NASCAR Sprint Cup director on late-race decisions: ‘We feel very, very confident about our actions’

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Richard Buck, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director, met with the media after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway to explain a couple of NASCAR’s calls late in the race. Here’s what he said.

On calling a debris caution before the final scheduled lap, forcing the race to go to a green-white-checkered finish:

BUCK: “We got multiple reports over the radio and confirmed it that there was a piece of material, something in the racing groove and so, we went ahead to call the caution. By the time that we called the caution, somebody had hit it. I don’t have the piece back yet. We always ask the safety clean-up crews to return that to us, but there were multiple reports (of debris on the track).’’

On NASCAR not calling a caution, which would have ended the race, when Greg Biffle had his accident on the frontstretch:

BUCK: “Safety is No. 1. We always make our best effort to let them race back. We had well over a mile. The leaders were coming off of (Turn 2). We had multiple people in the tower watching multiple things, and we’re all communicating very quickly and at a high level. We could see the cars coming off 2, and we were watching the frontstretch. Biffle got it started back up and got it turned around and headed off. We had two folks in the flag stand that were right there on top of it. We had a birds-eye view from their perspective that there was no debris, so we could let it come back to a natural finish.’’

On the multiple reports of debris on the track before the scheduled finish:

BUCK: “It’s a process during the race. It’s pretty consistent. The driver will call it in, then we’ll check with our turn spotters. That’s heard over the radio, whatever the race control is … so the teams know in case there is a piece of debris they need to know about it for safety reasons. Then we’ll confirm it. We’ve got the pit open and the pit closed folks that are close to that area. We have the caution car. We have spotters on the backstretch and on the entrance to Turn 3. We’ll go through our process quickly and make sure that we have a confirmation that there is debris, if we can identify the debris, where it’s at, if it’s anywhere in the racing groove. As you know, this place, the racing groove’s all the way across.  If it’s anywhere in the racing groove, we’ll have to go to the caution and go get it.’’

On confirming the piece of debris was hit:

BUCK: “The piece should come back on one of the cleanup trucks. It was reported multiple times as a piece of metal.’’

On how does NASCAR balance letting the race end naturally and throwing a caution for safety:

BUCK: “Safety is No. 1 and if there’s any question whatsoever, we’ll throw the caution. We want to identify it first, obviously, because there was a lot of paper flying around today. We got definite confirmation on it that it was debris, actually that it was metal. It looked like a piece of metal.’’

On how calls or non-calls can impact the race:

BUCK: “It’s strictly a process that we go through. We don’t have any favorites. We try to keep every emotion out of it. Safety is No. 1. We’ve got over 100 years of experience in the tower with (NASCAR officials) Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton, David Hoots and myself in racing. Between us, we work every closely together in a very dynamic way to identity the situation and look for the solution to it, then that solution is backed up by multiple layers. We feel very, very confident about our actions.’’

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