Teams run 2019 package at Charlotte Motor Speedway test

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CONCORD, N.C. — Four drivers experienced the 2019 rules package firsthand during a Goodyear tire test Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The test also saw the on-track debut of the Ford Mustang, which will run next season.

Aric Almirola (Stewart-Haas Racing), Daniel Hemric (Richard Childress Racing), Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing) and William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports) took part in the test.

They ran cars that had an 8-inch by 61-inch rear spoiler, a 37-inch-wide radiator pan that tapers to 31 inches, the new front splitter with a two-inch overhang, a tapered spacer that limits the engine to 550 horsepower and aero ducts.

Drivers spent the morning in single-car runs. They planned to run in a four-car draft in the afternoon.

Daniel Hemric, who moves to the No. 31 Cup car next year, said the vehicle reminded him of how his Xfinity car raced this year, particularly at Michigan and Indianapolis.

“I think right now with what we’ve been running all morning has been very close to that,” he said. “Honestly from watching the All-Star (Race) as a fan, I thought they looked slow, and I expected to feel that way. I went to go run wide open into Turn 1 and as you dropped down in, you knew you were still going 180 mph. The speed sensation is there with this package. I think they’ve done a good job of the horsepower and the downforce, balancing it out.”

Jones said that even though the rules package is not the same as the All-Star Race, that event gives a hint of what the racing could be like next year.

We’ve got 100 more horsepower, a little bit more downforce, so it will be interesting to see how it works out,” Jones said comparing this package to what was run in the All-Star Race. “I like having more downforce. I like cars with higher downforce, but all the ones I’ve raced with higher downforce had a lot more power. It’s just a balance.

“I don’t know what the racing is going to look like. I think it will be similar to the All-Star Race, honestly. As we have time to work on it, it’s going to get probably get more spread out, which I know people don’t want to hear, but I think that is what is going to happen. I think it will look very similar to Truck racing, restarts will be really tight and bunched up and once the fast guys get sorted out and singled out, you’ll see guys stretch their lead a little bit at times. We’ll see what happens.”

Said William Byron: “I think once you’re able to figure it out and get your hands on it enough, you’re probably going to be more spread out. The biggest difference is you’re kind of accelerating into the corner. We’re not used to doing that. It’s a different feel. Other than that, I think guys are going to figure it out pretty soon.”

Aric Almirola said the extra horsepower helps, noting “It is quite a bit faster than what we had at the All-Star Race.’’

Almirola, who advanced to the Round of 8 last weekend at Kansas Speedway, was excited about driving the Ford Mustang.

“It’s comfortable to drive, it’s fun, it looks awesome,” Almirola said.

“To have the first official competitive laps on the race track has been nice to collect some data.”

Byron said his car blew an engine in the morning session. He said it was a “parts deal.”

Results, point standings after Truck race at Las Vegas

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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for his second win of 2020.

He beat Sheldon Creed for the victory.

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly finished 18th and Travis Pastrana was 21st.

Click here for the race results.

Point Standings

With his win, Austin Hill is the first driver to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

Todd Gilliland is last in the playoff standings with 2,050 points. He is 13 points behind Ben Rhodes.

Click here for the standings.

Austin Hill wins Las Vegas Truck race

Austin Hill
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Austin Hill won Friday night’s Truck Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, leading the final 39 laps to score the victory.

Hill took the lead on a restart and held off charges from Sheldon Creed over the final 20 laps.

Creed’s progress was slowed with 11 laps to go when he got loose and scraped the wall in Turn 1. He was never able to get close enough to Hill to make a challenge.

Creed dominated the early portion of the race, leading 89 laps before he struggled to get going on the final restart and briefly fell to seventh.

The win is the second of the year for Hill. He’s the first playoff driver to win in the postseason and it come after he finished 25th at Bristol.

“We didn’t have the best truck tonight by no means,” Hill told FS1. “Pit crew did a hell of job on that last pit stop getting me into the position I needed to. I just had to go out there and get it. … Sheldon was definitely way faster than me. … I was probably looking in my mirror more than I was our front. I knew he was better than we were.”

The top five was completed by Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith.

More: Race results and point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tanner Gray, Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith all matched their best results of the season … While he was the first driver to finish one lap down, IndyCar driver Conor Daly placed 18th in his first career Truck Series start … Travis Pastrana placed 21st in his second start of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Rachael Lessard finished 20th after he had to pit early in the race following contact with the wall … Ben Rhodes finished 23rd after he spun from contact with Stewart Friesen and hit the inside wall on Lap 84 … Jordan Anderson’s engine expired on the ensuing restart. He finished 32nd.

NOTABLE: Natalie Decker, who was not medically cleared to compete Friday night, was treated and released from the infield care center.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race at Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m. ET Oct. 3 on FS1


Natalie Decker not medically cleared for Las Vegas Truck race

Natalie Decker
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NASCAR announced right before Friday night’s Truck Series race that Natalie Decker hadn’t been medically cleared to compete.

No details were provided about the issue that prevented Decker from being cleared. During the final stage of the race, NASCAR announced she had been treated and released from the infield medical center.

The Niece Motorsports driver would have started 23rd. Due to her No. 44 truck having cleared inspection and having been placed on the starting grid she was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker has made 11 starts this year. She missed the June 28 race at Pocono after she was hospitalized due to bile duct complications related to her gallbladder removal in December.

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)