WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — Kevin Ward Jr. funeral, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Michigan preview

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, Marty Snider, Wally Dallenbach and Kyle Petty come to you from our Charlotte studios.

On today’s show:

* Chris Pollone of NBC News reports from Kevin Ward Jr.’s funeral in Turin, NY. Scores of friends and family attended today’s ceremony and Pollone talked to a family friend of Ward Jr. who recalls the laughter and “cornball” attitude that made the 20-year-old Ward such a stand-up person.

* Our Kelli Stavast traveled to Chip Ganassi Racing in Concord, N.C., to talk with Kyle Larson about his impressive rookie campaign, his hopes of making this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup and how his team has run compared to its goals at the start of the season.

* Marty, Wally and Kyle discuss the drivers to watch at Michigan this weekend and who could still sneak into the Chase with their first win of the season on Sunday.

* Ryan Blaney, current leader of the Camping World Trucks Series, was named today as the driver of the Wood Brothers No. 21 Sprint Cup car for next season. Marty, Wally and Kyle reflect on the announcement.

If you’re not near a TV, you can CLICK HERE to stream NASCAR AMERICA online and on your mobile device through NBC Sports Live Extra.

If you plan to stream, 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 to watch NBCSN’s NASCAR AMERICA.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Hinch boldly “goes” where many drivers have gone before

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One of the most common questions racing drivers face is “What happens if you have to use the bathroom when you’re driving?”

And the most common answer is “You just go.” While admittedly a little disgusting, it is nonetheless a problem that occasionally surfaces, and an innumerable amount of drivers have done so in their careers.

However, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe apparently had never found himself in such a predicament in his career. That is, until Sunday in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

While under the first red flag for rain, Hinchcliffe started to receive “nature’s call.” Unable to get out of the car to use a restroom – drivers had not been permitted to get out of their cars – Hinchcliffe was forced to wait and hold it.

But when the cars briefly took to the track again prior to a second red flag, it became too much to handle, and Hinch was forced to “relieve himself” while circulating under caution.

“I always maintained that I knew at some point in my career it would happen,” he quipped to NBCSN’s Kevin Lee.”

He added, “I was sitting there under that first red (flag), just begging to get three minutes. That’s all you need, (steering wheel off to wheel on). And when we got going again, my legs were shaking, I had to go so bad. I’m like ‘I can’t drive a race car like this.’ So under caution, it took me a full lap, it was one of the least comfortable experiences of my entire life, but I can officially say I’ve joined the likes of Will Power, Dario Franchitti, and other greats that have peed themselves in their suit.”

Social media reaction added to the moment’s hilarity, with SPM and teammate Robert Wickens weighing in.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal also chimed in, coming to Hinchcliffe’s defense.

Hinchcliffe, fully refreshed, will restart the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in fifth when racing resumes on Monday.

Follow@KyleMLavigne