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NASCAR official: Discussion ongoing to use All-Star package again in 2018

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Less than two weeks after Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, expressed caution that the series would use the All-Star rules package again this year, NASCAR is looking at doing so in 2018.

Feeding off a rising tide of enthusiasm in the garage area for the package, Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that discussions about the package are ongoing with key industry stakeholders.

Miller told “The Morning Drive” that “I think we certainly … feel like it has a lot of potential for especially some race tracks.

“We did kind of have an industry stakeholders meeting after the All-Star Race and talked about a lot of different things.”

Among the topics of conversation was if to use the All-Star package in a NASCAR Cup points race this season.

“Before we totally commit to putting races on the schedule for ’19 … we all kind of felt it would be interesting if we could take another look at it somewhere this year,” Miller said. “Those discussions are ongoing. It’s certainly … a whole lot more complex than it seems on the surface with these teams and engine builders having these schedules and car builds and engine builds particularly down to a science. Anything we do to change that up effects a lot of things in the eco-system.

“We’re working with the industry to come up with a plan to potentially look at it again, but we don’t have anything etched in stone at the moment.”

As soon as the checkered flag waved over the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, conversation began about using that race’s rules package again in the Cup series.

After the All-Star Race, O’Donnell sat in the media center and addressed the new package:

“From an eye test, we were certainly pleased with what we saw. I think you’ll hear drivers say directionally there’s some things we can look at. We agree. But would certainly say we’ve got to take time to digest what we saw, look at a lot of facts, see where we go from here.”

The period of reflection might have gained more urgency following Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600.

In the 600, Kyle Busch was never seriously challenged for the victory. He led 377 of 400 laps, won each stage of the race by margins of his choosing and was passed only during pit sequences.

The rules package – designed to slow the cars, create additional stability and increase the drafting effect on the cars – drew mixed reviews from the drivers, but seemed to have support from the majority of fans.

Equally important, two Hall of Fame car owners supported using the package again in 2018.

“Anything that is good for our sport right now, which I think it would be, I’m for it,’’ Richard Childress said. “I’m putting RCR aside and looking at the sport itself. If everybody in this garage will do that … put the sport first and we all go out and put the best show for the fans in the stands, that’s what we’ve got to do.’’

Roger Penske said: “Directionally, I think it’s the right thing to do. What I like about it is we’re trying something.’’

“We all do believe this is something healthy for the sport,’’ said Ritchie Gilmore, president of ECR Engines last week.

NASCAR will implement a version of the rules package in the next two Xfinity races at Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway. Both tracks also host Cup races during the next two weeks as well as later in the summer. Some engine builders are beginning to anticipate what it would take to use this package at the top level.

Pocono, Michigan, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are each raised as potential venues for the new package.

“I think that’s the feedback we’re going to talk about (this) week,” Gilmore said. “Where is the best place to do this, as far as scheduling. I think we all feel this is something we can do as far as reliability. I think the next thing is just scheduling.’’

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.