Notes & quotes from NBC Sports Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff racing at ISM Raceway on NBC

NBC Sports presented the semifinal race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on Sunday afternoon on NBC, as Denny Hamlin won his sixth race of the 2019 season at ISM Raceway to join Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, who qualified on points, as the Championship Four drivers that will compete for the title next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday on NBC.

NBC Sports’ Rick Allen called the action alongside Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte. 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton and racing legend and two-time Daytona 500-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. provided commentary from a second booth. Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Dave Burns, Parker Kligerman and Rutledge Wood reported from pit road and the grandstands.

Coverage on NBC began at 1:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR America and Countdown to Green, hosted by Krista Voda from NBC Sports’ “Peacock Pit Box” near pit road at the “Monster Mile,” alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett. Pre-race coverage on NBC included:

Position Driver Car#
1 Denny Hamlin 11
2 Kyle Busch 18
3 Ryan Blaney 12
4 Kyle Larson 42
5 Kevin Harvick 4

The following are highlights from this afternoon’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race coverage on NBC:


Hamlin to Wood during the burnout interview: “I’ve been through so many Playoffs and so many things that could go wrong – this year I’m always waiting on the next right thing to happen.”

Letarte on Hamlin’s win: “What a car. What a call. I thought four tires were needed and they proved me wrong. The restart was unreal.”

Petty: “There are performances that we as fans are able to watch and stick with you forever…this is one of those days. Remember when Denny Hamlin went into Phoenix 20 points out and had to make something happen.”

Earnhardt Jr. on the No. 11 team: “The turnaround on this team from last year to this year is just amazing. The change in crew chief – the drivers have a lot of talent, but you’ve got to have that guy on the box that can pull all the people around you.”

Letarte: “Denny Hamlin proved to everyone else that he could do it on the biggest stage…clearly the biggest win of his career.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Hamlin’s win: “It was like a walk-off grand slam to end the game…I would say that celebration was akin to a team winning a division title…it tells you how important it is to all of these guys.”

Burton on impact of Hamlin’s win heading into Homestead-Miami: “When you have to go somewhere and you have to win and you haven’t really done that, going against three guys who have, now you feel like you can do it. The way he won is a down payment on a championship in the future.”


Allen: “Denny Hamlin has done it! He’s won his way into the Championship Four!”

Burton on Hamlin’s restart with four laps to go: “How about Denny Hamlin? Needed that great restart and got it under pressure.”

Burns on Joey Logano’s struggles as he pits with 65 laps to go: “Team Penske is trying to fix a 3,000-pound rolling science project that has gone bad.”

Burton on Hamlin’s dominant performance with 70 laps to go: “He is half a lap ahead of teammate Kyle Busch who is in second place. Think about that. It’s amazing how fast this car is.”

Snider on Hamlin: “On the subject of the 2010 season for Denny Hamlin, I asked crew chief Chris Gabehart about that and he said, ‘I think this moment, this weekend would be too big for the 2010 Denny Hamlin. The 2019 Denny Hamlin is up for it.’”

Burton on Hamlin with 112 laps to go: “This year is his best chance to make that happen. He made a mistake last week. He can recover, come back from that and he can make this year a career-defining year for himself by overcoming adversity. Denny Hamlin has shown that he’s ready for that and he’s in position.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Logano early in Stage 3: “Joey’s car doesn’t look like it’s getting any better as the race goes on. If anything, it looks like they aren’t able to keep up with the race track…the No. 22 is fighting to keep position.”

Burton on Chase Elliott’s wreck on lap 166 to end his Championships hopes: “Just a horrible Round of 8 for this team. The mechanical failure at Martinsville, the wreck at Texas, and now the incident here.”

Letarte on Elliott: “The Round of 8 has been anything but kind to the No. 9 car.”

Allen on Hamlin winning Stage 1: “He knew it could be a career-changing day…what does he do? He goes out and he wins Stage 1.”

Earnhardt Jr. on Roger Penske’s acquisition of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway: “I went to the Indy 500 for the first time in my life this year, and the one word I took away from that was ‘tradition.’ Knowing that Roger’s in charge of that, it’s going to stay in good hands.”

NBC Sports PR

Speedway Digest Staff

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