Month: September 2017

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FOX NASCAR Quotes: McReynolds and Waltrip Break Down Saturday’s Regular Season Finale, Championship Scenarios & Upcoming Playoffs

CHARLOTTE, NC – Saturday night’s MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES race at Richmond Raceway marks the conclusion of the regular season and will determine the 16 drivers who qualify for the championship playoffs. FS1 offers live, pre-race coverage Saturday on NASCAR RACEDAY beginning at 3:30 PM ET.

Below are quotes from FOX NASCAR analysts Larry McReynolds and Michael Waltrip (Waltrip from Monday’s edition of NASCAR RACE HUB on FS1) regarding Saturday’s race and storylines surrounding the countdown to the playoffs:

On Denny Hamlin’s sweep at Darlington Raceway:
“One thing that has changed for Denny, besides maturing a little bit, is he was going through crew chiefs pretty rapidly for a few years. He didn’t quite have the chemistry he was looking for. However, Denny asked specifically for Mike Wheeler, and this is their second season together. I think they’ll be together for a long time because that combination is working.”
–Larry McReynolds

On how the addition of playoff points could affect the title run:
“It’s like having home field advantage in the NFL. You race hard all season long and grab those playoff points, so you can rely on them if you slip and slide in the first three races. Martin Truex Jr. is just about into round 2 by his playoff points, and Jimmie Johnson needs to fight for every point he can get. If you have a problem in one of the races, you can rely on playoff points to help you advance.”
–Michael Waltrip

On whether spring Richmond winner Joey Logano could win this weekend and qualify for the playoffs:
“I think Joey Logano could win Saturday at Richmond and get in the playoffs. They haven’t forgotten how to get around Richmond. They are starting to find some speed, and he has a shot at getting to Victory Lane Saturday night.”
–Larry McReynolds

On the likelihood Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team could “turn up the wick” when the playoffs begin, as they have done in recent years:
“Last year was an eye opener. When I filled my bracket out, I didn’t have him going beyond the first round because I based it on his performance during the summer. This year seems to be different, though, because some teams are so on top of their game and because the Hendrick Motorsports camp is off across the board. Johnson has won three races, but those were his only top-five finishes of the year. You can never count them out, but don’t expect to see the No. 48 flip the light switch when the playoffs begin this season.”
–Larry McReynolds

On the pressure being off Martin Truex Jr. in the first round of the playoffs, given his large amount of playoff points:
“That points cushion is huge because he won regular season points and still two more possible playoff points on the line at Richmond. He has roughly a full race cushion on everyone else. Truex’s playoff points give him a good cushion for at least the first round and maybe the first two.”
–Larry McReynolds

On how Kyle Busch is setting himself up for the playoffs in recent weeks:
“Kyle is setting himself up for the playoffs perfectly. We’re going to be talking about Kyle deep into the playoffs. He and the No. 18 team are starting to peak at the right time.”
–Larry McReynolds

On the recent performance of Erik Jones, who is not locked into the playoffs:
“This kid is hitting his stride. I know how talented he is after watching him come up through the Truck Series. He has a fast car and is putting up numbers that show he not only can get in the playoffs but compete once there.”
–Michael Waltrip

On Joe Gibbs Racing closing the gap on Furniture Row Racing:
“For sure, those two teams have shared information. Andy Graves is a genius and he has those teams right where they need to be as they march toward the playoffs. JGR is in great shape. We saw a lot of speed out of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Those cars will be strong. Kenseth could be a player also in his final year at JGR.”
–Michael Waltrip

On the possibility Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes his final season without making the playoffs:
“Anybody retiring from sports wants to have a really good final season, no matter if they’re a football player or a golfer. Everybody wants to go out on top. But when you have a successful career – and Dale Jr. has had a successful, most likely a Hall of Fame career — one season doesn’t take away from it. I’m sure Dale is disappointed, as is everyone involved or watching. But Hendrick Motorsports is a little behind right now across the board.”
–Larry McReynolds

On possible scenarios in play at Richmond for drivers trying to make it into the playoffs:
“I like what we have headed into Richmond. There are no scenarios to discuss except that drivers outside the top 16 have to win to make the playoffs. There’s no ‘have a solid night and someone else has trouble and you get in.’ Several drivers could still win and make the playoffs. I like the face there’s no math to work on Saturday night. The math is you have to win.”
–Larry McReynolds

On his four picks to contend for the championship in the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
“Some teams continue to get stronger, like the Joe Gibbs Racing bunch. It wasn’t that long ago we were debating what is wrong with JGR, but they have been on a roll lately. And drivers with substantial playoff points, like Martin Truex Jr., will greatly benefit from those points. But they still have to win races and stages and continue to add playoff points. I’ll go with Truex, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. I can almost assure you, though, that a driver is lying in the weeds that we’re not talking much about. Just look back at the first three years of this championship format.”
–Larry McReynolds

Nick Wright, Cris Carter & Jenna Wolfe on FIRST THINGS FIRST Set

FIRST THINGS FIRST WITH CRIS CARTER AND NICK WRIGHT Show Highlights

NEW YORK, NY – FIRST THINGS FIRST WITH CRIS CARTER AND NICK WRIGHT premiered this morning on FS1, ushering in a new wave of early morning sports television conversation. Pro Football Hall of Famer Cris Carter and celebrated sports media personality Nick Wright are joined by longtime broadcaster Jenna Wolfe as they bring viewers the first and most incisive opinions on the day’s top sports stories.

Below are highlights from this morning’s debut:

WATCH: Carter previews Sunday night’s Giants-Cowboys matchup

Carter on the Giants and Cowboys running games:
“One thing we found out since the collective bargaining agreement is that football is less physical and there’s less continuity in the running game, especially early in the season. So watch for the Giants, in the running game, to struggle early. Now regardless if Dallas has Zeke or not, watch for Dallas to get off to a great start because they have the best unit in football. It will help protect them if they don’t have their running back. So that is something to watch the first month of the season.”

WATCH: Wright says the Cavs need to prioritize building a team around LeBron James now instead of planning for the future

Wright on the Cavs:
“The Cavs go back to being the pumpkin they are the moment LeBron James leaves town. There should be no planning for the future, because that future is wack as hell if LeBron leaves. So even if you know he’s leaving, give yourself the best chance to win a title this season.”

WATCH: Carter, Wright and FOX Sports NFL analyst Michael Vick discuss Odell Beckham Jr.’s maturation and the pressure he faces

Vick on Beckham Jr.:
“The fact that he’s in New York really over-amplifies everything, and I think he’s taking it in great stride. As time goes on, he’ll continue to mature, and there will be younger guys that come in and he’ll feel that responsibility to shape and mold those guys as well. I mean, shout-out to Odell, man. He’s doing a great job. You can’t do it any better than that. I think he should get the money that he deserves.”

FIRST THINGS FIRST is live from New York City weekdays from 6:30 to 9:30 AM ET on FS1.