late, then the question becomes, ‘How desperate is somebody going to be to force things to make something happen?’”
Petty on the Round of 8: “There are seven guys left looking for a spot in Miami, but there are a million different agendas out there. Teams have agendas, crew chiefs have agendas, and drivers have agendas. It’s going to be tight throughout this race.”
Petty on NASCAR’s “Big Three”: “You look at Martin Truex Jr., you look at Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, and what they have done all year long. I don’t see anything changing here today. I don’t see anything coming between them and making it to Homestead- Miami.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–