Talladega run gives Brian Scott best day of Sprint Cup career

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Sunday was Brian Scott’s greatest day in Sprint Cup racing — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

When Sunday’s green flag dropped, Scott had never earned a top-10 finish in NASCAR’s premier series. His best finishes to date were 12th place showings earlier this year at Fontana and last year at Kansas. And in three previous starts at Talladega Superspeedway, his finishes were 42nd, 43rd and 30th.

But Sunday was different. He scored a second at Talladega Superspeedway — his best career Sprint Cup finish (By comparison, Scott had 208 career starts in the Xfinity Series and hasn’t won in NASCAR’s junior league, but did have four runner-up finishes.)

In addition, Scott’s teammate Aric Almirola had his first top-10 and best finish of the season (eighth).

It marked the best overall finish for RPM team this season and the team’s best Talladega finish since Kasey Kahne was second in 2009.

We had a team meeting before the race,” Scott said after the race. “We knew that we were going to have to be perfect.

“We were going to have to have no mistakes on pit road, going to have to have a fast Ford, keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the race so they would work with us at the end, and our game plan was really just executed really well.

“The guys did a great job on pit road.  We had a really solid car. Roush Yates Engines were amazing today and we were able to show our speed to a lot of the field, and when it came down to the finish or the restart there at the end, lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to give us an opportunity at the win.”

Scott’s and Almirola’s respective finishes were a boost to the RPM, which has struggled all season.

“A good finish always helps,” Scott said. “It helps with the team, it helps with the guys at the shop – the morale – just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult, and I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging year for Richard Petty Motorsports.

“I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined, but I’m just proud.  The guys have worked hard all year.  They’ve deserved a lot better finishes than we’ve given them, and I’m just proud to deliver a good, solid top five, to do my job behind the wheel to give us a shot at the win, just have a good day for Richard Petty Motorsports.”

Scott’s runner-up finish was helped by a late push from Hamlin, who finished third and advanced to the Round of 8.

“I was thankful to have Denny,” Scott said, adding with a laugh, “I don’t know if playing golf with him occasionally helps or not, but, yeah, that’s always a fear of mine.

“When you have a yellow sticker (indicating a rookie Cup driver) on your bumper normally people avoid you like the plague. They go elsewhere, and there was a lot of opportunities where I felt guys tried to do it, but I had a great spotter in Stevie Reeves and was able to block and do the right things to keep our Goody’s Ford with good track position towards the front.

“I don’t know, maybe because this is an elimination race it changed the way Denny raced at the end, but he gave me a great push and gave me an opportunity to get a run at (race winner Joey Logano).

“I just probably didn’t do everything I was supposed to get a strong enough run or back away from him as much as I could have, and just couldn’t get to his quarter panel, but it was exciting there at the end.”

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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.