Best from the Sprint Cup Awards red carpet

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Here’s a look at the stars of the Sprint Cup Series arriving with their families on the red carpet for Friday night’s award banquet in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France and his wife Amy attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NASCAR Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian France and his wife Amy. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, his wife Chandra and their daughters Genevieve and Lydia attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, his wife Chandra and their daughters Genevieve and Lydia. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch and his wife Samantha. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano and his wife Brittany attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Joey Logano and his wife Brittany. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. and his girlfriend Sherry Pollex attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
 Martin Truex Jr. and his girlfriend Sherry Pollex . (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth and his wife Katie attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth and his wife Katie. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his fiance Amy Reimann attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his fiance Amy Reimann. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski and his girlfriend Paige White attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski and his girlfriend Paige White. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch and his fiance Ashley Van Metre attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch and his fiance Ashley Van Metre. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick and his wife Delana attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick and his wife Delana. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jamie McMurray and his wife Christy attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray and his wife Christy. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon and his fiance Whitney Ward attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon and his fiance Whitney Ward. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson and his girlfriend Katelynn Sweet attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson and his girlfriend Katelynn Sweet. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

 

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 02: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Chris Buescher and his girlfriend Emma Helton attend the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas on December 2, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher and his girlfriend Emma Helton. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

NASCAR America: Under the radar playoff drivers, Talladega’s playoff placement

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SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Pete Pistone dropped by NASCAR America for his weekly appearance to discuss the Cup playoffs so far.

Pistone was asked who he thought is the most under the radar driver through five races in the playoffs. He chose Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

“We’ve heard from Denny Hamlin on some other things, some off-the-track stuff,” Pistone said. “He’s been in the headlines. But in terms of how he’s running and where’s he’s running, I think we’ve sort of been missing him a little bit.”

Hamlin finished sixth at Talladega for his third top 10 of the playoffs. His worst result so far is 35th (DNF) at Dover for an axle problem.

Kyle Petty asked Pistone who he would rather see eliminated from the playoffs if he were Martin Truex Jr: Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch.

“I think I want to see Jimmie Johnson eliminated and the only reason I would say that Kyle is because Jimmie’s been there before, (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) has been there before. We’ve written off Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson even this late in the playoffs before. It’s almost Halloween. They’re sort of like Michael Myers from Halloween, the movie. If you let them up and be alive again they’re going to come and get you with a knife.”

Watch the above video for more.

Kasey Kahne, Matt DiBenedetto marking Cup start milestones at Kansas

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Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway will mark career milestones for Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto.

Kahne, who is in the final five races of his tenure driving the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports, will make his 500th Cup Series start.

DiBenedetto, driver of Go Fas Racing’s No. 32 Ford, will reach the century mark with his 100th Cup start.

The two join the ranks of drivers who have celebrated similar milestones this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. marked his 600th start at Auto Club Speedway. Kevin Harvick made his 600th start in the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway and Kurt Busch made his in the Bristol night race.

Brad Keselowski won Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in his 300th Cup start.

Kahne, 37,  made his first Cup start in the 2004 Daytona 500 for Evernham Motorsports. The 24-year-old driver won the Rookie of the Year that season, making him the youngest winner of the award at the time since Jeff Gordon earned it at the age of 22 in 1993.

Since then he has earned 18 wins, 92 top fives, 175 top 10s and 27 poles. He has yet to miss a race in his 14-year career in the Cup Series.

DiBenedetto, 26, made his first Cup start on March 15, 2015 in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix Raceway. The start, in the No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing, came after he failed to qualify for the previous two races at Atlanta and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In the two years since, DiBenedetto has earned three top 10s, including two this year in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.

His career-best finish is sixth in the April 2016 race at Bristol.

Through 31 races this year, DiBenedetto has an average finish of 26.8, an improvement over his totals in 2015 (32nd) and 2016 (30th).

In five Kansas starts, DiBenedetto’s best result is 24th in the fall 2016 race. His average finish is 28.2.

“I really enjoy racing at Kansas Speedway,” DiBenedetto said in a press release. “Our mile-and-a-half program has been very strong this year and (Crew chief) Gene (Nead) has been giving me fast race cars to compete with. We qualified in the second-round here at Kansas earlier in the season, so that gives us a lot of hope.

“I like the racing at Kansas because you can move around a lot groove-wise and find a line that works with the balance of your race car. I’m usually one of the first people to move up into the high-groove and that seems to help find us some speed. If we can get a balance on the race car like we had in the spring, I know we’ll be fast and competitive.”

NASCAR America: Scan All from the Alabama 500 at Talladega

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“Ol’ Dega is giving me one last thrill.”

That’s the remark Dale Earnhardt Jr. made after he narrowly avoided being collected in the second of three wrecks in the final 16 laps of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, his last start at the track.

It’s one of many highlights in the latest edition of “Scan All,” which documents the Alabama 500 at the restrictor-plate track.

In the above video, Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe relive the race, which ended with Keselowski’s sixth win at the track.

Here are more highlights from “Scan All.”

  • Listen to the communication of the No. 48 team as confusion breaks out over whether they can work on Jimmie Johnson‘s car during a red flag.
  • “It is a restrictor-plate race, so I’m not going to promise you anything.” – Brendan Gaughan after remarking he hoped his team wouldn’t have to make too many body repairs. He would be eliminated in a crash with 10 laps to go.
  • “Those stands are packed. They should get a free Dale Jr. autograph.” – Clint Bowyer on the large crowd that took in Earnhardt’s final Cup start at Talladega.
  • “Holy (expletive). What an idiot. That was the absolute stupidest (expletive) thing he’s ever done.” Kyle Busch after a crash involving Jame McMurray, Erik Jones and Jeffrey Earnhardt. The crash began when McMurray slowed down enter pit road and Jones ran into him.
  • Listen as Keselowski and his team struggle to communicate with each other do to a faulty radio system.
  • “How in the (expletive) did we wind up in the (expletive) back? (Expletive) stupid.” – Part of a tirade by Bowyer following a Lap 157 crash that collected him. Bowyer pulled his car into his pit box, exited it, had a brief exchange with his crew chief and walked back to the garage.

Watch the above video for more.

Race distance for Charlotte Motor Speedway road course still TBD

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CONCORD, N.C. — It still might be known as the Bank of America 500, but 500 kilometers might not be the distance of the first road-course race in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced Wednesday in the media center during a break in tire testing that next year’s Round of 16 cutoff race would be 500 kilometers or about 130 laps on the 2.42-mile layout. Track officials said it would be the longest road course race on the circuit (roughly 90 miles longer than the events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International).

That prompted a raft of buzz on social media about a 500-kilometer race that likely would be pushing at least four hours with two stage breaks and a few cautions (lap times were in the 90-second range during the test).

But in a statement early Wednesday evening, NASCAR wouldn’t confirm 500 kilometers as the distance of the Sept. 30 race.

Here’s the statement:

This week’s test provided valuable data that will be part of the equation in determining the distance for next fall’s race. We will continue working closely with our partners to develop the best event for fans and competitors alike.

Asked about NASCAR’s statement, Charlotte Motor Speedway spokesman Scott Cooper said the track still was planning for a 500-kilometer race.

“We’re learning a tremendous amount about the Roval from this week’s test,” Cooper said in an email to NBCSports.com. “Ultimately, we want the most challenging road course race for the drivers and the very best show for the fans, and we’ll continue to work hard to get there.”

A release from the track near the conclusion of the two-day tire test late Wednesday afternoon referred to next season’s race as the Bank of America 500 but didn’t specify the race’s distance.