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UPDATE: Rain washes out Bristol Cup qualifying

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The racing weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway has gotten off to a wet start.

Rain fell throughout the day in the East Tennessee/western Virginia area. Because rain is expected to continue on-and-off the remainder of the day, NASCAR officials have cancelled Cup qualifying that was scheduled for 4:45 p.m. ET, as well as K&N Pro East qualifying at 6 p.m. ET.

Kyle Larson will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race. The lineup is set by the car owner points, via the rulebook. Chase Elliott starts second.

Here’s the updated schedule for the afternoon:

K&N Pro East practice, 1 – 1:55 p.m. ET
Xfinity practice, 2 – 2:55 p.m. ET
NASCAR Cup practice, 3 – 3:55 p.m. ET

 

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

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After two days of running on Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and reconfigured surface, it’s time for the NASCAR Cup Series to race.

Here are the particulars for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern):

START: Jim Rome, sports radio and TV host, will give the command for drivers to start engines at 1:38 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 1:46 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 334 laps (501 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 30

STAGE LENGTHS: 85/85/164

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Cup garage opens at 8 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 11:30 a.m. Driver introductions are at 1 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Danielle Peck will perform the Anthem at 1:31 p.m. with four USAF F-15s flying over the track.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 1:30 p.m. with coverage beginning at 1 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at goprn.com. PRN’s coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 80 degrees at race time with a 2 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch led 34 laps on the way to winning this event last year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second and Joey Logano placed third. Carl Edwards won at Texas in November. Logano, who led a race-high 178 laps, finished second. Martin Truex Jr. was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for today’s starting lineup

Saturday schedule at Texas Motor Speedway

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Cup teams get one final day on Texas Motor Speedway’s repaved and reconfigured track to prepare for Sunday’s race. Xfinity teams will qualify and race today in another busy day at the track. Kyle Busch won this Xfinity race last year. He is not entered in today’s race.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

7 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

9:30 – 10:25 a.m. – Cup practice (FS1)

10:35 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; three rounds/multi-car (FS1)

11:45 a.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

Noon – 12:50 p.m. – Final Cup practice (Fox Sports 2)

1 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

1:30 p.m. – My Bariatric Solutions 300; 200 laps/300 miles (Fox, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

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Martin Truex Jr. gets by with a little help from his friend, Erik Jones

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For the previous three seasons, Martin Truex Jr. was like a lone wolf with Furniture Row Racing, its sole driver in the NASCAR Cup Series.

At times it was tough, like 2014, his first year with Furniture Row, when he endured his worst Cup season. He finished 24th in the standings, failing to win and earned just one top-five and five top 10s.

When the team affiliated with Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing in 2016, things got markedly better for the driver of the No. 78. He earned a career-best four wins, as well as eight top-fives and 17 top 10s.

Even though Truex and his team were receiving extensive help from JGR and Toyota, he still was going it alone as Furniture Row’s sole driver.

That changed this season, with the addition of Erik Jones in Furniture Row’s No. 77 Toyota. And the results have definitely helped Truex.

He’s won one of the first six races (Las Vegas), the only Toyota driver to do so.

Truex also has two top-fives, three top 10s and is ranked third in the Cup standings heading into this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the repaved Texas Motor Speedway.

While JGR is still helping Truex, the addition of Jones has also been significant to the latter’s success this season.

“Yeah, it’s something we do every week, looking at data and things,” Truex said Friday at Texas Motor Speedway. “You know, I say nothing’s really changed. That’s really a compliment to him (Erik Jones) and to his team because he’s done such a good job, they’ve done such a good job.

“You’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s a rookie,’ but he’s doing good and everything’s fine. It’s really impressive to watch how those guys do it. He goes to race tracks and it seems like he’s been there before. I guess I’m kind of playing it off as not much has changed when it’s really kind of a huge deal, you know, for those guys.

“It’s a huge compliment to them just by being able to say it’s not a big deal for them. So, yeah, it’s been cool. But all that data sharing stuff, I mean, he knows what he’s doing. He knows what he wants most importantly. He knows what he’s looking for. He feels the car out well. In our debriefs and things, he really kind of knows what he’s talking about. It’s real easy to buy into his information and use it, if needed. It’s been good.”

It’s also been good for Truex when it comes to the new stages format this season. He’s won four of the first 12 stages, garnering 63 points along the way, leaving him 16 points behind stage points leader Chase Elliott.

While other teams may have struggled early in the season getting used to the new format, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn went in a different direction, looking at stage racing as business as usual.

“I think it’s really not doing anything different, but consistently running up front, leading laps and trying to perform well is kind of what the stage points system rewards,” Truex said. “We were able to do that last year. We’re hopeful this year it would pay off – so far it has.

“Certainly we’ve had a few weeks here and there where we haven’t been quite as good as we wanted to. I think overall the start to the season has been solid. Need to find a little more consistency, but all in all the stage racing has gone well, it’s been fun, added a little kink to things. Fortunately for us, we’ve been able to get some points out of it, so it’s been good.”

As for Pearn, he’s embraced working the stages into his race strategy atop the pit box.

“Cole’s always thinking of ways to find advantages, no matter what the situation,” Truex said. “You dangle some points out there in front of him, he’s going to try to figure out a way to get ’em.

“For the most part it’s really just been pretty straightforward as far as if you’re running up front, you’re in position to take advantage of those stages. I think Martinsville last weekend was the first time we’ve actually kind of gambled on one of them to get that first stage win.

“We weren’t the best car. Some guys had pit road penalties. We stayed out. It worked out – we got that first stage win. That’s the first time we’ve kind of done something a little different just to try to get ’em, was successful at that, so we’ll see how it plays out.”

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Edsel Ford II to drive honorary pace car — a Ford, of course — at Martinsville

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While there’s no guarantee a Ford will win Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a Ford will definitely start it.

Track officials announced Monday that Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, will bring the field to the starting green flag as honorary pace car driver, behind the wheel of a Ford Shelby 350GT.

“I was talking with (Ford) in Daytona and he mentioned to me that he had never been to Martinsville, so I figured what better way to welcome him than to invite him to be our honorary pace car driver,” Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell said in a release.

Ford currently serves as a member of the auto manufacturer’s board of directors.

“I’ve known Clay for a couple of years now and the opportunity to come to Martinsville, drive the pace car and potentially greet a Ford in victory lane would be a very special Sunday for me personally,” Ford said in a release.

This will be a milestone weekend for the .526-mile paper-clip shaped racetrack, the oldest active facility on the NASCAR Cup circuit. It will mark the 70th anniversary of the Speedway, which opened in 1947. The track recently installed lights, which will be used in this fall’s race weekend there.

The Camping World Truck Series will race on Saturday with the Alpha Energy Solutions 250, followed on Sunday by the weekend’s main event.

Kyle Busch is the defending winner of both the Cup and Truck spring races last season – the first driver in Martinsville’s history to win both series’ races on the same weekend.

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