Points leader Ty Dillon the latest star of Xfinity promotional campaign (VIDEO)

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Ty Dillon made his first visit to Texas Motor Speedway’s victory lane in a Camping World Truck Series win in 2013, and he has special motivation to return.

“I didn’t get to shoot the six-shooters; they forgot to bring them around,” he said with a laugh about the track’s tradition of letting its race winners fire blanks from a pair of Old West-style revolvers. “Texas has one of the coolest victory lanes. I want to get in there to have a party again.”

There has been much to celebrate lately for the Richard Childress Racing driver, who leads the points standings during his second season in the Xfinity Series in the No. 3 Chevrolet. Dillon, 23, also is the latest star in a series of videos produced by series title sponsor Xfinity to showcase the circuit’s rising stars (the first featured Darrell Wallace Jr. last month).

In the video (which is above), Dillon is noted for being a relative unknown in NASCAR compared to his grandfather (championship car owner Richard Childress), his older brother (2013 Xfinity champion Austin Dillon) and the man who made his No. 3 famous (the late seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt).

Dillon doesn’t mind trying to live up to greatness. He has held his own against the weekly squadron of Sprint Cup interlopers who invade the lower-tier series and gobble up good positions.

“When you race against the best week in week out, you start holding yourself to that standard,” he said. “You start realizing what you need to go faster. I like measuring myself against those guys and sizing them up for when I get to the Cup (Series).”

Entering Friday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300, Dillon has four top 10s in five starts. His worst was a 14th in the March 21 race at Auto Club Speedway, where an unbalanced setup cost him.

“We came back to the shop and found the reason we were so off,” he said. “It was pretty disappointing to enter with a double-digit points lead and leave with a 5-point lead.”

Despite the struggles, he still managed to finish two spots better than where he qualified (16th) at Fontana, Calif., which wasn’t surprising. With an average start of 19.6 and an average finish of 6.8, qualifying has been his team’s biggest weakness.

“That’s a focus for us,” said Dillon, whose season-best start is 11th at Phoenix International Raceway. “But the races have been really good for us, competing in the top five and finishing good.

“It shows a strength in our team and not giving up on a weekend, getting the finishes we deserve. Our motto is not accepting mediocrity. That was what was disappointing about (the Auto Club race). We couldn’t find that extra bit to get back to the front.”

Dillon wants to keep moving forward in NASCAR, too. After finishing 28th in the season-opening Daytona 500, he wants to run a half-dozen more Sprint Cup races this year and hopes to follow his older brother’s progression to the sport’s top rung after an Xfinity title.

“I’d love to do it full time next year,” he said. “That is the goal to run Cup. We have to land the sponsorship, but if we can do that, I think we will. I’m mainly focused this year on winning this championship. If they can’t sell sponsorship when we’re winning championships, then we’ve got other issues to worry about.”

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