Ryan Newman fastest in first Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville

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Ryan Newman waited until the last minute to become the fastest driver Friday in an abbreviated first Sprint Cup practice session of the weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Newman covered the .526-mile bull ring in southern Virginia with a top speed of 97.835 mph.

AJ Allmendinger was second-fastest (97.679 mph). Eight-time Martinsville winners Jeff Gordon (97.664) and Jimmie Johnson (97.618) were third- and fourth-fastest, respectively, while Martin Truex Jr. was fifth-fastest (97.558).

Chase Elliott, who is attempting to make his first career Sprint Cup race, was 29th-fastest at 96.337 mph.

“It definitely different, this is a different world here,” Elliott told Fox Sports 1. “It’s definitely exciting and we’re happy to be here. Hopefully, we’ll get qualifying in, lay down a good lap and get in the show.”

Late in the session, Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet went up in smoke. It’s unclear what the cause was.

Weather cancelled the morning’s Camping World Truck Series practice and pushed back the Sprint Cup practice by two hours, as well as shortened it from 85 minutes to 50 minutes.

The Camping World Trucks are on track from 3 to 5:30 pm ET for a combined final practice session.

In addition, Sprint Cup qualifying has been pushed back to 6:10 pm ET from its original 4 pm scheduled time.

Weather is still dicey at Martinsville. If Cup qualifying is unable to be held, the starting field will be set based upon Friday afternoon’s lone practice session.

Driver speeds in first Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville:

1 Ryan Newman … 97.835 mph … 17 laps
2 AJ Allmendinger … 97.679 … 16 laps
3 Jeff Gordon … 97.664 … 13 laps
4 Jimmie Johnson … 97.618 … 17 laps
5 Martin Truex Jr. … 97.558 … 10 laps
6 Joey Logano … 97.412 … 14 laps
7 Jamie McMurray … 97.412 … 13 laps
8 Brad Keselowski … 97.397 … 11 laps
9 Denny Hamlin … 97.212 … 16 laps
10 Kyle Larson … 97.192 … 12 laps
11 Paul Menard … 97.187 … 15 laps
12 Carl Edwards … 97.108 … 17 laps
13 Casey Mears … 97.093 … 17 laps
14 Kurt Busch … 97.083 … 18 laps
15 Austin Dillon … 96.959 … 18 laps
16 Kevin Harvick … 96.919 … 14 laps
17 David Gilliland … 96.879 … 24 laps
18 Tony Stewart … 96.864 … 26 laps
19 Greg Biffle … 96.726 … 13 laps
20 Aric Almirola … 97.701 … 20 laps
21 Clint Bowyer … 96.667 … 20 laps
22 Danica Patrick … 96.558 … 17 laps
23 Justin Allgaier … 96.509 … 25 laps
24 Josh Wise … 95.504 … 22 laps
25 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 96.460 … 11 laps
26 Matt Kenseth … 96.455 … 17 laps
27 Michael Annett … 96.406 … 26 laps
28 Kasey Kahne … 96.406 … 7 laps
29 Chase Elliott … 96.337 … 25 laps
30 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 96.141 … 8 laps
31 Landon Cassill … 96.078 … 14 laps
32 Matt DiBenedetto … 96.078 … 15 laps
33 David Ragan … 96.039 … 14 laps
34 Jeb Burton … 96.029 … 24 laps
35 Sam Hornish Jr. … 96.005 … 17 laps
36 Brett Moffitt … 95.995 … 10 laps
37 Trevor Bayne … 95.550 … 21 laps
38 Cole Whitt … 95.439 … 17 laps
39 Chris Buescher … 95.151 … 35 laps
40 JJ Yeley … 95.079 … 18 laps
41 Mike Bliss … 95.060 … 19 laps
42 Brendan Gaughan … 94.251 … 20 laps
43 Ron Hornaday Jr. … 94.237 … 13 laps
44 Alex Bowman … 94.129 … 19 laps
45 Alex Kennedy … 92.416 … 37 laps

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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

 

 

Kurt Busch win capped off big racing weekend for family

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After hopping from the door of his No. 1 Chevrolet Sunday night, Kurt Busch let out a primal scream.

The source of his emotion?

“20 years of agony and defeat” at the his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had been replaced by “triumph.”

After the fortunate timing of a caution and pit strategy Sunday night, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the final 26 laps and visited LVMS’ Victory Lane for the first time, a day after his brother Kyle Busch experienced a special win.

There was plenty more for the 42-year-old driver to celebrate. He’d entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings. But with his first win in 46 races, Busch became the first driver to plant in his flag in the Round of 8.

But the Las Vegas native’s focus was on the 1.5-mile track, which he’d seen evolve from a “desert gravel pit” into the site of two NASCAR race weekends each year.

“This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built … when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I’m like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars (and race there). And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother (Kyle Busch) to make it in racing.

“For me it was a hobby. I never knew I’d get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas, took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.”

Busch made his first NASCAR start on the Las Vegas oval in 2001 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Between then and Sunday, he won 31 Cup races, the 2004 championship and the 2017 Daytona 500.

But his home track eluded him until his 21st year competing on the sport’s top circuit.

Busch said Sunday’s win is “right there underneath” his Daytona win and the championship.

“Any time you win, it’s special,” Busch said. “But to do it in front of my hometown crowd and nobody was there (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the people that I see every time I come to Vegas and I get to say thank you and I can’t right now, that’s the hardest part. So this one is easily ramping up to being my third most favorite win ever.

“Right now it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”

The Busch family got to celebrate more than one win over the weekend.

The night before Kurt’s Vegas breakthrough, a third generation racer got his first taste of victory.

Kyle and Samantha Busch’s son, Brexton, won his first karting race and celebrated with his parents in Victory Lane.

“It’s so much fun to watch him and just to see his excitement and how much he enjoys going to the race track and being with is friends,” Kyle Busch said after his sixth-place finish Sunday. “It’s three generations worth, I guess. My dad (Tom) did it, myself and Kurt and now him. It’s pretty fun to just be out there. My dad is kind of the truck driver, the team manager, the crew chief, the lead mechanic and all that stuff on his kart.

“He’s got a big task at hand in order to get it all ready to go and get us to the race track every week. It’s been fun to see (Brexton) and to see how excited he was when he was able to win and beat the other competition that was out there and to see his joy. I told him, ‘Whatever that feeling is, whatever you’re feeling, however that sits in you, that’s feasible, that’s possible a lot more often than just one time. So don’t rest on just getting one, we gotta go out there and fight for more.'”

Kurt Busch wasn’t there for his nephew’s win, but he got all the details from his sister-in-law as they flew to Las Vegas.

“It definitely felt like a generational shift was happening,” he said. “But maybe not. Maybe not. This old guy has still got it going on.”