Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott among four drivers 26 and under in top six in points

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Through the first three races of the NASCAR Cup season, it’s good to be young.

To be more specific, it’s good to be 26 years old or younger.

Four drivers who fit that description find themselves in the top 10 in points heading to Phoenix Raceway this weekend for the Camping World 500.

Despite no race wins or stage wins in the first three races of 2017, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney are all in the top six in points.

The only drivers over the age of 30 in the top six are points leader Brad Keselowski (33) and Martin Truex Jr. (36), who is fourth.

Larson (24 years old) is one point behind Brad Keselowski for the points lead. Elliott (21) is third, three points back from Keselowski. The oldest of the group, Logano (26), is fifth, 13 points back. Blaney (23), is sixth, 26 points behind the lead.

Larson has had the best season so far with two runner-up finishes in the first three races.

Elliott has two top fives and a finish of 14th in the Daytona 500.

Logano hasn’t finished worse than sixth this season and goes to Phoenix as the most recent winner (last fall’s playoff race) on the 1-mile track.

After finishing second in the Daytona 500, Blaney has finished 18th (Atlanta) and seventh (Las Vegas).

Logano and Larson are the only two of the group with Cup wins, with Logano’s fall 2016 win the only Phoenix victory between them.

With an average finish of 13.2 in six starts, Larson has finished better than 10th at Phoenix once. He claimed third in the race Logano won.

“I’m not like a short track racer, so I seem to struggle at those places, but last year we had some good runs at short tracks,” Larson said in a press release. “I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit better and I think my crew chief has kind of learned what I need at short tracks to help me out. It’s weird, but I kind of look forward to going to those places right now.”

Elliott finished eighth and ninth in his two Phoenix starts last year. Blaney finished 10th and eighth.

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Jimmie Johnson to start in the rear after gear change

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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INDIANAPOLIS – Jimmie Johnson‘s bid for a record-tying fifth Brickyard 400 will have to begin at the back of the 40-car field.

Johnson qualified fourth Saturday but stated on Twitter that he’ll have to go to the rear of the field because they had to change the rear gear.

Although track position is pivotal at Indianapolis Motor Speedway because passing is difficult, optimists can view Johnson’s woes as a good sign. He has scored two of his three wins this season – Texas and Dover – after starting in the rear.

Also starting at the rear today is Cole Whitt (rear gear change) and Joey Gase (engine change). Whitt qualified 34th. Gase qualified 38th.

Today’s race is on NBC. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET with Countdown to Green.

 

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Today’s Cup race at Indianapolis: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The NASCAR Cup Series takes part in the 24th annual Brickyard 400 today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It marks one year since Kyle Busch earned his last Cup win, when he claimed his second Brickyard 400 in a row. Busch starts from the pole for the second year in a row.

Here’s all the important info you need ahead of the race, which airs on NBC.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 2:32 p.m. Green flag is set for 2:44 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 160 laps (400 miles) around the 2.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 20

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 50. Stage 2 ends on Lap 100.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 9 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Carly Pearce will perform the Anthem at 2:26 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2 p.m. with Countdown to Green. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network will broadcast on radio and the Performance Racing Network at 1:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the IMSRN/PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 89 degrees at race time with a 15 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch started from the pole and led 149 of the race’s 170 total laps. It was his second win in a row in the race. Matt Kenseth finished second, Jimmie Johnson finished third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the full starting lineup.

Get a humorous look at life in the pits in, what else, ‘The Pits’ on NBC livestream

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Life in the pits can sometimes, well … really be the pits.

But it can also be a hilarious look at life in NASCAR, as well.

That’s the premise behind “The Pits,” a three-part “mockumentary-style series” that spoofs the life of the fictitious SONIC pit crew in NASCAR.

“The Pits” debuts Sunday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. After each 2-3 minute episode airs, replays will be available on NBCSports.com and also the NASCAR on NBC Facebook page.

The first episode airs during this Sunday’s live stream of the Brickyard 400, which will be televised on NBC.

Episode 1 follows pit pro Rita, who falls for tire specialist Max, but Max’s only affection is for SONIC Pretzel Dogs.

The other two episodes of The Pits will livestream Saturday night, August 19, during the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and during the Sunday, October 15 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“The Pits” is produced for NBC Sports Group and SONIC Drive-In by The Kicker, with shareable content running across NBC Sports Digital assets.

Starting lineup for 24th annual Brickyard 400

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Kyle Busch will lead the Brickyard 400 to the green flag Sunday for the second year in a row.

He earned his fourth pole of the year and is seeking his first Cup win since the 2016 Brickyard 400.

Following Busch in the starting lineup is Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin is the only driver in the top five who hasn’t won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full starting lineup.