“NASCAR AMERICA” set for Feb. 24 launch on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s new daily NASCAR show, “NASCAR AMERICA,” will launch on February 24. The first edition will air at 5 p.m. ET and run daily at the same time for 30 minutes.  The timing makes sense, as it will occur the day after this year’s Daytona 500, and provide the first new original coverage under the NBC Sports Group’s return to NASCAR.

NBC Sports and NBCSN Executive Producer Sam Flood made the official announcement on Tuesday. A mix of driver, team, crew profiles, opinions and insights from analysts and looks inside race shops and tracks are among the expected topics.

NASCAR AMERICA will engage the true racing fan in a number of ways, providing viewers with a mix of breaking news, storytelling and daily features,” Flood said in a release. “We’re going to celebrate the traditions as well as the changing landscape of the sport from coast to coast with wide-ranging content that feeds America’s passion for racing.”

The show will be broadcast from Stamford, Ct., NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center. NBC NASCAR announcer Rick Allen will serve as primary host, with Leigh Diffey, F1 and IndyCar announcer, also hosting at times. Charlotte-based reporters Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast will also play a prominent role.

Guest analysts who will join NASCAR AMERICA throughout February and March include NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Jeff Burton, Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte, Kyle Petty, Ken Schrader, and crew chief Frank Stoddard.

Future guest analysts, which will include former and current drivers and crew chiefs, NASCAR executives, and even prominent fans such as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, will be announced at a later date.

Because NBC Sports also shows F1, IndyCar and other motorsports series, other input will come at times from the organizations’ IndyCar and Formula One on-air talent. Diffey, Wally Dallenbach, Townsend Bell, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Will Buxton, will each contribute from various locations around the world.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”