NASCAR announces 2018 rules package for Cup Series

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After multiple years of significant reduction in the downforce on cars in the Cup Series, NASCAR has announced less drastic changes for its 2018 rules package for the series.

Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR’s vice president of innovation and racing development, told NASCAR.com the goal of the package is to “hold things” and let teams “settle down” before making more changes for 2019. It will also help in the implementation of a new camera-based inspection process that will replace the grid, module and Laser Inspection Station parts of the current process.

Among the changes is the introduction of a common splitter and common radiator and oil cooler. The radiator and oil cooler rule was already in place this season for superspeedways.

“Some of the downforce will be removed from the car, so we will see a rearward shift in the balance of the car,” Stefanyshyn said, estimating a reduction of up to 120 pounds in downforce, for a total of 1,650 pounds of downforce.

Cars will have one rear gear for all tracks except for those that have been reconfigured or repaved.

Other aero/technical rules:

• Spoiler remains 2.375-inches tall by 61-inches wide.

• Net rear steer remains zero.

• Reduction of aerodynamic fans located at wheel corners.

• Front sub frame rules modified to reduce aerodynamic development.

At superspeedways, the ride height rule is being eliminated in a move to improve safety and competition. The rule will improve liftoff speed by about 30 mph. NASCAR is also doing away with mandatory rear shocks and springs. The restrictor plate size will remain at 7/8 of an inch.

Also in the safety realm, an Incident Data Recorder (IDR) powered by car batteries is being added to improve the quality of pre-crash data. Cars will also have a high speed in-car video camera to enhance the analytical capability of crashes. The camera will be located to the driver’s right in the cockpit.

“When we run vehicle power, (the IDR) will be looping and we will be able to catch the frames or the information pre-crash which is very, very important as opposed to at-crash start,” Stefanyshyn said. “We can actually go back in time and watch as that develops.”

Also in the package is the previously announced rule regarding teams having to run multiple engines in multiple races.

Cup teams will have to use 13 short block engines (engine block, crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods and pistons) for two full race weekends each next season. The teams can choose what races those will be. The engines will be sealed between the points races to prevent tampering.

Backup cars must also unloaded without an engine installed.

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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