Who is hot and cold entering the AAA Texas 500

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The second race of Round of 8 begins this weekend in the Lone Star State at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN).

Three slots remain in the championship finale after Joey Logano’s dramatic win last week on the short track.

Here is who is hot and cold entering the 1.5-mile track.

Who is Hot

Joey Logano

Round of 8 – Red Hot
• Led the most laps last week and won at Martinsville to become the only driver locked into the championship battle
• Bumped Martin Truex Jr. out of the lead exiting Turn 4
2018 Season – Red Hot
• Is currently riding a five-race, top-10 streak that includes his Martinsville victory and two other top fives
• Advances to the Championship 4 for the third time in his career (2014, 2016 and 2018)
• Has six top fives in his last 10 races
Texas – Very Good
• Scored top 10s in his last five races. Finished sixth in April
• Finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 11 Texas races
• Started 36th last year, was 15th in Stage 1, 21st in Stage 2, led one lap and finished seventh. Was penalized for speeding entering the pits on Lap 141
1.5-mile tracks – Very Good
• Finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 races. 

 

Chase Elliott

Round of 8 – Hot
• Finished seventh at Martinsville (11th in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Red Hot
• Won two of the last four races and three of the last 12; it took 99 starts before earning his first win
• Finished top 10 in five of the last six races and in 11 of the last 14
Texas – Very Good
• Top 10s in four of five starts at Texas; was 11th in April
• Swept the top five at Texas as a rookie
• Started 34th last year, was 11th in Stage 1, fifth in Stage 2, led one lap and finished eighth.
1.5-mile tracks – Hot and Very Cold
• Won the last 1.5-mile race at Kansas in the Round of 12
• Finished outside the top 10 in seven of the last eight races on 1.5-mile tracks.

 

Kyle Busch

Round of 8 – Great
• Finished fourth at Martinsville (third in Stage 1, third in Stage 2, and led 100 laps)
• Won the Martinsville pole
2018 Season – Great
• Finished in the top five in the last two races
• Finished in the top 10 in seven of the last nine races and 12 of the last 15
• Won seven races in 2018
• Finished in the top five in 20 of 33 races this season

Texas – Red Hot
• Won two of the last five Texas races including this April
• Finished in the top five in six of the last eight Texas races
• Started fifth, was 30th in Stage 1, 25th in Stage 2, led seven laps and finished 19th in this race last year. Forced to pit for damage to his right front fender after contact with Brad Keselowski on Lap 1. Pitted from 13th on Lap 275 with a flat left rear tire
1.5-mile tracks – Red Hot
• Won three of the last seven races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Finished in the top 10 in the last 10 races on 1.5-mile track including every race of 2018
• Along with Kevin Harvick and Truex, combined to win 13 of the last 15 races on 1.5-mile tracks

 

Martin Truex Jr.

Round of 8 – Great
• Finished third at Martinsville (seventh in Stage 1, fourth in Stage 2 and led 18 laps) after coming from the back of the pack (33rd) when his qualification time was disallowed
• Bumped out of the lead exiting Turn 4 on the final lap
2018 Season – Streaking
• Finished in the top five in the last two races
• Last seven races: four top fives and three finishes of 14th or worse
• Finished in the top five in 14 of the last 23 races
Texas – Very Good
• Finished in the top 10 in six of his last seven Texas races (37th in April)
• This is one of only two 1.5-mile tracks on which he has not won (Atlanta is the other)
• Started seventh, was second in Stage 1, fourth in Stage 2, led 107 laps and finished second in this race last year.
1.5-mile tracks – Red Hot
• Won eight of the last 19 races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Finished in the top five in the last six races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Along with Harvick and Kyle Busch, combined to win 13 of the last 15 races on 1.5-mile tracks

 

Kevin Harvick

Round of 8 – Warm
• Finished 10th Martinsville (ninth in Stage 1, 15th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Great
• Finished 10th or worse in three straight races, which is his worst three-race stretch of 2018
• Finished in the top 10 in 12 of last 15 races
• Finished in the top five in 11 of the last 20 races
• Won seven races in 2018
• In 33 races this season, finished 10th or better 26 times and 12th or worse seven times
Texas – Red Hot
• Finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive races (second in April)
• Eight consecutive top 10s at Texas is the second longest streak at the track
• Finished in the top five in six of the last eight Texas races
• Started third, won Stage 1, second in Stage 2, led 38 laps and won this race last year.
1.5-mile tracks – Hot
• Won four of the last 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Finished in the top 10 in 15 of the last 18 races on 1.5-mile tracks; failed to finish in two of the last five
• Along with Truex and Kyle Busch, combined to win 13 of the last 15 races on 1.5-mile tracks

 

Aric Almirola

Round of 8 – Good
• Finished 11th Martinsville (10th in Stage 1, 12th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Good
• Four top 10s in the last seven races
Texas – Very Bad
• Finished outside the top 10 in 10 straight Texas races (32nd in April)
• One top 10 in 15 stars at Texas (seventh in April 2013)
• Started 18th, 21st in Stage 1, 16th in Stage 2 and finished 15th in this race last year.
1.5-mile tracks – Hot and Cold (trending Hot)
• Finished in the top 10 in three consecutive 1.5-mile races and five of the last six
• In nine 1.5-mile races with Stewart-Haas Racing: five top 10s and four finishes of 13th or worse

 

Kurt Busch

Round of 8 – Great
• Finished sixth at Martinsville (fifth in Stage 1, fifth in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Good
• Three top 10s and four results of 14th or worse in the last seven races
• Finished in the top 10 in 11 of the last 15 races
Texas – Pretty Good
• Finished in the top 10 in three straight Texas races (seventh in April)
• Finished in the top 10 in six of the last eight Texas races
• Won the pole for the last two Texas races
• Started first, fifth in Stage 1, seventh in Stage 2 and finished ninth in this race last year. Had to pit for a second time for a possible loose wheel on Lap 231
1.5-mile tracks – Cold
• Finished 17th or worse in three of the last four 1.5-mile races

 

Clint Bowyer

Round of 8 – Not Good
• Finished 21st at Martinsville (fourth in Stage 1, eighth in Stage 2 and led one lap)
• Damaged his right front fender after contact with William Byron on pit road on Lap 133; spun after contact with Jimmie Johnson on Lap 457 while running 10th
2018 Season – Hot and Cold
• Finished outside the top 20 in two of the last four races and outside the top 10 in three of the last four
Last 10 races: five top 10s and five results of 13th or worse (2 DNFs)
Texas – Not Good
Finished outside the top 10 in seven of last the last eight Texas races (ninth in April)
Finished outside top 20 in five of the last eight Texas races
Started 20th, 16th in Stage 1, 11th in Stage 2, finished 36th in this race last year
1.5-mile tracks – Cold
Finished outside the top 10 in 13 of last 16 1.5-mile races
• Finished 12th or worse in the last three 1.5-mile races

Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, TV channel

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The second round of the Cup playoffs begins with the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 1.5-mile track kicks off the Round of 12. Winning the race and stage points are a premium for playoff drivers before the races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

Kevin Harvick, who won at Bristol, starts from the pole.

Here is all the info for the Sunday Cup race at Las Vegas:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis at 7:07 p.m. The green flag waves at 7:17 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at Noon. Drivers report to their cars at 6:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Sierra Black at 7:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6 p.m with NASCAR America, followed by Countdown to Green at 6:30 p.m. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 6 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 96 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Kevin Harvick beat Kyle Busch to win at Bristol and claim his ninth win of the season.

LAST POINTS RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Joey Logano beat Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in February.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS’ COVERAGE:

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win but without hometown fans

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

Charlotte Roval to host limited number of fans

Friday 5: Team’s departure adds to ‘extremely stressful’ time

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

Long: 100 days left in 2020, what else can happen?

Kurt Busch seeks first Las Vegas win, but without hometown fans

Kurt Busch
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A win by Kurt Busch in tonight’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) couldn’t come under more bittersweet circumstances for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Should Busch claim the victory on the 1.5-mile track, he’d go from being the last driver on the playoff grid (3,001 points entering the race) to the first driver to advance to the Round of 8.

While it would be his first victory of the year, it would also be his first NASCAR win at his home track in 23 starts across the Cup and Xfinity Series.

More: Stage points critical at Vegas

“The Vegas track has definitely been one of the tough ones for me over the years with results and finishes not where I would have expected them to be,” Busch said this week. “And the teams that I’ve raced for just have never quite found that right magic set-up or combination. And then for me, it’s a track that I just have that trouble with.

“There are a few tracks like Indianapolis and Martinsville; those are a few places where I struggle. And so with Vegas, I always put that little extra hometown pressure on myself and I would love to win there.”

The 42-year-old Las Vegas-native rolls off ninth on the 1.5-mile track. It’s his fourth while driving for Ganassi.

In his 21 Cup starts in Las Vegas, Busch’s best result is third in 2005 when he competed for Roush Fenway Racing. He has just one other top five. That came in last year’s spring race when he drove a throwback paint scheme to his 1999 NASCAR Southwest Series championship.

That day he led 23 laps. It was only the seventh time he’d led laps there and just the third time he’d totaled more than six laps led.

In February, Busch finished 25th.

If Busch were to finally make it to Vegas’ Victory Lane, the celebration would be somewhat muted.

It was announced last weekend that fans would not be allowed to attend the races at Las Vegas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would love to win through the spirit of the camera and everything on NBC Sports; and I know the fans there, local, will be watching and cheering on the Busch brothers,” Busch said. “So, that’s where I would connect. And hopefully do it through the TV side of it. We’ll get fans back one day and we’ll come back and race.”

Busch enters the Round of 12 having earned just one top 10 in the first round, an eighth-place finish at Darlington. He finished 13th at Richmond and 15th at Bristol.

“What I like is we have had better lap times at all three races so far compared to maybe the five or six races leading into the playoffs,” Busch said. “We know that our cushion is gone. We ended Bristol with 33 points to the good. And now we start Vegas minus four (points behind Austin Dillon in the cutoff spot). So that’s just part of the system and now we have to be perfect. We have to get every point possible that we’re able to get on our own at Vegas, Talladega, and the Roval. And, that should help us advance.”

Carolina Blue: Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan bonded by NASCAR

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Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan were teammates from 1982-84 at the University of North Carolina and Eastern Conference rivals throughout the 1980s and ’90s in the NBA.

But their friendship was about more than just hoops. While growing up on opposite ends of the Tar Heel State, Daugherty and Jordan both developed a passion for following NASCAR.

Tobacco Road meant fast cars and hard-driving heroes for these two North Carolina natives.

LIFELONG FAN: Michael Jordan explains why he’s partnering with Denny Hamlin

In a NASCAR on NBC feature, Daugherty recalls how NASCAR impacted his life and Jordan’s and led both into team ownership. Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin announced they will form a team to field cars for Bubba Wallace next season.

Daughterty notes in the feature that Wallace “has led a dynamic transformation as NASCAR banned Confederate flags and recommitted to inclusion amidst times of great unrest. This is a huge moment for NASCAR, a cultural momentum shift. This is people of all colors coming together to create an all-American race team already with championship lineage.

“With proper funding, equipment and crewmembers, this will be the best chance ever for a Black driver to win – and while driving for a Black owner. An opportunity to shock the world like Muhammad Ali once did.”

Watch the feature above on Brad Daugherty and Michael Jordan or by clicking this link.

Las Vegas Xfinity results, driver points

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Chase Briscoe‘s victory Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway sends him into the next round of the Xfinity playoffs.

Noah Gragson led a 2-3-4 finish for JR Motorsports. Gragson was second and followed by Daniel Hemric and Justin Allgaier. Ryan Sieg finished fifth.

Briscoe dominated the race, leading 164 of the 200 laps.

Click here for Xfinity race results

POINTS

Ross Chastain finished 16th, last among the playoff drivers, and fell out of a transfer spot to the second round. He’s two points behind Harrison Burton for the final transfer spot. Michael Annett is 10 points behind Burton. Riley Herbst is 14 points behind Burton. Brandon Brown is 20 points behind Burton.

Click here for driver points report