Gordon, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Truex head to Miami; Dale Jr. wins at PIR

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Rain cut short Sunday’s Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, and it also cut short four drivers’ hopes of advancing to next Sunday’s championship-deciding race in Miami.

As a result, defending series champion Kevin Harvick (second), Kyle Busch (fourth) and Martin Truex Jr. (14th) will join Jeff Gordon (sixth; he already had advanced with a Martinsville Speewday win) in racing for the championship.

Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano were eliminated after the third round of the playoffs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his third win of the season and third at Phoenix  when the race was called after 219 of a scheduled 312 laps.

Harvick finished second, followed by Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

Sixth through 10th were Gordon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Keselowski and Aric Almirola.

HOW EARNHARDT WON: Excellent pit strategy, plain and simple. Crew chief Greg Ives brought Earnhardt into the pits during a green-flag cycle just as the caution flew for a two-car crash involving Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Earnhardt inherited the lead from Harvick when he beat the yellow out of the pits. Shortly thereafter, the rain came, negating the opportunity to restart the race and making Earnhardt the winner.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Obviously, it was a great race for Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Harvick – not so much for where they finished, but because they all stayed above the points cutoff to advance to the championship finale at Miami along with Gordon.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Even though they had decent runs going before the rain came, it wound up being less than Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano had hoped, as rain prevented them from having a shot at reaching next Sunday’s championship round. … As for the actual race itself, Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both made hard contact to the outside wall on Lap 197 and suffered heavy damage. Stenhouse was running 16th at the time but wasn’t on the lead lap.

NOTABLE: How close was it when the rain came? Truex finished 14th to secure the fourth and final spot at Miami with just a five-point edge over Carl Edwards. … Kurt Busch got off to a bad start when NASCAR ruled he jumped the start of the race, a subject that was covered during the prerace driver’s meeting. Busch was assessed a stop-and-go penalty, dropping him from the front of the field back to 35th. … The first 100 laps went by in a very speedy 49 minutes. … Rain postponed the race by more than six hours, 30 minutes from its scheduled start time. … Chevrolet clinched its 13th consecutive (and 30th overall) manufacturer’s championship. … Can you say irony? There will be three Chevrolets (Gordon, Truex and Harvick) and one Toyota (Kyle Busch) in Sunday’s championship race, but not one Ford driver in a race called the Ford 400, part of Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s my last one and I couldn’t be more excited or more determined to go down there and do what it takes. … I think our chances are good. I can’t say until we get the green flag or the checkered flag, but I feel pretty good about it right now.” – Jeff Gordon on going to Homestead for the final race – and final hope for a fifth Sprint Cup championship – in his career.

WHAT’S NEXT: The season-ending and championship deciding Ford 400 will take place Sunday, Nov. 22, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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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.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS COVERAGE

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Dr. Diandra: Is Talladega really a playoff wildcard?

 

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)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.