Photo: Ross Chastain

Tales from the road: Ross Chastain’s recent travels anything but easy

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — A camper, a Greyhound bus and an SUV. No, this is not the beginning of a joke.

Those were the modes of transportation Ross Chastain used to go from New York to Ohio and back to New York to compete this weekend at Watkins Glen International.

“It’s normal,” Chastain told NBC Sports on Friday at Watkins Glen after completing his journey and two sessions of Xfinity practice.

“Not normal for a driver but normal for me. I don’t fit in with a lot of these drivers. Yes, this is hectic.”

But normal for NASCAR’s busiest driver — Chastain has competed in 50 of the 55 NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series races this year.

His hectic schedule started after last weekend’s Cup race at Pocono Raceway. He made the 160-mile-plus trip with his girlfriend and their two dogs on Sunday night and did appearances Monday and Tuesday in the Watkins Glen area. He left the camper to use it this weekend.

So he needed to get to Eldora for practice Wednesday. Simple, book a flight. Right?

No.

“I was scared of the commercial flights, you couldn’t find anything under $700, $800, and I’m pretty cheap when it comes to that stuff,” Chastain said. “And you had a layover, and I was scared of delays and whatever. I don’t like to fly commercial on practice day. If you miss practice, you could upset your career. People think you’re not taking it serious.”

So, how to get from the Finger Lakes region to Western Ohio?

Chastain and his girlfriend boarded their dogs and took a Greyhound bus from Ithaca, New York, to Columbus, Ohio.

“I knew if something happened (with the bus), I could Uber somewhere and get a car,” Chastain said.

“I just didn’t want to drive all night. And I’ve never ridden a bus.”

Now he has.

The bus left at 7:35 p.m. and arrived at the Columbus bus station around 7 a.m. Wednesday.

“I’m glad I did it,” Chastain said. “I would do it again. It was cheap, quiet, the ride was smooth.”

Chastain’s father, who was traveling from Delaware, picked them up at the bus station in the SUV. They headed to Eldora Speedway so Chastain could compete in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race there. Chastain’s mom and brother flew up from Florida to watch Chastain race.

Chastain finished 12th in his first race on a dirt track. He, his girlfriend and family loaded into the SUV around 12:30 a.m. Thursday. Chastain slept as his family drove through the night to Watkins Glen.

About five miles from Watkins Glen International, a right rear tire went flat.

They pulled over, put the spare on and were on their way about 20 minutes later.

Finally, this journey was over.

So what about after this weekend?

“We had plans of going straight to Michigan, but I don’t know,” Chastain said. “I have a flight reserved to go (home to North Carolina). We’ll see. Honestly, I haven’t made my mind up.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick still No. 1 after quiet Vegas

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Kevin Harvick didn’t have a flashy night Sunday in Las Vegas, but it didn’t keep him from retaining the No. 1 spot in this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings.

After winning the Bristol night race, Harvick finished in the top 10 in the first two stages in Vegas before placing 10th at race’s end.

Kurt Busch’s win at his home track vaulted him into the top 10 as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Las Vegas

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): In the last eight races he’s won three times and finished outside the top 10 only twice.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 5): Placed fourth for his 11th top-five finish in the last 14 races.

3. Alex Bowman (Last week unranked): Finished fifth for his second top five and fifth top-10 finish in the last six races.

4. Denny Hamlin (Last week unranked): Left Vegas with a third-place finish to snap a three-race streak of finishing outside the top 10.

5. Kurt Busch (Last week unranked): Snapped a 46-race winless streak with his victory and advanced to the Round of 8.

6. Kyle Busch (Last week No. 3): Finished sixth after a “dismal” night. He has four consecutive top 10s.

7. Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): Finished 13th to give him two finishes outside the top 10 since he won at Richmond.

8. Chase Briscoe (Last week unranked): Opened the Xfinity playoffs with his second consecutive win.

8. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 2): Led 73 laps, but had to settle for a 22nd-place finish in Vegas.

8. Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Finished 14th for his second straight finish outside the top 10.

Also receiving votes: Erik Jones and Chris Buescher.

NASCAR announces changes to Kansas playoff weekend

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Citing “programming changes,” NASCAR announced shifts in the race dates and start times for its visit next month to Kansas Speedway.

The Xfinity, ARCA and Truck Series races have been shifted, while the Cup race remains at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 18.

The biggest move is the Truck Series race shifting from Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

Here are the changes.

Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 p.m. ETARCA Menards Series on FS1 or FS2; network TBD at a later date (previously at 10 p.m. ET)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 4 p.m. ETTruck Series on FOX (previously Friday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. ET on FS1)

Saturday, Oct. 17, 7 p.m. ET Xfinity on NBCSN (previously 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

 

Xfinity Series playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Chase Briscoe opened the Xfinity Series playoffs by earning his second consecutive win.

His victory Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway gives him 57 playoff points and an automatic spot in the Round of 8.

Harrison Burton holds the final transfer spot. He has a two-point advantage over Ross Chastain.

Behind Chastain below the cutline are Michael Annett (-10 points), Riley Herbst (-14) and Brandon Brown (-20).

Below is the full Xfinity Series playoff standings going into Saturday’s race at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance. Drivers in yellow are in the remaining playoff spots.

Xfinity Series playoff standings

Cup playoff standings after Las Vegas

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Kurt Busch flipped the script on the Cup playoff standings with his win Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

He entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings, but is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Round of 8.

Replacing Busch in the bottom spot of the playoff standings is Austin Dillon. He is 32 points behind Alex Bowman, who holds the final cutoff spot.

Behind Bowman is Kyle Busch (-9 points), Clint Bowyer (-20), Aric Almirola (-27) and Dillon.

“Obviously, the 1 car (Kurt Busch) was not a car that we needed to win a race,” Clint Bowyer said after Sunday’s race. “It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. (Kurt Busch) winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out.”

Here is the full playoff standings entering Sunday’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Drivers in red are below the cutline to advance to the Round of 8. Drivers in yellow hold the remaining available playoff spots.

Cup playoff standings