Kurt Busch sets NASCAR qualifying record at Texas

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Kurt Busch earned the pole Friday for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 with a track record at Texas Motor Speedway.

But Busch’s 22nd career was so much more in the bigger picture.

His speed of 200.915 mph (26.877 seconds) was the fastest run at a 1.5-mile track in a stock car.

“Happy birthday, Old Man,” Busch told NBCSN of crew chief Tony Gibson, who turned 54 today. “We just freed it up and the Ford stuck. Our guys are still working hard and pushing. There was something good coming into today and it was Gibson’s birthday.

“We’ve had bad luck and have to get ahead of it, to get a step ahead instead of a step behind.”

Five drivers qualified at more than 200 mph. Denny Hamlin was second (200.617 mph), followed by Kevin Harvick (200.378), Erik Jones (200.326) and Kyle Busch (200.252).

“It’s crazy speed,” Hamlin said.

Sixth through 10th were Daniel Suarez (199.593 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (199.431), Ryan Blaney (199.380), Jimmie Johnson (198.727) and Brad Keselowski (198.478).

Seven of the eight remaining playoff contenders were in the top 10, but not Chase Elliott.

Elliott, who ranks last among the playoff drivers in the points, did not make a qualifying attempt because his car failed inspection for qualifying multiple times. He’ll start 34th Sunday.

“We’ll just have to play it by ear and see what happens (Sunday),” Elliott told NBCSN. “I thought we had a decent race car and was really excited about qualifying.”

Twenty-six points out of a transfer spot, Elliott is practically in a must-win situation (or next week’s race at Phoenix) to advance to the championship round in Miami.

“I’m looking forward to Sunday, we know we’ll have to start in the back, and we’ll try to get it driving good tomorrow,” Elliott said. “Jimmie (Johnson) started in the back in the spring and it worked out fine for him (won the race). We see it every weekend. Guys are faced with adversity. I think it’s doable.”

This is the second consecutive time Elliott has failed to make a qualifying attempt at Texas because his car could not pass inspection.

Other drivers not recording a time in the first round included Matt Kenseth, Trevor Bayne and Joey Logano.

Click here for full qualifying results.

NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).