What drivers said after Richmond

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “Yeah, I’m not going to qualify here anymore (laughter). It’s a waste of time for us. I don’t know why, I just can not qualify here, but we’ve got a really good race car when it comes down time to have a race and especially the later it gets. (Kevin) Harvick was getting me a little bit there at the end, but I think I was running myself pretty hard with Brad (Keselowski) a little bit earlier than that so I think he had a little bit more than I had there later in the game. This M&M’s Toyota Camry was awesome tonight. I can’t thank (crew chief) Adam Stevens and all my guys enough. Great job at working on this thing and getting it put back together today and being able to get it ready for tonight to be a great race car. Also want to thank Rowdy Nation. It’s awesome to come out here. I saw a lot of 18 gear here this weekend so really fun to see that and be able to put on a good show coming from the back all the way up to the front and being able to win for all those guys.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished second: “We were starting to track (Kyle Busch) down there at the end. I needed about 25 more laps. I gotta thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s Ford. They did a great job on a weekend when we needed to do a great job with all the unknowns going into next week. It will be a fun weekend but it will be kind of trial and error as we go through the weekend. It was a good night for us here at Richmond and we did a good job on pit road, just came up a little bit short.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished third: “Another pit stop maybe. We used it up there at the end trying to get — I think we restarted eighth on the outside and to get back to third we were kind of used up at the end. But, man, what an awesome race car the guys brought here. The Auto Owners Toyota was fast. It was really good all day. Just man, I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win this race. We’ve probably led more than anyone here ever that’s not won it. It’s crazy, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight. Hell of an effort by the guys and good recovery by the guys on pit road. Thanks to all you guys back in Denver working your butts off to bring these fast cars and just keep digging and we’re moving on. So, that’s the name of the game, and hopefully, we’ll get the win when we really need it.”

Chase Elliott — Finished fourth: Yeah, just appreciate Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) making some good calls overnight.  I feel like we changed about everything before qualifying yesterday.  Typically, that does not work, so, just appreciate everybody’s efforts on my Hooters team to do that and put enough thought process and care into it to want to get better and for those guys to do what they did and make our car drive like it did tonight was really impressive.  We had probably one of the worst practice days I’ve ever had throughout the season.  We are in a position where we have got to run like that to get through.”

Aric Almirola — Finished fifth: “I just couldn’t quite get it to turn the way I needed to to make pace with those guys in front of me. I am so proud of these guys on the Smithfield team. Our Ford Fusion was fast. We had a good night. We executed and ran top-five all night. That is the exact night we were looking for to build a little bit of a point cushion going into the Roval next week where we are all unsure of what we will have. I am really proud of the night and we will see what happens next week.”

Austin Dillon — Finished sixth: “That’s what we needed. I hate that we could have had stage points in the first stage if we would have qualified better. If we would have qualified better, we probably wouldn’t have had the car we had tonight. Impound, we knew we were going to have to bite the bullet in qualifying to have a car free enough to race good. We were just super-loose in qualifying. That was a long night to sleep on that. But to wake up we had confidence in the Dow Vorasurf Chevy and that was a heck of a run for us. We’ve done all we could in these playoffs, so I’m really proud right now. I hope all the studying I’ve done for the Roval will pay off also. We don’t want to be the first group out.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished eighth: “The track bar adjustments weren’t working, so I was really limited on the adjustments in the car; especially here. You need to have the track bar so high to get started and then lower it in the course of a run. I just had to deal with it. I think we could have been better, but it was a nice top 10 finish. Hopefully we can go to the Roval and have a great day. Richmond is not our best track. And to get a top 10 is a respectable run for us. I think we could have been at least inside the top five. I think we came close to maximizing what we had in it. So, I feel good about that. We came from the back two or three different times for different reasons and had a good finish out of it.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished ninth: “We had a lot of short-run speed, and I knew that was our chance to win the race there, and we ran it pretty hard, and it didn’t quite work out. We didn’t quite catch the breaks we needed there. Burned off the rear tires. We ran good but we still have some things to work on.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 10th: “That’s one of the hardest top 10s we’ve ever had to work for. We were loose in and off the corner all night, and we threw a bunch of changes at it to try and get it right. We made some headway with it and salvaged an OK finish, but OK doesn’t cut it in the playoffs.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 12th: “We probably took a sixth-place car and ran 12th with it. So it’s a little frustrating. We just had to go a direction for the shorter run there at the end because it took probably 35 or 40 laps for our car to come in the previous couple of runs. And it just didn’t work. So, we tried something and learned from it and we’ll move on.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 13th: “We struggled the first couple of runs. (Crew chief) Brian Pattie made some great strategy calls that kept us in the ballgame. Our main focus is to finish the season strong and learn for next year.”

Joey Logano — Finished 14th: “We just were a little bit too loose most of the race and then we had a mistake on pit road that cost us probably six or seven spots. That is just the things that you can’t have during the playoffs but we will work through them. We are still in an okay spot. We are not in a good enough spot to not be concerned about next week totally but it does put us in a decent position.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 16th: “We probably need to go (to Charlotte) and win. I’m not worried about the playoffs. I’m just worried about running better. With our teammate winning, and us running like a bag of shit, it’s just disappointing every week. We were just bad all day. It just seems like once we get in race trim, I can’t get the car to do anything that it’s supposed to do. I can make it go fast for a lap in qualifying, just not do the things that it’s supposed to do around the racetrack. And the things that I watch (Kyle Busch) doing successfully. It’s just really disappointing. I thought after practice we’d be quite a bit better, but as soon as we dropped the green, the car just didn’t have a good feel to it. I knew we were in trouble the first 10 laps.”

William Byron — Finished 20th: “The guys did a good job on pit road and I felt like it was a pretty straightforward race.  A lot of green flag runs, which I thought was going to be a strong suit, but just kind of ran where we ran.  So, go back and work on it a little bit.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 28th: “Richmond Raceway is a really good track for me. I’ve always enjoyed coming here. We tested the track a couple months back and were really happy with the results. Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 had speed in both practice sessions. We just struggled through the corners during the race under the lights. I was too tight through the middle, but I would lose grip when my team made adjustments to loosen me up. It was a tough balance to get a handle on. But, I never gave up on my team and they didn’t give up on me. Tonight was definitely a battle for us, but we’re going to keep moving forward to finish the season strong.”

 

Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick reigns going into All-Star Race

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Kevin Harvick‘s dominance of his Cup competitors continues in this week’s NBC Sports power rankings, as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver is the unanimous No. 1 driver for the second week in a row.

That comes after Harvick placed fourth at Kentucky Speedway in a race won by rookie Cole Custer.

Fourteen drivers earned votes this week following a weekend of four NASCAR races, including two Xfinity Series events.

Here is this week’s top 10:

 1. Kevin Harvick (30 points): Fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five finish. Last week: First.

 2. Aric Almirola (22 points): While Almirola finished eighth, he led a career-best 128 laps, won Stage 1 and earned his sixth consecutive top-10 finish. Last Week: Second.

(Tie) 3. Cole Custer (19 points): Custer became the first rookie of the year candidate to win a Cup race since 2016 and the first 2020 rookie to score consecutive top fives with his win. Last week: Ninth.

(Tie) 3. Matt DiBenedetto (19 points): Earned his second top five of the year and his second top 10 in three races. DiBenedetto has earned points in the last eight stages. Last week: Unranked.

(Tie) 5. Brad Keselowski (16 points): His ninth-place finish was his 10th top 10 in the last 12 races, but he didn’t earn any applause from Jimmie Johnson after contact spun Johnson. Last week: Third.

(Tie) 5. Martin Truex Jr. (16 points): Runner-up finish marked his fifth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: Unranked.

 7. Austin Cindric (12 points): The Xfinity driver dominated his series’ doubleheader in Kentucky and came away with his first oval track wins in NASCAR. Last Week: Unranked.

 8. Kurt Busch (8 points): Placed fifth for his first top five since the second Charlotte race in May. Last Week: Unranked.

 9. Denny Hamlin (7 points): Forgettable day at Kentucky. On to the All-Star race at Bristol. Last week: Fourth.

 10. Tyler Reddick (6 points): Placed 10th to earn his first consecutive top 10 of his Cup career. Last Week: Unranked

Others receiving votes: Chase Briscoe (3 points), Ryan Blaney (3 points), Christopher Bell (3 points), Sheldon Creed (1 point)

NASCAR video explains Choose Rule for All-Star Race at Bristol

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NASCAR detailed in its drivers meeting video how the Choose Rule will be used for restarts in Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

The non-points race marks the first time Choose Rule — which allows drivers to determine what lane they restart — will be used in a NASCAR Cup event. Drivers have been vocal about trying the rule since May.

The Choose Rule will be used for restarts only. It will not be used for the start of the All-Star Race, which is being held for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The video states that drivers must be single file under caution when crossing the start/finish line at the time to choose their restart lane. The video states that a V shaped painted mark on the track will show where drivers must decide what lane they wish to restart.

To restart in the inside lane, drivers must have their right side tires on or below the painted line at the V shaped mark.

To restart in the outside lane, drivers must have their left side tires on or above the painted line at the V shaped mark on the track.

If in NASCAR’s discretion, a driver has not chosen a lane at the V shaped mark on the track, changes lanes, tires touch the painted box after the V shaped mark or impedes the process, that driver will have to restart at the tail end of the field in the longest line of cars.

Xfinity team owner fined for violating COVID-19 protocol at Kentucky

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NASCAR announced on Tuesday the first fine for a violation of its COVID-19 protocols.

Anthony Clements, owner of Jeremy Clements Racing, was fined $10,000 for violating section 12.8.1.b of the Member Conduct Guidelines and section 7.7.2.j Team Event Roster Guidelines in the rulebook.

Among the potential violations in Section 12.8.1.b is that a member can be fined $5,000-$25,000 for: “Failure to comply with NASCAR’s COVID-19 Event Protocol Guidelines and/or instructions from NASCAR including screenings, social distancing, compartmentalization, and use of required personal protective equipment, etc.”

Last week, NASCAR issued a memo to teams requesting them to address “complacency” regarding its COVID-19 mask policy.

Section 7.7.2.j says “If a team is not in compliance with the Team Event Roster Rules and guidelines, that team will be subject to a Penalty as outlined in Section 12 Violations and Disciplinary Action.”

NASCAR also issued a $5,000 fine to crew chief Dave Rogers for one unsecured lug nut on Riley Herbst‘s No. 18 Toyota.

NASCAR did not issue any penalties for Friday’s post-race fight between Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton.

Last Saturday, NASCAR announced L1 level penalties for three Truck Series teams that failed pre-race inspection.

Wednesday’s Bristol All-Star Race: Start time, lineup and more

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History will be made Wednesday night when NASCAR holds the All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time.

The night will be filled with many other firsts. Cars will have unique paint schemes centered around their sponsors. Drivers who automatically qualified for the All-Star race will have underglow lights on their cars. This will be the first national NASCAR event with the choose rule.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of Wednesday night’s event.

(All times are Eastern)

START: All-Star Open: Command to start engines is at 7:02 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. All-Star Race: Command to start engines is at 8:56 p.m. Green flag is at 9:01 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at Noon (teams are assigned specific times). All-Star Open: Driver introductions at 6:43 p.m. Drivers report to cars at 6:45 p.m. Invocation at 6:54 p.m. All-Star Race: Driver introductions at 8:35 p.m. Invocation at 8:47 p.m. National anthem at 8:49 p.m.

DISTANCES: All-Star Open: 85 laps around the half-mile track. All-Star Race: 140 laps.

SEGMENTS: All-Star Open: 35 laps / 35 laps / 15 laps. All-Star Race: 55 laps / 35 laps / 35 laps / 15 laps (only green-flag laps count in final segment)

CHOOSE RULE FOR ALL-STAR RACE: Competitors can choose which lane to restart. Rule is detailed here.

ADVANCING: The winners of each stage in the Open will advance to the All-Star Race. A fourth driver will advance through a fan vote.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

FORECAST: For the All-Star Open, wunderground.com forecasts partly cloudy skies, a high of 87 degrees and chance of rain at the start. For the All-Star Race, it forecasts a high of 81 degrees and no chance of rain.

LAST ALL-STAR RACE: Kyle Larson beat Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch to claim his All-Star Race win.

ALL-STAR OPEN STARTING LINEUP: Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

ALL-STAR RACE STARTING LINEUP: Click here for All-Star Lineup

Catch up on NBC Sports’ coverage:

Bump and Run: All-Star Race picks, surprising wins, and more

Cash App to sponsor Bubba Wallace in multi-year deal

Xfinity team owner fined for violating COVID-19 protocol at Kentucky

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

Cup rookies shine going into All-Star Race

NASCAR in ‘good place’ with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson after fight