Viva Las Vegas: Jeff Gordon wins 2nd pole of season, 3rd in last 4 starts

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Jeff Gordon won his second pole of the season during Sprint Cup qualifying Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Gordon, who led from the pole in the season-opening Daytona 500, covered the 1.5-mile track with a best lap and new track record of 194.679 mph.

“I didn’t come off the throttle much, if any,” Gordon said afterward. “I know I had to blip it just the tiniest, tiniest bit.

“The lap before, in the second session, I was a little conservative and the car just stuck so good. I thought when I heard some of the lap times that were up there, I knew that we were going to go get the pole. You’ve got to be fully committed and just go for it.”

It was Gordon’s third pole in his last four races (dating back to the 2014 season finale at Homestead). It was also his first career pole at LVMS.

It was a significant difference from last week’s qualifying session at Atlanta, when Gordon was one of 13 drivers who failed to get on track due to delays in getting through inspection.

“What a turnaround from last week,” Gordon said. “I’m just so proud of this team and keeping their heads up. Last week was a tough one, and this is a great, great way to start out weekend here in Las Vegas.”

Gordon is hoping for a different end result than what he has in the first two races, being involved in late-race wrecks at both Daytona and Atlanta that cost him at least one and possibly two top-10 finishes.

Gordon was one of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top four positions, and all four drivers qualified in the top nine.

Joey Logano will sit on the outside pole with a speed of 194.315 mph.

Also over 194 mph and sharing Row 2 in Sunday’s race will be Kasey Kahne (194.287) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (194.091).

Five drivers failed to qualify, including Travis Kvapil, whose race car was stolen last weekend in Atlanta, only to be recovered more than 24 hours later.

Here’s Friday’s qualifying results:

1. Jeff Gordon … 194.679 mph
2. Joey Logano … 194.315
3. Kasey Kahne … 194.287
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 194.091
5. Kyle Larson … 193.959

6. Matt Kenseth … 193.632
7. Ryan Newman … 193.507
8. Martin Truex Jr. … 193.389
9. Jimmie Johnson … 193.334
10. Jamie McMurray … 193.112

11. Brad Keselowski … 192.555
12. Tony Stewart 192.287
13. David Ragan … 192.685
14. Carl Edwards … 192.527
15. Aric Almirola … 192.472

16. Greg Biffle … 192.424
17. Casey Mears … 192.294
18. Kevin Harvick … 192.280
19. Denny Hamlin … 191.782
20. Clint Bowyer … 191.768

21. Danica Patrick … 191.523
22. AJ Allmendinger … 191.340
23. Brian Scott … 190.564
24. Paul Menard … 189.994
25. Austin Dillon … 190.355

26. Justin Allgaier … 189.967
27. Alex Bowman … 189.947
28. Brian Vickers … 189.820
29. Sam Hornish Jr. … 189.727
30. Ryan Blaney … 189.447

31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 189.354
32. Michael McDowell … 189.314
33. Michael Annett … 189.228
34. Regan Smith … 189.215
35. Trevor Bayne … 189.003

36. Brett Moffitt … 188.488
37. David Gilliland (owner points) … 187.078
38. Cole Whitt (owner points) … 186.541
39. Josh Wise (owner points) … 186.400
40. JJ Yeley (owner points) … 186.156

41. Jeb Burton (owner points) … 185.720
42. Landon Cassill (owner points) … 183.418
43. Brendan Gaughan (owner points) … 182.939

DID NOT QUALIFY:

1. Mike Bliss … 185.618
2. Reed Sorenson … 184.925
3. Travis Kvapil … 184.634
4. Mike Wallace … 181.245
5. Matt Dibenedetto … 180.668

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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