NASCAR tweaks group qualifying at Daytona for Xfinity, Camping World Truck series

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In the wake of a sometimes disastrous debut Sunday for Daytona 500 group qualifying, NASCAR is tweaking the rules for the Xfinity and Camping World Truck series.

The field will be split into four groups for the first round, and the time of the session will be cut from five minutes to two minutes, 30 seconds. The fastest 24 cars will advance to the second round with those 12 fastest reaching the final session.

Instead of backing diagonally out of their pit stalls to begin the sessions, teams will be ordered single file in the pits by NASCAR. A random draw will determine the order for the first round, and speeds will set the second-round order.

“We continue to work in collaboration with the industry to implement the most exciting and competitive qualifying format, especially as it relates to superspeedways,” NASCAR senior vice president Steve O’Donnell said in a release. “As a result we have made a few adjustments to the format for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series events later this week at Daytona. We will continue to review the qualifying format for future superspeedway events.

Several Sprint Cup veterans complained after the introduction of Daytona 500 group qualifying Sunday resulted in a multicar crash in the first round and several drivers failing to record speeds. Drivers also complained about the seeming of absurdity of sitting in the pits until the end of a 5-minute clock to begin a lap.

The changes announced Wednesday afternoon apply only to Daytona for the Xfinity and Truck Series.

The next restrictor-plate qualifying session for Sprint Cup will be in May at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR hasn’t determined the format and probably won’t release details for at least another month while soliciting feedback and mulling options.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is racing in the Xfinity and Cup events this weekend at Daytona, approved of the changes.

“I’m glad that they’re open to making moves, making changes and trying to learn from those changes,” he said. “The last segment from qualifying (Sunday) I thought was really exciting.

“We definitely want to have something exciting, and we went away from single-car runs for several different reasons. I understand we more than likely will never go back to single-car runs. If that’s the case, we’ll be proactive. I’m looking forward to seeing how this works.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings