WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET – SpinGate flashback, 14 left to win to get in Chase, Keselowski/Burton

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, we look back in time one year ago at the “SpinGate” controversy at Richmond, as well as this Saturday’s final Chase qualifying race, also at Richmond.

Leigh Diffey and Kyle Petty anchor today’s show from our Charlotte studios.

Here’s more on today’s show rundown:

* In last year’s final Chase qualifying race at Richmond, NASCAR suffered through one of its biggest scandals in years. Many dubbed it “SpinGate,” when Clint Bowyer brought out a caution by appearing to cause his own car to intentionally spin out, with the goal of helping teammate Martin Truex Jr., gain a berth in the Chase. We revisit the incident and dig into how NASCAR’s penalties and rule changes amid the controversy have affected the sport and Bowyer and Truex in particular.

* There are 14 winless drivers outside of the Chase Grid that can punch their ticket into the upcoming playoffs with a win in the regular season finale this Saturday night at Richmond. We discuss which driver is most capable of pulling off the surprise win.

* A radio conversation between Kevin Harvick and crew chief Rodney Childers at Atlanta revealed that there is something different about the air guns used by Joe Gibbs Racing that make them superior to the rest of the field. Our Marty Snider traveled to JGR headquarters to chat with crewman Hollywood Armstrong about their pit lane tools.

* Brad Keselowski sits down with our Jeff Burton for the Part 2 of our Driver2Driver feature.

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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Follow me @JerryBonkowski

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force qualifies 15th with no motor explosion, says ‘I need to race smart’ Sunday

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There’s good news and bad news for John Force fans.

The good news is the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ did not suffer yet another motor explosion after enduring his third in three races during Friday’s qualifying session at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

In fact, Force intentionally feathered the gas pedal on his Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car to make sure it wasn’t again overtaxed, qualifying 15th with a run of 4.281 seconds at 222.88 mph.

Now for the bad news.

When Sunday’s final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. ET, Force will be matched against daughter and No. 2 qualifier, Courtney Force (3.914 seconds at 332.18 mph).

“It is a little bit of a bummer that I have to race him in the first round,” Courtney Force said of her father. “Tomorrow is a new day and we will have all our stuff ready and we will put on our game faces to go for that win.”

Courtney Force is seeking her second consecutive win, having also won two weeks ago at the second national event of the season in suburban Phoenix.

“I want to have a good side-by-side safe race tomorrow in round one,” Force said. “Our goal is to take my dad down and have a long day at the track winning rounds.

“We want to move the momentum over from Phoenix. I feel like my guys have a good handle on this Advance Auto Parts Camaro.”

But don’t count out dear old dad, an eight-time Funny Car winner at Gainesville.

“I am the kind of guy that, when it is qualifying day, I run it to the edge.,” John Force said. “I run it even if I know it will hurt itself.

“(With his three motor explosions this season) I am rethinking all that. What I am looking is the long haul. To go out here and say I have to win this race or I have to qualify low after as much stuff as we have put on the ground in Pomona and Phoenix and then to come here and do it again is bad. … We want to fix this problem and move on.

“Tomorrow I am going to have to play the odds game. I am going to run it to 700 or 800 feet and hope (Courtney) gets in trouble. I need to race smart.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski