Chase Elliott after another runner-up: ‘I’ll get it right some day’

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AVONDALE, Arizona — It has become an all-too-familiar scene: Chase Elliott finishing second while another driver celebrates a Cup win that seemed as if it would be Elliott’s.

For the seventh time in his career — tying a Cup a record for most career runner-ups without a win — Elliott was left to explain what kept him from victory.

This, unlike the others, likely was more painful because a win Sunday at Phoenix Raceway would have put him into the championship round and given him a chance to win the title. A victory was his only way to compete for the crown next weekend in Miami.

Instead, he’ll have to be satisfied with another strong run, a measured but firm response to Denny Hamlin on the track, and the knowledge that he’ll have another chance to get that first victory.

None of that mattered to Elliott when the checkered flag flew first for Matt Kenseth.

“That’s all I had buddy,’’ Elliott said on the radio to crew chief Alan Gustafson. “Sorry, I was trying freaking everything I knew to try. I’ll get it right some day.”

Elliott took the lead from Matt Kenseth on Lap 284 and held it for the next 19 laps before Kenseth got back by with 10 laps to go. Elliott couldn’t mount a challenge.

Instead, his only trip to Victory Lane on this day was to congratulate Kenseth.

“A lot of close calls,’’ Elliott said of his season. “I wish more than anything we were fighting for a championship next week.’’

Elliott said he just couldn’t keep Kenseth behind him.

“Our car was really, really fast on those short runs after the rubber got picked up, and we had struggled to be super tight on the long haul and kept taking off really good and was able to kind of work our way forward,’’ Elliott said. “I gave everything I had to try to get a big enough gap so that I could try to keep Matt back there, and tried with everything I had, and it wasn’t enough.’’

Elliott sent the crowd to its feet in his duel with Hamlin for third with about 50 laps left in the race. Elliott nudged Hamlin a couple of times on the rear bumper and dived under Hamlin. As they raced side-by-side, Elliott moved up and Hamlin was pinched against the wall. Hamlin later crashed from the contact, which led to a cut tire.

“A wise man once told me that he’ll race guys the way they raced him with a smile on his face,’’ Elliott said about how he raced Hamlin. “That’s what I did today. I raced him the way he raced me. That’s the way I saw it. That’s about all I have to say.’’

Said Hamlin of the contact: “I got into him (at Martinsville). He chose to retaliate. I’m in the garage. That’s the way it is.’’

With that past and no chance at a championship, how does Elliott move forward?

“You just keep coming back,’’ he said, standing on pit road as Kenseth drove to victory lane. “You recognize there’s always going got be another race and there’s always going to be another opportunity. That’s all you have to recognize, there’s going to be another one next week, another season next year and recognize that the past is the past and learn from it and try to move on down the road.’’

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.

 

Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.