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Mom knows best: Elliott Sadler followed orders, moved one step closer to Xfinity title

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Elliott Sadler did as he was told by his mother.

He left her in the hospital to race last week.

“I cried about half the way home just because you’re not supposed to leave your mom in that kind of situation,’’ he told NBC Sports.

As she approached her sixth night in the hospital after complications from a recent surgery, Bell told her son she would be fine and that he needed to go to Kentucky Speedway to race.

Forty-hours later, he received a text message while celebrating his second Xfinity Series victory in the last four races.

“I’m awake. Call me.’’

It was his mom. She had watched him win the series’ inaugural Chase race.

Sadler heads into Saturday’s race at Dover International Speedway (on NBCSN) with no pressure after the Kentucky win vaulted him into the second round of the Chase.

Also gone is the angst he experienced a week ago when his mother was admitted to the hospital. She’s recovering at home, he said.

His emotions changed after his third-place finish Sept. 17 at Chicagoland Speedway. His mother had been rushed to the hospital and was in the intensive care unit.

“Had been on cloud nine,’’ Sadler said. “Had a great day at Chicago, had a chance to win, finish third. (Meanwhile) my mom is having complications from something that happened a couple of weeks ago with her gallbladder.’’

Sadler, his brother Hermie and other family members stayed with Bell at the hospital in the following days. Sadler and Hermie rotated shifts with their mom, neither getting much sleep, “worried about her, watching her fight and suffering,’’ Sadler said.

But the family knows to listen to mom, who is a cancer survivor. So when she assured Sadler she would be OK and he should leave, he did.

The Kentucky victory moved him one step closer toward his first NASCAR championship. He’ll need to advance through the second round to have a chance for the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sadler admits he’s thought of winning the Xfinity title and what it would mean. He thinks about the sacrifices his family made and what racing means to his family.

“When I was younger you don’t realize all the time that your parents sacrificed to help you pursue your dreams,’’ Sadler said.

“Now that I’ve gotten older and got kids … I’ve kind of realized that my mom and dad did sacrifice a lot. I’m talking about cutting down on trips, spending a bunch of money, making sacrifices, working extra hard to make sure that when we raced go-karts, we had good equipment, and when we raced Late Models we had the best equipment.’’

Racing always has been a part of the Sadler family. The family used to gather at granny’s house on Sundays to compare how each did racing that weekend and watch the NASCAR race. His dad has cars that raced. His uncles raced. Sadler and Hermie raced. So did four cousins.

“Back then the Cup race started early, so it was like as soon as you got home from church, you sat down for a big dinner, big lunch and you started talking about your race weekend as you watched the Cup race,’’ Sadler said. “So it’s always been a family-involved sport for us. That’s why the first thing that comes to my mind that if we’re fortunate enough to hold the trophy up at Homestead, is (his parents) being there with me.’’

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