A very familiar scene in 2017. Martin Truex Jr. once again in victory lane.” – Krista Voda
“Sometimes it’s not the good days that get you to advance. It is making the most of the bad days.” – Steve Letarte on Jimmie Johnson
“That is heartbreaking.” – Jeff Burton on Matt Kenseth’s pit road penalty
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – October 22, 2017 – NBC Sports Group surrounded the final race of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12, with more than 17 hours of trackside coverage this weekend from Kansas Speedway, in Kansas City, Kansas. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s Cup Series race on NBCSN. Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota won the race, and secured their seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season. The win is Truex’s second victory in the Round of 12, and third victory in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
NBC Sports Group’s lead race announcer Rick Allen, 21-time Cup Series winner Jeff Burton, and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte called the race from Kansas Speedway. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns and Parker Kligerman reported from pit road.
Coverage began on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR America. Krista Voda anchored pre-race coverage alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett.
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR PLAYOFFS ROUND OF 8 DRIVERS
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||4069|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage on NBCSN.
Voda on race winner Martin Truex Jr.: “A very familiar scene in 2017. Martin Truex Jr. once again in victory lane. Seven wins, and six of them on mile-and-a half tracks.”
Jarrett on Kyle Larson’s elimination: “I can’t imagine the range of emotions Kyle Larson experienced sitting there watching the race. He was doing his job as a driver. Other than a technical issue like this, he was going to advance in to the next round easily. He is sitting (watching the race) knowing if all the right circumstances happen, then he might find his way back into the playoffs.”
Allen on Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 78 team’s victory, following the loss of Furniture Row Racing crew member Jim Watson: “Everyone on the team knows what this win means for the organization. Knowing what they all experienced in the last 24 hours, losing a friend and a colleague.”
Letarte on Jimmie Johnson: “Sometimes it’s not the good days that get you to advance. It’s making the most of the bad days. That is what Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are trying to do right here.”
Allen on Matt Kenseth and the No. 20 team’s disqualification after violating NASCAR’s damaged vehicle policy: “This is bigger than just this one moment right here on the track. Matt Kenseth doesn’t have a ride in 2018. He was looking at the possibility of potentially ending his career with a championship. He now has just been told that because one extra person went over the wall, he cannot continue racing. He will not be able to race for a championship.”
Burton added: “Can you imagine the disappointment? Possibly the last year of your career, and you have the opportunity to win a championship. But because an extra guy went over the wall, that dream is now over. That is heartbreaking.”
Letarte on the severity of the rule: “The too many men rule was put into place because you are limited on the amount of time you have to repair a damaged vehicle. If the penalty was one lap or tail end, these crew chiefs would send ten guys over the wall because the penalty would be weaker than the clock expiring. NASCAR had to put teeth to the penalty.”
Burton on Jimmie Johnson spinning out into the grass: “That is a good example of the fact that these drivers aren’t just riding around. They are driving the cars to the very edge. Once you cross over that edge, it is easy to get out of control.”
Letarte on the battle between Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth: The No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson and the No. 20 of Matt Kenseth have been deadlocked in the battle for the last playoff spot. They keep swapping two or three points. The No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson stays on the race track with old tires, while the No. 20 of Matt Kenseth pits. This could be one of those small decisions with big consequences.”
Allen on Kyle Larson’s early exit from the race: “This is the first engine DNF for Kyle Larson since he has been a full-time Cup driver, and it happens at such a pivotal time in his career. He was definitely one of the favorites for the championship this season, and now he could be eliminated.”
Burton on Kyle Larson’s race-ending engine malfunction: “All he can hope for is that a lot of other people have problems. He has to hope that those other drivers he is racing against for playoff points get in crashes or have mechanical issues.”
Letarte added: “I think if you are one of the middle playoff cars, you have to think, ‘If we just run okay here today we are going to eliminate the No. 42.’ That has to be part of the changing strategy. You have to understand where everyone is within the playoff rundown.”
Letarte on Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth: “As teammates, your expectations have to be the same. Six-and-a-half days of the week you are teammates and share information. Once the green flag falls, you have to go out and attack the race for you and your car.”
Before climbing into his car, Jimmie Johnson joined Krista Voda, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett live on NASCAR on NBCSN’s pre-race set and shared the following comments about his quest for a record eighth NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
Petty: “How drastically has stage racing affected your race for a championship?”
Johnson: “I welcome the challenge. The old format worked so well for me, the way the champion was crowned, the long races, and the ten-race format. We figured out how to win in a short format last year. While this might not be our best year with this format, give us a little time and we will sort it out.”
Jarrett: “Think back to a number of years ago, before you started winning championships, how was the pressure you felt? Is there more pressure on first-time championship hopefuls, or the seven-time champion trying to set a record and get number eight?
Johnson: “I feel there is more pressure on the first championship. Granted, I want to do something that has never been done before, and there is plenty of pressure on my shoulders. But I think the first is the most pressure packed one.”
Voda: “Rutledge shared with us a story about a special moment you got to give one of your fans earlier today. You got to meet with Cindy Gross, after her husband Kevin Gross was tragically killed. That had to be a really special moment for you?”
Johnson: “It was. She was completely surprised by the meet-and-great. The glass car that her husband was bringing for me to sign earlier this year survived the tragic accident and I was able to sign it today for her.”
The full clip is available here.
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–