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After Dover win Chase Elliott can’t get ‘complacent’ at Talladega

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The only playoff driver who left Dover last weekend truly happy was Chase Elliott.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver held on to win Sunday’s race and secured himself in the Round of 8.

The remaining 11 playoff drivers have two races left to get into the next round. To do that, they’ll first have to survive this weekend’s race at Talladega (2 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC).

But Elliott, who now has two career Cup wins, knows he can’t get too comfortable at Talladega.

“I think it’s nice to be able to know you’re going to move on, but you can’t get complacent in the fact that you are moving on,” Elliott said in a media release. “You can’t let those points just sit out there and not try to go get them because those bonus points you get for winning or winning a stage … that’s huge, and you need as many as you can get.”

Entering this weekend, Elliott owns 13 playoff points. Ten of those come from winning at Watkins Glen and Dover. The other three are from stage wins at New Hampshire, Watkins Glen and Pocono.

Of the 12 playoffs drivers, Elliott is tied with Ryan Blaney for the eighth most playoff points. That puts him ahead of only Kyle Larson (six playoff points), Aric Almirola (one) and Alex Bowman (zero).

“One or two points could be the difference in you making the Round of 4 or not,” Elliott said. “Just knowing that and not being complacent with the win and trying to go get another one or two before it starts I think is important.”

Like most of the field, Sunday’s race will be Elliott’s eighth restrictor-plate points race of the stage era.

But Elliott’s record in the first seven leaves a lot to be desired.

Since the 2017 Daytona 500, Elliott has earned stage finishes three times in plate races. Those all came in the first stage.

Those seven races include four DNFs for Elliott due to crashes. In the races he finished, Elliott placed 14th (2017 Daytona 500), 22nd (2017 July Daytona) and third (2018 Talladega April).

Last spring’s Talladega race was Elliott’s first bright spot on the 2.66-mile track since he led 27 laps and finished fifth in his first start there in May 2016.

He placed 12th in the fall race and then crashed in both 2017 races.

Though he didn’t earn a stage finish in last April’s Talladega race, Elliott was the only non-Ford driver to finish in the top seven.

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Kyle Busch, JGR teammates take four of seven fastest spots in first of two Cup practices

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Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Cup practices at Daytona International Speedway.

Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.

Click here for the full practice speed chart.

The second Cup practice session of the day is scheduled later this afternoon at 3:05-3:55 p.m. ET.

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Chase Briscoe fastest in first of two Xfinity practices at Daytona

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Chase Briscoe turned in the fastest speed (196.455 mph) in the first of Friday’s two NASCAR Xfinity Series practices at Daytona International Speedway.

Defending Daytona Xfinity race winner Tyler Reddick was second-fastest (196.344 mph), followed by John Hunter Nemechek (196.202), Ross Chastain (196.002) and Justin Haley 195.135.

Click here for full results of the first practice.

Today’s second and final Xfinity practice runs from 2:05 – 2:55 p.m. ET.

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Kyle Busch Motorsports adds Canadian teen for three Truck races

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Kyle Busch Motorsports has a long history of developing young drivers such as Erik Jones and Christopher Bell.

Now, KBM has gone north of the border for its latest addition to the fold, 17-year-old Canadian teenager Raphael Lessard.

Lessard, a native of Saint Joseph de Beauce, Quebec, is slated to drive the No. 46 Toyota Tundra in three Gander Outdoors Truck Series races for KBM this season: Martinsville (March 23), Dover (May 3) and Bristol (August 15). He turns 18 in July.

“Driving for KBM I will be assured of having one of the best vehicles in the Truck Series and that will allow me to go for the win every time out,” Lessard said in a media release. “KBM is a team of winners, and I intend to take full advantage of the great situation I find myself in.”

Raphael Lessard (Photo: Kyle Busch Motorsports)

The move to Trucks is a promotion for Lessard, who competed for KBM’s Super Late Model Program in 2018. He captured two wins: the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol last May, and the Red Bud 400 ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson (Indiana) Speedway last July.

In 16 combined starts for KBM last season, Lessard recorded two wins, three poles, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2018 across the CARS Super Late Model Tour, the Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series.

“Raphael was really fast in our Super Late Models last season and added a couple of marquee wins to KBM’s resume,” team owner and NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Busch said in a media release. “We expect that he’ll be able to step right in and be competitive as he makes the jump to the next level.”

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Friday’s schedule at Daytona, including Truck season opener

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The Gander Outdoors Truck Series opens it season tonight to complete a busy day at Daytona International Speedway.

The day features two afternoon practice sessions each for the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Then it’s on to NextEra Energy Resources 250 race for the Trucks at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times Eastern)

9 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

9:30 a.m. – Truck garage open

10:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

12:05 p.m. – 12:55 p.m. – Xfinity first practice (Fox Sports 1)

1:05 p.m. – 1:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network)

2:05 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. – Xfinity final practice (FS1)

3:05 p.m. – 3:55 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

4:40 p.m. – Truck qualifying (single vehicle/two rounds)

6:15 p.m. – Truck driver/crew chief meeting

7 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – NextEra Energy Resources 250 Truck race (100 laps/250 miles) (Stages 20/40/100) (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)