NBC Sports presented the final race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season this afternoon on NBC from one of the most iconic racetracks in the world, Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Ind. Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag in the Big Machine Vodka 400 for his second career win at the Brickyard, and veteran drivers Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman secured the final two spots in the 2019 Playoffs which begin next Sunday night in Las Vegas on NBCSN.
Sunday’s race on NBC marked the third and final “radio-style” broadcast of the 2019 NASCAR season, with announcers positioned from multiple vantage points around the track. NASCAR on NBC’s lead race announcer Rick Allen and Daytona 500 winning crew chief Steve Letarte called the race from NBC Sports’ traditional broadcast booth above the start-finish line.
Veteran MRN and SiriusXM radio announcer Mike Bagley was positioned in Turn 2, racing legend and two-time Daytona 500-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was stationed in Turn 3, and 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton called the action from Turn 4. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns, and Rutledge Wood reported from pit road and the grandstands.
Pre-race coverage on NBCSN began at 12:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR America and shifted to NBC at 1:30 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green, hosted by Krista Voda from NBC Sports’ “Peacock Pit Box” alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett.
2019 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PLAYOFF DRIVERS
|Martin Truex Jr.|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBC:
Burton on competitiveness heading into the Playoffs: “I don’t know who the favorite is. It has gotten completely mixed up. Kevin Harvick has gotten hot at the right time…I think it’s as equal as I remember seeing it.”
Letarte looking ahead to Las Vegas next weekend: “I have no idea what to expect when the cars take the track in Las Vegas. If this race today is any sort of sign, it is going to be chaos.”
Jarrett on Ryan Newman: “All due respect to everybody that has all of these wins – Ryan Newman has taken a team and a car that shouldn’t have been there battling for the Top 16 and put them into the Playoffs.”
Letarte on Harvick’s win: “This is a crown jewel race. This is the type of trophy that goes in the front of your trophy case, and this may be the type of win that lights a fire underneath Kevin Harvick heading into the Playoffs.”
Bagley on Harvick: “He hasn’t set the world on fire like he has in years past, but this is a lot of confidence going into the Playoffs.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Bubba Wallace’s third-place finish: “Pretty awesome day for a guy named Bubba Wallace. This is a team and a driver that don’t have a ton of opportunities to show what they could do. He was excited about his car…he was able to survive, work his way through the field and finish in the Top 3.”
Letarte on unpredictability of this year’s race at the Brickyard: “I didn’t see any of this coming. I was expecting a pretty calm day, a track-position sort of day…it’s been anything but. I think we’re at the Brickyard, but look at some of these cars – I feel like maybe we’re at Martinsville.”
Letarte on Bubba Wallace: “This is the run of the season for the No. 43 team.”
Burton on Jimmie Johnson’s wreck: “Going three-wide usually doesn’t work very well at Indy.”
Burton on Johnson missing the Playoffs for the first time in his career: “He’s a seven-time champion. You just expect that he’s going to be a part of the Playoff conversation…he’s not done. He is not going to end his career like this. He told me, he looked in the eye, and he said, ‘I’m going to find a way to get back to the lead of this pack. I’m not going to end my career like this.’ When he looks me in the eye, I believe him.’”
Earnhardt Jr. on Johnson: “Even for a seven-time champion like Jimmie Johnson, there are a lot of lows…this is just going to be one of those hurdles that he is going to have to get through…it’s going to be all about winning for Jimmie Johnson. He’s going to be even more determined to get that team to victory lane to end on some sort of high note.”
Letarte on Johnson: “It’s shocking for all of us because for the last 15 years, this was the bar…Jimmie Johnson defined the bar…people either loved or hated to watch a NASCAR race because Jimmie Johnson dominated. It was a lot like Tiger Woods. If you turned on golf, he was going to win.”
Bagley on wild racing prior to Stage Two: “It’s been wild. It’s been crazy. That’s an understatement.”
Snider: “Twice in his career, in 2005 and 2013, Ryan Newman has raced his way into the playoffs. He said, ‘I’ve seen this movie before’; but he told me, ‘I think I’m one level beyond veteran – I think that makes me a senior veteran. I’ve lived through the ups and downs, so I view this as a great opportunity to have fun today. I appreciate being in this spot more than I ever have in my career, and trust me – there’s a lot of drivers in the field who would love to be in my position today.’”
Stavast on Clint Bowyer: “On the other side of the playoff bubble sits Clint Bowyer. He has the easiest path to the postseason: eight points above the cutoff line, but Clint admits that nothing about this process or even this week has been easy; instead, it has been pressure-packed – but that is the pressure that this driver lives for. They breathe that sigh of relief after qualifying third.”
Stavast on Jimmie Johnson: “What is the postseason like without Jimmie Johnson? Well, nobody knows because it has never happened.”
NBC Sports PR