Kyle Busch not thinking about points deficit after Kentucky win

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Kyle Busch is 87 points from pay dirt.

That’s how many points Busch is out of 30th in the drivers standings with eight races before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway. After missing 11 races due to injuries sustained in the February Xfinity Series race at Daytona, Busch needed to win at least once but also be in the top 30 in points by the regular-season finale to earn a Chase berth.

However, Busch says he’s not devoting much brain power to worrying about the deficit following his second win in three weeks.

“Obviously it’s on our mind, but I’m not thinking about the points gained when we win,” Busch said. “When we win, I know we did all we can do.”

Busch did that, winning the Quaker State 400 while also leading the most laps a week after he finishing 17th in the Coke Zero 400 following contact with the wall early in the race. Busch admitted points were on his mind then.

“My first thoughts were ‘well, this isn’t going to be easy,’ to just continue to fight hard and to salvage the best finish that we possible could,” Busch said. “I think I even could have finished about eighth.”

Busch moved up two spots in the standings with the win. He is projected to need an average finish of 17th over the next eight races.

“I didn’t make up all the points I wanted to last week but certainly finishes like this, runs like this, they sure do help,” Busch said. “Thankfully we’re going to a lot of races here now that are more driver induced than our circumstances induced and so it’s going to be on my hands and (crew chief) Adam Stevens and this whole race team’s hands.”

Busch and Stevens head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where Busch has averaged a finish of 14th. He has finished second in three of the last four races at the “Miracle Mile.”

Stevens said it’s still a hard road to the Chase, and that the unexpected still could derail the team.

“You can break apart, that’s part of our sport,” Stevens said. “You can have a freak shower on the fourth turn at Michigan and cost you a whole race. Think about all the things that can happen in a race like tonight, how many times you just miss hitting somebody or just miss a wreck.”

But Stevens had to admit the outlook is better.

“It’s looking better,” he said. “I tell Kyle we only need three more of these (races), we’ll be OK.”

Starting lineup for Texas Cup race: Brad Keselowski wins pole

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Brad Keselowski will be at the front of the field to start Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 pm ET, USA Network).

Keselowski, who is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group, won the pole Saturday afternoon with a speed of 188.990, edging Joey Logano‘s 188.805.

MORE: Texas Cup starting lineup

The race is the first of three in the second round of the Cup playoffs. Round of 12 races will follow at Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 2 and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval Oct. 9.

MORE: Waffle House a headquarters for race winners

Also starting in the top five Sunday will be William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell.

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher,  Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.

Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group. Nine of the first 14 starting positions were filled by playoff drivers.

MORE: Texas Cup qualifying results

Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.

“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”

Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.

The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.

Sunday Texas Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.

Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.

MORE: Big race celebration? Try Waffle House

The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:

START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.

MORE: Ryan Blaney’s team to appeal penalty

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.

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Brandon Jones wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Playoff driver Brandon Jones won the pole position Saturday morning for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones was clocked at 185.637 miles per hour. He has won three of the past four Xfinity poles.

MORE: Texas Xfinity qualifying results

MORE: Texas Xfinity starting lineup

Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on the USA Network, the race is the opening event of the Xfinity playoffs.

Following Jones in the top five were Noah Gragson (winner of three consecutive Xfinity races), Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Sam Mayer.

MORE: Post-race celebration? Try the Waffle House

The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track. Drivers will be battling heat in the mid-to-high 90s.