NASCAR AMERICA: Can ‘Dinger, Almirola avoid early Chase exit? (VIDEO)

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Surprise wins from Aric Almirola at Daytona and A.J. Allmendinger (pictured) at Watkins Glen have put them both into their first appearances in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

But many observers are expecting them to be among the first four drivers eliminated following the Challenger Round, which starts this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

While they were able to punch their tickets to the Chase, Almirola and Allmendinger only collected two Top-5s apiece during the regular season.

So can they defy expectations, pick up the pace, and make it to the Contender Round?

NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Jeff Burton assessed the chances of the two underdogs in today’s show, and you can hear what they have to say in the clip above.

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.