NBC Sports NASCAR analysts Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte discussed the major storylines and takeaways from NASCAR’s return at Darlington Raceway on the latest edition NASCAR America At Home on NBCSports.com and the Motorsports on NBC YouTube page.
Topics from Sunday night’s NASCAR America At Home included:
- Kevin Harvick’s performance en route to his 50th Cup Series win
- Dale Jr. and Letarte on Jimmie Johnson’s performance and prospects for this season
- Letarte and Burton on future of practices
- Top 10 finishes by rookies Tyler Reddick and John Hunter Nemecheck
The trio also interviewed Tyler Reddick to discuss his Top 10 performance. Click here to watch the interview.
Harvick will join Mike Tirico on Lunch Talk Live today at noon discuss his win at Darlington and NASCAR’s return. Following are excerpts from Sunday night’s edition of NASCAR America at Home:
Earnhardt Jr. on NASCAR’s return and Harvick’s win: “Rodney Childers and the no. 4 team prepared an incredible car…I feel like his leadership was really on display today…no way to lean on the driver to give him feedback on what direction to go with the car. It was an opportunity for him or any crew chief to step up, and that’s what (the No. 4 team) did.”
Burton on Jimmie Johnson: “This was a big race in the history of NASCAR … Jimmie Johnson ran really well. I know he’s heartbroken tonight. He had the lead with one to go at the end of the stage and just made a mistake in my eyes…it was good at the very least to see the no. 48 out front.”
Letarte on Johnson: “When you get a star that’s in a slump, they almost try too hard…that was Jimmie Johnson, trying too hard with one lap to go in a stage. He’s only won a handful of stages since stage racing has begun...Jimmie was the guy when we chased him that never made mistakes. You had to beat him. He didn’t beat himself. What Jimmie Johnson did was eliminate his chances in the first stage. That’s not very Jimmie Johnson-esque. What I saw up until that mistake is a team and a driver that can win a race. The question has been, can he win a race in this final year? From what I saw, it would be yes.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Johnson: “If he can clean up those mental mistakes, dial it back a little bit, have faith in his car for the duration for the race and put races together, he’ll not only win races but have a real opportunity to play a role in the Playoffs later in the season.”
Letarte on impact of less practice: “I’m always on team ‘no practice’ or ‘less practice.’ I realize we’re going to have some practice at some point this season…but can we all agree we don’t need two or three hours (of practice)? This was zero practice in 71 days and other than Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s mistake on the first lap, not only was the racing great, but there were some different names, different moves, different guys throughout the race.”
Burton on impact of less practice: “Even though there were so many things done differently to make this race happen, it didn’t show up…it really makes me question, how much practice do we really need? This has given NASCAR and the teams and opportunity to look at different ways to do different things and how can the sport be better for it…John Hunter Nemecheck is a great example. He got a Top 10 finish and that’s like a win for that team. If every team out there would have practice, could they have made that happen? I don’t know.”
Earnhardt Jr. on John Hunter Nemecheck and impact of iRacing: “I feel like what we did during the break where we were racing online with iRacing may have given some guys a little bit of confidence to be able to go out there and compete and run up front. I know that’s a crazy idea, but someone like John Hunter Nemecheck that has been honing his skills, doing well in the iRacing in the last couple of months…I think that carried over.”
Earnhardt Jr. on Tyler Reddick: “He continues to amaze me…he’s not making these rookie mistakes that are taking him out of the running, especially at a place like Darlington where it’s easy…he’s got the confidence. He doesn’t know any better. He’s just driving that thing as hard as he can go.”
Letarte on William Byron: “One flat tire – William Byron was going to show the world that he was going to go to victory lane…I think William Byron will be one to watch. Bad luck got him at Darlington, not a mistake.”
New post-race episodes of NASCAR America At Home will be posted following the checkered flag of each NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series as NASCAR makes its return, and new weekday editions of NASCAR America At Home will be posted during the week.
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