Another runner-up finish doesn’t have Kyle Larson down

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It’s not getting old yet for Kyle Larson.

After his third consecutive runner-up finish Sunday at Phoenix Raceway — and fourth in the last five NASCAR Cup races — Larson could still smile.

“Like I’ve been saying all this early year, we’ve never had this speed; it’s a lot of fun right now,’’ Larson said after placing second to Ryan Newman in the Camping World 500, a week after finishing second at Las Vegas to Martin Truex Jr. and two weeks after placing second to Brad Keselowski.

“I’m sure if I ran second the next eight weeks it is probably going to grow old,” Larson continues. “It’s so cool to be one of the fastest cars every week. I feel like I’ve got a shot to win every week. At a race track like here and Vegas, where I don’t normally run good and challenge for wins, and Daytona, I suck on superspeedways, it’s been a lot of fun to start this year.

“I hope we can continue to work hard, be consistent and be mistake-free on pit road and on the race track. If we can just keep doing that, the wins are going to come. I could easily have four wins right now. Just got to keep working hard.’’

What he does have, though, is the points lead for the first time in his Cup career. Larson has 184 points. Brad Keselowski is next at 178.

Larson had a chance to win on the final restart. He restarted fourth, the first car with two fresh tires. Newman, who led, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Martin Truex Jr., each did not pit and restarted in the top three spots.

Larson tried to move down from the top lane in Turn 1 after the restart to get by Newman, but Larson came down on Stenhouse’s car.

“I knew we were in the best spot,’’ Larson said. “I turned across Ricky’s nose and killed both of our runs off of (Turn) 2 and allowed Newman to get out on us.’’

That left Larson to settle for second and become the first driver since Carl Edwards to finish second in three consecutive races. Edwards did it in Nov. 2011 during his championship battle with Tony Stewart.

It is such moments, he admits, that have kept Larson from winning this year.

“I guess little mistakes or inexperience or whatever you want to call it,’’ Larson said. “Hindsight is always 20/20. I should have went a lane up in (Turns) one and two. I should have known to just stay close to Newman. That’s what I wish I would have done.

“But, yeah, it’s weird running all these seconds. It took me, like, three years to finish second in sprint cars. Now I finish second like every week, so…  A little weird, but maybe we’ll turn them into wins soon.’’

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Six cars to miss time in final Cup practice session

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Six Cup teams, including playoff contenders Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray, will each miss 15 minutes of today’s final practice session at Kansas Speedway because of inspection issues, NASCAR announced.

Three teams were penalized 15 minutes in Saturday morning’s first practice – Derrike Cope, Landon Cassill and AJ Allmendinger. Each were penalized for being late to qualifying inspection Friday.

Teams penalized 15 minutes in final Cup practice will be Elliott, McMurray, Cope, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola.

Bayne, Elliott and Almirola were penalized for failing qualifying/race inspection twice at Talladega.

Cope, McMurray and Menard were penalized for failing qualfiying qualifying inspection twice at Kansas.

Final Cup practice is scheduled from 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Today’s Xfinity race at Kansas: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The Xfinity Series begins the second round of its playoffs with today’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Here is all the info you need for the race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Kansas Lt. Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer will give the command to start engines at 2:56 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Qualifying is slated for 12:05 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:25 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Mary Ann Hotaling will perform the anthem at 2:51 p.m..

TV/RADIO:  NBC will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN with Countdown to Green. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 76 degrees and a 15 percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch dominated this race last fall, leading 150 of 200 laps. Elliott Sadler finished second. Daniel Suarez was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 12:05 p.m.

Saturday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Today’s racing action at Kansas Speedway includes two NASCAR Cup practices, as well as Xfinity qualifying and race.

Today’s Xfinity race will be the first in the Round of 8, which will determine the four finalists for next month’s championship race.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

8 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Cup garage open

11 – 11:55 p.m. — Second Cup practice (NBC Sports App, MRN)

12:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (NBCSN)

1:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

1:30 – 2:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3 p.m. – Kansas 300 Xfinity race (200 laps, 300 miles) (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Ryan Blaney’s car fails inspection after qualifying

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Playoff contender Ryan Blaney’s car failed inspection after qualifying third Friday night at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR announced.

NASCAR stated that the car’s package tray did not maintain its original shape. That is the metal that holds the rear window in place.

Blaney will start last in the 40-car field and have the last pick of pit stalls this weekend and next weekend at Martinsville Speedway. There will be no further penalties.

Team co-owner Eddie Wood said:

“The rules are pushed to the max in every area, and today the NASCAR officials found something they didn’t like about our car. We’re not disputing their decision. We’ll own it and move on.

“We’ll work on our car in Saturday’s practice, line up in the back on Sunday and look forward to watching Ryan drive his way to the front.”

Blaney enters Sunday’s elimination race two points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who holds the eighth final transfer spot for the next round. Kyle Busch is nine points behind Blaney and Matt Kenseth is 10th.

Four of the 12 playoff contenders will be eliminated after Sunday’s race.

By starting at the rear, Blaney will be challenged to be in the top 10 by Lap 80 to score stage points. If he doesn’t, he could fall behind Johnson and Busch after the first stage.

Below is Section 20.4.17.8 of the Cup Rule Book, which features a diagram of the package tray

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