Matt Kenseth feels good about JGR’s recent success at Bristol

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Though he’s the defending winner at Bristol Motor Speedway, when asked what his odds were to win the Irwin Tools Night Race Saturday, Matt Kenseth deadpanned “1 in 43.”

Kenseth led the final 34 laps in the rain-delayed spring race on the way to his first win of 2015 but has even more working to his advantage. In addition to his four Bristol wins, three of them at night, he has the streaking success of Joe Gibbs Racing over the last eight races.

“It’s been a good track for us,” Kenseth said Friday. “I always like coming up here at Bristol. I feel like since I’ve got to JGR it’s been one of the better tracks I think as a company. Carl (Edwards) had a good test a couple weeks ago.”

Kenseth was second in the opening practice session and 34th in the final session Friday.

Kenseth will be looking to notch his third win in four races and JGR’s seventh in nine. In the five Bristol races ran since he joined the team in 2013, JGR has four top-five finishes and one top 10 (Denny Hamlin, spring 2014). Kenseth represents three of the top fives.

JGR’s success entering Bristol – seven wins in 13 races – is a sharp contrast to the 2014 season when it had two wins all year.

“I think as an organization last year was a down year,” Kenseth said. “I don’t think there’s one reason for that. There never really is although when people start running good or start running bad, everybody, especially when they get panicked, always try to find one thing to either give the credit or blame it on. But, really it’s a combination of a lot of little things and we just got ourselves behind and feel like certainly we’re catching up now.”

Catching up includes all four JGR drivers currently eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, even with Edwards in his first year with the team and after Kyle Busch missed the season’s first 11 races due to leg injuries suffered at Daytona.

The team dominated a complex string of races where the series used three different aero packages. That came in a stretch of races where Busch won four of five races.

“There’s been some moving targets there,” Kenseth said. “When you get in the Chase, obviously everybody knows what the rules are and what the tracks are coming up and everything so hopefully we have everything where we need it in September coming up here.”

 

Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.