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Bump & Run: Who are drivers worth watching?

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A newspaper headline recently asked: Is there any driver in NASCAR worth watching these days? What do you say?

Nate Ryan: Yes. The premise of the headline seems flawed (though maybe I need more context to understand the story). There are several drivers “worth watching” in NASCAR for their impressive skill sets and verve on track. Besides being one of the greatest drivers in the world, Kyle Busch is worth watching because there’s the potential of him doing something mesmerizing in every race.

Dustin Long: Yes there are drivers worth watching. Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch rank toward the top for what they can do with their cars. But they aren’t alone. Put Brad Keselowski and Busch in close quarters and enjoy the show.

Daniel McFadin: Absolutely. Kyle Larson is a delight to watch. Seeing what he’s able to do when put in a predicament, like starting from the rear, makes for exciting TV. Also, you always have to keep any eye on Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, especially when they’re racing angry.

NASCAR’s Scott Miller stated this week it could take 5-10 minutes to review a potential penalty and in that case that “is not the time to be calling the penalty.’’ Is there a better way penalties or potential penalties can be reviewed by NASCAR?

Nate Ryan: Having been in the PRO system truck, I think NASCAR’s system is good. Any potential infraction is sent to the tower by the video reviewers and then the call is made by NASCAR’s primary stewards on whether a penalty is necessary. I think Miller is referring to looking at borderline calls and determining later if the call should have been made differently. That doesn’t affect how the process happens in real time. It always will be a split-second judgment.

Dustin Long: I hate reviews in all sports. The games are played by humans and officiated by humans. Mistakes are going to be made by all. I accept that. But if we must review penalties or potential penalties — and I’m not convinced it needs to be done — then do it. If it takes 10 laps, so be it. If it takes 20 laps, so be it.

Daniel McFadin: If NASCAR is reviewing a pit penalty that occurred under caution, simply don’t restart the race until the review is complete. If it occurred under green, NASCAR could stop scoring the driver while it’s under review while allowing them to stay on the track. If it confirms the penalty, bring them to pit road. If not, resume scoring the driver.

At Atlanta, Kevin Harvick suggested the next time a young driver could win a Cup race would be at Talladega later this month. When do you think a young driver will win?Nate Ryan: I don’t know “will,” but Erik Jones could be in victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway, given that he almost was last August.

Dustin Long: I consider Joey Logano (age 27) young and I could see him winning either at Bristol or Richmond, so I think it happens soon.

Daniel McFadin: I think you could see a young driver – specifically Erik Jones or Kyle Larson – win this weekend in Bristol. I’ve been somewhat surprised Austin Dillon‘s been the only one to steal a win so far, but the veterans have flexed their muscles each and every race since when closing time came.

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.