Long: How soon until emotions boil in Chase?

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Carl Edwards smiled as he spoke. He knows what’s about to come in the next 10 weeks, the anxiety and anger, intensity and insomnia, conflict and contact.

It makes the first 26 races seem like paradise to what is to come in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“It feels like,’’ Edwards said after Saturday night’s race at Richmond International Raceway, “things are a little too calm.’’

He’s right. Patience and serenity have enveloped this season. Yes, drivers scream about each other on the radio but it hasn’t gone much beyond that. Yet.

It’s just like last year before the Chase interrupted a tame season. Suddenly, Matt KensethMatt Kenseth! – chased Brad Keselowski and tried to put him into a headlock at Charlotte. Then Jeff GordonJeff Gordon! – was in the middle of a pit road scrum with Keselowski at Texas that left Gordon with a cut lip.

“Whatever you have to do is what you have to do,’’ said Kevin Harvick, who pushed Keselowski toward Gordon, igniting that tense situation. “It’s not about making more friends.’’

That easily could become the tagline for the Chase, which begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway on NBCSN.

Competitors anticipate much conflict on and off the track as the Chase progresses. Call it a by-product of NASCAR’s desire to ratchet the intensity last year by increasing the field and eliminating drivers throughout the Chase.

“There was a lot of fuel in the air last year, and that Chase lit that fire,’’ Ryan Newman said. “I think there is potential for that to happen again.’’

Newman said he saw more aggressive driving earlier this month at Darlington Raceway and says it will just keep “building.’’

As it does, more drivers will share the same feelings as they move closer to the championship.

“It’s an awesome feeling to have that kind of stress eating holes in your stomach,’’ Gordon said sarcastically.

With four drivers eliminated every third Chase race, it leaves little time for patience on the track. Dale Earnhardt Jr., seeking his first title, knows that his mindset must change. Noted for driving with the courtesy Mark Martin showed on the track, Earnhardt says he can’t be like that all the time in the Chase.

“If you’ve got a fast car and guys are holding you up, you’ve go to be aggressive, you’ve got to get around them fast,’’ he said. “Every point is going to matter. If you root somebody out of the way, you got to understand that’s what we’ve come to with this Chase.

“I don’t expect anybody to get upset if I have to move them, and if I get somebody moving me out of the way, that’s hard racing. As long as you don’t put a guy in the wall, I don’t see anything wrong with it.’’

That’s the urgency of the Chase. There are no guarantees. Kyle Busch entered the Talladega race last year second in the points and seemed safe to advance to the Eliminator Round only to be wrecked and fail to advance.

“It just seems like there’s no time, there’s nothing – no period of the Chase that it’s a comfortable moment where you can ride a little bit,’’ Clint Bowyer said. “It’s always crunch time and you’ve got to go.”

Even if that means shoving a car out of the way. The repercussions can be dealt with later.

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NASCAR weekend schedule at World Wide Technology Raceway, Portland


NASCAR’s top three series are racing this weekend in two different locations. Cup and Craftsman Truck teams will compete at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and the Xfinity Series will compete at Portland International Raceway.

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Cup and Trucks)

Weekend weather

Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 87 degrees during Truck qualifying.

Saturday: Sunny. Temperatures will be around 80 degrees for the start of Cup practice and climb to 88 degrees by the end of Cup qualifying. Forecast calls for sunny skies and a high of 93 degrees around the start of the Truck race.

Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high of 92 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the Cup race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 1 – 8 p.m. Craftsman Truck Series
  • 4 – 9 p.m. Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 6:30 p.m. — Truck practice (FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (FS1)

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

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

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:45 a.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 10:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Cup qualifying  (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (160 laps, 200 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, June 4

Garage open

  • 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (240 laps, 300 miles; FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


Portland International Raceway (Xfinity Series)

Weekend weather

Friday: Mostly sunny with a high of 77 degrees.

Saturday: Mostly sunny with a high of 73 degrees and no chance of rain around the start of the Xfinity race.

Friday, June 2

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 6-11 p.m. Xfinity Series

Saturday, June 3

Garage open

  • 10 a.m.  — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. — Xfinity practice (No TV)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)
  • 4:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (75 laps, 147.75 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.