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Term ‘Encumbered finish’ becomes a phrase of the past to NASCAR

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NASCAR issued a rules bulletin Friday and the phrase “encumbered finish” was crossed off in a section on penalties, marking the end of a word that was reviled by fans and many in the sport.

Before celebrating too much, understand that while the term might not be used, the penalty will remain. Section notes that should a team receive an L1 of L2 penalty during the race or after it, they still face the fact that the finish will not count toward playoff eligibility, playoff points, advancement in the playoffs and determining the champion and other three finishers among the final four drivers in the title race.

In a sign of how hard it is to let go, the phrase “encumbered finish” still remains in multiple areas of Section 17 of the rule book (Points and Point Funds) when referencing that particular penalty.

Among a few other notes from the rules bulletin:

If a wheel is improperly installed and comes off after exiting the team’s assigned pit stall, the crew chief, tire changer responsible and jack man each will be suspended four races. Adding the jack man to those suspended for such a violation is new.

All L1 and L2 penalties discovered in pre-race may consist of a points deduction, and/or suspension of the crew chief and/or other team members, and/or fines. NASCAR may issue a points deduction less than the minimum outlined in the Minimum Penalty Options Chart.

Any engine that starts a race and completes 25 percent of the laps, or at NASCAR’s discretion, will qualify as a sealed engine for its next use. If a short block sealed engine is found to have any rule infractions when it is inspected, any resulting penalties will be imposed against every team that competed with that same short block sealed engine. If the same team used the short block sealed engine for multiple events, the penalty will be applied to each event separately.

If an individual or a team wishes to appeal an L1, L2, Safety or Member Conduct Penalty, they must make a written request for a hearing to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel within three business days of the penalty notice being issued. Previously, individuals and teams had to make a written request within 10 business days.

If a team member is ejected from an event, that position on the roster cannot be filled for that event.

If a car does not pass the rear wheel steer inspection after qualifying, the car’s time is disallowed. If a car does not pass the rear wheel steer after the race, the L1 penalty is a $65,000 fine, loss of 35 driver and owner points and a three-race suspension for the crew chief. Rear wheel steer will be among the areas examined by the new Hawkeye inspection system.

No Goodyear tire tests are scheduled this year for the Xfinity Series.

Cup teams will have a new right-side tire at Las Vegas, Bristol and Talladega in the first third of the season. Cup teams will have a new left-side tire at Auto Club Speedway, Texas, Kansas, Charlotte and Pocono in the first third of the season.

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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
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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.