Denny Hamlin gives Chase Elliott room, earns best finish of season

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During the overtime restart Sunday at Dover International Speedway, Denny Hamlin was very much aware of the last time he and Chase Elliott ran 1-2 in a playoff race.

Hamlin, who finished a season-best second to Elliott, did not want a repeat of last October’s race at Martinsville. 

That saw Hamlin punt Elliott from the lead with just two laps left in the scheduled distance and an angry Elliott confront Hamlin on the track afterwards.

After a “pretty uneventful” Dover race for his No. 11 team, Hamlin kept it that way over the last three green-flag laps around the 1-mile track.

“After last fall, I was really making sure I didn’t make any contact, to be honest with you,” Hamlin said.

Chase Elliott said “I haven’t really had an issue with him since then,” but in the closing laps “I can’t say that I singled him out.”

Hamlin restarted on the inside of Elliott.

There were in that position after Elliott’s team elected to stay out of the pits during a late caution and Hamlin took two tires. They then survived a multicar wreck involving five playoff drivers, which set up the overtime finish.

“The outside line was the preferred groove for the restart guys all day,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “We ran a 23.70 (seconds) on that last lap. (Elliott) was a 23.60. (Doing that on older tires) is amazing. I ran as hard as I could through (Turns) 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and just couldn’t get beside him there. Proud of the whole FedEx Team. Definitely a step in the right direction. We chipped away at it all day long, kept moving up through the field. This is kind of where we deserved. Proud of this finish.”

Hamlin added, “Glad to see me and Chase could finish 1-2 here in a playoff race and not have any controversy, so happy for those guys.”

The finish is Hamlin’s best through 30 races this year and comes after he was eliminated from playoff contention last week at the Charlotte Roval. The runner-up finish is also his best Dover finish in 26 starts.

His previous best Dover result was fourth (2007, 2010).

The result is his second top five since the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings