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The 2000 Winston 500: When Dale Earnhardt taught his son how to win at Talladega

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It was a race that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will never forget, one he had a front-row seat to as he watched in wonder and pride.

It was Oct. 15, 2000, in the closing laps of the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

While the younger Earnhardt was hoping to steal the win, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a familiar car coming up quickly on the right.

It was his father, Dale Earnhardt, who with a record 10 wins there, mesmerized many with his ability to weave through traffic.

And even though Junior watched as his father proved he indeed knew best, it was also a cathartic moment of sorts for the younger Earnhardt.

Sure, he finished 14th, but the lesson he learned watching his father roar to the front and to Victory Lane for the 76th and what would be the final time of his Sprint Cup career, is one Junior will never forget.

And one that will always bring a smile to his face every time he tells the story. Just like he did Friday at Talladega.

Rather than interjecting our own point of view, let’s let Junior tell the story in his own inimitable way:

“I was sitting behind Mike Skinner. We were in a single-file line on the inside and Mike was protecting the bottom. And I was going to sit there until the last lap and try to pass him. And, Dad’s line formed on the outside and was coming.

“I could see him in the mirror knocking off a few guys each corner and getting closer toward the lead. And then I had to decide whether I was going to try to pass Mike now, and then maybe battle my dad for the lead, which was probably the best thing I could have done. Was I going to push Mike and try to work hard?

“I knew that pushing Mike Skinner past Daddy was not going to work well. I think I was riding home with Daddy anyways (laughter). I didn’t have a plane then, I don’t think. I knew he wouldn’t have wanted that; for me to do that, you know?

“You can’t communicate at that moment, but you’re just thinking about a million things like he’s passing me. Part of me is pulling for him; the other part of me is thinking I’m not in the situation I want to be in because I thought I was just going to have to try to pass Mike. That was the only thing I had to worry about until the end of the race.

“Now, our lane is not the lead lane. What do I got to do to get our lane back into the lead? So now again, it’s against me and Mike. But Dad, I don’t want to push Mike in our lane past Dad. So I started not pushing Mike. I started lifting.

“And then our line really started falling. And then I decided coming through the tri-oval that I was going to pass Mike. And I went to the bottom and he stayed against the apron. So he said basically at that point, if you’re going to pass me you’re going into this corner on the apron. And that wasn’t going to work. I was going to wreck myself and Mike and everyone else. So, I had to lift. And when I lifted to get back in line, I fell to like 14th place. Of course we had already lost about five or six spots to Dad’s line. But, it was a mess.

“I just sort of felt destructed, mentally, when all that was happening because I didn’t know exactly what I should do, what Tony (Eury) Sr. wanted me to do on the pit box, what dad wanted me to do; but he won the race. It worked out for him and that was good. It was a hell of a comeback. And it’s great for (runner-up) Kenny Wallace. He seems to really enjoy being a part of that story; and he’s such a great guy and he had a lot of respect for dad.

“So, it’s just great to hear that story. I hate to think about how it went for me because I wanted to win the race. We were just starting to sort of understand our strength at DEI as a plate track powerhouse. We began to win races after that. I’d like to try it again. I wish we could do it again because I think I would have done a lot of things differently.”

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Las Vegas Xfinity results, driver points

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Chase Briscoe‘s victory Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sends him into the next round of the Xfinity playoffs.

Noah Gragson led a 2-3-4 finish for JR Motorsports. Gragson was second and followed by Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg finished fifth.

Briscoe dominated the race, leading 164 of the 200 laps.

Click here for Xfinity race results

POINTS

Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers, and fell out of a transfer spot to the second round. He’s two points behind Harrison Burton for the final transfer spot. Michael Annett is 10 points behind Burton. Riley Herbst is 14 points behind Burton. Brandon Brown is 20 points behind Burton.

Click here for driver points report

Chase Briscoe scores 8th Xfinity win of year with Las Vegas triumph

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Chase Briscoe met a preseason goal of winning eight races with his victory in Saturday night’s Xfinity playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Briscoe, who also won at Las Vegas in February, advances to the second round.

Briscoe dominated, winning both stages on the way to his second consecutive victory and eighth of the year. He led 164 of 200 laps.

“Awesome car,” Briscoe said on the radio of the car that also won at this 1.5-mile speedway earlier this year. “Can’t say enough, awesome car.”

Gragson said of Briscoe’s car on NBCSN: “Lot of race cars out here and one space shuttle.”

Las Vegas native Noah Gragson finished second and was followed by JR Motorsports teammates Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg placed fifth.

Austin Cindric placed sixth and was followed by Michael Annett, Anthony Alfredo, Harrison Burton and Justin Haley.

Briscoe’s eight wins through 27 races ties him with Jack Ingram and Sam Ard for the most wins by non-Cup drivers through 27 races in a season. Ard and Ingram both did it in 1984. Briscoe’s eight wins ties him with Carl Edwards for most wins by a Ford driver in a season in the Xfinity Series. Edwards accomplished the feat in 2011.

“I knew this team was fully capable of achieving that and even more,” Briscoe told NBCSN of winning eight races this year. “I just can’t say thank you enough to Gene Haas and Tony Stewart and everyone that lets me drive these race cars. It has been an unbelievable season and we still have a lot, six more wins that we can try to get and a championship. That is what we are going to try to do. I am so happy to start the playoffs like this. After the last couple weeks we had, to go to Bristol and win and now here is a pretty good way to start our playoffs.”

The 25-year-old Briscoe does not know where he’ll run next season. He has a year left on his contract with Ford.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Sieg’s fifth-place finish is his fifth top five of the season, the most he’s had in a season. … Runner-up Noah Gragson has finished in the top six in all four of his Xfinity Las Vegas starts. He did it by overcoming a bloody nose during the race. At one point, he put roll bar padding up his nose to clog it. … Daniel Hemric had finished 24th or worse in four of his last five starts before Saturday’s race. He finished third at Las Vegas.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers. It’s his first finish outside the top 10 at a 1.5-mile speedway this season.

NEXT: The series races Oct. 3 at Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) in the middle race of the opening round of the playoffs.

Gracie Trotter becomes first female to win ARCA-sanctioned race

Gracie Trotter
Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images
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Gracie Trotter became the first female to win a race sanctioned by ARCA when she captured the ARCA Menards West race Saturday at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I’m at a loss for words right now. My first year in ARCA, out West, far from home – it just really means a lot to me,” Trotter said after her first series win.

The best finish by a female in ARCA Series history had been second. Shawna Robinson (1999 at Daytona), Erin Crocker (2005 and ’07 at Kentucky and 2006 at Kansas) and Hailie Deegan (2020 at Daytona) each finished runner-up in an ARCA race.

This is the first year that the West Series has been sanctioned by ARCA. It was previously known as K&N Pro Series West. Deegan was the most recent female winner in that series. She won three times. Deegan scored her first career West win in 2018 at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway. That victory made her the first female to win in that series. Deegan went on to win twice more in that series in 2019.

The 19-year-old Trotter is a third-generation racer. She drives for Bill McAnally Racing. Trotter began competing in go-karts at age 8. She was the first female to win the Young Lions Legends Cars division at Charlotte Motor Speedway, capturing the title in 2017. This is her first season in the ARCA Menards West Series.

Trotter pulled away from teammate Gio Scelzi to win by 0.821 seconds Saturday. Teammate Jesse Love, who is the series points leader, finished third.

She took the lead on Lap 54 with a three-wide pass.

“I kind of got a little lucky there,” Trotter said. “The two front cars were battling side by side. I took it three-wide, a little sketchy at first, but I made it stick.”

She went on to lead 95 of the 150 laps.

Trotter also competes for Rev Racing as part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. She won her first Late Model race at Hickory (North Carolina) Motor Speedway on Sept. 13. The win made her the fourth female to win a Late Model Series race at the historic 0.363-mile track, which opened in 1951.

A replay of Saturday’s ARCA Menards West race will air at 6 p.m. ET Wednesday (Sept. 30) on NBCSN.

Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, TV channel

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The second round of the Cup playoffs begins with the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 1.5-mile track kicks off the Round of 12. Winning the race and stage points are a premium for playoff drivers before the races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

Kevin Harvick, who won at Bristol, starts from the pole.

Here is all the info for the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis at 7:07 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:17 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at Noon. Drivers report to their cars at 6:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Sierra Black at 7:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 6:30 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6 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

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 96 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Kyle Busch to win at Bristol and claim his ninth win of the season.

LAST POINTS RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Joey Logano beat Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in February.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE:

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

Charlotte Roval to host limited number of fans

Friday 5: Team’s departure adds to ‘extremely stressful’ time

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

Long: 100 days left in 2020, what else can happen?