Tony Stewart says he is still unsure why NASCAR fined him

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Tony Stewart says he’s still unsure what he said to deserve a $35,000 fine last week and questions why it should be assessed after NASCAR changed the rule on lug nuts shortly after Stewart’s comments.

Stewart also praised the Sprint Cup Drivers Council for backing him and offering to pay his fine (that money has been donated to charity).

NASCAR fined Stewart after he questioned the sanctioning body’s stance on safety by not requiring teams to tighten all five lug nuts on each wheel. NASCAR changed the rule this week and announced additional penalties for such infractions.

“You hate to have to pay $35,000 to get somebody’s attention to do something,’’ Stewart said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. “Apparently that’s what it took. I’ve got questions, too, that I’d like to have answers to. I’m still wondering why I’m paying a $35,000 fine for something that got changed three days later.’’

NASCAR Chairman Brian France explained earlier this week — the second time he called into SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in two days — why Stewart was fined.

“When you imply that NASCAR doesn’t care about safety, you can expect a reaction from us,’’ France said.

Said Stewart on Friday: “Apparently, I shook too hard. It’s just figuring out how to communicate with them and that is getting better. We’ve got a Driver Council meeting here in Talladega (Friday night). I’m excited about that. I’m excited to have been a part of it last year, and I’m able to be a part of it this year before I move on to see the foundation that is being laid. It’s really a positive thing.

“There are a lot of drivers that are doing more work than I am with it right now. I’m kind of sitting back and watching what is going on because I’m only going to be on here for another six, eight months or whatever it is until the season is over. I’m really proud, and I feel really strong that there is a lot of good leadership in the council right now and that the foundation that is being laid there will carry on for years to come down the road.”

Stewart also said it was important how the Council spoke as one when the group supported him.

“Something I’m really proud of with this Drivers Council is how the drivers are united about everything that we’re doing,’’ Stewart said. “This was the first time something had happened where somebody on the Council got a penalty for speaking an opinion and for them to show that kind of support and show that we’re all one unit, that’s something that you don’t normally see and we haven’t seen in this sport.

“Guys talk amongst each other, but somebody gets in trouble for something, the rest of the drivers will privately support it but can’t publicly support it. This was the first time we’ve seen public support and I think it’s gone a long way.’’

“I appreciated their support, and I think they made a huge statement about what the Driver Council is about and the fact that they didn’t believe what I did deserved the fine.’’

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