Kyle Larson’s first top five at Indianapolis Motor Speedway couldn’t have come at a better time.
With Dale Earnhardt Jr. missing Sunday’s race with concussion-like symptoms, those on the outside of the Chase grid looking in were ready to pounce. It was Larson who took advantage.
His fifth-place finish in the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 moved him to 15th in points and 16th on the Chase grid.
Larson holds the final transfer spot by 10 points over 17th place Kasey Kahne heading into next weekend’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has been ruled out for Pocono because of concussion-like symptoms, dropped to 18th on the Chase grid.
“I don’t know if I was expecting much more than a top five, really,” Larson told NBCSN. “I didn’t know we had that speed in our car. We were probably a fifth- to seventh-place car but was able to get some good restarts there at the end. Just a solid day for the whole Target team.
“We qualified good for once and just solid weekend. It was a good one.”
The No. 42 from Chip Ganassi Racing started the day 10th and was not a factor for the win. But Larson ran a solid race and stayed in contention late to gain positions when four cautions flew inside the final 10 laps. Those accidents also aided Larson’s Chase chances by collecting drivers like Trevor Bayne and Ryan Blaney, who are also fighting for a spot on the grid.
Prior to those four cautions, Larson was running ninth, and he proceeded to gain four spots over the final 10 laps.
There are six races remaining in the regular season. Larson is in his third full year of Sprint Cup competition and has never made the Chase.
Brad Keselowski, hoping to extend Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing’s turnaround, won the pole Saturday for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.
It was the second piece of good news for RFK Racing in two weeks. Chris Buescher‘s Keselowski’s teammate, won last week’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first victory for the team under the RFK banner.
Keselowski, who ran 188.990 mph, is not a part of the 12-driver playoff group.
Following in the top five Saturday were Joey Logano, William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell. Playoff point leader Chase Elliott will start sixth.
“Texas is a really tough track,” Keselowski told NBC Sports. “As hot as it’s going to be, that will be even tougher.”
Race-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s Sunday.
The race (3:30 p.m. ET), the first event in the second round of the playoffs, will be televised by the USA Network.
The first race in the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is scheduled Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Twelve drivers are racing for eight spots in the next round. Chase Elliott leads the standings by 15 over Joey Logano entering Sunday’s 500-mile event, the only Cup points race at TMS this year. Ryan Blaney, who is in the playoff group, won the All-Star Race at the track in May.
Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric are below the cutline entering the 3:30 p.m. ET (USA Network) race.
The playoffs will continue at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9).
Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway:
START: The command to start engines will be given by “Top Gun: Maverick” actors Jay Ellis and Lewis Pullman at 3:38 p.m. (ET) … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.
PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler of Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3:30 p.m. … The 1st Cavalry Division Band will perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) on the 1.5-mile speedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 105. Stage 2 ends at Lap 210.
TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 2:30 p.m. on USA Network. The post-race show will air on USA Network. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and also will stream at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.
FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies. High of 96 with a 5% chance of rain.
LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won by .459 of a second over William Byron last October. Larson led 256 of the race’s 334 laps.
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Playoff driver Brandon Jones won the pole position Saturday morning for Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jones was clocked at 185.637 miles per hour. He has won three of the past four Xfinity poles.
Scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on the USA Network, the race is the opening event of the Xfinity playoffs.
Following Jones in the top five were Noah Gragson (winner of three consecutive Xfinity races), Daniel Hemric, John Hunter Nemechek and Sam Mayer.
The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track. Drivers will be battling heat in the mid-to-high 90s.
NASCAR Cup and Xfinity teams will be busy Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.
The Cup Series enters the second round of the playoffs with 12 drivers remaining for the title. Cup teams will practice and qualify today.
The Xfinity Series begins its playoffs Saturday with 12 drivers in championship contention. Xfinity teams will practice and qualify before racing.
All track activity will be broadcast on USA Network. The temperature will climb into the mid-90s Saturday, according to Weather Underground.
Saturday, Sept. 24
- 8:30 a.m. — Xfinity Series
- 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. — Cup Series
- 10:30 – 11:05 a.m. — Xfinity Series practice (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
- 11:05 a.m. – noon — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
- 12:35 – 1:20 p.m. — Cup Series practice (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
- 1:20 – 2:30 p.m. — Cup Series qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
- 3:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (200 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, NBC Sports App, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)