What you need to know about Saturday’s Xfinity heat races at Bristol

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The two heat races that will precede Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway will have a potential $100,000 twist.

To inject additional excitement into the four-race Dash 4 Cash series, NASCAR will be going back to its roots with a pair of heat races to set the lineup for the main event.

While NASCAR has used heat races in the Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora (Ohio) Speedway, this is the first time heat races have been implemented in the Xfinity Series.

Here’s what you need to know:

* Each heat race will be 50 laps with no overtime. The main event will be 200 laps, with the potential for overtime.

* Odd-number car qualifiers (first, third, fifth, etc.) will compete in the first heat race, while even-number qualifiers (second, fourth, sixth, etc.) will compete in the second heat race.

* How a driver finishes in the heat races will determine their starting position in the main event. The front row will be made up of the winners of each heat race. The fastest of those two from qualifying will have lane choice.

* The top two finishers — who score points in the Xfinity Series — in each heat race will make up the four-driver field eligible for the $100,000 prize. The driver who finishes the best among those four wins the money.

* If a car wrecks or blows an engine during its heat and cannot make repairs prior to the start of the main event, the team will not race in the main. No backup cars.

* Heat races will also take place at the other three events on the Dash 4 Cash schedule: Richmond (April 23), Dover (May 14) and the finale at Indianapolis (July 23).

* The distance of the heat races and the main events at all four tracks are different: Bristol (50-lap heat races, 200-lap main event), Richmond (35-lap heat races, 140-lap main event), Dover (40-lap heat races, 200-lap main event) and Indianapolis (20-lap heat races, 60-lap main event).

* If a driver earns two Dash 4 Cash honors, that is equal to a regular-season race win for Xfinity Series Chase eligibility.

* If a driver wins the first three Dash 4 Cash prizes and then wins the Indianapolis race outright, they will earn an additional $600,000.

Here’s what drivers and NASCAR officials are saying about the new format:

Brendan Gaughan: “This is one that nobody in this series in this sport has ever done. Yeah, there are late model races and dash races, but not in this format and this style. I’m excited to try it. I don’t know if it will be good or bad. I don’t care if it’s good or bad. Let’s get there and see what it does. If I win $100,000 at Bristol, I’m going to say ‘I love it.’ If I don’t, I’m going to say, ‘Eh, let’s go to next week and see how it goes.’ I think that’s a very cool thing.”

Elliott Sadler: “It’s kind of nerve-racking knowing that you can wreck your car in the heat race and can’t even race in the feature, so that’s kind of a tough concept. Of all the places to put it at, to put it at Bristol was a good idea on Xfinity’s and NASCAR’s part.”

Erik Jones: “I’m most curious about how people are going to race, knowing that you can’t go to a backup car before the feature or the main. So I’m interested to see how people kind of handle that fact.”

Daniel Suarez: “It’s going to be different – a lot of people are going to be racing, a lot of people are going to be just being smart to be safe for the main race. I’m going to go out and race.”

Ty Dillon: “I’m super excited about it. I grew up dirt racing and heat racing was always a part of the format of how we competed. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but we’ve already started to strategize for this race. It’s unique in a sense that the main race is a lot shorter. There definitely is a lot less room for error. We’re going to have to be perfect. Qualify well. Make the right adjustments. I’m really looking forward to the next two races with this format.”

Brandon Jones: “I think you’ll see a lot of drivers go for it in the heat races and get the Dash 4 Cash qualifying positions. It’s a really neat format for us Xfinity Series drivers. I’m excited to see how it plays out. There’s going to be a lot of action in the heat races, and I know the main event won’t disappoint.”

Ryan Reed: “I grew up heat racing, racing late models out in California. I haven’t run a heat race in probably four or five years, so I’m really excited to kind of get back to that and get back to the roots a little bit, and I think all the fans are as well and I’m sure all the media is as well. Bristol is a tough track regardless and then you throw in heat races and give us one more opportunity to go out there and tear up the car before the end of the race is gonna be challenging.”

Xfinity Series managing director Wayne Auton: “This is a great opportunity for the back half of the garage as much as it is the front half. This gives them an opportunity to really go for some good money and they feel like they got a shot at it.”

Auton on tires and fuel: “You have to start the heat on the tires you qualified on and you have to start the heat on the fuel (from qualifying). No one should run out of fuel with the amount of laps we’re running.”

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Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick reigns going into All-Star Race

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Kevin Harvick‘s dominance of his Cup competitors continues in this week’s NBC Sports power rankings, as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver is the unanimous No. 1 driver for the second week in a row.

That comes after Harvick placed fourth at Kentucky Speedway in a race won by rookie Cole Custer.

Fourteen drivers earned votes this week following a weekend of four NASCAR races, including two Xfinity Series events.

Here is this week’s top 10:

 1. Kevin Harvick (30 points): Fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five finish. Last week: First.

 2. Aric Almirola (22 points): While Almirola finished eighth, he led a career-best 128 laps, won Stage 1 and earned his sixth consecutive top-10 finish. Last Week: Second.

(Tie) 3. Cole Custer (19 points): Custer became the first rookie of the year candidate to win a Cup race since 2016 and the first 2020 rookie to score consecutive top fives with his win. Last week: Ninth.

(Tie) 3. Matt DiBenedetto (19 points): Earned his second top five of the year and his second top 10 in three races. DiBenedetto has earned points in the last eight stages. Last week: Unranked.

(Tie) 5. Brad Keselowski (16 points): His ninth-place finish was his 10th top 10 in the last 12 races, but he didn’t earn any applause from Jimmie Johnson after contact spun Johnson. Last week: Third.

(Tie) 5. Martin Truex Jr. (16 points): Runner-up finish marked his fifth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: Unranked.

 7. Austin Cindric (12 points): The Xfinity driver dominated his series’ doubleheader in Kentucky and came away with his first oval track wins in NASCAR. Last Week: Unranked.

 8. Kurt Busch (8 points): Placed fifth for his first top five since the second Charlotte race in May. Last Week: Unranked.

 9. Denny Hamlin (7 points): Forgettable day at Kentucky. On to the All-Star race at Bristol. Last week: Fourth.

 10. Tyler Reddick (6 points): Placed 10th to earn his first consecutive top 10 of his Cup career. Last Week: Unranked

Others receiving votes: Chase Briscoe (3 points), Ryan Blaney (3 points), Christopher Bell (3 points), Sheldon Creed (1 point)

NASCAR video explains Choose Rule for All-Star Race at Bristol

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NASCAR detailed in its drivers meeting video how the Choose Rule will be used for restarts in Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

The non-points race marks the first time Choose Rule — which allows drivers to determine what lane they restart — will be used in a NASCAR Cup event. Drivers have been vocal about trying the rule since May.

The Choose Rule will be used for restarts only. It will not be used for the start of the All-Star Race, which is being held for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The video states that drivers must be single file under caution when crossing the start/finish line at the time to choose their restart lane. The video states that a V shaped painted mark on the track will show where drivers must decide what lane they wish to restart.

To restart in the inside lane, drivers must have their right side tires on or below the painted line at the V shaped mark.

To restart in the outside lane, drivers must have their left side tires on or above the painted line at the V shaped mark on the track.

If in NASCAR’s discretion, a driver has not chosen a lane at the V shaped mark on the track, changes lanes, tires touch the painted box after the V shaped mark or impedes the process, that driver will have to restart at the tail end of the field in the longest line of cars.

Xfinity team owner fined for violating COVID-19 protocol at Kentucky

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NASCAR announced on Tuesday the first fine for a violation of its COVID-19 protocols.

Anthony Clements, owner of Jeremy Clements Racing, was fined $10,000 for violating section 12.8.1.b of the Member Conduct Guidelines and section 7.7.2.j Team Event Roster Guidelines in the rulebook.

Among the potential violations in Section 12.8.1.b is that a member can be fined $5,000-$25,000 for: “Failure to comply with NASCAR’s COVID-19 Event Protocol Guidelines and/or instructions from NASCAR including screenings, social distancing, compartmentalization, and use of required personal protective equipment, etc.”

Last week, NASCAR issued a memo to teams requesting them to address “complacency” regarding its COVID-19 mask policy.

Section 7.7.2.j says “If a team is not in compliance with the Team Event Roster Rules and guidelines, that team will be subject to a Penalty as outlined in Section 12 Violations and Disciplinary Action.”

NASCAR also issued a $5,000 fine to crew chief Dave Rogers for one unsecured lug nut on Riley Herbst‘s No. 18 Toyota.

NASCAR did not issue any penalties for Friday’s post-race fight between Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton.

Last Saturday, NASCAR announced L1 level penalties for three Truck Series teams that failed pre-race inspection.

Wednesday’s Bristol All-Star Race: Start time, lineup and more

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History will be made Wednesday night when NASCAR holds the All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time.

The night will be filled with many other firsts. Cars will have unique paint schemes centered around their sponsors. Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star race will have underglow lights on their cars. This will be the first national NASCAR event with the choose rule.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of Wednesday night’s event.

(All times are Eastern)

START: All-Star Open: Command to start engines is at 7:02 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. All-Star Race: Command to start engines is at 8:56 p.m. Green flag is at 9:01 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at Noon (teams are assigned specific times). All-Star Open: Driver introductions at 6:43 p.m. Drivers report to cars at 6:45 p.m. Invocation at 6:54 p.m. All-Star Race: Driver introductions at 8:35 p.m. Invocation at 8:47 p.m. National anthem at 8:49 p.m.

DISTANCES: All-Star Open: 85 laps around the half-mile track. All-Star Race: 140 laps.

SEGMENTS: All-Star Open: 35 laps / 35 laps / 15 laps. All-Star Race: 55 laps / 35 laps / 35 laps / 15 laps (only green-flag laps count in final segment)

CHOOSE RULE FOR ALL-STAR RACE: Competitors can choose which lane to restart. Rule is detailed here.

ADVANCING: The winners of each stage in the Open will advance to the All-Star Race. A fourth driver will advance through a fan vote.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

FORECAST: For the All-Star Open, wunderground.com forecasts partly cloudy skies, a high of 87 degrees and chance of rain at the start. For the All-Star Race, it forecasts a high of 81 degrees and no chance of rain.

LAST ALL-STAR RACE: Kyle Larson beat Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to claim his All-Star Race win.

ALL-STAR OPEN STARTING LINEUP: Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

ALL-STAR RACE STARTING LINEUP: Click here for All-Star Lineup

Catch up on NBC Sports’ coverage:

Bump and Run: All-Star Race picks, surprising wins, and more

Cash App to sponsor Bubba Wallace in multi-year deal

Xfinity team owner fined for violating COVID-19 protocol at Kentucky

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

Cup rookies shine going into All-Star Race

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight