WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET – Hamlin, recap first 8 races, Richmond nuances, Virginia racing history

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As the NASCAR world returns from its Easter break, Wednesday on NASCAR AMERICA we start our in-depth focus on this Saturday’s race at Richmond International Raceway.

Remember to tune in at at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra for online or mobile device.

Leigh Diffey and Wally Dallenbach will host from our Stamford, Conn., studios.

On today’s show:

* Wally breaks down the nuances of Richmond International Raceway and what drivers and fans can expect in Saturday night’s race there.

* Kelli Stavast visits Denny Hamlin at Joe Gibbs Racing to talk about the season thus far, as well as how his past success at Richmond (2 wins, 7 top-five and 9 top-10 finishes in 15 starts there) could help turn around some of the struggles he’s had this season.

* Season review of the first eight races.

* As the NASCAR world heads to Richmond, we continue our look at racing history in the 50 states with this week’s feature focusing on Virginia, and hosted by legendary Eli Gold.

If you want to watch today’s show online, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug those pieces of information in, you’ll have access to the stream.

Again, CLICK HERE at 5 p.m. ET to watch NBCSN’s NASCAR AMERICA.

Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”