Kurt Busch fastest in first of 2 Sprint Cup practices at Phoenix

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A Stewart-Haas Racing driver led the first of two Saturday morning Sprint Cup practice sessions – but it wasn’t Kevin Harvick.

Rather, Kurt Busch, who missed the first three races of the season after being suspended by NASCAR, was fastest at 136.768 mph. Harvick was third-fastest at 136.199 mph. Brad Keselowski was second at 136.379 mph.

The final Sprint Cup practice session will be from 2:30 pm to 3:20 pm ET.

Here’s how the practice session played out:

1. Kurt Busch … 136.768 mph … 41 laps
2. Brad Keselowski … 136.379 … 35 laps
3. Kevin Harvick … 136.199 … 29 laps
4. Jamie McMurray … 136.101 … 46 laps
5. Kasey Kahne … 136.075 … 33 laps
6. Martin Truex Jr. … 135.967 … 37 laps
7. Joey Logano … 135.952 … 34 laps
8. Kyle Larson … 135.900 … 52 laps
9. Paul Menard … 135.834 … 42 laps
10. Ryan Newman … 135.808 … 31 laps
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 135.803 … 35 laps
12. Denny Hamlin … 135.803 … 32 laps
13. Carl Edwards … 135.803 … 35 laps
14. Matt Kenseth … 135.762 … 37 laps
15. Clint Bowyer … 135.762 … 38 laps
16. Brian Vickers … 135.690 … 35 laps
17. David Ragan … 135.583 … 52 laps
18. Jeff Gordon … 135.471 … 45 laps
19. Aric Almirola … 135.201 … 34 laps
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 135.181 … 30 laps
21. Casey Mears … 135.176 … 37 laps
22. Danica Patrick … 135.105 … 37 laps
23. Greg Biffle … 135.074 … 28 laps
24. Jimmie Johnson … 135.054 … 29 laps
25. AJ Allmendinger … 135.008 … 17 laps
26. Tony Stewart … 134.816 … 38 laps
27. Sam Hornish Jr. … 134.806 … 33 laps
28. David Gilliland … 134.665 … 25 laps
29. Austin Dillon … 134.640 … 38 laps
30. Trevor Bayne … 134.519 … 30 laps
31. Alex Bowman … 134.078 … 25 laps
32. Josh Wise … 134.058 … 26 laps
33. Justin Allgaier … 134.043 … 40 laps
34. Landon Cassill … 133.953. … 24 laps
35. Cole Whitt … 133.774 … 22 laps
36. Michael Annett … 133.462 … 28 laps
37. Brett Moffitt … 133.462 … 30 laps
38. Matt DiBenedetto … 133.121 … 21 laps
39. Mike Bliss … 132.925 … 24 laps
40. JJ Yeley … 132.846 … 35 laps
41. Alex Kennedy … 132.802 … 38 laps
42. Jeb Burton … 132.314 … 20 laps
43. Brendan Gaughan … 130.124 … 15 laps

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Kevin Meendering interview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview this weekend’s races at Kansas Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Steve Letarte and Landon Cassill from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll react to the penalty handed down to Kyle Larson that makes advancing to the Round of 8 even more challenging.
  • As cut-down day approaches in the Round of 12 for the Cup Series, we’ll look back at drivers who kept their title hopes alive with victories in elimination races.
  • Dillon Welch talks to crew chief Kevin Meendering, who is set to become Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief in 2019.
  • Joey Logano may be racing for a championship, but one of his other main goals is a far more important one: helping the lives of others, especially children. We’ll look at the story behind the Joey Logano Foundation.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Bubba Wallace named to Ebony Power 100

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Bubba Wallace has been named to Ebony Magazine’s Ebony Power 100 for his accomplishments as a NASCAR Cup series driver.

Listed as an “MVP,” Wallace joins other athletes such as Antonio Brown, Stephen Curry and Venus Williams as well as former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. 

The list was created to recognize leaders of color who have positively impacted their community.

“This is quite an honor to be recognized with others in the African-American community,” Wallace said in a press release. “It’s humbling to join a list of the other star athletes, artists and community and national leaders. I’m just trying to be the best driver that I can be and focus on winning races for Richard Petty Motorsports and our partners. To be recognized for some of our accomplishments this season is an honor and I’d like to thank Ebony for the recognition.”

Wallace gained the honor based on his on track performance early in the year, including a second-place finish in the Daytona 500 and a top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

His off-track accomplishments also played a role in the selection. Wallace has been a notable influencer on social media. Earlier this year, Facebook posted a “Behind the Wall: Bubba Wallace” docu-series that earned more than five million views.

“We are proud of what Bubba is doing both on and off the track for our race team and our partners,” said Brian Moffitt, CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports, in a press release. “We know that we have something very special with him and he continues to break barriers outside our sport to be a first-class athlete, spokesperson and inspiration to many.”

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K&N East champion to make Truck Series debut at Martinsville

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Tyler Ankrum, who won the NASCAR K&N East Pro Series title on Oct. 6, will make his Camping World Truck Series debut next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Ankrum, 17, will drive for DGR-Crosley’s No. 54 truck. Ankrum drove for the team co-owned by David Gilliland in the K&N East series.

Driving the No. 17, Ankrum earned four wins and nine top fives and led the standings for the final 12 races of the season.

The native of San Bernadino, California, had an average finish of 4.8.

Next Saturday’s race will be Ankrum’s second at Martinsville. He competed in a Late Model Stock Car race there in 2014.

“Making my Truck Series debut at Martinsville is huge. So many big names in the sport have made their national series debut at Martinsville,” Ankrum said in a press release. “I’ve been dreaming of this day for so long now, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. It’s going to be really cool having (crew chief) Seth (Smith) and my K&N guys there with me.”

Kyle Larson loses 10 points, car chief suspended for Talladega penalty

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Kyle Larson‘s Cup team has been penalized 10 driver and owner points and loses car chief David Bryant to a one-race suspension for a L1 penalty at Talladega Superspeedway.

Crew chief Chad Johnston was also fined $25,000.

The No. 42 team violated Section 10.9.9.d in the rulebook, which notes “Damaged vehicle repair, regardless of how the damage occurred, is permitted to have original body parts removed or reattached in their original location with fasteners and/or tape only.”

Larson spun with seven laps left in Stage 2 due to a flat tire.

Larson, who finished 11th in Sunday’s race and called it “embarrassing at times”, is now 36 points behind the cutoff spot on the playoff grid, making this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway a must win for Larson.

This is Bryant’s second suspension this season. He missed two races in May for a rear-window violation at Kansas.

NBC Sports has asked Chip Ganassi Racing if it will appeal;there was no immediate response from the team.

John Klausmeier, crew chief on Aric Almirola‘s No. 10 Ford, was fined $10,000 for an unsecured lug nut on the race-winning car.

NASCAR also issued three fines to crew chiefs in the Camping World Truck Series for the same L1 penalty.

Chad Kendrick (Austin Hill‘s No. 02 Chevrolet), Graham Bruce (Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet) and Joel Shear Jr. (Johnny Sauter‘s No. 21 Chevrolet) were fined $5,000 for violating Section 20.4, which notes “Air is not allowed to pass from one area of the interior of the vehicle to another or to the outside of the vehicle.”

NASCAR also issued an indefinite suspension to Christopher Justin Chase for violating Sections 12.1.a and 2.11.a in the rulebook, a behavioral level violation.