Five drivers to watch at Indianapolis

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Keep an eye on these drivers this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kyle Larson

After getting caught in a wreck last week at New Hampshire, Larson tweeted: “Whatever good luck I had a couple of months ago is gone and life is back to normal.” We figure that he feels better after his Camping World Truck Series win at Eldora on Wednesday night. He’ll try to carry that momentum into Indianapolis, a place that he’s adapted to quickly with top-10 finishes in both of his Cup starts there.

Kyle Busch

In his last four starts at Indianapolis, he’s posted a win and two runner-up finishes. Going a little further, he’s earned six consecutive top-10 finishes there, which is tied for the longest such streak at the track (Rusty Wallace, 1998-2003). His Indy average finish is a 9.7, just behind leader Tony Stewart’s average finish of 9.6.

Matt Kenseth

Last week’s winner has come close to victory at Indianapolis on several occasions, as his two runner-ups (2003 & 2006) and seven top-five finishes attest. He’s finished no worse than seventh in four of his last five races at Indy with a crash in 2012 (35th place) the outlier.

Jeff Gordon

Subbing for the ailing Dale Earnhardt Jr., Gordon will have some questions to answer this weekend: How quickly can he adapt to the current low-downforce package? And with temperatures set to soar into the 90s at Indy, how well can he withstand brutal conditions inside the car after being out of one since last year’s finale at Miami? If Gordon can sort these out, he can be a threat. His record is superb at this track (five wins, 17 top-10 finishes in 22 starts). Who dares to think he isn’t capable of delivering another clutch moment on racing’s biggest stage?

Tony Stewart

This was always going to be a special weekend for Tony Stewart, as he makes his final farewell as a Sprint Cup driver to the track he’s loved since childhood. But it’s even more special with Stewart being as competitive as he’s been lately. The two-time Brickyard winner has turned in a win and four top-10 finishes in his last five races, posting an average finish of 8.2 during that span.

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