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

Leave a comment

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.

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.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

F1 2017 driver review: Kimi Raikkonen

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kimi Raikkonen

Team: Scuderia Ferrari
Car No.: 7
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 7
Best Finish: P2 (Monaco, Hungary)
Pole Positions: 1
Fastest Laps: 2
Points: 205
Laps Led: 40
Championship Position: 4th

While this may have statistically been Kimi Raikkonen’s best campaign since his first year back in F1 in 2012, there is a good case for it being one of his most disappointing to date.

Raikkonen’s continued role at Ferrari has been questioned on a number of occasions, but the Finn looked capable of answering his critics heading into 2017 after impressing through pre-season testing as he appeared to get to grips well with the new-style cars.

But we soon grew accustomed to the same old story: flashes of potential, but otherwise an underwhelming, unsatisfactory campaign that saw Raikkonen be dwarfed by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel.

Raikkonen’s charge to his first pole position for over eight years in Monaco gave hope of a popular win, only for Ferrari to play its strategy in favor of title contender Vettel – why wouldn’t the team do so? – to leave him a disgruntled second.

While Vettel was able to impress at the majority of circuits, Raikkonen only looked strong at tracks that were unquestionably ‘Ferrari’ tracks, such as Hungary and Brazil. Like Vettel, Raikkonen should have racked up a good haul of points in Singapore, only for the start-line crash to sideline both Ferraris before they even reached Turn 1.

Again there is the question of ‘what could have been?’ in Malaysia had it not been for the spark plug issue on the grid, yet in Japan, Raikkonen was nowhere, finishing behind the Mercedes and Red Bulls.

Finishing just five points clear of Daniel Ricciardo despite having a much faster car for the best part of the season and the Red Bull driver’s own reliability issues sums up the disappointment of Raikkonen’s campaign.

He should have been an ally for Vettel in the title race by nicking points of Lewis Hamilton, much as Valtteri Bottas was doing for his Mercedes teammate. Instead, Raikkonen seemed to be tagging along for the best part of this season.

Season High: Pole in Monaco, his first since the 2008 French Grand Prix.

Season Low: Finishing a distant P4 at Spa – a circuit he made his own in the 2000s.