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Offseason plans vary for many NASCAR drivers

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At the conclusion of Friday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards banquet in Las Vegas, the 2016 offseason will officially begin.

That means it’s time to relax, right? Not so for some drivers.

Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott had a simple answer when asked about his plans: “Get away.”

Kyle Busch hopes to do the same. With his son, Brexton, still not old enough to completely understand Christmas, Busch hopes the family has at least one more year to get away.

“Stay away from home, not necessary set up a tree, all that,” Busch said. “Next year, that will be a big Christmas year.”

Austin Dillon will be going away, and soon. After making his first Chase for the Sprint Cup and participating in Champion’s Week activities in Las Vegas, Dillon said next weekend he’ll be taking his No. 3 team hunting in Texas.

Another driver who also enjoys the outdoors, Martin Truex Jr., also has some trips planned.

“I went and did a little bit of boat racing this past weekend, that’s one of my hobbies, so I got to do that,” Truex said. “Got some hunting trips planned, and looking forward to Christmas, my favorite time of the year. Hopefully spend a few days back home with the family and enjoy all that.”

Of course, racing won’t be completely forgotten this offseason.

Kyle Larson has already been back to victory lane and will have many more chances. Larson is gearing up for sprint car races in Australia as well as the 2017 Chili Bowl.

“I ran a dirt midget race last week and won (the Turkey Night Grand Prix), that was good,” Larson said. “Looking forward to all that and kind of also looking forward to relaxing.”

A few drivers, however, are looking forward to staying home.

Joey Logano said he’s going to have a “normal person Christmas” and is looking forward to seeing his family. He jokingly apologized for not having anything exciting going on because he’s not big into going out.

“I think most people stay home and see their family, or if not, they probably should see their family at some point,” Logano continued.

As for the championship team from Hendrick Motorsports, crew chief Chad Knaus is also looking forward to the downtime. Mostly so he can let the accomplishment of winning seven championships sink in.

“I’m looking forward to this winter,” Knaus said. “I’m going to spend some time with my wife. Go do some snowboarding, maybe hit a vacation spot or two and I’m thinking at that point I’ll really start to enjoy it.”

Knaus and the rest of the NASCAR community have 85 days to enjoy their free time before engines fired for the 2017 Daytona 500.

Follow @KellyCrandall

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