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How Sprint Cup stars fared in their first 100 starts

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Probably the only person more relieved than Kyle Larson after his win Sunday at Michigan was team owner Chip Ganassi.

“I remember when I got into this business, James Finch told me it took a hundred races before these guys could figure it out,” Ganassi said. “Thank God we beat the triple digit by one.”

Larson, who earned his first Sprint Cup win, was seven days away from making his 100th career start in NASCAR’s premier series.

The 24-year-old driver made his first foray into the series on Oct. 12, 2013 in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Driving the No. 51 for HScott Motorsports, Larson finished 37th after engine failure on Lap 247.

Larson has 15 top fives, 35 tops 10s, 350 laps led and one pole (Pocono, Aug. 2014). He also has 13 DNFs. Larson’s win gives him an average finish of 16.5 heading into his 100th start, Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

“We’ve been close a few times throughout my Sprint Cup career,” said Larson, who finished second four times before his triumph. “To finally put it all together and get a win, it’s awesome. Glad to get it before my hundredth start next week.”

Here’s a look at how some of Larson’s young peers and a few NASCAR legends fared in their first 100 starts.

Austin Dillon

Career starts: 109

First start: 2011 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (Finished 26th, two laps down)

100th start: 2016 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Started and finished eighth)

Stats in first 100 starts: two poles, five top fives, 16 tops 10s, 52 laps led and five DNFs

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Career starts: 136

First start: 2011 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Finished 11th)

100th start: 2015 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (Finished 21st, four laps down)

Stats in first 100 starts: one pole, three top fives, nine top 10s, 36 laps led and six DNFs

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 11: Kyle Busch, driver of the #5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Centurion Boats at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 11, 2007 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch made his 100th Sprint Cup start in 2007 at Watkins Glen International. Busch still drove for Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch

Career starts: 414

First start: 2004 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Finished 40th, crash)

100th start: 2007 Centurion Boats at Watkins Glen International (Finished seventh)

Stats in first 100 starts: Four wins, two poles, 24 tops fives, 43 top 10s,  1,107 laps led and 15 DNFs

Brad Keselowski

Career starts: 257

First start: 2008 Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (Finished 19th, two laps down)

100th start: 2012 Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Started and finished 15th)

Stats in first 100 starts: Six wins, two poles, 14 top fives, 25 tops 10s, 598 laps led and eight DNFs

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Career starts: 595

First start: 1999 Coca-Cola 600 (Finished 16th, three laps down)

100th start: 20o2 Mountain Dew 500 (Finished 16th)

Stats in first 100 starts: Six wins, five poles, 18 top fives, 30 top 10s, 1,919 laps led and 15 DNFs

FONTANA, CA - SEPTEMBER 4: Jimmie Johnson driving the #48 Lowes Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Pop Secret 500 on September 4, 2004 at California Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images).
Jimmie Johnson made his 100th Sprint Cup Series start on Sept. 4, 2004 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images).

Jimmie Johnson

Career start: 531

First start: 2001 UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte (Finished 39th, crash)

100th start: 2004 Pop Secret at Auto Club Speedway (Finished 14th)

Stats in first 100 starts: 10 wins, seven poles, 35 top 10s, 57 top 10s,  2, 481 laps led and 12 DNFs

Tony Stewart

Career starts: 606

First start: 1999 Daytona 500 (Finished 28th, 19 laps down)

100th start: 2001 Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway (Finished seventh)

Stats in first 100 starts: 12 wins, four poles, 38 top fives, 64 top 10s,  2, 795 laps led and 10 DNFs

NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).