500 miles? No problem. Try 500 laps at Bristol


BRISTOL, Tenn. — Three 500-mile races are in the books this season, but NASCAR Sprint Cup newcomers face 500 laps on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway the will feel entirely different.

Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Brian Scott each will make their first Cup start at this high-banked track, while Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher will be making their second start each.

Sixteen-second laps, plenty of G forces, and a warm day — the temperature is expected to reach 76 degrees — could tax drivers.

Elliott has an idea of what to expect. Bristol made an imprint on him years ago when he saw how exhausted his father was after some races.

“I always remember this being such a tough race,’’ said Elliott, who qualified 19th for Sunday’s race. “I remember him getting out of the car here and just being so worn out, so dehydrated and hot. This race always took such a physical toll on him. I can remember guys getting out of the cars here and having to have oxygen after the races.’’

While they might have more conveniences than Elliott and his generation, Cup newcomers still have to learn how to handle the physical and mental elements of longer races.

“I think that’s still part of my learning curve, is learning how to survive both physically and mentally through these long races,’’ said Dillon, who finished 20th last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and is driving in both the Xfinity and Cup races this weekend.

He credits mountain biking for helping with his conditioning. Elliott said he began mountain biking within the last month to increase his cardio program.

“As you run these races, they are so long,’’ said Elliott, who finished a career-high fifth at Texas last week. “You want to try to give it your all throughout the race, but the most important part … is the end of the race and trying to be around at the end and give yourself a chance. If you are not both physically and mentally there 100 percent at lap 500 or however long the race might be, you are not doing anybody any favors and that is not fair to your group.’’

Elliott got a sense of the challenges of long races last year while running five Cup events. He ran all but one lap in the Coca-Cola 600 and competed in the Southern 500, falling out after 227 of 367 laps because of an accident.

The 600 wasn’t the most taxing event for Elliott since moving to Cup, though. That race was last month’s 400-mile event on the bumpy surface at Auto Club Speedway.

“That seemed like a long race that day for whatever reason,’’ said Elliott, who finished sixth that day. “I guess it’s just perspective and how you look at your race day and how things are going too. That makes a big difference.”

Blaney has tried several different methods to be stronger mentally at the end of races.

“It’s hard to work on, it’s very tough to try to do,’’ he said. “Trust me, I’m trying to find ways to get better at it and try to learn how to be mentally tough, whether that’s talking to other athletes and how they prepare.’’

He’s trained some with Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams to become a better driver.

“He kind of told me his preparation,’’ said Blaney, who starts 18th Sunday, best among the new drivers. “The NFL is a pretty big mental sport. He had some really good pointers and I kind of stepped back and looked at it and it made sense. Stuff like that and trying to get advice from other people and how they try to work on it is the biggest thing.’’

It can mean the difference between having a good race and bad one.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told Frontstretch.com: “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.