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Trevor Bayne basks in the glory of being ‘in the game’ again at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. – As NASCAR officials scurried between cars checking every wheel for five lug nuts, dozens of team members, reporters and driver’s family members waited on the pit wall at Talladega Superspeedway.

The delay took several moments after Sunday’s Geico 500, and it allowed for an unusual scene as the top finishers moved unencumbered between their cars to swap post-race tales of their good fortune over the course of a wild 500 miles on the 2.66-mile oval.

No one seemed to be having a better time than Trevor Bayne.

He debriefed at length about the closing laps with Ryan Blaney. He shared a laugh with Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon. He entered a long conversation with past NASCAR champions Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte, who offered an encouraging pat on the shoulder.

After finishing 10th and leading a career-best 22 laps – seven fewer than he led over 93 starts from 2011-15 – Bayne looked like he belonged Sunday.

More importantly, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner felt as if he did, too.

“We’re in the game,” Bayne said. “We’re not just out here taking up a spot. I feel like we’re in the race. We pushed Kurt to the lead there. It’s just fun to be in the game here.”

PODCAST: Hear Trevor Bayne candidly discussing his career and the 2016 season on the NASCAR on NBC podcast

His No. 6 Ford was in the game at Talladega until the final restart with three laps to go. Bayne was third and on the inside line, delivering a massive push that briefly shot Kurt Busch into the lead past winner Brad Keselowski.

But as the action moved up the banking, Bayne was left on the bottom without any help. Blaney, his reliable drafting partner all day, had a badly damaged rear bumper that precluded him from riding shotgun.

“I NEED HELP!” Bayne screamed with two to go on the team radio as he nearly slipped from the lead draft. He recovered to salvage 10th with nary a drafting partner – a testament to the strength of his car.

“We probably had the fastest car here,” crew chief Matt Puccia said. “We knew we did on Friday in practice. We just played it safe and were just riding there. Got shuffled out at the end but great effort by this team, they’ve done a great job all year long.

“We came up short, but that’s Talladega. You have to be in the right lane at the right time. Really proud of these guys. They’re working hard week in and week out. We got one coming.”

It’s easy to shoulder the disappointment when everything seems to be trending in the correct direction.

Bayne’s second top 10 in 10 races of 2016 – tying his season-best total in Cup – moved him up two spots to 16th in points. The Roush Fenway Racing driver won’t need a miracle win to make the NASCAR playoffs for the first time at this rate.

But he will head to the July 2 race at Daytona International Speedway with the knowledge that he will bring a proven Ford that was among the only cars to emerge unscathed in a Talladega wreckfest.

“These races are gut wrenching from Lap 1 on, so I felt like that was the most calm race I’ve ever had,” he said. “I don’t have any damage on the Adovcare Ford. We’ll take it.”

Bayne took the lead for the last time on Lap 156 – six laps before the 21-car crash that wiped out much of his competition. He wisely had heeded the advice on his team radio to restrain himself – as difficult as it was for a 25-year-old who is 102 races removed from his last win (which came in only his second start).

“The car was really strong, but this place is all about patience,” Puccia said. “Even though you have a fast car, you can’t do it by yourself. You step out of line and get yourself in trouble real fast. He did a really good job staying patient, staying in line. It just didn’t work out for us

“But people have been talking about us all year long. We’ve had speed everywhere we’ve gone. That’s what we’ve got to carry on. We’ve got to keep progressing and moving the needle. That’s what we’re doing every week, and it’s starting to show. It’s a morale booster seeing how we ran today.”

And no one’s confidence seemed higher than Bayne, who seemed one of the guys inside and outside the car.

“It is so refreshing to come to the race track and have a chance,” he said. “I feel really good about the pieces they are giving me. It is all about the race cars. I’m surely proud of this team.”

Xfinity Series playoff standings entering first round

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The Xfinity Series playoffs begin this weekend with a 12-driver field set to compete for the championship.

The playoffs start Saturday night with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric start the postseason tied after they each earned 50 playoff points during the regular season.

More: Las Vegas entry lists

The last four drivers in the standings are Ryan Sieg (2,002 points), Michael Annett (2,002), Riley Herbst (2,001) and Brandon Brown (2,000).

Here are the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.

 

Cup playoff standings entering Round of 12

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The Round of 12 in the Cup playoffs has arrived following Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Eliminated from contention were Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney, Cole Custer and William Byron.

The second round begins Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

More: Entry lists for Las Vegas

Kurt Busch begins the round last in the standings with 3,0001 points.

Here is the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.

Drivers in yellow are those who will compete in the Round of 12. Drivers in red were eliminated at the end of the first round.

Cup playoff standings

 

NASCAR entry lists for Las Vegas

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The Round of 12 begins this weekend for the Cup Series and NASCAR’s entry lists for Las Vegas Motor Speedway are out.

All three national series will compete at the 1.5-mile track as the Xfinity Series begins its playoffs and the Truck Series holds its second playoff race.

More: Bristol winners and losers

Here are the preliminary entry lists for Las Vegas:

Cup – South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered for the first race of the Round of 12.

Joey Logano won at Las Vegas in the spring over Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This race was won last season by Martin Truex Jr. over Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

Click here for the Cup entry list.

 

Xfinity – Alsco 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-four cars are entered in the Xfinity playoff opener.

Daniel Hemric is entered in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Austin Hill is entered in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 Toyota.

Chase Briscoe won at Las Vegas in February over Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg. This race was won last year by Tyler Reddick over Christopher Bell and Brandon Jones.

Click here for the Xfinity entry list.

 

Trucks – World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

Thirty-six trucks are entered.

Ryan Truex is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Chevrolet.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly will make his Truck Series debut in Niece Motorsports’ No. 42 Chevrolet.

Travis Pastrana is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 45 Chevrolet for his second start of the season.

Kyle Busch won at Las Vegas in February over Johnny Sauter and Austin Hill. Austin Hill won this race last year over Ross Chastain and Christian Eckes.

Click here for the Truck entry list

NASCAR 2020 schedule: Times, TV channels, stream info and tracks for Cup series

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The second round of the NASCAR 2020 Cup series playoffs will begin on Sunday, September 27 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

William ByronCole CusterMatt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney saw their championship hopes end last Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway where Kevin Harvick stole the show with his ninth win of the season. Harvick’s victory at Bristol marked a career-best milestone as his previous best was eight wins back in 2018.

Click here to see the NASCAR entry lists for Las Vegas 

    RELATED: Bristol Cup results, driver points report

NASCAR 2020 Schedule Playoffs – Round of 12

Sept. 27 – South Point 400

Time: 7 p.m.
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Oct. 4 – YellaWood 500

Time: 2 p.m.
Track: Talladega Superspeedway

Oct. 11 – Bank of America Roval 400

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL

Playoffs – Round of 8

Oct. 18 – Hollywood Casino 400

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Track: Kansas Speedway, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 – Texas 500

Time: 3 p.m.
Track: Texas Motor Speedway

Nov. 1 – Xfinity 500

Time: 2 p.m.
Track: Martinsville Speedway

Championship – Round of 4

Nov. 8 – NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Time: 3 p.m.
Track: Phoenix Raceway


PAST RESULTS for NASCAR 2020 SCHEDULE

Daytona 500

Date: Feb. 17
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Pennzoil 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date: Feb. 23
Winner: Joey Logano (video)

Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway

Date: March 1
Winner: Alex Bowman

FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway

Date: March 8
Winner: Joey Logano (video)

The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway

Date: May 17
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway

Date: May 20
Winner: Denny Hamlin (video)

Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Date: May 24
Winner: Brad Keselowski

Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Date: May 28
Winner: Chase Elliott  (video)

Supermarket Heroes 500 – at Bristol Motor Speedway

Date: May 31
Winner: Brad Keselowski

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Date: June 7
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Date: June 10
Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (video)

Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Date: June 14
Winner: Denny Hamlin (video)

Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Date: June 22
Winner: Ryan Blaney

Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway

Date: June 27
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Pocono 350 at Pocono Raceway

Date: June 28
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Date: July 5
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

Date: July 12
Winner: Cole Custer

NASCAR All-Star Race

Date: July 15
Winner: Chase Elliott

O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Date: July 19
Winner: Austin Dillon

Super Start Batteries 400

Date: July 23
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

Date: Aug. 2:
Winner: Brad Keselowski

FireKeepers Casino 400

Date: Aug. 8
Winner: 
Kevin Harvick

Consumers Energy 400

Date: Aug. 9
Winner:
Kevin Harvick

NASCAR Cup Series Race at Daytona Road Course

Date: Aug. 16
Winner:
Chase Elliott

NASCAR Cup Series Race at Dover

Race 1

Date: Aug 22
Winner:
Denny Hamlin

Race 2

Date: Aug. 23
Winner:
Kevin Harvick

Coke Zero Sugar 400

Date: Aug. 29
Winner:
William Byron

Playoffs – Round of 16

Date: Sept. 6 
Winner:
Kevin Harvick

Date: Sept. 12
Winner:
Brad Keselowski

Date: Sept. 19
Winner:
Kevin Harvick

For more on the NASCAR 2020 schedule, news and information, read NASCAR Talk