NBC Sports presented the first race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs this evening on NBCSN from Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, Nev., as Martin Truex Jr. took the win in the South Point 400 for his fifth victory of the 2019 season.
NBC Sports’ Rick Allen called the action alongside racing legend and two-time Daytona 500-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte provided commentary from a secondary booth. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns, and Parker Kligerman reported from pit road and the grandstands.
Coverage on NBCSN began at 5 p.m. ET with NASCAR America, hosted by Krista Voda from NBC Sports’ “Peacock Pit Box” alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett. Pre-race coverage on NBCSN included:
- Interviews with all 16 of the Playoff drivers;
- The latest installment of “Behind the Driver” featuring Kurt Busch as he discussed the influence his father had on his career and how racing ran in his family;
- And the latest installment “My Track My Roots” as Kyle Busch described how his grassroots racing in Las Vegas every weekend shaped his career.
- The latest “Joyride with Jeff” as Jeff Burton sped around Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone.
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||19|
The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBCSN:
Burton on aggressive driving in 2019: “Anything can happen. It’s a mile-and-a-half and these cars look like they just raced at Martinsville. This entire year has been like this. The races have been crazy, it’s been aggressive, drivers doing things they didn’t used to do and you’re seeing that. And now you add the intensity of trying to win a championship to that, it just doesn’t surprise me to see all the contact we saw tonight.”
Letarte: “And this is at the mile-and-a-half – so let’s go to a short track and a road course, what could possibly happen?’
Letarte: “I didn’t have Truex picked but crew chief Cole Pearn obviously had a plan and that plan worked.”
Earnhardt Jr. on moving on in the Playoffs: “You know the guys that you expect to make their way through the Playoffs. Harvick and Truex, there’s a list of guys there. Who tonight might have put themselves in a good position to continue on? Bowman, Blaney, Byron…guys without a lot of experience.”
Allen on Truex Jr.’s win: “The last driver to with the playoff opening and the championship was Martin Truex Jr. two years ago.”
Letarte on Kyle Busch: “Be glad you’re out of Las Vegas and on to Richmond.”
Letarte on relationship between Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn with 17 laps to go: “I asked Martin, how did he and Martin become so tight? He said his first year at Furniture Row… he said, ‘Cole Pearn was the engineer and believed in me. Every bad practice every bad race, he never questioned my ability.’”
Letarte on the advancing in the Playoffs: “Survive and advance folks. That’s what the playoffs are all about.”
Burton on Ryan Newman: “He has not been a guy to get stage points. He gets finishes.”
Earnhardt Jr. on stages: “The stages get more intense in every single race, and as we go into the Playoffs the season gets more intense. What a great time to be a race fan.”
Burton on Kurt Busch crash: “He’s in a must-win situation in the next two races.”
Letarte on the difficulty predicting how the track would cool down: “These tracks don’t change on a light switch – just because the lights are on and the sun is down, the track doesn’t cool instantly, it takes time. Just like your asphalt driveway, if it gets hot in the middle of the day, it takes an hour, two hours to cool down.”
Allen on Truex Jr. with two laps left in Stage 2: “Everyone that has won Stage 2 at Las Vegas has gone on to win the race.”
Stavast on Jimmie Johnson: “His crew chief said, ‘We are moving on, 2020 starts for us right now.’ They tried a couple things at practice to potentially help out their Hendrick Motorsports teammates who are in the Playoffs. This team is not done yet, they want to close out the season with a win.”
Snider on Truex Jr.: “Martin said [to his team], ‘Get the jitters out, we can’t have in the Playoffs’. Since then he has driven his way from 18th to 7th. A moment ago, he told the team on the radio ‘We got something to work with here.’ Keep an eye on the 19 – he is one of the three fastest cars.”
Burton on Kyle Busch: “He’s been pretty clear he doesn’t like this package, and I think his frustrations are high. He’s started the race frustrated and that has an effect. You got to start this race with a positive attitude.
Letarte on crew chiefs dealing with track cooling at Las Vegas for the first time: “That is a legitimate concern, I don’t know, the crew chiefs don’t know…I’ve done this for 25 years of my life and I don’t know.”
Letarte on Kyle Busch’s start: “It’s supposed to be easy and here you are, it’s six laps into the Playoffs, you’re way back in the pack, you’ve damaged your Toyota. It’s anything but easy.”
NBC Sports PR