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ISM Raceway may have traction compound added for November races

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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — NASCAR and track officials are looking at where to put traction compound in the turns at ISM Raceway, a significant step for a track that hosts this season’s penultimate race and the title event next season for Cup, Xfinity and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. 

Drivers have long complained about how difficult it is to pass on the 1-mile track near Phoenix and such comments were common after the spring race there.

Denny Hamlin, among the drivers who have consulted with NASCAR on where to put traction compound at tracks, said discussions are taking place about where to spray the compound at ISM Raceway. NASCAR races there in November.

“Phoenix will probably be the next candidate for it,” Hamlin said of the traction compound. “I think we might try something there later this year. It’s just trying to get it right there.”

Hamlin said track officials have set cones in the corners on where they propose putting the traction compound and sent photos and videos to Hamlin and others to review.

The key for ISM Raceway is to try the compound either this year or next spring to make sure they have it in the proper place for next year’s championship race, which moves there from Miami.

“I would say you go for it,” reigning Cup champion Joey Logano said of applying the traction compound to ISM Raceway for its November races. “The longer we wait to learn, the dumber we are.”

Hamlin said the compound should be put in the third lane in each of the four corners at ISM Raceway.

“The goal with it has been to not put it in the second lane where you have a Michigan-type effect where it becomes a total primary groove and nobody can run on the bottom because they will get freight-trained,” Hamlin said. “You try to put it in the third lane to then give  someone the option to run a shorter distance and maybe either slide up to the sticky stuff or use it if people are running in the lower groove, it gives them an extra lane to go up there and make passes on the outside. It’s not meant to be the primary groove, it’s just meant to be an option if you need it.”

Hamlin, who won last weekend at Pocono, was encouraged how well the traction compound worked there.

“Pocono, for the first time, I would venture to say more passes were made on the outside at Pocono than the inside and that is a bottom-feeder race track and has been for many years,” Hamlin said. “It wasn’t perfect, but certainly was a step in the right direction and it’s something we can now build on for next year. I’m excited about it. We found a very good Band-aid for some of these tracks that have been pretty challenging as far as one lane.”

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