NBC Sports Power Rankings heading to Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr.’s win at Dover helped shake up this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Not only did Truex rocket to No. 2 – up six spots from last week – he also prevented Kyle Busch from scoring yet another unanimous No. 1 selection from the NBC Sports NASCAR writers.

Instead of a perfect 40 points, Busch earned 38 points this week; Truex had 37 points. For the first time this season, six of the top 10 spots in this week’s rankings resulted in ties.

Suffering the biggest drop in the rankings was Ryan Newman, who fell out of the rankings after being sixth last week.

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

1. Kyle Busch (38 points): Even though he had an off-week by his standards, he still tied Morgan Shepherd’s record of 11 straight top-10 finishes to start a season (a mark Busch can break Saturday at Kansas). Last week: 1st.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (37 points): He and Cole Pearn suddenly seem to have recaptured their magic. Last week: 8th.

3. Chase Elliott (28 points): Follows Talladega win by leading the most laps at Dover and finishing fifth. Momentum is building for this team. Last week: tied for 3rd.

(tie) 4. Joey Logano (25 points): The defending series champ has four straight top 10 finishes. He is keeping the momentum rolling. Last week: 2nd.

(tie) 4. Kevin Harvick (25 points): If there was a prize for finishing fourth, Harvick would run away with it: he has five fourth-place showings in the first 11 races. Unfortunately, that’s as high as he’s finished; he’s still looking for his first win of 2019. Last week: 9th.

6. Alex Bowman (14 points): Back-to-back career-best second-place finishes. While some may have considered his Talladega finish a fluke, he backed it up with a solid effort at Dover. Can a first Cup win be on tap soon? Last week: 10th.

(tie) 7. Kyle Larson (9 points): Put together a strong performance, his best of 2019. First top-five finish of season and best showing since last fall’s Phoenix playoff race (also finished third). Has he finally put the bad luck behind him? We’ll find out at Kansas. Last week: not ranked.

(tie) 7. Kurt Busch (9 points): Even though he finished 13th at Dover, his lowest outing since Daytona, he continues to have arguably the most consistent season of any driver, with the exception of younger brother Kyle. His first season at Chip Ganassi Racing remains Grade A. Last week: tied for 3rd.

(tie) 7. Denny Hamlin (9 points): Rough day at Dover. Was never a factor. Opened the season with Daytona 500 win and finished no worse than 11th in the first nine races. Now he hasn’t finished in the top 20 in the past two races. Does he right the ship at Kansas? Last week: 5th.

(tie) 7. Brad Keselowski (9 points): One top-10 finish in the last five races since his win at Martinsville has this driver trending downward. Is there cause for concern? Last week: 7th.

Others receiving votes: Clint Bowyer (8 points), Christopher Bell (6 points), William Byron (2 points), Erik Jones (1 point).

Justin Haley replaces Kyle Busch in Kaulig car for Xfinity race


Justin Haley will drive Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 car in Monday morning’s scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Haley replaces Cup Series regular Kyle Busch, who was scheduled to drive for Kaulig in the 300-miler. The race was postponed from Saturday to Monday because of weather, giving NASCAR a 900-mile doubleheader at the track.

Busch decided to concentrate on the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race, scheduled for a  3 p.m. start.

Haley also will race in the 600.

Ty Gibbs is scheduled to run in both races.

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. BuildSubmarines.com will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

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Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”