Alex Bowman looking to make most of his opportunity in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s ride

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CONCORD, N.C. — Alex Bowman has to wait another day, yet another delay in a career he’s not sure where it is headed.

Sunday’s rescheduled Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (on NBC and NBCSN) could further prove that Bowman is deserving of a ride next season — if there is anything available.

“I don’t know what my future holds,’’ Bowman said after qualifying second in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car. “There are not really any rides open next year.’’

Bowman knows he’ll drive in six of the remaining seven Sprint Cup races in the No. 88 for Earnhardt, who is out the rest of the season as he recovers from a concussion.

After those six Cup races, Bowman doesn’t know what is next. He doesn’t know if there will be a ride for him in the Cup or Xfinity series, or if the only driving he’ll do will be in the Chevrolet simulator for Hendrick Motorsports, as he does now, helping with setups.

“You never really know what the future holds,’’ the 23-year-old said. “Not having anything set in stone, the one thing that I said I was going to do throughout all these races was to make the most of it and to have the most fun I possibly could. I’m not going to let the pressure kill me. I’m not going to let the people on social media dictate how I feel when I go home at night. I’m just trying to have as much fun as I possibly can.’’

He was an emergency fill-in for Earnhardt at New Hampshire in July, running in the top 10 until he crashed after a tire issue. He was fast at Michigan but a mechanical issue left him with a 30th-place finish. He scored his first career top-10 finish in the Chase opener last month at Chicagoland, placing 10th. He was 14th at New Hampshire.

Today marks his fifth Cup start of the season and 76th of his career.

But he’d also consider a ride elsewhere.

“I would love to run a fourth Xfinity car for JR Motorsports,’’ said Bowman, who has made seven Xfinity starts this season, placing in the top 10 each time.

“Everybody at JRM worked really hard to try to put something together over there and unfortunately the chips didn’t line up in my favor. I don’t really know what’s going on. Obviously, if I win some races or run up front, I think it makes things better. There are not really seats available, but at least I’m the guy that will hopefully get called if something does open up.”

The focus, though, is what he can control and that is how he performs, beginning with today’s Cup race. Starting second gives him the opportunity to show what he’s capable of doing.

“It’s so cool to go to the race track knowing that you have equipment capable of winning if you give the right feedback and make the right calls throughout the race,’’ Bowman said. “It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been the most fun I’ve had in a long time probably since I ran ARCA and won a bunch of races back then. 

“That is the biggest thing. For a race car driver you want to go to the race track with a chance and that is what Hendrick Motorsports has given me.”

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.


Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.