Tony Stewart expecting Friday meeting with Ryan Newman and is ready for bygones

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CHICAGO – Tony Stewart hasn’t heard from Ryan Newman since their dustup Saturday at Richmond, but he expects NASCAR will broker a meeting as early as Friday at Chicagoland Speedway.

When Stewart finally does talk to his former Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, the three-time Sprint Cup champion indicated he’s ready for bygones about the incident. After effectively being eliminated from a shot at the playoffs in the wreck, Newman called Stewart “bipolar” and made an oblique reference to Kevin Ward Jr., who was struck and killed by a sprint car driven by Stewart in 2014.

“It would be easy to take it personal, but that was the deciding factor in his season, whether he was going to make the Chase or not,” Stewart said Thursday during the Chase for the Sprint Cup Media Day. “We’ve been friends a long time. We were teammates. I respect him a lot. It’s a high-pressure moment. I’ve been in those, too. I’ve said things, too.

“Whether he meant to say it or not, or whether he still believes it or not, that’s up to him, but that moment is a hard moment for any of us. It’s tough in that scenario, so I can’t blame him.”

NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell said Monday that the sanctioning body would talk with Newman and Stewart before practice Friday at the 1.5-mile-oval in Joliet, Illinois.

Stewart expected NASCAR would invite both into its official trailer for a discussion aimed at proactively defusing festering ill will. In the 2015 playoffs, Matt Kenseth was suspended for two races after intentionally wrecking Joey Logano out of the lead while nine laps down at Martinsvsille Speedway. Kenseth was angry because Logano had spun him from the lead for a win at Kansas Speedway two weeks earlier.

NASCAR didn’t meet with either driver as the feud escalated, prompting questions about whether it could have been managed better.

“A lot of this is they’re trying to make sure that they don’t have a scenario like what they had last year with Joey and Matt,” Stewart said. “So I think it gets a little blown out of proportion for each individual incident. They’re just making sure they don’t get themselves in that kind of scenario again.”

Don’t expect a repeat with Newman, either, Stewart said.

“If you think that’s going to be a storyline for 10 weeks, then you’re going to miss a lot because you’re going to be wasting your time on something that’s not even relevant,” he said. “This Chase is going to be pretty intense in itself. You’ve got 16 great drivers. You’ve got three-week segments where you keep knocking four guys off. It’s going to be pretty crazy these last 10 weeks.”

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