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Cup Series playoff grid following Sonoma

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With the Coke Zero 400 set for 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC, the race will mark the start of a 10-race sprint to the playoffs in September.

Only 16 Cup drivers can make the playoffs and following Sunday’s race at Sonoma Raceway, Kevin Harvick made it 10 drivers locked in based on wins. It could have been 11 if not for Joey Logano‘s encumbered finish for his win at Richmond in April.

Kyle Larson leads the way with his two wins – Auto Club, Michigan – and 13 payoff points. Martin Truex Jr. is second and leads all drivers with 11 stage wins and 21 playoff points.

With 10 races left until the playoffs begin at Richmond, all 10 qualified drivers are in the top 20 in points. But six of the top 12 on the playoff grid don’t have wins. That group is led by Kyle Busch, who is fourth in points but has not won since last July’s Brickyard 400.

Jamie McMurray is in eighth and is the highest driver on the grid who has not earned any playoff points through 16 races.

Below is the full playoff grid.

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

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is in Northern California for the first race of the season on a road course. There have been eight different winners in the past eight years at Sonoma: Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. Will there be a ninth different winner today?

Here are the particulars for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Cristela Alonzo, voice of Cruz Ramirez in Disney/Pixar’s Cars 3, and Renee Doss, Toyota Master Diagnostic Technician, will give the command for drivers to start engines at 3:08 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 3:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 110 laps (218.9 miles) around the 1.99-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 25. Stage 2 ends on Lap 50.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 10 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Natalie Gallo, Transcendence Theatre Company’s Broadway Under the Stars, will perform the Anthem at 3:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. Its coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at goprn.com. PRN’s coverage begins at 2 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 73 degrees at race time with a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Tony Stewart won this race a year ago after a last-lap duel with Denny Hamlin, who finished second. Joey Logano was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for today’s starting lineup

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson want Cup All-Star Race at Iowa Speedway

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NASCAR has been sending its Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series to Iowa Speedway since 2009, but its premier series has never held a race at the .875-mile track in Newton, Iowa.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson would like that to change sooner rather than later.

Stenhouse and Larson spoke to the Des Moines Register ahead of this weekend’s NASCAR races at the track.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver and former Iowa winner expressed enthusiasm at Iowa someday hosting the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

“To see how much support that the Iowa Speedway gets from the fans, it’s pretty incredible,” Stenhouse said. “I’d love to get the All-Star race here.”

The exhibition has been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year but one since it was introduced in 1985. It was at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986.

But with lackluster races and fan turnout in recent years for the event at the 1.5-mile track, support has been growing to possible hold the event at other tracks.

“I would like that better than Charlotte, for sure. … I’d be down for it,” Larson told the newspaper of having the event in Iowa.

Iowa Speedway opened in 2006 and was bought by NASCAR in 2013.

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Kyle Larson fastest in final Sonoma practice session, Kyle Busch second

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Kyle Larson continued his week on top of the racing world by being fastest in the final practice session for the NASCAR Cup Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

Larson and his No. 42 Chevrolet posted the top speed of 94.389 mph around the 1.99-mile road course.

Filling out the top five: Kyle Busch (94.344), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (94.242), AJ Allmendinger (94.221) and Jamie McMurray (94.017).

Larson recorded the most laps in the session with 30 and had the best 10-lap average at 91.817 mph.

“Yeah, we were pretty decent in qualifying trim and I thought we made some improvements in race trim from first practice to second practice,” Larson said. “I thought it was a successful practice. You can always be better. Forward drive is terrible here, so, working on that is a struggle, but felt like we made some gains.”

Erik Jones and Chase Elliott will both be in backup cars for the rest of the weekend after crashes. Jones’ occurred near the start of the session when his No. 77 Toyota wheel hopped in Turn 11, causing him to spin and crash into the tire barrier.

Elliott crashed in Turn 10 with about 10 minutes left in the session. His No. 24 Chevrolet got loose in the turn and went off track. The nose of his car was destroyed when it hit the wall.

Cup qualifying is set for 2:45 p.m. ET tomorrow.

Click here for the full practice report.

NASCAR’s preliminary entry lists for Sonoma, Iowa

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NASCAR heads back out west this week as the Cup Series gears up for its first road course race of the year at Sonoma Raceway, which marks the halfway point of the season.

Meanwhile, the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series go to Iowa Speedway for the first time this season.

Here’s the entry lists for all three races.

Cup – Toyota/Save Mart 350

There are 38 cars on the entry list and they include four drivers who are making their Cup debuts.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced that sports car driver Billy Johnson will drive the No. 43.

Israeli-born driver Alon Day will make his debut in the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing. Tommy Regan will drive the No. 15 Toyota for Premium Motorsports. Josh Bilick will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. He replaces Cody Ware who is out indefinitely with back issues.

Last year, Tony Stewart won his 49th and final Cup race after swapping the lead twice with Denny Hamlin on the last lap, including passing Hamlin in the final turn.

Click here for the full entry list.

Xfinity –  American Ethanol E15 

There are 41 cars on the entry list, meaning one car will not qualify for the race.

There are no Cup drivers entered into the event.

Sam Hornish Jr. is set to make his first start of the year in Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford.

Joe Gibb Racing will have Kyle Benjamin in its No. 18 Toyota and Christopher Bell in the No. 20.

Ben Kennedy will make his second start for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Ty Majeski will make his Xfinity debut driving the No. 60 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing.

Last year, Hornish led 183 laps and won this race driving the No. 18 for JGR in his first NASCAR start of the year. Erik Jones won the August race.

Click here for the full entry list.

Truck – Iowa 200

There are 29 Trucks entered into the race. A full field would be 32 trucks.

The No. 52 truck of Stewart Friesen has withdrawn from the event.

Last year, William Byron won this race, his third of the year, after leading 107 laps.

Click here for the full entry list.

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