Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he won’t retaliate vs. Carl Edwards

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he’s not planning to retaliate against Carl Edwards for their contact in last weekend’s Bank of America 500 because he needs to focus on the remaining two races in the second round of the Chase.

Earnhardt made his comments on the Dale Jr. Download on his dalejr.com site.

Earnhardt is 19 points behind Brad Keselowski for the eighth and final transfer spot to the third round after placing 28th at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Contact with Edwards early in the race sent Earnhardt’s car into the wall. Earnhardt later hit the wall when he ran through oil.

Earnhardt explained what happened with Edwards:

“Carl had a run on me the lap or two before that, and I blocked him real bad,’’ Earnhardt said. “He’s a Chase spot, and I’m racing hard for that position, and I didn’t want to give it to him, so I blocked him pretty good. He got a real good run on me off of Turn 4 all the way down that front straightway and came up on us real fast going into Turn 1. He went to the inside, and I went to block him again, and we kind of came together.

“From inside the car, I felt like he drove it in there and I was coming down. I knew he had that run. He looked to the inside before the corner, and I went in there and turned left anyways. I thought we were going to hit, but I didn’t know we were going to hit that hard.’’

Earnhardt said his day “spiraled out of control from there.’’

He said he has to be focused on winning one of the two races left in the second round or gaining enough points to transfer, instead of worrying about Edwards.

“A lot of people want me to go wreck Carl,’’ Earnhardt said. “I’m not going to do that because if I’m trying to wreck Carl, I’m not winning Kansas, I’m not winning Talladega. You can’t go chase after a guy, put him out of the race and accomplish what your goals are. Our goals are to go to them races and win. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re not going to worry about Carl or start some (expletive) show between me and him. It’s over and done. Move on, try to go to Kansas and try to win the race there. I think we can run great. I love the high line there.

“You got to think about the position we’re in. We’re on the outside looking in. We’re not one of those guys that are just on the inside and in a position to protect and be careful. We can be aggressive, we can run hard, just like we did at Dover. That’s the way I want to run, that’s the way I like to run.

“We can go to Talladega without worrying about protecting ourselves or protecting our position in the Chase. We can go there and be aggressive. I promise you all these guys that are sitting there in the top 10 in this Chase, you watch how they race at Talladega, they’re not going to be very aggressive. That’s going to leave opportunities for guys like me.’’

Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she will be credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December

Check back for more.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Saturday Las Vegas Xfinity race: Start time, TV channel

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs get underway with the Saturday Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The race is the first of seven to determine the champion.

Chase Briscoe is on the pole after his win last weekend at Bristol

Here is all the info for the Saturday Las Vegas Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 7:38 p.m by Cup driver Bubba Wallace. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:47 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 1 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:20 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7:30 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Mackenzie Mackey at 7:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

TV/RADIO: Coverage begins on NBCSN with Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. Race broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 7 p.m.. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the link.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for clear skies with a high of 95 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Chase Briscoe beat Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric at Bristol.

LAST RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Chase Briscoe beat Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg for the win.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

General Motors announces leadership for technical center

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General Motors has announced the leadership for its new performance and racing technical center in Concord, North Carolina.

GM has tapped Dr. Eric Warren of Richard Childress Racing to be the director of NASCAR operations at the facility, which was unveiled in January.

Warren will be responsible for competition duties for NASCAR programs, “as well as expanding the involvement of GM’s product development resources in the technical strategy for the Chevrolet race teams,” GM said in a statement.

GM’s 75,000-square-foot facility will feature Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, vehicle simulation, aero development and other practices designed to advance racing and production capabilities.

Warren had been RCR’s Chief Technology Officer since 2017 and part of the team since 2012.

GM also named Mark Stielow to its new Director of Motorsports Competition Engineering position. Stielow will be responsible for overall engineering and technical direction for the NHRA, IndyCar, IMSA and Motorsports Operations. He will have a direct link to GM’s vehicle integration organization.