Engine failure effectively eliminates early title favorite Martin Truex Jr. from playoffs

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Martin Truex Jr.’s engine expired on the 41st lap Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, effectively ending the championship bid of a prime Chase for the Sprint Cup contender.

Smoke began billowing from the No. 78 Toyota shortly after the first round of green-flag stops, bringing out the first yellow flag of the 500-mile race.

“It just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power,” Truex told Marty Snider in an NBC Sports interview. “Originally, I thought it might have been a tire because it was shaking. Once I slowed down and hit pit road and felt the vibration still there in the engine, I knew we were in trouble.

“It’s a tough way to go out. Tough way to go out, but I’m proud of the effort, proud of all the guys.”

Truex had entered the race with a 13-point cushion on the cutoff after finishing outside the top 10 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. The Furniture Row Racing driver likely won’t advance to the Round of 8 after winning two of the first three races in the playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway and Dover International Speedway.

“It’s going to be really tough when we win four of the last five races,” he said.

It was the first engine failure of the season for Truex and the second in three races for Toyota Racing Development. Denny Hamlin had an engine failure at Charlotte.

“The engines have been great all year,” he said. “Every once in awhile, you have a failure. Unfortunate it was with everything on the line.”

The engine failure completed an eventful weekend for Truex, who qualified on the pole position Saturday after NASCAR confiscated jack screws from his car during inspection. Officials said that Truex likely would face no points penalty for the parts.

Kyle Larson fastest in final practice for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson topped the final practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 with a speed at 186.400 mph.

The Cup points leader, Larson will start 39th in the race because his No. 42 Chevrolet didn’t clear inspection in time to qualify.

Ryan Blaney (185.861), Matt Kenseth (185.046), Kurt Busch (184.856) and Erik Jones (184.818) rounded out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh fastest at 184.433 mph. Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was 20th fastest at 182.648 mph.

Jimmie Johnson recorded the most laps in the session with 47.

Jamie McMurray had the best 10-lap average at 180.914 mph.

The session was stopped for a caution once after Brad Keselowski spun exiting Turn 4.

Click here for the full practice report.

Justin Allgaier wins pole for Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won the pole for the Xfinity Series’ Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With a speed at 182.488 mph, Allgaier earned his fifth Xfinity pole and his first since the March 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Allgaier is joined on the front row by Austin Dillon (181.519).

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney (181.378), Daniel Hemric (181.324) and Kevin Harvick (181.245).

Christopher Bell will start seventh in his first Xfinity race.

Brad Keselowski and Dakoda Armstrong will start from the rear after not passing inspection in time to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Ryan Blaney leads second Coke 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney posted the top speed in the second practice session for the Coca-Cola 600.

Blaney’s No. 21 Ford produced a speed of 188.055 mph Saturday morning around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The top five was filled out by Erik Jones (187.598 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (187.084), Daniel Suarez (186.838) and Trevor Bayne (186.239).

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was ninth fastest at 185.567 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th quickest at 185.141 mph.

Kyle Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 48.

Click here for the full practice report.

Eight teams lose 15 minutes of Coke 600 practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection

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CONCORD, N.C. — Eight Cup teams were held 15 minutes during Coca-Cola 600 practice today for failing pre-qualifying inspection on Thursday

Drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher.

Buescher’s team also loses pit selection for Sunday’s race because it failed inspection three times.

Larson and LaJoie’s loss of practice time comes after neither qualified Thuraday because their cars didn’t clear inspection in time.