Truex on Chase: ‘You’re just nervous and scared’

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Two previous appearances in the Chase for the Sprint Cup didn’t truly prepare Martin Truex Jr. for what he’s faced this year.

“The feeling that I get is that you’re just nervous and scared all the damn time,’’ Truex told NASCAR Talk. “I’m being honest.’’

It’s understandable since one mistake or bit of misfortune could keep a driver from advancing.

In his first Chase since 2012, Truex had not competed in this format, which features eliminations every third race. A weekend of struggles at New Hampshire turned into an eighth-place finish and gave him a bit of comfort heading into this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway. He is ninth in the standings with a 15-point cushion on Kyle Busch, who is 13th. The top 12 after Dover advance to the second round.

There could not be a better site for an elimination race for Truex than Dover – a track he scored his first career Sprint Cup victory, has finished in the top 10 in five of the last seven races there and placed sixth in May after leading a race-high 131 laps.

Even with his strong run there earlier this season, Truex wasn’t satisfied, saying at the time the car just wasn’t right during the race. He admits it’s an ongoing issue his team has had at that track.

“To beat (Jimmie Johnson) there you’ve got to have it exactly the way you want it,’’ said Truex, referring to Johnson’s track-record 10 wins at Dover. “We just missed it a little bit. For some reason that tire we’ve been running there, we run it at a few other tracks, it kind of gives me the same feeling all the time. We’ve had a little bit of trouble of getting it dialed in with that tire.

“We kind of fight the same issue with the car every time we run this tire. It’s almost like the car doesn’t react to what we’re doing to it.’’

Teams have run the same right-side tire at Dover since 2012. This is the only track this season that will run those tires. The left-side tires being used this weekend were used at Dover earlier this season. The left-side tires also have been used this season at Texas (Truex placed ninth), Kentucky (17th) and Chicagoland (13th). The left-side tire will be run later in the Chase at Texas and Homestead.

Other than weather – rain is in the forecast much of the weekend at Dover – one of the main topics of conversation likely will be restarts after NASCAR penalized Brad Keselowski for jumping the restart last weekend at New Hampshire.

Truex planned to see the video of that infraction since there’s a good chance he could be starting or restarting on the front row based on his success at Dover.

“I think it’s really simple to understand the rule,’’ Truex said. “The leader starts the race between the single and double red lines. I don’t understand where there is so much confusion with that. I think the confusion always come on what the second-place guy does. As far as I’m concerned, I’m perfectly fine with it, and I’ll handle it. I’m not really worried about it at all. I know what the restart rules are and I know how to make it work.’’

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.


Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.