Talladega run gives Brian Scott best day of Sprint Cup career

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Sunday was Brian Scott’s greatest day in Sprint Cup racing — no ifs, ands or buts about it.

When Sunday’s green flag dropped, Scott had never earned a top-10 finish in NASCAR’s premier series. His best finishes to date were 12th place showings earlier this year at Fontana and last year at Kansas. And in three previous starts at Talladega Superspeedway, his finishes were 42nd, 43rd and 30th.

But Sunday was different. He scored a second at Talladega Superspeedway — his best career Sprint Cup finish (By comparison, Scott had 208 career starts in the Xfinity Series and hasn’t won in NASCAR’s junior league, but did have four runner-up finishes.)

In addition, Scott’s teammate Aric Almirola had his first top-10 and best finish of the season (eighth).

It marked the best overall finish for RPM team this season and the team’s best Talladega finish since Kasey Kahne was second in 2009.

We had a team meeting before the race,” Scott said after the race. “We knew that we were going to have to be perfect.

“We were going to have to have no mistakes on pit road, going to have to have a fast Ford, keep good track position all day and try to make friends throughout the race so they would work with us at the end, and our game plan was really just executed really well.

“The guys did a great job on pit road.  We had a really solid car. Roush Yates Engines were amazing today and we were able to show our speed to a lot of the field, and when it came down to the finish or the restart there at the end, lucky enough to have Denny Hamlin and some guys work with us to give us an opportunity at the win.”

Scott’s and Almirola’s respective finishes were a boost to the RPM, which has struggled all season.

“A good finish always helps,” Scott said. “It helps with the team, it helps with the guys at the shop – the morale – just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult, and I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we’ve had in a really challenging year for Richard Petty Motorsports.

“I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined, but I’m just proud.  The guys have worked hard all year.  They’ve deserved a lot better finishes than we’ve given them, and I’m just proud to deliver a good, solid top five, to do my job behind the wheel to give us a shot at the win, just have a good day for Richard Petty Motorsports.”

Scott’s runner-up finish was helped by a late push from Hamlin, who finished third and advanced to the Round of 8.

“I was thankful to have Denny,” Scott said, adding with a laugh, “I don’t know if playing golf with him occasionally helps or not, but, yeah, that’s always a fear of mine.

“When you have a yellow sticker (indicating a rookie Cup driver) on your bumper normally people avoid you like the plague. They go elsewhere, and there was a lot of opportunities where I felt guys tried to do it, but I had a great spotter in Stevie Reeves and was able to block and do the right things to keep our Goody’s Ford with good track position towards the front.

“I don’t know, maybe because this is an elimination race it changed the way Denny raced at the end, but he gave me a great push and gave me an opportunity to get a run at (race winner Joey Logano).

“I just probably didn’t do everything I was supposed to get a strong enough run or back away from him as much as I could have, and just couldn’t get to his quarter panel, but it was exciting there at the end.”

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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