MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES ROUND OF 8 PLAYOFF RACING FROM MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY BEGINS THIS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 AT 2:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBC Sports revs up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 with nine hours of trackside coverage this weekend from Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Va. Coverage of the Round of 8 opener, the first opportunity to win and advance to the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series championship race, begins Sunday, October 28 at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NASCAR’s “Big Three” of Kevin HarvickKyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., appeared to be odds-on favorites for the championship race, after combining for 18 wins in the first 29 Cup Series races this season, but rising star Chase Elliott has now won two of the last three races to emerge as a challenger.

Going into this Sunday’s Playoff race, Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota lead the Playoff field with 4,055 points, followed by Harvick (4,054 points), Truex Jr. (4,038 points), and Elliott (4,018 points). Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch andAric Almirola round out the remainder of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 drivers.

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES RACING FROM MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY – SUNDAY AT 2:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBC Sports Group kicks off its Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage from Martinsville Speedway this Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on CNBC with first practice, followed by final practice at 11:30 a.m. ET on CNBC. Qualifying coverage wraps up the day at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Sunday’s race day coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 2 p.m. ET. Pre-race coverage includes a special feature on seven-time Champion Jimmie Johnson, voiced by veteran sports reporter Tim Layden. NASCAR Cup Series race coverage from Martinsville Speedway begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NBCSN wraps up NASCAR coverage at 7 p.m. ET, with Victory Lap, NBC Sports Group’s NASCAR post-race show originating from Stamford, Conn. NBCSN’s new automotive reality series Proving Grounds, with NASCAR on NBC’s Parker Kligerman(@Pkligerman) will air immediately following NASCAR post-race coverage.

Lead NASCAR on NBC race announcer Rick Allen (@Rickallenracing) will call this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series action, alongside Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte (@steveletarte), from NBC Sports’ traditional broadcast booth above the start/finish line. NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) will be teamed with 21-time Cup Series race winner Jeff Burton (@Jeffburton) in NBCSN’s second “Drivers Booth.”

Krista Voda (@KristaVoda) will host pre- and post-race coverage alongside auto racing icon Kyle Petty (@Kylepetty), and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett (@DaleJarrett). Marty Snider (@HeyMartysnider), Kelli Stavast (@KellistavastDave Burns (@tvdaveburns), and Parker Kligerman will report from pit road.

NBC SPORTS DEBUTS SECOND SEASON OF NASCAR ON NBC “PIT CREW ALL-STARS”

NBC Sports kicks off its second season of NASCAR on NBC “Pit Crew All-Stars” this evening on NASCAR America. Following last year’s inaugural team, NASCAR America will nominate new crew members each Wednesday throughout the remaining four weeks of the 2018 season.

Led by Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte, “Pit Crew All-Stars” recognizes crew members who have made a significant difference in their driver’s season-to-date success. In advance of the 2018 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the “Pit Crew All-Stars” team, made up of ten crew members from various race teams, will be formally recognized as part of the celebratory weekend.

NASCAR AMERICA “WEDNESDAYS WITH DALE JR.” RETURNS TONIGHT AT 5 P.M. ET

NASCAR America “Wednesdays with Dale Jr.,” NBCSN’s weekly motorsports show featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr., returns tonight at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Originating from NBC Sports’ newly redesigned NASCAR studio in Charlotte, N.C., each “Wednesdays with Dale Jr.” episode features in-depth and free-flowing conversations about the latest news to come out of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series. Viewers can join in the conversation using #WednesDale, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Rutledge Wood (@Rutledgewood) will host tonight’s edition of NASCAR America, alongside Earnhardt, and NBCSports.com lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan (@nateryan).

NASCAR ON NBC LAUNCHES 2018 CHAMPIONSHIP SWEEPSTAKES THIS WEEK

Beginning this week, NBC Sports will offer fans the opportunity to win two tickets to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and a souvenir front quarter panel autographed by members of the NASCAR on NBC broadcast team.

The sweepstakes couples NBC Sports’ partnership with the Race Team Alliance, which also kicks off this week and features the NBC peacock logo on the front quarter panel of race cars in Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix.

Fans can enter the sweepstakes via NBCSports.com/nascarsweeps, for a chance to win.

QUOTES FROM DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON SIRIUS XM NASCAR RADIO’S THE MORNING DRIVE

NASCAR on NBC’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. joined Mike Bagley and Pete Pistone on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive to discuss the 2018 Playoffs. Below are key quotes from that conversation.

Earnhardt on Playoff surprises: “I had Brad Keselowski going all the way to Homestead. I don’t think many of us thought Chase Elliott would be in the conversation about mid-way through the season. They have really improved the speed in that Chevrolet. Chase is doing good work right now, and while he is doing that work he is piling up Playoff points.”

Earnhardt on Championship Four contenders: “I’m afraid to pick four drivers right now, because I’m probably going to jinx somebody. It seems like every time I get my four straightened out, one of those guys doesn’t make it through. It has been fun watching Aric Almirola get this deep into the Playoffs. I think there are a lot of people pulling for Aric, and what he has been able to do this year. Clint Bowyer is having pretty much a career year.”

UPCOMING NBC SPORTS GROUP NASCAR PROGRAMMING

DATE COVERAGE TIME (ET) NETWORK
Wednesday, Oct. 24 NASCAR America “Wednesdays with Dale Jr.” 5 p.m. NBCSN
Thursday, Oct. 25 NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Dale Jr. Download 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
Friday, Oct. 26 NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Saturday, Oct. 27 NASCAR Cup Series First Practice – Martinsville 9 a.m. CNBC
NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice – Martinsville 11:30 a.m. CNBC
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Martinsville 4 p.m. NBCSN
Sunday, Oct. 28 NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Martinsville (Encore) 12 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR America 1 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR Cup Series Countdown to Green 2 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR Cup Series Race – Martinsville 2:30 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR Cup Series Post-Race Show 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Victory Lap 7 p.m. NBCSN
Proving Grounds 8 p.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE 8:30 p.m. NBCSN

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