Ryan Newman on crash with Tony Stewart: “I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues.”
Tony Stewart on Ryan Newman: “How many times does a guy get a free pass until you have had enough of it?”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Steve Letarte: “I feel healthy and young. I don’t feel like an old man that needs to be thinking about retirement.”
RICHMOND, Va. – September 11, 2016 – NBCSN presented the final race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup regular-season Saturday evening from Richmond International Raceway. The pivotal race, which determined the top 16 drivers advancing on to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase, concluded with hometown driver Denny Hamlin securing his third win of the 2016 season.
NBC Sports’ lead broadcast team of Rick Allen, Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton called the race. Krista Voda, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett hosted NASCAR America Saturday, Countdown to Green and post-race coverage. Marty Snider, Mike Massaro, Kelli Stavast and Dave Burns reported from pit road. Nate Ryan and Rutledge Wood contributed throughout the broadcast.
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||78|
Sixteen drivers punched their ticket into the Chase and will compete in NASCAR’s playoffs beginning next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray secured the remaining three spots in the Chase on points.
2016 SPRINT CUP CHASE DRIVERS
|Martin Truex Jr.|
The following are highlights from this evening’s Sprint Cup coverage from Richmond on NBCSN.
This evening’s pre-race show on NBCSN featured an exclusive interview with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is sidelined for the rest of the 2016 season due to a concussion. Below are highlights from the interview conducted by NBC Sports’ Steve Letarte.
NASCAR on NBCSN analyst Steve Letarte: “I want to be clear and make sure we are on the same page. Your goal, symptom free, is to drive a race car?”
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: “Yes, I have the passion to race. I love to win. I love to run well. I love to be a part of a team. The thing is when you have a head injury racing is out of the picture…I know what is going to happen. As soon as I’m healthy my focus is going to jump right back into racing. It was the same way in 2012 when the doctor said ‘I’m good, and I’m going to go win races.’ And then we went and won races. We had some great years. I feel healthy and young. I don’t feel like an old man that needs to be thinking about retirement.”
Letarte: “You are not going to drive for the rest of the 2016 season, so help us understand your role in the No. 88 car not behind the wheel?”
Earnhardt Jr.: “It is weird. I wish I could tell you what that is. When you are not driving a car, you just don’t feel like you have any purpose. Get me in a race car because that is the only way I feel like I belong to something, or I matter to someone. I know that Rick Hendrick cares about me as a person. I know that Hendrick Motorsports feels the same way but it really felt good to be a part of the puzzle. Greg (Ives) and I FaceTime. They send me all the information after practice. Greg and I bounce ideas off each other about changes on the cars even though I’m 100s of miles away. That makes me feel useful. But I don’t know about being there Friday, Saturday and Sunday twiddling my thumbs waiting on somebody to need me for something, it is a little weird.”
Letarte: “Whether you like it or not your name, your likeness, your story, will be associated with a concussion discussion.”
Earnhardt Jr.: “I have been able to help some people directly. If you have a family member who is going through it and you have never dealt with it, you are seeing a different person. They are just not the person you remember. I can help you understand why they are that way and give you some comfort in knowing that this is not a permanent situation, and that they can get this corrected. But I don’t know that I belong in front of a large audience at a podium.
Letarte: “You don’t need a podium. This is your podium. You raised your hand. You spoke up. It is not a podium, it is by action.”
The full interview is available here.
In a pre-race feature Chris Buescher discussed his first career Sprint Cup win at Pocono Raceway and his chances of securing a position in his first Chase: “What needs to happen in Richmond in the simplest form is we need to finish every single lap. If we can do just that we are in.”
SPRINT CUP RACE COVERAGE
Austin Dillon to Burton via radio communication before the green flag: “Richmond has fooled me before. You just never know what this place can throw at you throughout a race. I’ve had cars that were good here for a short run and not good for a long run, and the opposite. I think we have a good car for this race and we are going to have some fun.”
Burton on Jimmie Johnson’s struggles just over half way through the race: “This does not look like a Chad Knaus No. 48 team! They just don’t have the speed. They seem unorganized. They just don’t seem ready for this Chase that is about to start.”
Letarte on the addition of different timing zones on pit road: “This is something NASCAR is going to do at all the tracks moving forward to try and reduce some of the advantages of the pit boxes. So drivers are going to have to adjust. We have seen more penalties at many tracks because of this.”
Burton added: “We have been trained for the last several years to push hard on pit road under a different system. Now everyone has to back it up a little bit. The shorter timing zones make it much easier to get caught speeding on pit road.”
Burton after Matt Kenseth goes hard into the wall with 63 laps to go: “This is an opportunity with 63 to go. Someone has to take a gamble. Someone has to do what the leaders don’t do. This may be the last caution, it may not. If it doesn’t work for you, who cares? Kasey Kahne, Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman, all those guys have to do what the leaders don’t do.”
Letarte after the 14 car crash with 37 laps to go: “We knew it was going to be a crazy night in Richmond, but this succeeded what we thought.”
A clip of the full crash is available here.
Ryan Newman to Burns after the big crash with 37 laps to go: “I’m fine. It think it was pretty obvious watching the video…The No. 14 cut across my noise going down the back straightaway. I guess he thought he was in a sprint car again and didn’t know how to control his anger….It is just disappointing that you got somebody old like that, who should be retired the way he drives. It is just ridiculous. I only hit him in turn one when he cut across my noise. I don’t think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues.”
Newman’s full interview is available here.
Burton on race winner Denny Hamlin: “Denny Hamlin, with that great restart, separated himself. If he hadn’t gotten that restart the No. 42 would have had that run coming. Leaving the restart zone is so important. It is so difficult, with those old tires, to get traction and Denny mastered it.”
Tony Stewart to Snider on Newman’s claim that their crash was intentional: “He is right. That was the third time he had driven into me during the night. How many times does a guy get a free pass until you have had enough of it? He has to do his part racing for a Championship too…It is not like I was trying to squeeze him in the infield or something. Ryan and I have been good friends, I don’t do that to him. He gets me in (turn) one, and he gets me off of (turn) two. It is the third time by then, and there was another one earlier in the race that nobody saw. Three times, that is two more times than I normally let someone run into me.”
Stewart’s full interview is available here.
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–