Kurt Busch overtakes Kasey Kahne to lead Sprint Cup Happy Hour at Bristol

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Kurt Busch kept Kasey Kahne from sweeping all three practice sessions in preparation for Sunday’s Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kahne won Friday’s session as well as the first of two Sprint Cup practices Saturday morning.

But Busch, who ran 100 laps, rallied to take the top spot in the Happy Hour final practice with a very stout run of 127.554 mph, well over one mph more than Kahne, who was second-fastest (126.537 mph).

David Ragan was third-fastest (126.503), followed by Jeff Gordon (126.420) and Brad Keselowski (126.378).

The top 10 drivers all exceeded 126 mph.

Here’s how Saturday’s final practice session played out:

1 Kurt Busch … 127.554 mph … 100 laps

2 Kasey Kahne … 126.537 … 71 laps

3 David Ragan … 126.503 … 102 laps

4 Jeff Gordon … 126.420 … 76 laps

5 Brad Keselowski … 126.378 … 74 laps

6 Joey Logano … 126.287 … 88 laps

7 Kevin Harvick … 126.245 … 71 laps

8 Denny Hamlin … 126.220 … 66 laps

9 Jimmie Johnson … 126.204 … 104 laps

10 Carl Edwards … 126.129 … 69 laps

11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 125.988 … 109 laps

12 Jamie McMurray … 125.897 … 105 laps

13 Kyle Larson … 125.823 … 76 laps

14 Ryan Newman … 125.346 … 77 laps

15 Brett Moffitt … 125.256 … 82 laps

16 Tony Stewart … 125.256 … 83 laps

17 Clint Bowyer … 125.207 … 86 laps

18 Sam Hornish Jr. … 125.158 … 65 laps

19 Matt Kenseth … 125.085 … 66 laps

20 Austin Dillon … 124.995 … 76 laps

21 Justin Allgaier … 124.987 … 101 laps

22 Paul Menard … 124.963 … 64 laps

23 Casey Mears … 124.922 … 71 laps

24 Aric Almirola … 124.889 … 73 laps

25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 124.759 … 45 laps

26 Martin Truex Jr. … 124.565 … 49 laps

27 Matt DiBenedetto … 124.525 … 66 laps

28 AJ Allmendinger … 124.525 … 53 laps

29 Michael Annett … 124.363 … 126 laps

30 Jeb Burton … 124.283 … 67 laps

31 Alex Bowman … 124.242 … 57 laps

32 Trevor Bayne … 124.146 … 57 laps

33 Chris Buescher … 124.130 … 84 laps

34 Landon Cassill … 124.114 … 57 laps

35 Cole Whitt …. 124.090 … 37 laps

36 Greg Biffle … 124.090 … 69 laps

37 Danica Patrick … 124.058 … 77 laps

38 David Gilliland … 123.970 … 83 laps

39 Josh Wise … 123.937 … 81 laps

40 Michael McDowell … 123.174 … 77 laps

41 Mike Bliss … 123.063 … 52 laps

42 JJ Yeley … 122.733 … 48 laps

43 Alex Kennedy … 121.305 … 87 laps
Best Consecutive 10 Lap Average

1 Kevin Harvick … 125.934 mph

2 Kasey Kahne … 125.396

3 Joey Logano … 125.273

4 David Ragan … 125.224

5 Brad Keselowski … 125.161

6 Kurt Busch … 125.107

7  Kyle Larson … 124.749

8 Matt Kenseth … 124.631

9 Carl Edwards … 124.603

10 Jimmie Johnson … 124.482

11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 124.477

12 Clint Bowyer … 124.362

13 Tony Stewart … 124.338

14 AJ Allmendinger … 124.208

15 Ryan Newman … 124.131

16 Justin Allgaier … 124.061

17 Austin Dillon … 124.056

18 Sam Hornish Jr. … 124.014

19 Jamie McMurray … 123.911

20 Jeff Gordon … 123.890

21 Denny Hamlin … 123.836

22 Martin Truex Jr. … 123.760

23 Brett Moffitt 123.743

24 Alex Bowman … 123.719

25 Aric Almirola … 123.713

26 Matt DiBenedetto … 123.580

27 David Gilliland … 123.540

28 Michael Annett … 123.165

29 Jeb Burton … 123.049

30 Danica Patrick … 123.048

31  Trevor Bayne 122.923

32 Greg Biffle … 122.733

33 Landon Cassill … 122.639

34 Chris Buescher … 122.614

35 Michael McDowell … 122.470

36 Paul Menard … 122.460

37 Josh Wise … 122.350

38 Mike Bliss … 122.133

39 Casey Mears … 121.780

40 JJ Yeley … 121.379

41 Alex Kennedy … 120.270

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NASCAR America Presents MotorMouths at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN with Kyle Busch

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This week’s episode of NASCAR America’s MotorMouths airs today from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and features 2015 Cup champion Kyle Busch.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver joins Rutledge Wood and Kyle Petty to discuss this week’s news as well as take fan phone calls.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch 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.

Chevrolet boss happy with three-race Cup winning streak but wants more

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Even with a three-race Cup winning streak, the head of Chevrolet’s NASCAR program wants more victories as the playoffs near.

Jim Campbell, vice president of performance and motorsports for Chevrolet, made the comments Wednesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

In the last three races, Chevrolet has won with Alex Bowman (Chicagoland Speedway), Justin Haley (Daytona International Speedway) and Kurt Busch (Kentucky Speedway). Until that string, Chevrolet had won only once this year with Chase Elliott’s victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

Last year, Chevrolet had four Cup wins, its fewest victories in Cup since scoring three wins in 1982.

“We have really, really, I think, increased the collaboration (among Chevrolet teams) to another level, and I think we need to because we’ve got to put more wins on the board,” Campbell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The Chevy camp is used to putting 10, 12, 15 wins on the board a year. Right now we’re at four. We expect more of ourselves. I know the teams are looking for more wins and I’ll call it top-five finishes. Talladega was kind of a turbocharger for us to get everyone really working at the next level.”

Chevrolet won at Talladega after an increased effort to have its teams work together throughout the weekend and during the race. Chevrolet made the effort after seeing how successful Toyota and Ford teams were at Daytona and Talladega by working together. Until then, Chevrolet had allowed its teams and drivers to go their own way at those tracks.

“Over the years, Chevy results were pretty doggone strong without a massive work-together effort,” Campbell said during the radio interview. “I think we go back to ’16 and Toyota put together an effort to get some of the (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) guys working together and I think in the fall, the Ford camp was doing that. So, it was time, it was time that we just pulled ourselves together and really worked across all of our teams.”

With seven races left until the Cup playoffs begin, Chevrolet has three drivers set for the playoffs via wins: Elliott, Bowman and Busch. Chevrolet also has three competitors who would qualify for the 16-driver playoffs as of today via points with William Byron 12th in the standings, Kyle Larson 13th and Jimmie Johnson 15th.

Johnson’s position is tenuous. He is 10 points ahead of Ford’s Ryan Newman, who holds the first spot outside a playoff position.

“I look at the trajectory,” Campbell said of Chevrolet’s progress. “Are we on the trajectory up or are we flat or are we down? I would say the momentum is going up, but it’s all performance based. We’ve got to put wins on the board, more top 10s.”

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AJ Allmendinger to drive in Watkins Glen Xfinity race for Kaulig Racing

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NASCAR On NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger will climb back behind the wheel for the August 3 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International.

Allmendinger will pilot the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing for the second time this season.

Allmendinger is a past winner at Watkins Glen, having won the 2014 Cup race there. He has 10 prior Cup starts at the upstate New York road course, with the win, three top-five and six top-10 finishes, plus one pole.

He also has competed in one Xfinity race at Watkins Glen, starting fourth and finishing second for GMS Racing last year.

It’s an honor to be able to compete for Kaulig Racing at one of my favorite tracks, Watkins Glen International,” Allmendinger said in a team release. “I’ve been fortunate enough to win there in the Cup Series and had a strong run finishing second last season in my only Xfinity start there.

Matt Kaulig, Chris Rice and all of the guys made Daytona so enjoyable and fun, I can’t wait to get to The Glen.”

Allmendinger raced for Kaulig Racing two weeks ago in the Circle K Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 5, leading 33 laps and finishing third before the car was disqualified for failing post-race inspection, leaving Allmendinger with a last-place finish in the 38-car field.

Allmendinger has three additional Xfinity road course races scheduled with Kaulig Racing this season: Mid-Ohio (August 10), Road America (August 24) and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval race (September 28).

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NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch back to No. 1; Kurt Busch to No. 3

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When it comes to this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, all we can say is, “Oh brother” … as in siblings Kyle and Kurt Busch.

Younger brother Kyle once again regained the top spot in this week’s rankings, knocking Joey Logano from the No. 1 perch after Logano held it the last two weeks.

And after not being ranked in the top 10 last week, older bro Kurt rockets up the rankings to No. 3 by virtue of his come-from-behind win last Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

Also making a big move is Erik Jones, who goes from unranked last week to No. 4 this week. By contrast, six drivers from last week’s rankings dropped out of this week’s tabulations.

Here’s how this week’s rankings shape up:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Tenacious performance at Kentucky puts him back atop the rankings. Last week: 2nd.

2. Joey Logano (36 points): Car wasn’t wide enough to block all those behind him on the final restart. In his last three races on a 1.5-mile speedway, he’s finished seventh (Kentucky), third (Chicagoland) and second (Charlotte). Last week: 1st.

3. Kurt Busch (32 points): What a difference a win makes. But Busch’s ranking isn’t a total surprise. He’s been knocking at the door all season. Had he not pitted at Daytona two weeks ago, he may be riding a two-race win streak now. Last week: Unranked.

4. Erik Jones (23 points): Returns to playoff territory and seems to have momentum for a finishing kick. Third-place finish was his fourth top 10 in the last five races on a 1.5-mile speedway. That includes a third at Kansas and Kentucky and a fourth at Texas. Last week: Unranked.

5. Denny Hamlin (22 points): His pit crew has been called for an uncontrolled tire violation five times this year, tying the series high. That’s unacceptable. Despite the penalty at Kentucky, Hamlin finished fifth. Last week: 7th.

6. Kyle Larson (20 points): Top 10s in three of last four races – including a second (Chicagoland) and fourth (Kentucky) – have solidified his standing for the playoffs. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Newman (16 points): Is in full grind-it-out mode for solid finishes exactly when he needs them. Finished ninth at Kentucky after starting at the rear because his car failed inspection. While he fell out of a playoff spot, he’s only two points away after scoring his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. Last week: 8th.

8. Cole Custer (9 points): Kentucky victory in the Xfinity Series was his series-high fifth win of the year. Last week: Unranked.

9. Clint Bowyer (7 points): Ends four-race tailspin but still needs to work on amassing stage points. Last week: Unranked.

10. Chris Buescher (5 points): If all the tracks on the circuit were 1.5-milers, he’d likely be ranked higher. All four of his top 10s this year have come at 1.5-mile tracks. He’s been sixth at Charlotte, ninth  at Atlanta and 10th at Kansas and Kentucky. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Christopher Bell (4 points), Martin Truex Jr. (4 points), Tyler Ankrum (3 points).