NASCAR explains why Kentucky qualifying was canceled

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NASCAR’s decision to cancel Sprint Cup qualifying Friday at Kentucky Speedway to give teams more practice time raised questions among some fans and led to Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell and Travis Kvapil failing to make the field.

Monday, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, explained on “The Morning Drive” the sanctioning body’s decision to cancel qualifying for both Cup and the Xfinity Series last week.

“We could probably have done a better job of explaining it,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR faced several challenges last week. Teams were using a new lower-downforce package for the first time there. Although extra practice time had been scheduled, rain and water seeping up to the track limited Cup teams to 49 minutes of practice before the decision was made to cancel qualifying and give teams an additional 90 minutes of practice.

“Under all the circumstances we were faced with (at Kentucky) … the desire from the majority of the garage to get some more time on the track prior to the race became our priority at that point,” O’Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

“And then the challenges we had drying the track. We didn’t know if we’d even get to a point where we could get cars on the track, so we elected to go early and have everybody focus on setting up for the race.

“One of the challenges for the teams is it’s a three-hour transition going to qualifying trim vs. going back. It also helped the teams that were there to really prepare everything for the race vs. qualifying. Certainly, we can be challenged for that, but it was something that that race and the circumstances dictated for us, and, ultimately, the decision we made wanting to put the best possible race on Saturday night.”

The decision meant that Blaney, McDowell and Kvapil missed the Cup race because their teams had made fewer qualifying attempts this season than others in the field.

The biggest challenge last week was drying the track. Weepers – water seeping up to the track – delayed track activity.

O’Donnell said that in one instance most of the track was dry in about two hours but it took an additional four hours to combat the weepers.

“It was a problem all weekend,” he told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It is absolutely something we’re going to address with the folks at Kentucky because we need to be able to get on the racetrack as quickly as possible.”

 

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