After shaky start to weekend, Ross Kenseth has strong showing in Xfinity Series debut

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Ross Kenseth’s first career Xfinity Series weekend began with an out-of-control spin and ended with a confident driver and strong sixth-place finish.

For Ross, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran Matt Kenseth, Sunday’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 was his first opportunity to race in the Xfinity Series. It will be his only start this season for now unless enough eyes were opened at Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsors to bring the younger Kenseth back for additional races.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s had two strong showings in a row when you include last week’s ARCA victory at Michigan International Speedway.

Kenseth had a rough go of it in Friday practice, spinning in a single-car incident. To his credit, he was able to keep the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry off the wall and away from other cars, suffering just two flat tires as a result.

Saturday, Kenseth looked completely different. He likely would have earned the pole had it not been for a late burst by Austin Dillon who took it away from Kenseth by .012 of a second.

That built Kenseth’s confidence but he admits during the race, “I made a little too many mistakes . On a green flag stop, I lost a lot of time and a couple pit stops there I messed up getting into the box.”

But Kenseth kept digging and ultimately worked his way back up in the pack.

“Man, it’s frustrating sometimes,” Kenseth said. “I thought we had a real good car at the end. We needed a last caution to come out for us. (If that would have happened) I thought we could pick up some track position and get up to third or fourth.”

The weekend was a trial-and-error type of situation for Kenseth. If he made mistakes, he’d work at it until he corrected them.

It was the same in Sunday’s race, particularly on restarts. After some slow ones early on, he showed steady improvement as he went along.

“The first couple of restarts there, I just didn’t get it as good as I should have,” Kenseth said. “At the end there, I pretty much held it wide open for the first lap of a run there.

“Being a little bit more aggressive there at the end saved us a couple more spots. It took 100 hard laps after halfway to get the car dialed in and get me a lot more comfortable.”

There’s no guarantee Kenseth will get another Xfinity Series start in the remaining 19 races, but he’s hoping that may change for the better.

“For a one-off deal like this, I was happy,” Kenseth said. “Hopefully, we can do it again.”

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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