Kyle Busch wins Xfinity event at Atlanta, takes first step toward a tripleheader sweep

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It’s one down, two to go for Kyle Busch this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The younger Busch brother is one-third of the way to a weekend sweep, capturing Saturday’s Rinnai 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 1.54-mile oval in Hampton, Georgia.

Shortly after celebrating in victory lane, Busch was scheduled to climb into a truck and go for a second win in the afternoon’s Active Pest Control 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

MORE: Results of Xfinity Series race at Atlanta

MORE: Xfinity points standings after Atlanta, Elliott Sadler moves into lead

The 2015 NASCAR Cup champ then hopes to wrap things up with a third weekend win in Sunday’s main event, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

It was Busch’s 87th career victory in the Xfinity Series and his second consecutive win in NASCAR’s junior series at AMS, having earned his first Xfinity win at AMS last year.

“Pretty proud to put ourselves in Victory Lane here once again,” Busch said. “It took me so long to get here to begin with, and now we won two in a row. That feels really good. … What else can I say? We just keep knocking them out of the park here in the Xfinity Series. But we love it, and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Brad Keselowski finished second in the Xfinity event, followed by Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Darrell Wallace Jr., rookie William Byron, Austin Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer.

There were six lead changes and five cautions in the scheduled 163-lap event.

STAGE 1 (Laps 1-40) WINNER: Brad Keselowski

STAGE 2 (Laps 41-80) WINNER: Kevin Harvick

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Elliott Sadler was the highest-finishing Xfinity Series regular (fifth place). Other Xfinity regulars with good finishes were Darrell Wallace Jr. (sixth), who overcame early contact with the wall, and rookie William Byron (seventh).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Blake Koch’s rough weekend came to an early end in last place after a Lap 2 crash. Kock piled into Ty Dillon, who appeared to lose a left-rear tire in the first turn. … Jordan Anderson also lasted just two laps before his day came to an abrupt end.

NOTABLE: Brendan Gaughan recovered from a late Stage 2 incident to finish 13th. On the other hand, Denny Hamlin was unable to recover much from a Stage 2 spin and finished 20th.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “To get second is (like) kissing your sister, but it is still better than nothing, I guess.” – Second-place finisher Brad Keselowski.

WHAT’S NEXT: March 11, Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR All-Star Race paint schemes

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When the field takes to Bristol Motor Speedway tonight for the All-Star Open (7 p.m. ET on FS1) and the All-Star Race (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1), the cars will look a little bit different.

Each car will have a special scheme that sees the numbers on the sides slid back to make room for a sponsor logo. Drivers who automatically qualified for the event will have underglow lights.

Here are the paint schemes for Wednesday’s event:

Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet

Ryan Newman, No. 6 Ford

Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet

Brennan Poole, No. 15 Chevrolet

Chris Buescher, No. 17 Ford

Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Ford

William Bryon, No. 24 Chevrolet

Michael McDowell, No. 34 Chevrolet

Ryan Preece, No. 37 Chevrolet

John Hunter Nemechek, No. 38 Ford

 

Matt Kenseth, No. 42 Chevrolet

Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet

Justin Haley, No. 77 Chevrolet

Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet

Christopher Bell, No. 95 Toyota

Daniel Suarez, No. 96 Toyota

Richard Childress Racing

Joe Gibbs Racing

Team Penske

Stewart-Haas Racing

Rick Ware Racing

Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick reigns going into All-Star Race

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Kevin Harvick‘s dominance of his Cup competitors continues in this week’s NBC Sports power rankings, as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver is the unanimous No. 1 driver for the second week in a row.

That comes after Harvick placed fourth at Kentucky Speedway in a race won by rookie Cole Custer.

Fourteen drivers earned votes this week following a weekend of four NASCAR races, including two Xfinity Series events.

Here is this week’s top 10:

 1. Kevin Harvick (30 points): Fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five finish. Last week: First.

 2. Aric Almirola (22 points): While Almirola finished eighth, he led a career-best 128 laps, won Stage 1 and earned his sixth consecutive top-10 finish. Last Week: Second.

(Tie) 3. Cole Custer (19 points): Custer became the first rookie of the year candidate to win a Cup race since 2016 and the first 2020 rookie to score consecutive top fives with his win. Last week: Ninth.

(Tie) 3. Matt DiBenedetto (19 points): Earned his second top five of the year and his second top 10 in three races. DiBenedetto has earned points in the last eight stages. Last week: Unranked.

(Tie) 5. Brad Keselowski (16 points): His ninth-place finish was his 10th top 10 in the last 12 races, but he didn’t earn any applause from Jimmie Johnson after contact spun Johnson. Last week: Third.

(Tie) 5. Martin Truex Jr. (16 points): Runner-up finish marked his fifth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: Unranked.

 7. Austin Cindric (12 points): The Xfinity driver dominated his series’ doubleheader in Kentucky and came away with his first oval track wins in NASCAR. Last Week: Unranked.

 8. Kurt Busch (8 points): Placed fifth for his first top five since the second Charlotte race in May. Last Week: Unranked.

 9. Denny Hamlin (7 points): Forgettable day at Kentucky. On to the All-Star race at Bristol. Last week: Fourth.

 10. Tyler Reddick (6 points): Placed 10th to earn his first consecutive top 10 of his Cup career. Last Week: Unranked

Others receiving votes: Chase Briscoe (3 points), Ryan Blaney (3 points), Christopher Bell (3 points), Sheldon Creed (1 point)

NASCAR video explains Choose Rule for All-Star Race at Bristol

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NASCAR detailed in its drivers meeting video how the Choose Rule will be used for restarts in Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

The non-points race marks the first time Choose Rule — which allows drivers to determine what lane they restart — will be used in a NASCAR Cup event. Drivers have been vocal about trying the rule since May.

The Choose Rule will be used for restarts only. It will not be used for the start of the All-Star Race, which is being held for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The video states that drivers must be single file under caution when crossing the start/finish line at the time to choose their restart lane. The video states that a V shaped painted mark on the track will show where drivers must decide what lane they wish to restart.

To restart in the inside lane, drivers must have their right side tires on or below the painted line at the V shaped mark.

To restart in the outside lane, drivers must have their left side tires on or above the painted line at the V shaped mark on the track.

If in NASCAR’s discretion, a driver has not chosen a lane at the V shaped mark on the track, changes lanes, tires touch the painted box after the V shaped mark or impedes the process, that driver will have to restart at the tail end of the field in the longest line of cars.

Xfinity team owner fined for violating COVID-19 protocol at Kentucky

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NASCAR announced on Tuesday the first fine for a violation of its COVID-19 protocols.

Anthony Clements, owner of Jeremy Clements Racing, was fined $10,000 for violating section 12.8.1.b of the Member Conduct Guidelines and section 7.7.2.j Team Event Roster Guidelines in the rulebook.

Among the potential violations in Section 12.8.1.b is that a member can be fined $5,000-$25,000 for: “Failure to comply with NASCAR’s COVID-19 Event Protocol Guidelines and/or instructions from NASCAR including screenings, social distancing, compartmentalization, and use of required personal protective equipment, etc.”

Last week, NASCAR issued a memo to teams requesting them to address “complacency” regarding its COVID-19 mask policy.

Section 7.7.2.j says “If a team is not in compliance with the Team Event Roster Rules and guidelines, that team will be subject to a Penalty as outlined in Section 12 Violations and Disciplinary Action.”

NASCAR also issued a $5,000 fine to crew chief Dave Rogers for one unsecured lug nut on Riley Herbst‘s No. 18 Toyota.

NASCAR did not issue any penalties for Friday’s post-race fight between Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton.

Last Saturday, NASCAR announced L1 level penalties for three Truck Series teams that failed pre-race inspection.