Sunday, October 30th, 2016


 Race winner Jimmie Johnson to Marty Snider: “I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven (Championships) and now I can’t. We are locked in.”


Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Martinsville Speedway: “You feel like as a driver when you race here you really can make a difference from behind the wheel.”


Steve Letarte on Kyle Busch: “Kyle Busch is even more dangerous to win this Championship because he is not driving emotionally, he is driving smart.”


RIDGEWAY, Va. — October 30, 2016 – NBCSN presented the first race of the Round of 8 this afternoon from Martinsville Speedway as the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup intensifies. This afternoon included a visit from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to NBCSN’s broadcast booth and culminated with Jimmie Johnson securing his ninth win at Martinsville Speedway. With the victory, Johnson moves one step closer to an elusive seventh Championship, something only Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. have ever accomplished.


Inside the NBCSN broadcast booth, race announcer Rick Allen and analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte called the action. Working the pits were NBCSN reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns.




Position Driver Car Number
1 Jimmie Johnson 48
2 Brad Keselowski 2
3 Denny Hamlin 11
4 Matt Kenseth 20
5 Kyle Busch 18





Position Driver Points
1 Jimmie Johnson Win
2 Denny Hamlin 4039
3 Matt Kenseth 4039
4 Kyle Busch 4037
5 Joey Logano 4033
6 Kevin Harvick 4021
7 Kurt Busch 4019
8 Carl Edwards 4005


The following are highlights from this afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race coverage on NBCSN.


Earnhardt Jr. as he began his stint on air, 136 laps into the race: “It has been interesting seeing these guys try different lines, again the tire management is so key here.”


Earnhardt Jr. on lap 151: “As a driver, I felt like I pushed harder when I was running inside the top 10. The speeds of the cars up there are competitive and you want to maintain track position, so you go a little bit harder.”


Earnhardt Jr. on Truex Jr. on lap 158: “It is quite a different mentally when you are out of the Chase picture. A lot of pressure and tension is gone from the Truex team. Those guys can really just let it all hang out. They can go out there and try to win races and dominate, like we have seen them do today. The guys that are still in the Chase are watching every lap they run and are being careful.”


Earnhardt Jr. on Martinsville Speedway: “We love to come here and race. Short track racing, we don’t get a lot of it. It is very exciting…This is a driver’s track. You feel like as a driver when you race here you really can make a difference from behind the wheel. As much as the car is important and the team and the crew, the driver feels like he is an equal part of what happens here and any success you might have here. I remember when I won my clock, it was as if I’d won the Daytona 500 again. It is so hard to win here and the clock is such a unique trophy.”


Earnhardt Jr. on Jeff Gordon at lap 282: “Jeff is an amazing driver. One of the best substitutes I could have imagined, especially at Martinsville. We are definitely not going to miss a beat when it comes to Martinsville. That is important for all the tracks throughout the rest of the season too, so when we get in the car in February it is as if we never left.”


Burton in response: “You have done a great job of watching. It seems like you are comfortable watching. Is it weird watching your car go around the race track?”


Earnhardt Jr. added: “For the longest time I didn’t know. I didn’t know whether I would like it or not, but I can’t stay away. So I obviously want to be here. Jeff (Gordon) has an opportunity to maybe win this race, and (I want) to be able to see my guys enjoy that. This whole situation has been challenging for the team.”


Letarte on the delayed restart after the fifth caution: “Lead lap cars line up first, and then lap down cars, then the free pass car, which was the No. 88 of Jeff Gordon. Then behind him, at the tail end of the field, should be all of the wave around cars. The problem is that is very confusing…I applaud NASCAR for leaving the pace car out. You can’t create a points system where three races determine who goes for the Championship and with 127 laps to go there can be no question mark.”


Earnhardt Jr. added: “I agree with Steve. NASCAR is doing the right thing here, taking their time to get all this sorted out. And the drivers agree with this as well. When this doesn’t happen, when we don’t like the lineup and NASCAR allows us to race the drivers all complain afterwards. I like the fact that they are going to get this sorted out, and get this thing correct before we go back to green. There is too much at stake.”


Letarte on Kyle Busch moving aside for Brad Keselowski with 35 laps to go: “This is going to seem silly, but that type of move makes me think Kyle Busch is even more dangerous to win this Championship because he is not driving emotionally, he is driving smart.”


Burton added: “Remember how he won the Championship last year, he didn’t win any (Chase) races until he got to Homestead. He managed the season, he got what he deserved out of his car almost every week once the Chase started. That is the more mature, smarter Kyle Busch.”


Rick Hendrick to Snider on Jimmie Johnson going to Miami for a shot at a seventh Championship: “I’m really happy for the organization, we have been so close at a lot of these races. It just feels good, and we get to go to Texas. We like Texas.”


Race winner Jimmie Johnson to Snider: “I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven (Championships) and now I can’t. We are locked in. I’m just honored to be in this position…It is crazy that we have a shot at seven now. I’m probably going to lie to you guys and say I’m not going to think about it at all, but it is inevitable. Fortunately, we don’t have to think about it for two more weeks, three weeks I guess. We are going to enjoy this and try to get our ducks in a row for Homestead.”