Wayward ambulance leads to Kenseth, Bowyer wreck on pit road

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The NASCAR Cup playoff hopes of Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer took a huge hit while coming onto pit road during caution on Lap 257 of Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway.

Danica Patrick was spun by Austin Dillon on Lap 255 and pit road was opened two laps later. But somehow, an ambulance appeared at the entrance to pit road, causing cars to dodge it and some hitting the brakes, causing an accordion-like wreck that involved Kenseth and Bowyer and several other cars, including Erik Jones and Joey Logano, whose cars suffered less damage.

The impact caused Kenseth’s radiator to be damaged, while Bowyer’s front end also suffered damage.

While Bowyer was able to get back on track after his pit crew taped over the damage, Kenseth’s car was taken to the garage.

That was especially disappointing as Kenseth had led 89 laps up to that point and had a strong car that likely could have challenged for the win.

“We were all just coming to pit road and I saw an ambulance sitting there,” Kenseth told NBCSN. “Everybody was stopping and I just couldn’t get stopped. I didn’t see it in time and ran into the car in front of me.”

There was also a tow truck on the track but it was further back of the ambulance and was not a factor in the incident.

After he climbed out of his race car, Kenseth added, “I don’t think they should open pit road if there’s an ambulance parked there. It’s a very narrow entry. Pit road speed is pretty fast – 45 miles an hour or something – and, you know, still I shouldn’t have hit the car in front of me, but I can’t say I was expecting to see an ambulance blocking me.”

Even with the wreck, which looked like it might cost Kenseth a berth in the playoff, he still managed to qualify on points and will be one of the 16 drivers that begin competition for the NASCAR Cup championship next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Here’s the video of the Patrick-Dillon wreck that prompted the caution.

Kenseth’s run-ins with ambulances continued after the race:

Kyle Busch wins pole for Truck Series race at Atlanta

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Kyle Busch won the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, his second Truck Series pole at the track.

Driving his No 4. Toyota, Busch put down a top speed of 179.743 mph.

Matt Crafton qualified second with a speed of 179.220 mph.

“My lap was pretty good, certainly felt more stuck (to the track) the first time around than the second time around,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “We even picked up a little bit of time on that second one. … We were really, really tight here last year and made some good changes to it through the offseason with notes and things and coming back here better prepared.”

The top five is completed by Noah Gragson (179.214), Spencer Davis (178.862) and Justin Haley (178.775).

Gragson and Davis give Kyle Busch Motorsports three of the first four starting spots.

Johnny Sauter, who won last week at Daytona, will start ninth.

Busch’s pole is his second of the weekend. He also won the pole for Sunday’s Cup Series race.

The Active Pest Control 200 begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Christopher Bell on Xfinity pole at Atlanta

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Rookie Christopher Bell qualified first for Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 181.176-mph lap in his No. 20 Toyota.

it’s the second pole in 10 starts for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Joey Logano was second in his No. 22 Ford, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the Xfinity Series qualifying results and click here for the Xfinity lineup by row.

The Xfinity race will start at 2:16 p.m. ET, starting a doubleheader with the truck series at Atlanta.

Sunday’s Atlanta race moved to 1:06 p.m. ET start with threat of weather

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HAMPTON, Georgia – The threat of inclement weather has moved up the start of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by an hour.

NASCAR announced Saturday morning that the green flag will fall on the second race of the 2018 season at 1:06 p.m. ET.

Races become official after the second stage. The second stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race will end on Lap 170 of 325.

The wunderground.com site calls for an 80 percent chance of rain Sunday with the forecast worsening from 10 a.m.

Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson top list of drivers docked practice

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both will be held during the final Cup Series practice Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Because his No. 78 Toyota failed to clear prequalifying inspection three times Friday, Truex will miss the final 30 minutes of the 80-minute session that will begin at noon ET. Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet will be out for the last 15 minutes because it failed the new Optical Scanning Station twice.

Harrison Rhodes also will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding Jr., Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt each will miss 15 minutes because they were late to qualifying inspection.

NASCAR changed its policy on how practice holds will be conducted this season. Instead of serving the penalty in the pits at the start of the session, drivers will park their cars for the length of the penalty up until the end of the session.