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Five drivers to watch at Dover

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Here’s a look at five key Sprint Cup drivers to keep an eye on this weekend at Dover International Speedway.

Kyle Busch

The hottest driver in the Sprint Cup Series hasn’t won at Dover since Spring 2010, but he has posted eight top 10s in the 11 Dover races since then. Last spring, he was in line for a top-five finish until he was involved in an incident with Brian Scott. Busch delivered a second-place finish in the fall playoff race that helped him advance. Another effort like that would be par for the course this season for Kyle, who leads the series with nine top-five finishes.

Jimmie Johnson

With Kyle Busch white-hot, Johnson’s mastery at the Monster Mile may be severely tested this weekend. But you can’t argue with his success there: 10 wins (most all-time), 2,999 laps led (again, most all-time), and a 9.1 average finish over his career (best among active drivers). Another victory would make him just the third driver in Sprint Cup history to earn at least 11 wins at a single track, joining Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip. And with one more lap led, Johnson will become the seventh Sprint Cup driver to pace at least 3,000 laps at a single track.

Kevin Harvick

Harvick’s clutch elimination race win at Dover last fall was a culmination of improved performance there since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. He’s led 693 laps in his last four Dover starts, and arguably could’ve had at least three Miles the Monsters on his mantle by now. A valve stem problem on his left front tire cost him a likely win in Sept. 2014 (led 223 laps) and he lost out to Jimmie Johnson last spring in a green-white-checkered finish.

Kurt Busch

While Harvick has enjoyed good results at Dover since joining SHR, the same can’t be said for teammate Kurt Busch, who only has an average finish of 21st in his last four Dover runs. But that figures to change with Kurt Busch riding lots of momentum thanks to nine top-10 finishes in the first 11 races this season.

Kyle Larson

While his great run at Kansas ended in a late-race wreck, Larson should be confident as he heads to Dover. Although he has only four career Cup starts there, he’s posted a strong 7.2 average finish with no finish worse than 11th. Additionally, 88 percent of his laps at Dover have been spent inside the top 15. At 52 points behind the Chase cutoff, a big result is certainly needed and Dover just might be the place for him to get it.

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