Goodyear hasn’t talked with NASCAR about rules changes in Chase for the Sprint Cup

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LOUDON, N.H. – A Goodyear official said there hasn’t been discussions yet with NASCAR about using a lower-downforce package in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Greg Stucker, the director of race tire sales for the tire supplier, said Goodyear would need to know within the next week if NASCAR wanted to use a softer tire to match a lower-downforce package if it were implemented for the Sept. 20 race at Chicagoland Speedway that will open the Chase.

“I think we’d have to sit down and look at it pretty hard and see what our options would be,” Stucker said when asked what might happen if NASCAR wanted to use a lower-downforce version. “We haven’t had that serious conversation yet because that really hasn’t been proposed to us.”

It’s possible that Goodyear could bring the tire it already confirmed for Chicagoland race with the current rules package during a test this week.

Last Saturday’s race at Kentucky Speedway marked the debut of the lower-downforce approach, but there wasn’t time to build a tire intended to match the package. It seemed to matter little as green-flag passes spiked by 132 percent.

Some drivers have lobbied for a softer tire with lower downforce so they can enjoy more comfort, grip and stability in making passes. But there seemed no problems with the durability of the “unmatched” tire at Kentucky.

“If you look at how Kentucky went and the level of grip vs. the level of downforce, you could extrapolate to say that Chicagoland would probably be similar,” Stucker said. “I think we’d probably want to go back and confirm that and look at that briefly.”

The lower-downforce package will be used again Sept. 6 at Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500. Goodyear is building a softer tire for that race after being able to test with the new rules last month. That compound produced more grip and slightly faster lap times that virtually matched the speeds produced with the current downforce rules.

The Darlington change was made with about 10 weeks of lead time. Stucker said Goodyear prefers to have about three months to manufacture the more than 1,000 tires that are needed for a Sprint Cup weekend.

“Obviously we’ve pulled the trigger on a few (races) a little sooner,” he said. “We can adjust with that. I’m talking about the ideal world, you just like to plan accordingly. We always like to factor in about 90 days, but things are moving kind of quickly here. We’re trying to be as flexible as we can. We’re trying to put the plan on notice there could be changes, and we need to react as we can.”

Stucker confirmed that Goodyear tested a softer tire with the lower-downforce package at Chicagoland but encountered blistering problems with the right side after 20 laps.

“We simply were a little too soft, a little too hung out,” Stucker said. “That’s not going to be the package that’ll work for Chicago in that configuration.”

Stucker said Goodyear wouldn’t built two sets of tires – one for the current rules and one for lower downforce – to extend the deadline for choosing between them.

“I think everyone understands by the nature of how much product we have to produce, and the time it takes to produce them, we’re not as flexible as everyone else is,” he said. “I think everybody recognizes that. We’re trying to move things around and be as flexible as we can. So, we’ll react as we need to. I think everyone would like to have those data points.

“I think we have Kentucky, where we had a minor grip improvement, but in everybody’s eyes, maybe that wasn’t ideal from a grip perspective. But maybe it was. Now we go to Darlington and add that grip back. We’ll have two really good data points with that configuration.”

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