Bump & Run: Is Truex too nice? Was Logano’s move a cheap shot?

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Do you agree with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that Martin Truex Jr. is too nice on the track at times and that contributed to him not winning Sunday at Martinsville? Why or why not?

Nate Ryan: It’s easy to armchair quarterback that Truex should have made a preemptive strike by roughing up Joey Logano earlier. But as discussed Monday on NASCAR America and written about here, that’s just not his style. Yes, his nature probably has cost him some wins, but it’s hard to criticize him for being a good guy with a principled way of racing.

Dustin Long: Yes. He’s winless in 78 Cup races on short tracks and winless in 55 Cup races at restrictor-plate tracks — places where being nice isn’t always a good thing.

Daniel McFadin: I don’t think so. Truex’s proven his style of racing works by winning 17 races in the last four years. Aside from some harmless door banging in the final five laps, Truex got by Logano his way and put himself in the lead after he started the race from the rear. Unfortunately for Truex, he wasn’t ready for Logano to get by him in his way.

Dan Beaver: Yes: Given the current state of short track racing, his approach is not going to be very successful.

Martin Truex Jr. said Joey Logano’s move on the last lap was a cheap shot. What do you think?

Nate Ryan: It might not have been classified as dirty, but it also fell short of being elegant (which was to be expected given the last-chance circumstances).

Dustin Long: That’s racing, particularly on a short track. Truex may call it a cheap shot but NASCAR deemed it a legal move. Case closed.

Daniel McFadin: It was the last lap. Winner is part of the championship four. Truex wasn’t wrecked. Nothing cheap about it.

Dan Beaver: Logano’s move was right on the edge. His bump-and-run was not as severe as it appeared, but Truex got onto the throttle a little too aggressively in the dirty outside lane. Without his fishtail, the two drivers would likely have crossed under the checkers in a photo finish.

What was the best quote you heard after Sunday’s race?

Nate Ryan: Hard to argue with Dale Earnhardt Jr. that Martin Truex Jr.’s postrace interview was a top-five contender, but the answer is his crew chief’s lighthearted dig about baseball bats and jack hammers. If Cole Pearn is an option for “who had the best quote or tweet?”, the default  answer is always Cole Pearn.

Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick on trying to pass Ryan Newman late in the race: “His car gets as wide as his neck sometimes.”

Daniel McFadin: “He’s a racer and should know better than to say that. That was as clean a shot as you can have in a race like this.” – Roger Penske on Martin Truex Jr.’s “cheap shot” comment.

Dan Beaver: Martin Truex Jr.’s “They won the battle, but he didn’t win the damn war.”

Do you think the Big 3 all make it to Miami now?

Nate Ryan: Yes.

Dustin Long: Yes. It will be the Big 3 and Joey Logano racing for the championship in Miami.

Daniel McFadin: I don’t have enough conviction in me to say yes. I think Martin Truex Jr. is going to trip over himself at either Texas or Phoenix. 

Dan Beaver: I didn’t think they were all going to make it in week one of the playoffs and my opinion hasn’t changed. I think one of the others win the next two races and either Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick stand alone among the Big 3.

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

 

 

Kurt Busch win capped off big racing weekend for family

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After hopping from the door of his No. 1 Chevrolet Sunday night, Kurt Busch let out a primal scream.

The source of his emotion?

“20 years of agony and defeat” at the his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had been replaced by “triumph.”

After the fortunate timing of a caution and pit strategy Sunday night, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the final 26 laps and visited LVMS’ Victory Lane for the first time, a day after his brother Kyle Busch experienced a special win.

There was plenty more for the 42-year-old driver to celebrate. He’d entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings. But with his first win in 46 races, Busch became the first driver to plant in his flag in the Round of 8.

But the Las Vegas native’s focus was on the 1.5-mile track, which he’d seen evolve from a “desert gravel pit” into the site of two NASCAR race weekends each year.

“This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built … when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I’m like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars (and race there). And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother (Kyle Busch) to make it in racing.

“For me it was a hobby. I never knew I’d get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas, took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.”

Busch made his first NASCAR start on the Las Vegas oval in 2001 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Between then and Sunday, he won 31 Cup races, the 2004 championship and the 2017 Daytona 500.

But his home track eluded him until his 21st year competing on the sport’s top circuit.

Busch said Sunday’s win is “right there underneath” his Daytona win and the championship.

“Any time you win, it’s special,” Busch said. “But to do it in front of my hometown crowd and nobody was there (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the people that I see every time I come to Vegas and I get to say thank you and I can’t right now, that’s the hardest part. So this one is easily ramping up to being my third most favorite win ever.

“Right now it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”

The Busch family got to celebrate more than one win over the weekend.

The night before Kurt’s Vegas breakthrough, a third generation racer got his first taste of victory.

Kyle and Samantha Busch’s son, Brexton, won his first karting race and celebrated with his parents in Victory Lane.

“It’s so much fun to watch him and just to see his excitement and how much he enjoys going to the race track and being with is friends,” Kyle Busch said after his sixth-place finish Sunday. “It’s three generations worth, I guess. My dad (Tom) did it, myself and Kurt and now him. It’s pretty fun to just be out there. My dad is kind of the truck driver, the team manager, the crew chief, the lead mechanic and all that stuff on his kart.

“He’s got a big task at hand in order to get it all ready to go and get us to the race track every week. It’s been fun to see (Brexton) and to see how excited he was when he was able to win and beat the other competition that was out there and to see his joy. I told him, ‘Whatever that feeling is, whatever you’re feeling, however that sits in you, that’s feasible, that’s possible a lot more often than just one time. So don’t rest on just getting one, we gotta go out there and fight for more.'”

Kurt Busch wasn’t there for his nephew’s win, but he got all the details from his sister-in-law as they flew to Las Vegas.

“It definitely felt like a generational shift was happening,” he said. “But maybe not. Maybe not. This old guy has still got it going on.”