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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Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.