NASCAR America: Lapped traffic contributes to exciting Overton’s 400 finish

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The thrilling end of the Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway was made all the more exhilarating because of heavy traffic in the closing laps.

When Kyle Busch ran into a three-way scrum for 15th between Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch, he had a decision to make. Should he allow those drivers to sort it out before going around them – a move that would allow second place Kyle Larson to get to his back bumper – or should he thread the needle and become part of their battle.

Busch chose the latter.

Newman fought hard to stay on the lead lap – a trait for which Newman is famously known – and that slowed Kyle Busch enough to force him to race in close proximity to Stenhouse and Kurt Busch. Stenhouse bumped the No. 18 in the right rear and slowed him enough to allow the No. 42 of Larson to close – and create the last-lap fireworks that have been part the highlight reel ever since.

On Monday, NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Jeff Burton discussed how much should be expected from drivers who are in the process of getting lapped.

“Towards the end of the race, when it really makes a difference, that’s when you’re supposed to be hard to pass,” Newman told NASCAR America last year.

Newman’s attitude was infectious.

“In Stenhouse’s position especially, he had every right to race Newman as hard as he could and Kurt Busch was in that group there. And he actually beat Kurt Busch, so that was one point – more valuable to him in making the playoffs,” Parker Kligerman said.

Stenhouse is currently 23 points below the cutline for making the playoffs.

“I’m conflicted on this,” Jeff Burton said. “I think the leaders deserve a chance to get – this late in the race – a chance to get themselves a little bit of a free pathway, but at the same time these guys are racing for position. The thing that gets me is … Stenhouse gets into the quarterpanel of the leader of the race.”

Stenhouse also held up Larson as he tried to navigate traffic, but they did not make contact.

“I’ve been in Kyle’s position too and when you’re in his position,” Kligerman said, “you are screaming, do whatever you can to get those guys out of your way because whatever they are racing for is not nearly worth as much as what you’re racing for.”

In the end, Burton summed up the experience best. “Selfishly, as a race fan? It was awesome.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.