NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin still No. 1

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It appears Denny Hamlin isn’t going anywhere any time soon. That’s the case as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver remains No. 1 in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings for the fourth consecutive week.

Hamlin’s reign at the top isn’t surprising. He has a win and four top-five finishes in his last five starts.

The biggest gainer in this week’s rankings is Michigan winner Kevin Harvick, who moved from sixth last week to second this week.

Meanwhile, Erik Jones fell from second to eighth this week.

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

1. Denny Hamlin (39 points): Just like his sponsor, he delivers. Certainly seems like the preemptive championship favorite. Last week: 1st.

2. Kevin Harvick (37 points): Two wins in the last four races. Shades of his 2018 dominance returning? Competitors better be worried. Last week: 6th.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (31 points): Had best car at Michigan but sometimes the best car doesn’t win. Mistakes by team (strategy) and driver (restarts) hurt No. 19. Last week: 3rd.

4. Kyle Larson (27 points): Has quietly but effectively become more of a factor of late. The Knoxville Nationals proved to be a bust for him but a third-place finish at Michigan is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. Last week: 8th.

5. Kyle Busch (17 points): Didn’t have the best car but still won a stage at Michigan and stretched his lead on Joey Logano for the regular-season title. Last week: 9th.

6. Chase Elliott (12 points): Followed Watkins Glen win with top 10 at Michigan. First time he’s had back-to-back top 10s since late May/early June. Last week: 4th.

7. Daniel Suarez (10 points): A playoffs-saving salvage job after a disastrous Stage 2. Last week: Unranked.

8. Erik Jones (9 points): His streak of four consecutive top-five finishes came to an end at Michigan. Still, he’s on track to make the playoffs if he keeps having consistent top-10 finishes. Last week: 2nd.

9. Brad Keselowski (8 points): Can’t argue with Team Penske’s speed, but execution needs work. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 10. Joey Logano (6 points): If the cautions fall differently, he might have swept both Michigan Cup races this year. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 10. Austin Cindric (6 points): After failing to win in his first 53 career Xfinity starts, has now earned back-to-back wins in last two starts (Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio). We’re starting to see Cindric coming into his own, for sure. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Ryan Preece (5 points), Ryan Newman (4 points), Ryan Blaney (3 points), Christopher Bell (2 points), Matt DiBenedetto (2 points), William Byron (1 point), Chris Buescher (1 point).

Goodyear tire info for Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR Cup and Truck teams continue their respective playoffs this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The Cup Series begins its Round of 8, while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will contest its middle race of the Round of 6.

Cup and Truck teams will run the same tire setup at Martinsville, the same tires both series have run at the .526-mile bullring since 2017.

It’s getting later in the fall and we are likely to have cloudy conditions and temperatures in the 60-degree range at Martinsville this week, so track temps will be low, making it more difficult for the track to take rubber,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Because of the time of year we run at Martinsville, we’ve worked hard over the past several years to come up with a tread compound that will lay rubber in the concrete corners, even in cool temperatures.

Generally, Martinsville has produced some of the best racing on the circuit and that only seems to have been enhanced by the track consistently taking rubber and having multiple racing lines. We continue to work on keeping up with Martinsville and making adjustments where needed, holding a test there this past summer and looking ahead to 2020 when we will have a full fledged night race at the track.”

According to wunderground.com, the forecast calls for a temperature of 58 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain at the scheduled 1:30 p.m. ET start time for Saturday’s Truck race, and a temperature of 66 degrees with a 19 percent chance of green flag at the 3 p.m. ET scheduled start time for Sunday’s Cup race.

Here is the tire information for this weekend’s races at Martinsville:

Tire: Goodyear Eagle Short Track Radials

Set limits: Cup: 3 sets for practice, 1 set for qualifying/start of race and 9 sets for race (8 race sets plus 1 set transferred from qualifying or practice); Truck: 5 sets for the event.

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4588; Right-side – D-4722

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,221 mm (87.44 in.); Right-side — 2,251 mm (88.62 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 10 psi; Left Rear — 10 psi; Right Front — 23 psi; Right Rear — 22 psi

As on most NASCAR ovals 1 mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Martinsville.

NASCAR penalty report after Kansas

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NASCAR issued one penalty from this past weekend’s racing action at Kansas Speedway.

Chris Gayle, crew chief for the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup Toyota driven by Erik Jones, has been fined $10,000 for lug nut(s) not properly installed following Sunday’s race.

There were no penalties assessed to the teams of Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick stemming from the altercation following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

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Ron Hornaday Jr., Bobby Labonte to take part in Martinsville Truck race activities

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Martinsville Speedway will honor one NASCAR Hall of Famer and one inductee before Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 Truck Series race.

Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. will serve as grand marshal for the race, while Bobby Labonte, who will be inducted into the Hall in January, will serve as the honorary starter.

Bobby Labonte. Photo: Getty Images.

We are honored to have 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ron Hornaday Jr. as Grand Marshal and 2020 inductee Bobby Labonte as Honorary Starter at the first NASCAR Hall of Fame 200,” NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelly said in a statement. “Ron is the series’ only four-time champion. As the 2000 premier series champion and 1992 Xfinity champion, Bobby is one of only 31 drivers who has won races in all three NASCAR national series with his lone truck series win coming at Martinsville.”

Said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway: “We appreciate the NASCAR Hall of Fame making it possible to have two great NASCAR champions available to meet our fans Saturday morning before the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200. Having Ron and Bobby be a part of our race weekend is special for everyone at Martinsville Speedway.”

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NASCAR entry lists for Martinsville

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Eight drivers remain in the playoffs for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.

In addition to the Cup Series, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series is also in action this weekend at Martinsville, on Saturday. The Xfinity Series is off this weekend.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for both series:

Cup – First Data 500 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars entered.

Two cars do not have drivers listed yet on the entry list:

* The No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet.

* The No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 53 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Joey Logano won this race last fall. Denny Hamlin finished second and Martin Truex Jr. was third.

In this year’s spring race, Brad Keselowski won, followed by Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 (1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

There are 32 Trucks entered in the middle race of the Round of 6 of the Truck playoffs.

One Truck does not have a driver listed yet: The No. 0 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet.

Tanner Gray, who won the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock championship, makes his Truck Series debut in the No. 15 DGR-Crosley Toyota.

Sam Mayer makes his second start of the season in the No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet.

Danny Bohn makes his first career Truck Series start in the No. 30 On Point Motorsports Toyota.

Carson Ware makes his first career Truck Series start in the No. 33 Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet.

Dawson Cram makes his first Truck Series start of the season and fourth of his career in the No. 34 Reaume Brothers Racing Toyota.

Jeb Burton makes his second Truck Series start of the season in the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet.

Also, one week after clinching the ARCA championship, Christian Eckes will make his seventh Truck start of the season, once again piloting the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

Johnny Sauter won this race last fall. Brett Moffitt was second and Myatt Snider was third.

Kyle Busch won this year’s spring race, followed by Ben Rhodes and Brett Moffitt.

Click here for the entry list.

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