NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

Ruben Garcia Jr. part of driver exchange between NASCAR Euro and Mexico Series

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Not long after he competes in the K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend, Ruben Garcia Jr. will board a plane for Spain.

Waiting for Garcia will be the first part of a driver exchange program between NASCAR’s European and Mexico racing series.

The defending champion in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, Garcia will take part in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ season-opening races April 13-14 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. On Nov. 30-Dec. 1, the Euro Series champion will return the favor by competing in the Mexico series finale in Mexico City.

All the races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Youtube Channel and Facebook page and on Motorsport.tv.

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The races in Valenica will be Garcia’s first in Europe, but Spain will “feel like home” for the him after frequent holiday trips there to visit friends.

“It was great news for me because for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to put something together to go run in the Euro NASCAR because that’s a series that’s been growing a lot and really got my interest,” Garcia said Wednesday during a teleconference. “Even though I’m very, very far from home or the United States and where I’m living now, it’ll still feel like home cause they speak my native language there and it’s a country I enjoy travelling to.”

Garcia’s Euro Series start will come in the ELITE 1 Division driving the No. 1 Alex Caffi Motorsport Toyota Camry. Though Garcia will only have three practices sessions to get used to his car and the 14-turn track, he thinks his history with road courses in the Mexico and K&N Series will help.

But Garcia is aware of some of the more intrinsic differences in series.

“The cars are similar to what we race in Mexico,” Garcia said. “So on that part I don’t think it will be as challenging. … Since they have more of the European style of racing, the FIA style of racing. … It’s different than what we do here in Mexico and the United States. They really don’t have contact. Their battles are strong, but they’re very, very respectful. That’s something I might need to get used to, no contact at all. They’re very good road course racers.”

The Euro series has garnered its share of attention in the last two years, with former Cup champion Bobby Labonte competing full-time in the series last year. He’ll be followed this season by former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

“I can tell you what got my attention,” Garcia said of the Euro Series. “They’re getting a lot of new cars, they’re getting a lot of new sponsors and that’s always a good sign for a series. If that’s happening it’s because they’re doing something right. As a driver you always want to try new things and get new challenges.

“They go to some really cool places and really cool tracks. … That’s something that really got my attention, they go to some Formula 1 race tracks. Some great facilities, some great road courses that when I was really little I dreamed of racing (at).”

Garcia said he’ll try to tap into the knowledge of three-time Euro Series champion Ander Vilariño and defending champion Alon Day, both drivers he has relationships with.

As a two-time Mexico Series champion, Garcia is excited for the driver swap as an opportunity to show off the series’ talent.

“There’s a great level (of competition) in the Mexico as well as the NASCAR Euro Series,” Garcia said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for both series to show how good they are and how good the NASCAR Mexico drivers can do outside their country. Even though we’re racing against road course specialists, we’ll still`perform really good.”

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