“It’s for a chance at the Cup Series Championship and a clock. This Playoff system was put in place to challenge drivers to do things they would not normally do, and that is what we saw here today.” – Jeff Burton on the contact between Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap
“At the end of the day, it’s for a trip to the Championship, it’s a trip to Homestead. It is the last lap of the race and it’s for a clock!” – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“In my mind, this has opened the door to Martin Truex Jr. retaliating. If I know the No. 78, he’s not going to do it in Texas or Phoenix where it’s most valuable, he will wait until Miami.” – Steve Letarte
RIDGEWAY, Va. – October 28, 2018 – NBC Sports Group’s presentation of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 continued this week with nine hours of trackside coverage from Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Va. Coverage was highlighted by this afternoon’s Cup Series Playoff race on NBCSN, which saw Joey Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske Ford take the checkered flag. The win secured Logano a position in the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, November 18 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
Lead NASCAR on NBC race announcer Rick Allen called the race, 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 NBCSN’s “Drivers Booth.”
Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Parker Kligerman and Dave Burns reported from pit road.
Coverage began on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 2 p.m. ET. Krista Voda hosted pre- and post-race coverage alongside Kyle Petty and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett.
Prior to the start of today’s race, seven-time Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, and Ally Financial CEO Jeffery Brown, joined Voda atop NBC Sports Group’s “Peacock Pit Box” to announce Ally Bank’s primary sponsorship of Johnson and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy for the 2019 and 2020 Cup Series seasons. To view click here.
Pre-race coverage also included a special feature on the historic success of Johnson and his championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus, narrated by veteran sports reporter Tim Layden. To view click here.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBCSN.
Earnhardt on the contact between Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap: “I think Truex expected Logano to race him a little cleaner, because of how Truex raced Logano in the final laps. At the end of the day, it’s for a trip to the Championship, it’s a trip to Homestead. It is the last lap and it’s for a clock!”
Burton added: “I’d be mad too. You drove the guy clean. You could have moved him out of the way, but then he does it to you. Remember the ROVAL. That same thing happened to Truex in Charlotte, when he got taken out as he was about to get the checkered flag.”
Burton on Logano: “It’s for a chance at the Cup Series Championship and a clock. He was so close to a Championship a few years ago. This was a chance to get himself back in that position. This Playoff system was put in place to challenge drivers to do things they would not normally do, and that is what we just saw here today.”
Letarte on the final lap: “Martin Truex Jr. raced Joey Logano cleanly, and Joey Logano chose to squarely hit him in the bumper and pass him in Turn 3. Every driver has to make that decision, and Joey Logano made it. You saw how upset Martin Truex Jr. was, and in my mind this has opened the door to Martin Truex Jr. retaliating. If I know the No. 78, he’s not going to do it in Texas or Phoenix where it’s most valuable, he will wait until Miami. Will he get the opportunity? We will have to wait and see. What we do know is that Joey Logano will be racing for a Championship, but it will not be without controversy. Martin Truex Jr. seems pretty determined to me that he is still going to try and win this year’s Championship, and the No. 22 of Joey Logano will not have a chance.”
Earnhardt on the race: “Like everyone always says, we need more short tracks. This was a good race with a great finish. A lot of fans might be upset by what went down, but this is the box that these drivers race in. What matters is a Championship. Joey Logano does not have a Cup Series Championship, and he’s trying to get to Homestead. Joey is going to do whatever he can. He didn’t wreck Martin, he didn’t put him in the fence. I’ve told Martin for a long time that he’s too nice, but I would be upset too. Joey is now hoping that Martin never gets that chance to get him back at Homestead. Joey’s hope is that he runs in the front at Homestead and Truex struggles.”
Burton added: “We’re assuming Martin Truex Jr. will be at Homestead with a chance to win the Championship. He still has work to do. Joey Logano doesn’t. That’s how much is on the line. It’s not a given that Martin will have a chance to win the Championship in Miami, and that’s why he’s mad. He drove someone cleanly and he did not get it back. I see both sides of it. This system puts so much pressure on drivers unlike any system before. Never has there been so much pressure on a single race, within a season. This was not the last race of the year. It just puts the drivers in a tough spot, but it’s great for us to get to watch. We were treated today to some high-stakes racing. I wouldn’t want to be running against Martin Truex Jr., with a few laps to go, during the next few weeks. Martin Truex Jr. has been wrecked in two races as he was coming to the checkered flag. I would not want to be in front of him if he needs to get the win.”
Burton on Martin Truex Jr. passing Joey Logano for the lead on lap 365: “Second place right now is a lot better for Logano than getting wrecked. Truex is clearly faster. Logano knows how hard he has pushed his car, and how hard he has punished his tires. Sometimes you just have to back up and understand there are more laps coming.”
Earnhardt on the battle between Logano and Truex Jr. on lap 359: “A lot of trust here between the No. 22 and No. 78 to be racing this way and this close, at this point in the race.”
Letarte on Denny Hamlin on lap 180: “The car I keep noticing is the No. 11. We talked about the length of this race. It’s 500 laps, and we are not even half way there. Hamlin is almost on cruise control running in the fourth position. He doesn’t look like he wants to take the lead. This five- time winner knows how to save equipment and stay out of issues. No bent fenders, no cut tires, and he will be around when it matters most at the end of the race.”
Burton on the battle between Kyle Bush and Kurt Bush on lap 155: “It’s so hard to race against your brother. You take a lot of pride as a family, especially when you have two champions in the same family. It’s just so difficult when you’re racing against someone you love and care about, because you have to be selfish. You have to want what’s best for you and your team.”
Earnhardt added: “Those two have been racing against each other since they were kids. At the Las Vegas Bullring they ran cars together, and have raced against each other on every level throughout their lives. They probably know each other better than anyone else in the field.”
Earnhardt on A.J. Allmendinger: “Martinsville is a place where A.J. can come and make a difference. This is a driver’s racetrack and he’s run really well here over the past several years. He feels like this is their opportunity to come out of here with a Top 10 or Top 5 finish.”
Allen on the tight turns at Martinsville: “The drivers are going 60 miles per hour in the turn here, and they’re within inches of each other, without hitting each other. That’s like going on a freeway off-ramp at 60 miles per hour, trying to make that turn, and you have to stay off the bumper of the guy in front of you.”
Letarte on the Round of 8 drivers: “Non-Playoff drivers tend to win this race. It’s short-track racing. As much as a win will advance them to the Championship in Miami, there is so much to lose. It’s the first race of this round, and it’s so easy to get impatient early. This is a long race. We’re only 38 laps in of 500, and you can already see it.”
Petty on the “Big 3” of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.: “The ‘Big 3’ just want to have a solid race today. They always come to win, but really they just need a solid race. Kyle Busch can win this thing, but Martin Truex has his work cut out for him. Not only has he never won on a short track, he’s starting at the rear. Passing cars here today will be difficult.”
Jarrett added: “The Furniture Row crew knows they will have to be strong and use strategy to get Truex ahead of the pack on pit road, to help get him a better restart position at some point. Kevin Harvick also understands what he has to do here, but you can’t be too conservative and just try and get a Top 10. You’ll find yourself getting run over on one of these restarts.”
Letarte on Martinsville Speedway: “The first thing you have to do is survive. This is NASCAR’s version of full contact auto racing, and patience runs thin here.”
Letarte on pit road: “This is one of the most difficult pit roads in NASCAR. It’s slow, it’s small, and the boxes are cramp. You are doing everything you can do to not make mistakes or effect your neighbor. The pole-position is absolutely going to help Kyle Busch in that No. 1 pit box.”
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–