Today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega: Start time, lineup, TV information and more

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will play host to its second race with restrictor plates (which are used to limit airflow to the engine and choke horsepower, which keeps speeds in check) this season Sunday with the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Here are the particulars (all times are ET):

START: Senior Airman James A. Sottile, a biomedical equipment technician from Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., will give the command for drivers to start their engines at 1:07 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 1:19 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 188 laps (500 miles) around the 2.66-mile oval.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Sprint Cup garage opens at 8 a.m., and the drivers meeting is at 10 a.m. Driver introductions begin at 12:25 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: It will be performed by the 313th United States Army Band at 1:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race, starting with a prerace show at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at MRN.com with its prerace show at noon.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 77 degrees at race time with a 0% chance of rain.

LAST TIME(S): A year ago, Denny Hamlin scored one of only two victories for Toyota during the 2014 season, leading the final two laps after swapping the lead five times with Kevin Harvick. In the Oct. 19 race, Brad Keselowski advanced to the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his sixth and final victory of the season, taking the lead from Ryan Newman on a last-lap pass with a drafting push from Matt Kenseth (who had been in an altercation with Keselowski after the previous race at Charlotte Motor Speedway).

WITHER DALE JR.? Once a site of his greatest triumphs, Talladega has been a source of incessant frustration in recent seasons for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who hasn’t won at the Alabama track in more than 10 years. Last year, he led both races and had strong cars, but his No. 88 Chevrolet got mired in traffic and finished 38th in May, and a late pileup eliminated him in October. Earnhardt once won four consecutive at Talladega, and his five victories (most recently in October ’04) rank third to his late father’s record of 10 and Jeff Gordon’s total of six, so it’s a special place with unfinished business for the 12-time most popular driver.

STARTING LINEUP:

Row 1: Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne

Row 2: Ryan Blaney, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Row 3: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart

Row 4: Paul MenardMatt Kenseth

Row 5: David RaganClint Bowyer

Row 6: Casey MearsSam Hornish Jr.

Row 7: Kyle LarsonAustin Dillon

Row 8: Brad KeselowskiBrian Scott

Row 9: Denny HamlinRyan Newman

Row 10: Kurt BuschGreg Biffle

Row 11: Joey LoganoCarl Edwards

Row 12: Michael WaltripKevin Harvick

Row 13: Danica PatrickTrevor Bayne

Row 14: Jamie McMurrayAric Almirola

Row 15: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Landon Cassill

Row 16: AJ AllmendingerBobby Labonte

Row 17: Brendan GaughanJosh Wise

Row 18: Justin AllgaierMartin Truex Jr.

Row 19: Alex BowmanChris Buescher

Row 20: David GillilandMichael Annett

Row 21: Cole WhittJJ Yeley

Row 22: Matt DiBenedetto

Did Not Qualify: Michael McDowellJeb Burton

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

Natalie Decker
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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Check back for more.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Saturday Las Vegas Xfinity race: Start time, TV channel

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs get underway with the Saturday Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The race is the first of seven to determine the champion.

Chase Briscoe is on the pole after his win last weekend at Bristol

Here is all the info for the Saturday Las Vegas Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 7:38 p.m by Cup driver Bubba Wallace. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:47 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 1 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:20 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7:30 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Mackenzie Mackey at 7:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

TV/RADIO: Coverage begins on NBCSN with Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. Race broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 7 p.m.. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the link.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for clear skies with a high of 95 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Chase Briscoe beat Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric at Bristol.

LAST RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Chase Briscoe beat Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg for the win.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

General Motors announces leadership for technical center

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General Motors has announced the leadership for its new performance and racing technical center in Concord, North Carolina.

GM has tapped Dr. Eric Warren of Richard Childress Racing to be the director of NASCAR operations at the facility, which was unveiled in January.

Warren will be responsible for competition duties for NASCAR programs, “as well as expanding the involvement of GM’s product development resources in the technical strategy for the Chevrolet race teams,” GM said in a statement.

GM’s 75,000-square-foot facility will feature Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, vehicle simulation, aero development and other practices designed to advance racing and production capabilities.

Warren had been RCR’s Chief Technology Officer since 2017 and part of the team since 2012.

GM also named Mark Stielow to its new Director of Motorsports Competition Engineering position. Stielow will be responsible for overall engineering and technical direction for the NHRA, IndyCar, IMSA and Motorsports Operations. He will have a direct link to GM’s vehicle integration organization.