Today’s special edition of NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN brought together the best sights and sounds from the first four races of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
The year began with a water-logged Daytona 500 that ultimately ended under the lights. When the race finally saw the checkered flag, it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. that lifted the Harley J. Earl Trophy for a second time.
After the pomp and pageantry of Daytona, the grind truly began at Phoenix International Raceway the next week. Phoenix saw the debut of NASCAR’s new knockout-style qualifying format, and in the race, Kevin Harvick dominated the proceedings to win in his second start for Stewart-Haas Racing.
The scene then shifted to Las Vegas for the series’ first race of the year on an intermediate oval. Earnhardt tried to claim his second win of the season while saving fuel in the final laps, but on the last lap, he ran dry – giving the win to Brad Keselowski, who happily punched his ticket to the Chase after missing it last season.
Then came Bristol, which had been met with initial trepidation due to how the knockout qualifying would work on such a small track. The issue of having to run slow laps on the track during qualifying in order to cool engines was settled when NASCAR allowed the teams to use cool down units in the pits.
Like Daytona, this race was extended into prime time thanks to persistent rains. Carl Edwards would reign supreme, even managing to stick the landing on his celebratory backflip as another shower heralded the end of the race.
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.