Chase Elliott exudes cool confidence heading into turbulent Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Chase Elliott rarely gets riled up, whether it is because of the genes passed from his father Bill or a lifetime in racing and seeing the ups and downs that can happen.

So finishing last at Dover a week after winning at the Roval didn’t phase him. He also didn’t let the engine failure at Dover bother him because the moment he laments his place in the standings — seven points out of the final transfer spot — he can tell himself “Well, we should have won more races in the regular season and it wouldn’t matter.”

It’s that mindset that keeps him calm heading into Sunday’s playoff Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC) even as there could be much turmoil on the track. In few other races do drivers anticipate being in a crash. A multi-car accident could devastate or help a driver’s playoff chances. It just depends on who is collected.

Elliott won’t let the fear of the unknown at Talladega bother him. 

“I think as you get put in bad positions throughout the playoffs, really and truly your situation just becomes clearer as to what you have to do,” Elliott said Friday. “Especially, when you get in the hole early, it just becomes very evident that you have to go do a really good job the next two weeks to make it through.

“Obviously, we don’t want our season to be over after Kansas, so we have a lot of emphasis on these next two weeks. I’m going to do the best job I can do, my guys are going to do the best job they can do, and we’ll see where it ends up.”

Whether Elliott, who won here in April, is in a must-win position is dependent on what happens to other playoff drivers.

“I don’t think we’re in a position where we have to win right now to make it through this round,” Elliott said. “I think we’re really close. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather win than be stressing about stage points. But I don’t think we’re to that point yet. If we can have a good day on Sunday, I think that would really help. Who knows, we’ll see.”

Asked about having a positive attitude entering this weekend, Elliott notes: “I think we all have a level of just tolerating it.

“When you hit something really hard multiple times, you don’t enjoy that and nobody does. At the same time, that’s part of it and I don’t really know what you do about that. We’re going really fast, we’re in an enclosed circuit and there are walls on the outside and inside. The odds of you hitting something at some point I’d say are pretty good.

“I just think we have to take it for what it is and like I said, it’s a toss-up whether you make it through the race on Sunday. But somebody is going to make it through the event, somebody is going to get the win, and somebody is going to get the points that come along with it. You would certainly rather that be your team than watch somebody else. I just think you have to keep that in mind as much as you may not enjoy it, that’s the reality of it.”

Today’s Las Vegas Cup race: Start time, lineup and more

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One down and only 35 to go.

With the Daytona 500 now in the record books, the NASCAR Cup Series moves on to its second race of the season – and the start of the three-race western swing.

Can Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin make it back-to-back wins to start the 2020 season?

How about defending Cup Series champ Kyle Busch, looking for his second career Cup win in his hometown? What about older brother Kurt Busch, still searching for his first career hometown Cup triumph?

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic “Miracle” hockey team will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:46 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 11:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. The invocation will be given by Motor Racing Outreach chaplain Billy Mauldin at 3:30 p.m. The National Anthem will be performed by Carnell Johnson at 3:31 p.m., followed by a flyover by four F-16 “Vipers” from the 57th Wing Adversary Tactics Group from Nellis Air Force Base at 3:32 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and can also be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The Wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 68 degrees and a 0% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Joey Logano won this race last year, followed by teammate Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Martin Truex Jr. won last September’s playoff race, followed by Kevin Harvick and Keselowski.

TO THE REAR: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell will start from the rear after L1 level infractions in qualifying inspection. Garrett Smithley will also start from the rear due to three inspections failures.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

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Rain postpones Las Vegas Xfinity race to 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday

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Rain has forced the conclusion of today’s Xfinity Series race in Las Vegas to be postponed until Sunday after the Cup Series race at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will resume on FS2.

The race had been red flagged since late Saturday afternoon, with the race paused on Lap 51 of 200, only six laps after Chase Briscoe won Stage 1.

The top 10 is currently scored as:

  1. Joe Graf Jr. (stayed out of pits)
  2. Chase Briscoe
  3. Austin Cindric
  4. Ross Chastain
  5. Brandon Jones
  6. Justin Allgaier
  7. Michael Annett
  8. Justin Haley
  9. Harrison Burton
  10. Brett Moffitt

Kevin Harvick, Gander RV CEO put up $100K bounty to beat Kyle Busch in trucks

Kyle Busch
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Kevin Harvick and Gander RV & Outdoors CEO Marcus Lemonis issued a bounty poster in tweet form Saturday.

WANTED: A full-time Cup Series driver to beat Kyle Busch in any of his remaining four Truck Series starts this year (without wrecking him).

REWARD: $50,000 each from Harvick and Lemonis.

The bounty comes the night after Busch won his seventh consecutive Truck Series race, which includes all five starts he made in 2019.

Saturday’s race was his first of five in the trucks this season. He’ll be back in the series March 14 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, March 27 at Texas Motor Speedway and May 30 at Kansas Speedway.

Busch won at Atlanta and Texas last year.

Busch himself didn’t seem too impressed with the bounty when told about it in the media center.

So what is in it for Busch?

If no full-time Cup driver is able to beat Busch in those four races, the bounty will be given to the Bundle of Joy Fund, the organization founded by Kyle and Samantha Busch that helps couples who require fertility treatments to conceive.

Lemonis wasn’t done there. Later Saturday night, he put another proposition out into the Twitterverse. If Fox Sports moved any of the races to prime time, he’d increase the purse among the top-five finishers to $250,000.

Needless to say, the original bounty got the attention of a few drivers, including Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin.

Disclaimer on the following tweet by Hamlin: As noted above, none of Busch’s remaining four truck races are at Richmond Raceway. But…..Richmond is the site of the first Triple Truck Challenge race on April 18.

Richmond’s track president, Dennis Bickmeier chimed in with his thoughts.

Las Vegas Xfinity race under red flag for rain on Lap 51

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Today’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is under its second rain delay and its first since the start of race.

The race was paused by a red flag on Lap 51, shortly after the end of Stage 1.

The race is official after the end of Stage 2 on Lap 90.

Joe Graf Jr is listed as the leader after he stayed out during pit stops.

The top five is completed by Stage 1 winner Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Brandon Jones.

The green flag for the race was originally scheduled for 4:16 p.m. ET. The finally waved at 5:48 p.m. ET.

The rain forced the cancellation of qualifying for Cup and Xfinity. The field was set by last year’s owner’s points.

If the race resumes tonight, coverage will be on FS2.

Check back for more.