Five things to watch in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway

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FORT WORTH – “Left turns and right crosses!”

That’s one of the slogans Eddie Gossage and Texas Motor Speedway adopted to promote its first Sprint Cup race of the season, tonight’s Duck Commander 500 .

Jeff Gordon, who was involved in a post-race confrontation with Brad Keselowski, has another way to describe racing at the track that hosts the first night race of the season.

“I like to relate this track to a roller coaster,” Gordon said Friday. “The transitions from the straightaway to the corners are more abrupt than at any other track we go to. When you look at the pace and the grip level, it goes up and down.”

Gordon, whose only Cup win at this track came in 2009, says racing around the track on new tires with plenty of grip leads to “tons of fun” before the tire’s eventual fall off leads drivers to move around the track.

“It’s a tough racetrack; a very technical racetrack, and also abrasive,” said Gordon, who starts 12th tonight. “I feel like we’ve been very strong here. But, we haven’t always had the, I don’t like to say luck because I think you make your own luck, but I think that we haven’t had as good as results as I feel like we’ve performed here over the years. It is nice to have that win and to run good and come in here with confidence that we can back that up again.”

If Gordon doesn’t win at Texas tonight he’ll have one more chance in November, as another TMS billboard declared, that race will be “Gordon’s Last Stand.”

Jimmie’s Jam: We forgive for having forgotten after all the post-race drama last year, but it was Jimmie Johnson who won the November race, his third victory in the last five races at Texas. The six-time Sprint Cup champion has four wins at the 1.5-mile track and starts fifth tonight.

More Stewart-Haas domination: Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick once again gave Stewart-Haas Racing a front-row sweep in qualifying after doing it at Auto Club Speedway two races ago. This is Busch’s first season with multiple poles since 2011 when he took the top spot three weeks in a row at Kansas, Pocono and Michigan.

“To bring home a pole award at Texas is fast,” Busch said.  “You feel it in the car. The way the new qualifying format works you have to do it three times.”

He also lauded crew chief Tony Gibson. They started working together at last year’s fall race in Texas.

“(Tony) is amazing with his adjustments,” Busch said. “The tire guy, he is coming up last second and says ‘hey, the track has cooled off another three degrees we might need to add something here.’  I’m like ‘go for it.’ When you have everybody adding in and you are not second guessing anything, then you are able to get everything out of a race car.”

Hometown guy: Xfinity Series driver Chris Buescher isn’t used to this. The day after the Xfinity race, the native of Prosper, Texas usually joins friends and family in the grandstands to watch the Sprint Cup race.

They’ll forgive him for missing out this time as Buescher, a Roush Fenway Racing driver on loan to Front Row Motorsports, makes his first Cup series start at a track located 50 miles from his hometown.

Buescher starts 40th in his third-career Cup race.

Larson’s return: The second-year Cup driver missed the race at Martinsville while being hospitalized after fainting at an autograph session. Larson’s health checks out now and he will start ninth – next to Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray. In his last two start in Texas, Larson has finished fifth and seventh.

NASCAR weekend schedule at World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland


NASCAR’s top three series are racing this weekend in two different locations. Cup and Craftsman Truck teams will compete at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and the Xfinity Series will compete at Portland International Raceway.

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Cup and Trucks)

Weekend weather

Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 87 degrees during Truck qualifying.

Saturday: Sunny. Temperatures will be around 80 degrees for the start of Cup practice and climb to 88 degrees by the end of Cup qualifying. Forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 93 degrees around the start of the Truck race.

Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 92 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Cup race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 1 – 8 p.m. Craftsman Truck Series
  • 4 – 9 p.m. Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 6:30 p.m. — Truck practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (FS1)

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  — Cup Series
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Cup qualifying  (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (160 laps, 200 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, June 4

Garage open

  • 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (240 laps, 300 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


Portland International Raceway (Xfinity Series)

Weekend weather

Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 77 degrees.

Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 73 degrees and no chance of rain around the start of the Xfinity race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 6-11 p.m. Xfinity Series

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 10 a.m.  — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Xfinity practice (No TV)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (75 laps, 147.75 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.