NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings heading to Talladega

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After all three major series enjoyed Easter off, NASCAR is back this weekend with the Cup and Xfinity series both competing at the largest track on the circuit, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.

In this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, Kyle Busch remains a unanimous No. 1. He has now been No. 1 – either solely or tied for the lead – in the last eight weeks (not counting last week’s Power Rankings, which focused on the top organizations).

Making the biggest jump in this week’s rankings is Richmond winner Martin Truex Jr. He went from outside the rankings before Richmond to fourth. The two biggest drops in the rankings are Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch. Blaney went from fifth to out of the rankings. Busch dropped from third to eighth.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings look:

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): We’d be talking about wins in four races if not for a speeding penalty at Richmond. Has finished top 10 in every race this season, only driver who can say that. Also has the most playoff points. Still the top dog. Last week: 1st.

2. Denny Hamlin (35 points): Overcame penalty in inspection at Richmond that forced him to start in the rear. On a night that it was tough to pass, he finished fifth for his sixth top five of the season, tying Kyle Busch for the most this year. Last week: 2nd.

3. Joey Logano (33 points): If he would have had a couple more laps, he may have been able to overtake Truex at Richmond. Has five top fives. He arguably had the car to win at both Bristol and Richmond and will likely have one of the cars to beat in Talladega. Last week: 4th.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (25 points): Put on the drive of his career in Richmond and got win No. 1 at Joe Gibbs Racing and his first on a short track (after 80 tries). Just in time with a superspeedway (not Truex’s strong suit) looming. Last week: not ranked

5. Clint Bowyer (23 points): Driver that has maybe shown the most improvement over nine races. He hasn’t finished worse than seventh in the last four races and has been in contention to win for the last three. He’s no slouch at Talladega. Last week: 7th.

6. Kevin Harvick (20 points): Steady progress but still looking for a win. All of Harvick’s four top fives this year have been in fourth place. The 30 laps he led in Richmond were his first since Las Vegas. Last week: 8th.

7. Brad Keselowski (17 points): Has had some struggles of late, with only one top 10 (seventh, Richmond) in the three races since his Martinsville win. Typically does well at ‘Dega. Can he survive the usual carnage and be the best to adapt to tapered spacers instead of restrictor plates? Last week: 6th.

8. Kurt Busch (15 points): Remains the most consistent Chevy driver through nine races, with just one finish outside 12th this year. Returns to Talladega looking for revenge: He was one lap away from winning there last year until he ran out of gas. Last week: 3rd.

9. Ryan Newman (8 points): Quietly outrunning teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Roush Fenway Racing. Coming off season-best, back-to-back ninth-place finishes and heads to Talladega, where he’s always competitive (unless caught up in a wreck). Last week: Outside the top 10 (tied for 11th).

10. Jimmie Johnson (4 points): Team seems to have stabilized after Martinsville debacle. He’s been the top Hendrick driver in each of the past three races. But he’s still staring at a 68-race winless streak, the longest of his illustrious career. Can he finally snap it at ‘Dega, where he has two wins and seven top 10s? Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: None

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Saturday schedule for Xfinity, Truck Series

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The Xfinity Series competes at Road America today while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series begins its weekend in Canada.

wunderground.com forecasts sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees at the start of the Xfinity race.

The forecast for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is for sunny skies, a high of 71 degrees and a 10% chance of rain.

Here’s the day’s full schedule with TV and radio info.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Road America

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

11:40 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/two rounds (NBC Sports App live, NBCSN to air it at 1:30 p.m.)

1:35 p.m. – Driver-crew chief meeting

2:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

3 p.m. – CTECH Manufacturing 180; 45 laps/182.16 miles (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Truck garage open

9:35 – 10:25 a.m. ET – Truck practice (No TV)

11:35 – 12:55 p.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

Report: Justin Allgaier returning to JR Motorsports in 2020

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Justin Allgaier confirmed to Catchfence.com Friday that he will remain with JR Motorsports in 2020.

It will be Allgaier’s fifth season in the Xfinity Series with JRM.

“I will be back next year. Same deal,” Allgaier told Catchfence.com “Everything is good. We’re doing the same thing next that we are doing right now.”

Allgaier, 33, is fourth is the point standings entering this weekend’s race at Road America (3 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN).

Allgaier is the only driver in the top six in points without a win this year.

 

Xfinity Series practice report from Road America

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Christopher Bell was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice Friday at Road America.

Bell posted a top speed of 108.562 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by Matt DiBenedetto (108.106 mph), AJ Allmendinger (108.091), Justin Haley (107.927) and Cole Custer (107.895).

Chase Briscoe recorded the most laps in the session with 19.

The session was stopped with about 50 minutes left for a hard crash by Brandon Jones exiting Turn 11. Jones will go to a backup car for Saturday’s race.

Just before Jones’ wreck, the left-rear truck arm mount broke on Jeremy Clements‘ No. 51 Chevrolet and his car stalled on the track.

The red flag was brought out for the second time when Preston Pardus’ No. 43 Chevrolet stalled on the track. His car then stalled a second time in the final minute of the session.

The session had a third red flag when Josh Williams‘ car stalled on the track.

Click here for the practice report.

First Practice

Bell was fastest, posting a top speed of 108.559 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by defending race winner Justin Allgaier (108.530 mph), Cindric (108.346), DiBenedetto (108.139) and Allmendinger (107.967).

Chase Briscoe recorded the most laps with 14.

The session was stopped once for debris with 35 minutes left in the session.

Minor incidents in the session included Noah Gragson briefly going off course and a spin by Dexter Bean.

Click here for the practice report.

Updated entry lists for Xfinity, Truck Series this weekend

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While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Ryan Vargas is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet for his second start of the year.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1)

There are only 29 Trucks listed for the entry list. A full field would be 32 trucks.

Alex Tagliani is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota for his first start of the year.

Dylan Lupton is entered in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

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