RELATED: See the throwback schemes for Darlington Just when it looked like Darlington Raceway 's 1970s "throwback" promotion couldn't get any groovier with retro race car paint schemes and a return to the track's historical Labor Day weekend calendar spot, NBC Sports upped the game again. The network announced Tuesday that iconic broadcaster Ken Squier will team with NASCAR Hall of Famers -- and father and son -- Ned and Dale Jarrett in the broadcast booth for a portion of Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 telecast on NBC (7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Not only will the race look like a blast from the past, it will sound like one, too. "Something I'm looking extremely forward to is to have a chance to call some of the race with my dad and Ken Squier, who really helped put our sport on the map,'' said Dale Jarrett , who appears on NBC's pre-race show along with Krista Voda and Kyle Petty. Viewers can expect to be transported to a different era in the sport with approximately 30 cars running retro paint schemes and the broadcast set to adjust even fine details, like making its graphics and logo authentic to the time. The track nicknamed "Too Tough to Tame" is itself a perennial "throwback" to some of the most noteworthy historical times in NASCAR. Described Squier, "Darlington is truly like no other, its imperfections ... it's the perfect competitive place for NASCAR." "Authentic" was the buzzword Tuesday afternoon as the NASCAR on NBC team shared its collective thoughts about one of the sport's most traditional races, the Southern 500 and its long-awaited move back to its Labor Day weekend position on the schedule for the first time since 2003. Squier called it "the best move NASCAR has made in a decade." Others spoke at length about how this weekend's race at the notoriously tough Darlington venue also represents a bridge between the longtime NASCAR purists and the new generation of fans. "I think it's really important to understand where you came from to know where you're going, and what a perfect weekend to do it,'' NBC analyst and former Darlington winner Jeff Burton said. "At a time we look back and celebrate the past, we can celebrate what's going on now too." Fellow analyst Petty agreed the weekend would please those who hang onto the memories of Richard Petty battling David Pearson, Ned Jarrett's record 14-lap margin of victory, Dale Earnhardt's afternoons charming "The Lady in Black" and Bill Elliott winning $1 million in the old Winston Million incentive program. At the same time, there is hope the attention generated this weekend will pique the interest of new fans who have a wide field of young new talent ready to follow in the legends footsteps here. "It's a time to wax nostalgic, but also an opportunity to educate fans to the history of the sport at a place that has that much history … and at the same time introduce them to what the sport has now," Petty said. "There are certain places that evoke history and the guys that came before you, and Darlington's that place. It's still the exact same place my granddad drove around 50-60 years ago. "I was ecstatic when they moved it back to Labor Day. ... This is where it should be. "All is right with the world this week for me because we'll be in Darlington and it's Labor Day."
Meet Todd, Official NASCAR Fan Council member of the month Name: Todd Current City: Fayetteville, North Carolina Member since: 2010 Getting to know Todd Q. Why did you join the Official NASCAR Fan Council? "I am very passionate about NASCAR and have been a fan for over 30 years. I joined the NASCAR Fan Council to have a voice and help improve this sport in any way I can." Q. What comes to mind when you think of NASCAR? What's your favorite NASCAR memory? "I am a fan of several sports and I think that NASCAR, by far, is the best sport in the world. It is filled with passionate fans and drivers. I like the fact that drivers, whether good or bad, show their passion and emotions and NASCAR allows them to. "I have attended many races over the years and have many great memories but my greatest memory was my very first Daytona 500 in 2007. It is a day I will never forget. I have continued to go every year since." Q: Do you have a favorite in any of the following categories? Driver: " Austin Dillon " Track: "Daytona" Memorabilia: "I have a ton of memorabilia but my two favorite items are a Dale Jarrett autographed diecast and an autographed Austin Dillon hat (I met him last year). My picture even made the NASCAR website from that one." Q: If you could go to any NASCAR race/track, where would you go? "A night race at Bristol" Q: What do you like to do in your free time? "I like to hunt, fish, watch NASCAR racing, and spend time with my family. We love to travel." Q: Tell us about your family. Do you have children and/or pets? "I am happily married and have two children." Q: What's your dream car? "I would have to say a Corvette." From all of us at NASCAR, we thank todd for His continued support and look forward to hearing from him in 2015! Look for Todd on the Official NASCAR Fan Council page on NASCAR.COM.
RELATED: NXS results from Iowa " Truck results from Pocono Dale Earnhardt Jr . says the No. 88 team was lucky to drive away with a fourth-place finish at Pocono but had high praise for his JR Motorsports teams' performances last weekend. Saying it was a great weekend overall for the organization, Junior was excited about second places for Regan Smith in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Camping World Truck s Series. Earnhardt said Smith "did a good job" and said Harvick "didn't have a winning truck but got a lot out of it," adding that his Sprint Cup driving peer always does a good job when he jumps in a JRM truck. Smith's XFINITY crew chief, Jason Burdett, also got kudos from the boss during the radio show. "Jason Burdett, the crew chief in that car (No. 7 Chevrolet) has been awesome this year," Junior said. "If you know that guy's story, you can appreciate how hard it's been a climb for him." Burdett has been a part of two championship Sprint Cup teams, with Jeff Gordon in 2001 and and Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing in 1999. He was car chief on the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team from 2008-10 before moving to Earnhardt's No. 88 team from 2011-14. Junior saved his most effusive praise for Cole Custer 's ARCA win at Pocono and Josh Berry 's Late Model victory at Orange County. "Cole (Custer) has a bright future and I'm excited about working with that kid next year and providing an opportunity for him to showcase his talents," Earnhardt said on the Dale Jr. Download on Dirty Mo Radio after returning from Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono. "Hopefully, we can do a good job giving him that opportunity." Custer is a 17-year-old member of the NASCAR Next Class of 2015. The Ladera Ranch, California, native holds the records for youngest pole award and race winner in both the Truck Series and NASCAR's touring series. This season he has a win in the Truck Series at Gateway Motorsports Park. Custer has started five NCWTS races for JR Motorsports in the No. 00 Chevrolet this season after making nine starts in the series last year with Stewart-Haas Racing 's developmental team. RELATED: See the NASCAR Next Class of 2015 Berry is 24 and won the Summer Sizzler 75 lap Late Model race Saturday night at Orange County Speedway near Rougemont, North Carolina. "He's been winning left and right," Earnhardt said of Berry. "I've never won at Orange County before. He's sure representing us very well at all the local tracks that we love to race at." Junior added that he's very proud of the JR Motorsports late model program, and "not just for the obvious reasons" of winning and representing sponsors well. He takes pride in "racing at these local venues that have meant so much to so many people in our sport over the years. It's a good feeling. Just keeping up with the Langleys and the Orange Counties of the world."
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce compares Jimmie Johnson to the 'Intimidator' RELATED: Johnson wins at Dover for 10th time The greatest NASCAR driver of all time is … Jimmie Johnson ? That's the word on the street, or in this case the voice on the radio, and since the bluegrass channel was on a commercial break I decided to stick around long enough to hear how that particular conclusion was reached. Such comparisons are inevitable – it's the sort of thing that arises when one is chasing legends. No different than when Jeff Gordon was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. No different than when Earnhardt was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Petty. And no different than when Petty began piling up wins and titles on his way to overtaking a host of former champions, including his father, Lee, the first to win three NASCAR premier series championships. What the 39-year-old Johnson has managed to accomplish in little more than 13 full seasons in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series certainly puts him in the same league with Petty and Earnhardt, NASCAR's only seven-time champions. There's no doubt that Johnson, fit and trim and now only two wins away from matching Earnhardt's career win total of 76 victories, is one of the sport's greatest drivers. But is he No. 1? From a numbers standpoint, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will undoubtedly surpass Earnhardt's win total, and it's likely he'll eventually capture a seventh championship. He could, in fact, become the first driver to win more than seven titles. That would make him the most successful driver from a championship standpoint (neither he nor anyone else will come close to Petty's mark of 200 career wins), but will that make him NASCAR's greatest driver? No. That designation, without question, belongs to Earnhardt. Statistics are a great way to gauge success. But it takes more than numbers to measure greatness. Johnson has managed to excel during what some claim is the most competitive era in the history of NASCAR. Yes, there are more winners, on average, today. But there are also more races on the schedule, thus also more opportunities. A larger number of teams run the full schedule today, although that doesn't necessarily mean there are more "better" teams competing. Earnhardt never ran a season consisting of 36 points races; Johnson's never run in fewer than 36. Earnhardt never had the opportunity to compete at Kansas, Chicago or Kentucky; but by the same token, Johnson never raced at North Wilkesboro or Riverside. I have a strong feeling both could have won at those tracks given the chance. I'll argue that the talent pool Earnhardt often faced was just as deep – with lineups including drivers such as Petty and Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Geoff Bodine and Harry Gant. Eventually Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Tim Richmond and others took their place. Most were champions; many are already members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Johnson is one of the greatest drivers that today's fans will ever see. What he has done has been nothing short of amazing. If one wants to argue that he would not have won 74 races and six championships had it not been for Hendrick Motorsports and Chad Knaus, the same could be said of Earnhardt, who owed much of his success to Richard Childress Racing and the talented group he worked with there. But what elevates Earnhardt above the rest is more than the fact that he was so successful. He provided fans with some of the sport's most memorable moments during his two-plus decades. Among them: winning the pole at Watkins Glen in '96 (and setting the track qualifying record, to boot) just two weeks after suffering a broken collarbone and sternum in a vicious crash at Talladega; climbing from his damaged car and into the ambulance, only to quickly exit and return to his car once he realized it would still run, at Daytona in '97; his first and only Daytona 500 victory the following season, a win that erased 19 years of heartbreak. There was the "rattle his cage" incident with Terry Labonte en route to victory in the night race at Bristol in '99; the wrongly-termed but aptly promoted "pass in the grass" on his way to winning the 1997 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; and the charge from 18th to first in the final five laps of the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . For two decades, greatness drove a Chevrolet and it carried the number 3. They were memorable moments that elevated the sport and defined the man. Johnson can win more races and win more championships, but he can't match that. He needn't worry – no one else can, either. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: Darlington throwback schemes " Fired up for throwback race It's 1.366 miles of character-testing asphalt; a track so demanding it required not one nickname, but two. The Lady in Black. Too Tough to Tame. Welcome to Darlington Raceway , host for six and a half decades of one of the most anticipated, most difficult events on the NASCAR schedule. The Bojangles' Southern 500 returns to what many believe is its rightful place on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Labor Day weekend, with history in tow. That history will be on display as the track and various teams adhere to a throwback theme, part of a five-year program that launches this weekend. "I remember that 1968 Southern win that was on the old (layout); I wouldn't take anything for that win and then went on to win five Southern 500s," NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough said recently. "I just have so many fond memories of racing here. Even though I had rather win here than anywhere else -- because it's home, it's the first superspeedway -- I absolutely hated to drive this place. It was just so tough to drive. But I still would rather win here than anywhere." Yarborough, a three-time champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, hails from nearby Timmonsville, South Carolina. He made his first Darlington start in 1957 as a teenager. More than 20 years later, he became the first driver to win five Southern 500 titles. "I was definitely in over my head," Yarborough said of that first start, which came with car owner Bob Weatherly. "But I came back and won five times and that record stood for 30 years. When Jeff Gordon tied my record (in 2002), I told him, 'Jeff, you've got a long way to go son. Because you never won one on that old Darlington race track.' "This is a unique place. There's not another one like it. I think any driver would love to have a win at Darlington on his resume." • • • Fast Fact I: In 1965, Ned Jarrett won the Southern 500 by a whopping 14 laps, the largest margin of victory ever recorded in NASCAR's premier series. • • • The story goes that after purchasing the land for the track, owner Harold Brasington was instructed that he wasn't to disturb a nearby minnow pond when constructing NASCAR's first paved speedway. What resulted was a layout that features two vastly different ends of the facility, giving the track a somewhat egg-shaped appearance. The unique design, along with the application of what was known as "bear grease," resulted in yet another piece of NASCAR terminology -- the Darlington stripe. Cars would often ricochet off the wall as they skirted along the very edge of the outside racing groove. Because of laws that restricted certain types of commerce on Sunday, the Southern 500 was contested on Labor Day, the first Monday of September, annually from 1950 through 1983. "I guess what they had in South Carolina at the time were what they called Blue laws. We couldn't run on Sunday," Dale Inman, winner of seven championships as a crew chief for Richard Petty and eight championships overall, said. "We'd practice three or four days, practice on Saturday and then we didn't do anything on Sunday. Then we'd come back and run Labor Day. "Golly, while we were gone they'd paint the track in bear grease, so when we started the race it was just a different world for awhile." The appeal was obvious. Not only was Darlington the first big paved track in NASCAR's realm, but the purse in the early years was equally impressive as well. "The first time I went there I think was 1951," Inman said. "Lord, in those years they started them three abreast. They didn't use the banking, or very few used it. It was just unheard of at that time." Petty won three times at Darlington, including the 1967 Southern 500. But the race that stands out in Inman's mind came three years later in the spring event. The track, already known as one of the most treacherous on the circuit, lived up to its billing when Petty's blue No. 43 Plymouth came off Turn 4, broke loose and struck the inside pit wall with such force that it destroyed the concrete barrier. Petty's car flipped violently before coming to rest on its roof. "When we got to him, (the car) was ... in the middle of the race track and cars were still going by on both sides," Inman said. "We unhooked the seatbelt, he kind of came down pretty hard on the roof because he was laying upside down. "Until he groaned we didn't think he was still with us. But he did groan so we knew he was OK. The big thing was his shoulder was out of place. It knocked him out." Darlington favored no one. Not even NASCAR's soon to be King. • • • Fast Fact II: In 1976, David Pearson won NASCAR's version of the Triple Crown by capturing the Daytona 500 , the World 600 and Southern 500. • • • "Bear grease" is no longer a part of track preparation, but the Darlington stripe remains very much in evidence. When track officials moved the start/finish line to what had previously been the backstretch in 1997, the difficulty in navigating the cantankerous old circuit remained unchanged. Turn 1 didn't become any easier simply because it was now Turn 3. "You don't go to race tracks ... going, 'Man, I've got to beat this track,' " Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr . said. "The track's not even a factor, not even a part of the conversation. ... But when you go to Darlington, the track is a competitor. The track becomes as big of a challenge as trying to beat the next guy in front of you or outrunning your peers. "Darlington is one of the few ovals that can reach out and grab you if you're not paying attention or being careful. Most of the tracks we go to you won't really run into the wall or spin out unless you have a failure on the car. Here, if you don't watch every corner, every little thing you do ... that challenge of it, how hard it is and the odds are so bad to come here and get a win, you're up against so much more. I think that's what adds to the appreciation for what it means to win here." • • • Fast Fact III: The movie "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise debuts in 1990. Cruise's character, Cole Trickle, scores his first NASCAR win at Darlington Raceway . Naturally. • • • At the close of the 1984 season, then series sponsor RJ Reynolds, through its Winston brand, unveiled what was known as the Winston Million, a program that offered a $1 million bonus to any driver winning three of the series "Big Four" events -- the Daytona 500 , the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway , the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500. Previously, only two drivers had won three of the four races in a single season -- LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) and Pearson (1976). In the first year of the Winston Million program, Bill Elliott came to Darlington having won two of the first three, at Daytona and Talladega. In the Southern 500, the future Hall of Famer had to nimbly avoid a spin by Dale Earnhardt and a smoking Yarborough entry in the latter stages of the race to seal the victory. It was a career-defining moment for the Dawsonville, Georgia native, earning him the nickname "Million Dollar Bill." It wasn't until 1997 before another driver collected the bonus, again with a victory in the Southern 500. Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon held off a tremendous charge by Jeff Burton in the final two laps to pocket the bonus in the final year of the program. • • • Fast Fact IV : Johnny Mantz won only one NASCAR premier series event -- the inaugural Southern 500 held Sept. 4, 1950. The race featured a 75-car starting lineup and took more than six hours to complete. • • • Former crew chief Ray Evernham guided Gordon to four consecutive Southern 500 wins from 1995 through 1998. The most memorable win? "The million dollar win," Evernham said without hesitation. "Because we did not have a car to win that day. "We won that as a team and driver; we kept working on the car. I think we made 16 pit stops that day. "The car was basically destroyed -- front clip bent, rear clip bent, door bars ... we just stayed after it and won that race and we really shouldn't have. But we did." Evernham won 47 races as a crew chief for Gordon, with victories coming at nearly every stop on the schedule, including Daytona, Charlotte and Indianapolis. But Darlington, he said, holds a special place. "I love this place," he said. "It's still my favorite track. It challenged me. I could make a difference as a chassis person -- that's different from being a crew chief. "I loved making the car handle. The springs, the shocks, getting all that stuff right. You could make changes here. This is like a damn dirt track. You have to chase it. You chase it all day long -- 500 miles, five hours sometimes, you chase this race track. "You had to have a tough driver and a great pit crew. Our wins here to me are some of our best wins because we really won those races as a group. Jeff had to be the best, I had to be the best, the crew had to be the best. This place, to run as hard and as long as you do here, everything had to be just right. And when I look back at Darlington, they're some of the most satisfying wins that I had as a crew chief." MORE: Photos, facts about Darlington
Blake Shelton gives a touching speech as he introduces and offically inducts Dale Jarrett into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Alan Cavanna talks with Dale Jarrett about the people in life who helped him achieve racing immortality.
Take a look at Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s retro scheme that he will run at Darlington Raceway this weekend, inspired by Cale Yarborough.
NASCAR Hall of Famers think new format has been great, added excitement RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace each won championships at NASCAR's highest level under a season-long cumulative points system, years before the advent of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. This year's format is a drastic change from the system of their heyday, with eliminations, rewards for winning and consistency all part of the equation. Even though the current complexion of the Chase represents a dramatic shift, both retired drivers said they'd have welcomed a shot at the title under this year's revised rules. "I would've loved to have been a part of it," Jarrett said. "I think all your champions will tell you the reason they're champions is because of how they thrive and handle pressure-packed situations, and I think we're seeing exactly that. I get ramped up doing the telecasts so I can't imagine what it would've been like driving." The two NASCAR Hall of Famers swapped stories and offered their thoughts about the state of the sport in a rollicking half-hour news conference Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway , site of the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPN). Both former drivers will share in calling the championship finale in their roles as TV analysts. Wallace and Jarrett each won one title in NASCAR's premier series a decade apart, with Wallace reigning in 1989 and Jarrett's crowning moment coming in 1999. For selfish reasons, Wallace said he would have preferred if the idea had been hatched for the new-look Chase during his racing career. "For me, they told me if we'd had this format while I was driving, I'd have won three championships with the amount of wins I've had," Wallace said. "So yeah, I like this a lot. I think it's an exciting series with what they're doing now." Wallace said several fellow members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame would have adapted well to the new format, reeling off the names of Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Sr. as drivers who relied on a healthy mix of winning plus consistency. Jarrett added the name of NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Terry Labonte to the list, but went back even further to marvel at what Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts or Junior Johnson could have accomplished under Chase rules. "I think that it would've fit all different eras if we had this type of format in those times," Jarrett said. Both agreed that the new format has increased the intensity of the racing this season, some of which has spilled over to post-race confrontations. Jarrett said that some of those same issues cropped up during his driving days, but that the spotlight's glare wasn't as wide as today's, with social media and traditional media expanding the number of eyes focused on the sport. Wallace pointed to Ryan Newman brushing aside rookie Kyle Larson last weekend as an instance of the hard-edged racing that the new Chase format has created. While some of the extracurriculars go over the line and result in punishment, Wallace said there's still a balance in what qualifies as acceptable and what isn't. "It has changed a little bit, but I think the drivers being able to get out there and have a lot of contact and not being penalized for it is a good thing nowadays," Wallace said. "The fighting, the beating each other up -- I'm not a big fan of that. I do like controversy and I do like excitement, and I think that was OK to tolerate. Everybody's going to have a different approach." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
NBC Sports analysts give thoughts on 2014 Chase, what we'll see in 2015 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Related: Burton, Letarte explain Jeff Gordon's major decision By now, it's safe to say that last season's revamped Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the drama surrounding its race action immediately left us speechless, but eventually kept us talking. With NBC Sports' NASCAR tenure set to resume this season after nine years away from the sport, its all-star crew of Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett , Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty gave their thoughts last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom on the new format -- what they enjoyed and what we're bound to see in 2015. According to these NASCAR heavyweights, it sounds like we're going to see even more intense action than last year, as hard as that is to imagine. Jeff Burton, 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner "I've always believed that I was giving 100 percent. That no matter where I was in points, no matter what was going on, that I brought everything that I could bring. This points structure made you bring more. And it made the teams find a way to be better. And I think in our sport, that's what this is all about. It's about being better. You're good in April? Hey, that's great. But if you're not good enough in August and September, it ain't good enough. "The idea that you have to improve throughout the whole year -- that if you win a race, you're in -- but points still matter. I think all of that is really cool. I would hate it if points didn't matter. I know that everybody wanted the guy that won the most races and the right races to be the champion, but points should still matter. It's always been a big part of this sport and it still currently is today. So the fact that points matter, the fact that winning covers up all other mistakes and the fact that you have to be right at the right time; that's what a crunch moment is all about. "As a fan of all kinds of sports, the reason I like the Super Bowl is because if you don’t win, you lose. You go home. … And that's the mentality that has been brought to in racing today. You have to win. Or you have to compete at an exceptionally high level or you're not going to win a championship; you're not going to get done what you need to get done. I like the fact that it's made it harder for the teams, it's made it more intense for the teams. The more intense and the more stressful it is for the competitors, the more fun it is to watch. And this points structure has been without a doubt all those things." Dale Jarrett , NASCAR Hall of Famer "Jeff put it better than I think I've ever heard it put it before. Everything that he's saying there, he was spot-on with that. I think if you look back over the years, no matter how long we've been around this, whenever you have made things more difficult for the drivers, it's more entertaining for the fans and I think that's exactly what this did. "Last year at (Media Tour), we heard a lot of drivers … say 'Look, I race as hard as I can every week, I can't do anymore to try to win than what I do.' I understand that. I know the mentality. We've been there. We've done that. But, I think it proved out that if there is something different, just as Jeff was pointing out, you have to dig down and find another way to make yourself a part of that. "Kyle Busch said something (last week) about his issue at Talladega and what happened to him. That was very unfortunate, because he had done everything right to get himself moved on. He said, 'You know, if I'd got the job done a week before, and won that race, Talladega wouldn't have mattered.' So they've got a different mentality. "There's no perfect system out there, because everybody is not going to agree with it, but my gosh, we came pretty close. That was as exciting a 10-race schedule as I've ever seen in this sport." Steve Letarte, 15-time Sprint Cup Series-winning crew chief "I think that's going to be one of the biggest stories, is how are teams going to adapt? I was only able to take part in one (season) of this new Chase format and I know we learned a lot. It was a great season with a little bit of a letdown in the second round, but there were a lot of teams that have that same feeling. It's going to be an interesting take on 'How can I approach these 10 races differently? Is there a different way that maybe my team should've moved through? What crew chiefs are going to have a different approach? What drivers are going to put different weights on different race tracks?' "You have to be at Homestead. I think that's what's unique about this playoff style. No matter how good of a year you've had, if you slip up, you can overcome with a win, but that's the only way you're going to overcome. And these short, three-race segments you really have to win or have a great three races to move forward. I think we saw some big hitters, some championship favorites last year get knocked out as the playoffs went on and I think that's a big difference from in the years past where you maybe always had a chance. This year, your chances, your book can be closed. Your year can be over. And then we go to Homestead and I don't think we could've asked for a better race at Homestead last year. I don't think that's going to be a rarity. "I think when it's all on the line, the four teams that have a chance are probably always going to find that next level to step up and put on a great race." Kyle Petty, eight-time Sprint Cup Series winner "Being at the race track and being down there with it. … Dale's been in a championship chase, I was with my father (Richard Petty) in the late 70s and you get down and it's two guys working for a championship and the intensity in those two teams was always overwhelming. When The King and Darrell (Waltrip) went at it, man, it was crazy that year. I didn't know what was going to happen that year and I was just a kid. But the intensity went to a different place and Darrell and The King went to a different place, as far as what they did on the race track and how they performed on the race track. Great drivers and great teams always find a way to step up. "What we saw in the Chase was a lot of teams find that ability to step up. Step up in that first round; step up in that second round. The intensity just got greater and greater and greater. To be a part of that and to be able to try to convey to the race fans at home exactly what Dale Jr. was feeling or Steve Letarte felt sitting on that pit box last year or what Dale Jarrett felt in the car when he was racing for the championship going into that last race and the butterflies and how he felt. I think that's what this Chase brings and that's what we can bring." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule