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Chris Heroy wastes no time getting started at RPM as No. 9 crew chief

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Chris Heroy doesn’t believe in wasting any time.

When he agreed earlier this week to become the new crew chief for Brian Scott at Richard Petty Motorsports, Heroy didn’t tell his new bosses he needed time off before he started his new gig.

“I signed up and about 15 minutes later, I was under a car, trying to make it go faster,” Heroy said Thursday on The Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Sammy (RPM competition director Sammy Johns) said, ‘Hey man, can you start right now?’ I said, ‘Yeah man, let’s go.’”

Heroy comes to RPM after four years with Chip Ganassi Racing, the last two as crew chief for Kyle Larson. Try as they may, the Larson-Heroy combination just could not reach Victory Lane in their two-year pairing.

It got to the point where, although there was no animosity with CGR or Larson, Heroy decided he needed a new challenge.

“Sometimes change is necessary,” Heroy said. “No hard feelings. I’ll of course miss Kyle and that group over there. I appreciate Chip and Max (team manager Max Jones) giving me the opportunity to crew chief over there and learned a lot through the four years.

“We didn’t live up to expectations. We wanted to make a change and I was up for a change. … No hard feelings. I wish those guys all the best. If they’re able to win a race, I’ll be the first one over there, congratulating them.”

When Scott was signed to replace Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 9 RPM Ford Fusion, Heroy applied for the job. Following a two-hour interview, both he and RPM decided they’d make a good fit – and a new chapter for both Heroy and the organization began to be written.

“It really kind of came up quick,” Heroy said. “I like Brian’s attitude. He’s already at the shop, working with the guys. They’re a great group of guys, real pumped up, Brian’s a big part of it and leading this group.

“The 43 was running real well last year, almost made the Chase, had a lot of great finishes, so we’ll try to build off what Trent (crew chief Trent Owens) and his group accomplished and try to get our group up and running.”

That he jumped right in after being given the job says a lot about Heroy’s enthusiasm for his new role. He knows there will be challenges, including Scott never having won a race in 208 career Xfinity Series starts.

Plus, Scott will be battling for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year with several other drivers including 2014 Xfinity Series champ Chase Elliott and 2015 Xfinity champ Chris Buescher.

“I’m kinda energized by this change,” Heroy said. “It feels good to be here and we have a lot of opportunities. I’m all focused on building this program with Brian and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports.”

Scott has made 17 prior starts in the Sprint Cup Series, scattered over the last three seasons, with just one top-10 finish in that span.

But Heroy thinks the Boise, Idaho native has great promise now that he’s in NASCAR’s top league. And with both Scott (Richard Childress Racing) and Heroy (CGR and before that, Hendrick Motorsports) totally fresh at RPM, there is great promise for the new pairing.

“You can’t just do what you did at the last place,” he said. “You have to start with what the current team has. You have to make sure you’re working on the right stuff. I like to come in, see where everything’s at, evaluate the good and bad. I asked all my road and shop guys to give me a list of three things to make our cars go faster and more efficiently.”

Heroy still has to pinch himself that he’s working for the legendary and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.

“It’s a real honor and pleasure,” Heroy said. “He’s a positive guy and a great leader. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s all about. The name speaks for itself. It’s a real deal up here. He’s got two fully-funded race teams that are ready to run hard. They’re like a family up here. … It’s nice to be here. It feels like home. It’s good.”

Heroy believes RPM is a team on the move. It made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2014 with Aric Almirola (and almost made it again in 2015).

To say he’s bullish about RPM as a whole, as well as the No. 9 team, in 2016 is an understatement. He knows there is a challenge facing him, but he’s ready to meet that challenge head-on.

“Whatever racing hands you, you have to make the best of it,” Heroy said. “I try to stay positive and try to keep everything working forward. I try to be sympathetic when they’re mad and say I can see it, I get it and it’s okay.

“I think it’s important to let them know we’re going to try and do everything we can in the pits and off the spotter tower to make things go as smooth as possible. The great teams recover. When you look at the 4 or 48, when they get down, they recover. That’s how you make good seasons. You don’t have those finishes of 30th and 35th and that sort of thing.

“To keep you up in the points, to keep you parked around good cars, to keep your morale up, to keep things like that, when it all goes down, it’s all about recovering. That’s why I try to shift the focus from we’ve got some lemons, let’s make some lemonade. We’ll give ‘em all we’ve got.”

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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
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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.