NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr., NBC Sports’ lead IndyCar play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey, IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell, and NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood previewed Sunday’s motorsports doubleheader on NBCSN – featuring the first race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 3 p.m. ET, followed by live coverage of the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale at Sonoma Raceway at 6:30 p.m. ET – on a media conference call on Wednesday.
Sunday’s race at Las Vegas marks the first race of the 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series Playoffs, with 16 drivers competing for the title, while four-time series champion Scott Dixon and 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi face off for the 2018 IndyCar championship in Sonoma. Scott Dixon goes for his fifth career IndyCar title on Sunday, which would move him into second behind A.J. Foyt (7) for the most championships in IndyCar history.
Following are notes and quotes from yesterday’s media conference call. Click here for the full transcript.
DALE EARNHARDT JR./NASCAR QUOTES
Earnhardt on the 2018 Cup Series Playoffs: “We all know how wild and crazy the playoffs get, and with how interesting and dramatic the regular season has been this year, much more so than I believe in the past, I can just imagine this playoff 10-week stretch is going to bring excitement and drama that we’ve not seen in some time.”
Earnhardt on attending the 2019 Indy 500: “I hope that NBC sends me there to do whatever they think they need me to do —“
Flood in response: “Don’t worry, you’re going to the 500, Junior. You’re all set.”
Earnhardt on preparing to race in Richmond: “I’m prepared and have my bag ready to go, my helmet, my suit, everything in it, and I’ll be a busy man, jostling between my responsibilities with NBC and covering practices and qualifications and so forth for the Cup event and then doing the practices and driving the car on the Xfinity side. It’ll be a busy weekend for me. Not something I’d want to be doing often, but there’s a little itch to scratch, and I’m looking forward to having this opportunity to race a little bit, have some fun.”
Earnhardt on Jimmie Johnson: “I’m sure that there’s some concern in his mind over his ability to go out there and perform how he knows he needs to perform to move through the rounds and get a shot at winning the championship. He’s starting to see some more speed in his cars than they had earlier in the year, but he knows it’s still not exactly where they need to be to compete with the Penske team over the last couple of weeks or compete with Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas.”
LEIGH DIFFEY/TOWNSEND BELL INDYCAR QUOTES
Bell on comparison of Dixon and Rossi: “For the better part of 15 years, Scott Dixon has been the measuring stick. He’s been the bar…for the first time in Scott Dixon’s career, somebody has surfaced and emerged on the scene in Alexander Rossi who is very, very much like Dixon.”
Diffey on Rossi’s demeanor: “He’s not the biggest personality in the paddock, but one of his common themes is, ‘A, I make no apologies, and B, I’m not really here to make any friends.’ That’s not a cliché, that’s his words. So he’s here to do one thing and one thing only, and he’s probably done it the best this season.”
Bell on Rossi: “He never really had a penalty that I know of this season for rough driving, but he’s ruffled plenty of feathers, and he’s done it unapologetically. It’s just that intensity of focus and only really caring about the results. If that’s made him a villain, I don’t think he particularly cares. The results speak for themselves, and that’s kind of who he is and how he’s going to race.”
Diffey on current state of IndyCar: “The depth of talent is there plus a lot of international talent, and to me that harkens back to IndyCar’s big appeal, fast cars, good-looking cars, the four different disciplines of circuits, great American talent, and then other drivers from around the world, and going to places where there is a really good IndyCar fan base…there are just so many positives at the moment. I think it’s a really great time for the series.”
Sunday’s race day coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, with NASCAR America, followed by NBC Sports Group’s pre-race show, Countdown to Green, at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC Sports’ lead race announcer Rick Allen will call the action alongside 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton. Motorsports icon and NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte will provide additional insight from NBCSN’s second broadcast booth.
Krista Voda will host pre- and post-race coverage alongside auto racing icon Kyle Petty and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns and Parker Kligerman will report from pit road alongside features reporter Rutledge Wood.
Coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma begins Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET, immediately following NASCAR coverage from Las Vegas. NBC Sports’ lead IndyCar play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey will call this weekend’s Grand Prix of Sonoma alongside analysts and former drivers Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell. Robin Miller, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee, and Katie Hargitt will report from the pits.
STREAMING COVERAGE ON NBCSPORTS.COM AND THE NBC SPORTS APP
NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs — will provide live streaming coverage of this weekend’s NASCAR and IndyCar events via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value to their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.
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