No more secrets between Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. but still much success

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JOLIET, Ill. – Martin Truex Jr. says there are no secrets anymore between him and Kyle Busch, who naturally believes the opposite.

“That means he’s got secrets,” Busch said with a broad smile after being relayed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate’s viewpoint during a Friday news conference at Chicagoland Speedway. “I’m going to find out what those secrets are.”

The 2015 series champion should be able to learn far more about the modus operandi of Truex’s team now that it’s housed under the same roof in Huntersville, N.C., as Busch’s No. 18 Toyota.

“It’s difficult because we are working together, and we are sharing everything,” said Truex, who joined JGR this year after the shuttering of Furniture Row Racing. “There are no secrets. I can’t keep any secrets from him; he can’t keep any secrets from me. It’s a real reality check in your own mind on how things are going, when you are looking at those guys and how they are doing and how you are doing. You are constantly comparing yourself.

“It has been different for sure from the last couple seasons, but I think in a good way. I think it’s just another little push.”

The past three seasons, Truex has been racing chassis that were built by JGR, which also had a technical alliance with Furniture Row.

But even though the teams held weekly debriefs, they didn’t share everything about how their cars were being tuned – and Busch (who has 21 victories from 2016-18 to Truex’s 20) intimated more than once that Gibbs wasn’t privy to how Furniture Row Racing was able to optimize its No. 78.

“Kyle was always saying in the media ‘I don’t know how the 78 is doing that,’ ” Truex said. “There is definitely more insight into that now.”

Busch said there are some limits, though – the trade secrets that stylistically separate drivers in NASCAR.

“I’m sure there are things, tricks of the trade or whatever, things we do behind the wheel,” Busch said. “Our driving techniques or things we do that don’t always share.

“As far as the crew chiefs go, what they do or the tricks of the trade or things they do with their race cars. How tight is this bolt, how loose is that one. I’m sure there are different things that crew chiefs do in how they prep their cars that you can’t put it on paper. So you never really see those things. But when it comes to paper and what everybody writes on that, there’s no secrets there.”

The pairing seems to be working well: Busch and Truex are tied for the Cup Series lead with four victories apiece through the first 16 races. They finished 1-2 last week at Sonoma, where Busch was the first to congratulate Truex on the win but also said “it sucks losing to a teammate.”

It’s the first time since 2015 (when Matt Kenseth had five wins) that a JGR driver other than Busch has had more than three victories.

            “It’s nice to have (Truex) under our roof and in the same equipment and to be able to communicate and to be able to share with them,” Busch said. “There are racetracks that he is really, really good at and shines at and does well, and there are racetracks that I am good at or better at that we can go back-and-forth on. It could be any one of us each week. We have all the tools necessary at Joe Gibbs Racing.”

There is a yin and yang to the relationship between the tempestuous and outspoken Busch and the reserved and understated Truex. But despite a few notable on-track skirmishes (Indianapolis in 2017 and Bristol last August), there also is a mutual respect between them.

“I would say that it’s a friendly rivalry,” Busch said. “The way we go about it, we put everything out on the table. We have crashed each other a few times, and we have been pissed at each other a few times, but a couple weeks later, we are back to business, and we are joking around in meetings and we are working with one another. You are going to have those situations that happen just because of how close we are running. Sometimes we run into one another, but that happens. But it has been good overall.”

Said Truex: “We are definitely a lot different people. In the garage or in the car, I would say we are very similar. Very intense, very focused, not settling for anything but first.”

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.

 

Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.