Blaney, with help from Smith, wins at Kentucky

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Ryan Blaney got a great push from Regan Smith on the final restart with two laps to go to win Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

It was a green-white-checker finish as the race went one lap longer than its scheduled 200 laps.

It was Blaney’s second career win on a 1.5-mile racetrack, with both victories coming at the Sparta, Ky., facility. He has four Xfinity wins overall in his career.

Ty Dillon finished second, followed by Smith, Chase Elliott and Brandon Jones.

Fighting a loose race car much of the race, Chris Buescher finished seventh and was able to hold on to his lead in the Xfinity Series standings.

However, Buescher saw his lead shrink somewhat. He leads Dillon by 19 points and Elliott by 25 points. Smith closed a little bit of ground to 47 points behind Buescher.

After the race, Brian Scott (finished 13th) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (ninth) had words, but were separated by NASCAR officials.

How Blaney won: Ty Dillon’s attempt to crowd Blaney on the final restart with two laps to go backfired. Blaney was pushed from behind by Regan Smith and Blaney sailed on to the checkered flag. He becomes the eighth repeat winner of the 2015 season.

Who else had a good race: Runner-up Ty Dillon almost made it a Dillon brothers daily double, as older brother Austin won the Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire earlier in the afternoon. … Erik Jones started 40th (he didn’t qualify the car because he was flying to Kentucky from New Hampshire), but finished eighth. Jones looked strong for much of the race before he fell back. … Brendan Gaughan, who won at Kentucky last season, just barely missed a top five finish. … Brandon Jones, who earlier this week signed to drive full-time for Richard Childress Racing in 2016, paid some dividends on that investment by finishing fifth.

Who had a bad race: Ryan Reed and Blake Koch (Lap 2) and Michael Self (Lap 28) were involved in early wrecks. Koch finished 40th, while Self finished 36th. … Brennan Poole (32nd) and Harrison Rhodes (34th) saw their race come to an end on Lap 99 when Poole spun and Rhodes could not avoid him, t-boning the driver’s side of Poole’s car. Both drivers were uninjured, but the race was red-flagged for 18 minutes, 26 seconds to clean up debris and fluids on-track. … Daniel Suarez looked as if he had the car to win, but suffered damage to his front end after hitting debris just after the halfway mark, and then suffered an issue to the transmission in his Toyota with 30 laps to go, leaving him with a 23rd place finish. … Ross Chastain (18th) and Ryan Truex (28th) were both having a good race battling in the top 10 until they got together on Lap 188.

Notable: Ryan Reed was hoping for a double, having won the ARCA race earlier in the day at Kentucky. But alas, after his Lap 2 wreck, the sweep was not to be, as Reed finished 25th. … The forecast called for a two percent chance of rain tonight. Guess what, that two percent showed up at Lap 123 of the scheduled 200 laps. The light drizzle briefly put the race under caution, but racing resumed just a few laps later. … Saturday’s race was the final standalone Xfinity race of the season. … The 10 cautions in the race tied a Xfinity track record at Kentucky.

Quote of the day: “The 6, I mean, he just drove down into me. I never felt like he even gave me a chance to get into the corner. He loosened my right rear wheel and ruined our day.” – Brian Scott on the reason for his post-race conflict with Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.

What’s next: Hisense 200 on Oct. 3 at Dover International Speedway (3:30 pm ET on NBCSN).

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Starting lineup for Talladega Cup race: Christopher Bell wins pole

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Six playoff drivers will start in the top 10 for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Christopher Bell won the pole for the race Saturday with a speed of 180.591 miles per hour. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.

MORE: Talladega Cup starting lineup

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

Playoff drivers starting in the top 10 are Bell, Larson, Hamlin, Briscoe, Ross Chastain (sixth) and William Byron (ninth).

Noah Gragson, who qualified seventh, is replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms.

Ryan Blaney, starting 19th, is the lowest playoff driver on the starting grid.

 

Christopher Bell wins Cup Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway

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Playoff driver Christopher Bell won the pole position Saturday for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Bell, 11th in the playoff standings and below the cutline entering Sunday’s race, ran 180.591 mph to edge second-place Kyle Larson at 180.516.

Playoff drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots.

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

The race is the second in the second round of the playoffs. Any playoff driver who wins the race will automatically advance to the next round.

Joey Logano leads the playoff standings.

Noah Gragson, replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms, qualified seventh.

The race (2 p.m., ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

 

 

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

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

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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)