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.

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Again, CLICK HERE to watch NBCSN’s NASCAR AMERICA.

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Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”