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NBC Sports Power Rankings after Pocono: Kyle Busch back to No. 1

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Well, that was a short stay atop the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings for Martin Truex Jr.

Truex was No. 1 last week but plummets to a tie for eighth this week.

Pocono winner Kyle Busch is back atop this week’s rankings – by unanimous vote – followed by Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski, who was not ranked last week.

Dropping out of this week’s rankings are Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings shape up:

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): Back where he belongs after his fourth win of the season. Last week: tied for 2nd.

2. Chase Elliott (35 points): On the best run of his Cup career with five consecutive top-five finishes. The No. 9 team has established championship-level consistency. Last week: tied for 2nd.

3. Brad Keselowski (29 points): Has a win and a runner-up within the past three points races. Only car to finish in the top five of every stage at Pocono. Last week: Not ranked.

4. Joey Logano (27 points): Six top 10s in the past seven races. May not be long before this team wins again. More wins would certainly help but can’t fault the No. 22 team’s title defense. Last week: 4th.

(tie) 5. Clint Bowyer (15 points): Turns 40 as he matures into Stewart-Haas’ most consistently good finisher. Has seven top 10s in the last nine points races. He also returns to a track this weekend where he won last year. Last week: Not ranked.

(tie) 5. Erik Jones (15 points): Three top 10s in the past four points races, including a third at Pocono. Is working hard to keep his ride at JGR. A win or two could cement the deal. Last week: Not ranked.

7. William Byron (11 points): Consecutive pole positions are the most impressive feat of his young Cup career. Also has three top 10s in the last four points races. Last week: tied for 9th.

(tie) 8. Martin Truex Jr. (7 points): Not his fault the engine didn’t last at Pocono. Just like last year, it’s been top five or bust (sometimes literally). Last week: 1st.

(tie) 8. Chris Buescher (7 points): Best three-race stretch of his JTG Daugherty Racing career. Last week: 7th.

10. Denny Hamlin (5 points): Nothing bad happened to him at Pocono and the result was a sixth-place finish, his best finish in the last five points races. Last week: Not ranked.

Others receiving votes: Daniel Suarez (4 points), Tyler Reddick (4 points), Alex Bowman (3 points), Cole Custer (3 points), Kurt Busch (1 point).

NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).