Will Carl Edwards’ championship bid happen the second time around?

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In 2011, Carl Edwards tied for the Sprint Cup championship, only to lose it when Tony Stewart earned his third title on a tie-breaker (more wins than Edwards that season).

Five years later, Edwards will return to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the championship-deciding, Ford EcoBoost 400 with a chance to capture the title that has eluded him.

Instead of worrying about just one opponent (Stewart – who will run in the final race of his Sprint Cup career), Edwards will face three times the number of championship opponents: Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and six-time champ Jimmie Johnson.

“I’m not too worried about Kyle or Jimmie much,” Edwards said with a laugh following Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

But then Edwards grew serious again, knowing he may have as tough a battle – if not tougher — than he did with Stewart in 2011.

“It’s a pretty stout group,” Edwards said. “I think whoever wins it, they should take a lot of pride in that. I’m really excited to go down there and race. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity for a while. Dave (Rogers, crew chief) is pumped. He’s ready to go down there now. We’re going to go have a good time … It’s going to be a good race.”

When asked how he handicaps next Sunday’s Championship 4 season finale, Edwards didn’t want to name names or pick picks. Of course, he wants to win it, but he doesn’t want to give any of his three opponents any type of edge.

“I don’t know,” Edwards said. “I mean, it’s going to be a good race. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I don’t think you can pick a winner. I think we’re going to battle it out. It’s going to be a blast.”

Edwards finished 19th in Sunday’s race at Phoenix and was never a factor. It wasn’t by design, but at the same time, he had hoped to go into Homestead with momentum.

“This was somewhat of a frustrating weekend,” Edwards said. “We just didn’t have speed all weekend and then in the race I didn’t do a very good job on the initial couple of starts and lost some track position.

“Then at the end I swore I had a flat tire, but I think maybe Paul (Menard) got into me just a little and turned me sideways. I didn’t feel the impact, but I thought I was going to wreck. Not the day we wanted, but we’ll put this behind us and get ready for Homestead.”

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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