William Byron speaks with Brad Keselowski about incident in practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — William Byron said he spoke with Brad Keselowski on Thursday night about their contact on the track earlier that day, but Byron remains convinced the whole matter should have been handled differently.

Keselowski said last year after being in a wreck in the July Daytona race that he was done lifting off the accelerator when blocked. A Byron block caused Keselowski to slow, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran into the back of Keselowski, triggering a crash.

In Thursday’s practice, Keselowski stayed in the gas and when Byron cut down, Keselowski hit Byron’s car, causing enough damage that Byron’s team went to a backup. Keselowski said he was sending a message.

Byron felt a message could have been delivered in a different manner.

“It would have been, I feel like, more professional to come talk to me about what was wrong instead of tearing up a race car and make my guys have to bring out a backup and have to work all the way through last night and show up early this morning and have to work even more,” Byron said Friday. “I don’t think that’s the way to handle it. That’s kind of the unnecessary part for me that I don’t appreciate.”

Byron said he appreciated talking to Keselowski about the incident even if he left not in total agreement.

“I wanted to talk to him because I felt like he probably didn’t expect me to talk to him, and I need to talk to him about things like that, and you need to hear where he’s coming from so I don’t draw my own conclusion, which probably isn’t going to be a good one,” Byron said. “I think it’s important. Guys don’t talk enough to people nowadays, and we need to handle things like that more often.”

Keselowski was adamant Thursday that he’s not going to slow when blocked because he can be wrecked from behind.

“We’ve wrecked in four of the last five plate races,” Keselowski said of Daytona and Talladega. “It’s ridiculous. Almost all of them have been that same exact scenario. That’s wrong for my team. I can’t drive everybody else’s car. I can drive mine, and I can say that I’m not going to let somebody pull that move again on me.”

Byron’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson, also said Keselowski could have handled the situation better on the track.

“I felt like yesterday was avoidable and didn’t think that was necessary by any means,” Johnson said Friday. “It’s a tricky position that Brad has put himself in because plate racing is all about blocking. This new rules package on the 1.5-miles is all about blocking. And he’s pretty damn good at blocking. So, that’s where I think he’s put himself in an interesting situation, and we’ll see how the next few weeks unfold.

“I don’t think he ‘sent a message’ to anybody. I think it was kind of careless and not such a smart move yesterday. But if he feels good about it, which clearly … I just watched his interview in the bus before I came over here … he feels pretty good about what he did, and we’ll just see how it all unfolds for him.”

By going to a backup car, Byron will start at the rear of the field in Saturday night’s race (7 p.m., NBC).

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).