Rain-shortened race leaves four title contenders all wet in Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – The rain was persistent, resilient, and, in the end, too much for NASCAR to complete the full distance of Sunday night’s race at Phoenix International Raceway, leaving title contenders Joey Logano and Kurt Busch among those standing in the rain.

They, along with Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski failed to advance to next weekend’s championship round in Miami.

The race was called at about 11:30 p.m. ET, which was before the rain-delayed Daytona race in July began. But with a downpour soaking the 1-mile raceway Sunday, cool evening temperatures making track drying difficult and extending an event that was to have started nine hours earlier, it made it easy for NASCAR to end the race after 219 of 312 scheduled laps

.Then again, should series officials have done more?

“There was a lot at stake at this race, but, hey, it’s already called,’’ Logano said standing under an umbrella on pit road next to his car. “What am I supposed to do?’’

Logano needed to win to advance but finished third, leaving the six-time winner this season out of the title round. That means the series’ top three winners this year – Logano (six victories), Jimmie Johnson (five) and Matt Kenseth (five) – will not compete for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, also didn’t advance. He likely needed to win but finished ninth to winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Asked if it was fair to call this race early, Keselowski said: “I don’t think it matters what is fair. It matters what entertains the fans, and if the fans are happy, then that’s what it is all about.’’

Busch walked to his team’s hauler in the rain as NASCAR called the event.

“Its still raining right now,’’ he said. “They should have the jet dryers out there right now but, hey, it’s not a raceable condition right now.’’

Busch finished seventh after NASCAR penalized him for jumping the start. Replays showed he slightly beat pole-sitter Johnson across the line. NASCAR reiterated in the drivers meeting before the race that the pole-sitter had to be the leader across the line at the green flag.

“I had no reason to jump the start,’’ Busch said. “I had 312 laps to race my way into a championship round. We won races this year, we sat on poles and we did everything we could to work together as a team.’’

While Busch likely needed to win to advance, Carl Edwards had a chance to make it by points. Instead, he finished five points behind Martin Truex Jr. for the final transfer spot.

“We do not want to finish this like this,’’ Edwards said before being informed that NASCAR had called the race, leaving him with a 12th-place finish.

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings