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Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins first Xfinity race in JR Motorsports car

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. set a personal milestone by winning Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

Although Earnhardt now has 24 victories in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition in his career, Saturday’s triumph was the first time he has won a race for the team he’s a co-owner of: JR Motorsports.

“That makes it a little better,” Earnhardt told Fox Sports 1. “I did what I had to do to get the win.”

It was also Earnhardt’s first win in the Xfinity Series since 2010.

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There were only two cautions in the 14o-lap race, but the second one, a multi-car wreck on Lap 134, altered the outcome.

Brennan Poole got loose going into Turn 1 off the restart, clipped Justin Allgaier and triggered a crash that took out two of the four Dash 4 Cash contenders in the event: Erik Jones and Allgaier.

“The 48 (Poole) got a terrible start on old tires and I drove down there into (Turn) 1 and I don’t think he (Poole) expected to have as little grip as he did,” Allgaier told FS1. “It’s just a frustrating end to our day. We ran second the majority of the day.

“I felt like we could have at least finished second and possibly won the race on that last restart. I know it’s the end of the race, but there’s no time for that.”

Poole suffered heavy damage to the right front of his car but continued.

Earnhardt led 128 of 149 laps, including nine laps of overtime.

Runner-up Ty Dillon earned the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize, while Elliott Sadler finished third, followed by Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon. Cole Custer finished sixth in his Xfinity Series debut.

“They were just too fast today,” Ty Dillon said of Earnhardt on FS1. “We were right there, they just had us by a little bit. We’re close, so close. We’re getting better and better and to get our cars right.”

MORE: Results of Xfinity Series race at Richmond

MORE: Daniel Suarez remains points leader after Richmond Xfinity race

HOW EARNHARDT WON: Junior not only had the best car, he also wound up being in the right place at the right time. On the restart following the first caution, he moved to the bottom of the track and got back into the lead just as the multi-car wreck occurred behind him.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Ty Dillon had one of his strongest races of the season. … Camping World Truck Series driver Cole Custer finished sixth in his Xfinity Series racing debut. … While he is still seeking his first win of 2016, points leader Daniel Suarez held on to his lead with a strong fourth-place run. … Blake Koch stood out for one of the best finishes in his career: eighth place.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Erik Jones (finished 34th) and Justin Allgaier (35th) saw likely top-five finishes and a chance for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus end when they were involved in a wreck six laps from the scheduled distance. … Mike Harmon (36th) spun into the wall after being tapped by Erik Jones late in the race, causing the first caution.

NOTABLE: Despite being part of the trigger to the wreck late in the race, Brennan Poole continued and finished 10th. Said Poole: “I spun the tires a little bit from 2nd to 3rd (gear) and when we got to Turn 1, we kind of ran out of room, got together and crashed.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Kyle (Busch) wasn’t here today, so we’ll never know. He always does so well in these races. He wasn’t out there today, so there was a little bit of competition on the table.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. on not having Kyle Busch in the race.

WHAT’S NEXT: Sparks Energy 300, April 30, Talladega Superspeedway

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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

 

 

Kurt Busch win capped off big racing weekend for family

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After hopping from the door of his No. 1 Chevrolet Sunday night, Kurt Busch let out a primal scream.

The source of his emotion?

“20 years of agony and defeat” at the his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had been replaced by “triumph.”

After the fortunate timing of a caution and pit strategy Sunday night, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the final 26 laps and visited LVMS’ Victory Lane for the first time, a day after his brother Kyle Busch experienced a special win.

There was plenty more for the 42-year-old driver to celebrate. He’d entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings. But with his first win in 46 races, Busch became the first driver to plant in his flag in the Round of 8.

But the Las Vegas native’s focus was on the 1.5-mile track, which he’d seen evolve from a “desert gravel pit” into the site of two NASCAR race weekends each year.

“This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built … when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I’m like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars (and race there). And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother (Kyle Busch) to make it in racing.

“For me it was a hobby. I never knew I’d get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas, took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.”

Busch made his first NASCAR start on the Las Vegas oval in 2001 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Between then and Sunday, he won 31 Cup races, the 2004 championship and the 2017 Daytona 500.

But his home track eluded him until his 21st year competing on the sport’s top circuit.

Busch said Sunday’s win is “right there underneath” his Daytona win and the championship.

“Any time you win, it’s special,” Busch said. “But to do it in front of my hometown crowd and nobody was there (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the people that I see every time I come to Vegas and I get to say thank you and I can’t right now, that’s the hardest part. So this one is easily ramping up to being my third most favorite win ever.

“Right now it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”

The Busch family got to celebrate more than one win over the weekend.

The night before Kurt’s Vegas breakthrough, a third generation racer got his first taste of victory.

Kyle and Samantha Busch’s son, Brexton, won his first karting race and celebrated with his parents in Victory Lane.

“It’s so much fun to watch him and just to see his excitement and how much he enjoys going to the race track and being with is friends,” Kyle Busch said after his sixth-place finish Sunday. “It’s three generations worth, I guess. My dad (Tom) did it, myself and Kurt and now him. It’s pretty fun to just be out there. My dad is kind of the truck driver, the team manager, the crew chief, the lead mechanic and all that stuff on his kart.

“He’s got a big task at hand in order to get it all ready to go and get us to the race track every week. It’s been fun to see (Brexton) and to see how excited he was when he was able to win and beat the other competition that was out there and to see his joy. I told him, ‘Whatever that feeling is, whatever you’re feeling, however that sits in you, that’s feasible, that’s possible a lot more often than just one time. So don’t rest on just getting one, we gotta go out there and fight for more.'”

Kurt Busch wasn’t there for his nephew’s win, but he got all the details from his sister-in-law as they flew to Las Vegas.

“It definitely felt like a generational shift was happening,” he said. “But maybe not. Maybe not. This old guy has still got it going on.”