Power Rankings after Miami: Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney tied at No. 1


Ties in NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings are not unusual. But a tie at the top of the heap is rare.

Yet that’s the case this week after the NASCAR weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as close friends Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney are tied for No. 1, as voted upon by NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers.

Elliott made the biggest climb, improving from seventh last week, while Blaney was third last week. Also of note, Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his first race start in nearly 10 months, scored eighth in this week’s rankings after finishing fifth in Saturday’s Xfinity race.

Kevin Harvick suffered the biggest drop, falling from No. 1 to tied for ninth this week.

Here’s how this week’s rankings look:

(tie) 1. Chase Elliott (27 points): Scored top-five finishes at Martinsville and Miami, giving him four top-five results, including a win, in the last six races. It could have been more if not for the crash with Joey Logano while racing for the lead late at Bristol. Last week: seventh.

(tie) 1. Ryan Blaney (27 points): With five top-five finishes in his last six starts, Blaney is knocking on victory’s door. He won the last Cup race at Talladega last fall. Can history repeat Sunday? Last week: third.

3. Brad Keselowski (24 points): Leads the Cup Series with seven top-10 finishes (all consecutive), including wins in Coca-Cola 600 and at Bristol. Last week: fourth.

4. Denny Hamlin (22 points): Ran poorly at Martinsville and then came back to win Miami. Three times he’s finished 20th or worse this season. In each of the races that followed those poor results, he has a win, a runner-up and a fifth-place finish. Last week: ninth.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (17 points): Finished 12th at Miami but probably could have wound up with a top 10 if he would have a break or two more. Last week: sixth.

6. Chase Briscoe (13 points): Started Saturday’s Xfinity race six laps down after ballast fell out of his car on the pace laps. He recovered to finish on the lead lap in seventh. The next day, without his suspended crew chief, Briscoe won the Xfinity race. Quite a weekend. Last week: unranked.

7. Kyle Busch (12 points): Had an up-and-down weekend. Won Truck race easily but continues to struggle in pursuit of first Cup win of season. Last week: second.

8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (6 points): Hadn’t raced since last August at Darlington but made it look easy at Miami. A few twists of fate and he might have pulled off the win. Instead, he finished fifth. Hinted that this could be his last NASCAR race. Last week: unranked.

(tie) 9. Kevin Harvick (5 points): Martinsville and Miami were forgettable. It’s on to Talladega. Last week: first.

(tie) 9. Harrison Burton (5 points): Continues to have tremendous rookie season in the Xfinity Series, including win and eighth-place finish at Homestead. Has not finished lower than ninth in any race this season. Last week: unranked.

Others receiving votes: Kurt Busch (4 points), Austin Dillon (3 points), William Byron (2 points)

COTA Xfinity starting lineup: AJ Allmendinger takes pole


AJ Allmendinger, who won this race a year ago, will start on the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas.

Allmendinger earned the pole with a lap of 92.173 mph Friday on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Xfinity starting lineup

He will be joined on the front row Sammy Smith (91.827 mph).
Ty Gibbs (91.665) will start third. Sheldon Creed (91.652) qualified fourth. Parker Kligerman (91.195) will start fifth.

Cup driver William Byron will start ninth. Byron’s time was disallowed for cutting the esses. Cole Custer, who will start 10th, didn’t make a lap in the final round of qualifying.

Cup driver Aric Almirola (91.269) qualified 13th. Truck Series racer Carson Hocevar (90.669) will start 17th. Alex Labbe (90.476) will start 23rd. He’s filling in for Josh Williams, who is serving a one-race suspension for parking his car at the start/finish line of last weekend’s race at Atlanta.

COTA Truck starting lineup: Ross Chastain wins pole


Ross Chastain will start on the pole for Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas.

Chastain earned the top starting spot in Friday’s qualifying with a lap of 91.877 mph. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (91.490 mph).

More: COTA Truck starting lineup

Ty Majeski qualified third with a lap of 91.225 mph. Rookie Nick Sanchez (90.993) will start fourth, and Christian Eckes (90.937) will complete the top five.

Alex Bowman failed to make the race. Bowman had a flat right front on his qualifying lap.

Tyler Reddick leads Cup practice at COTA


Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in Friday’s Cup practice at Circuit of the Americas.

Reddick, who won two road course races last season, topped the field in his 23XI Racing Toyota with a lap of 92.989 mph. Kyle Larson was next, posting a lap of 92.618 mph around the 3.41-mile road course.

MORE: COTA Cup practice results

Ross Chastain, who won this race a year ago, was third on the speed chart in practice with a lap of 92.520 mph. He was followed by Kyle Busch (92.498 mph) and Daniel Suarez (92.461 mph).

Jordan Taylor, subbing for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, was 10th on the speed chart in practice after a lap of 92.404 mph.

Former world champion Jenson Button, driving for Rick Ware Racing, was 28th in practice with a lap of 91.759 mph. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, driving the Project 91 car for Trackhouse Racing, was 32nd in practice after a lap of 91.413 mph.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, driving in his first race for Legacy Motor Club since the Daytona 500, was 36th in practice after a lap of 91.072 mph. IndyCar driver Conor Daly was last among the 39 cars in practice with a lap of 90.095 mph.

Cup qualifying is Saturday. The series races Sunday.


Saturday COTA Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


Austin Hill, the dominant driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series through the early weeks of the season, will be looking for his first Xfinity road course win Saturday.

Hill has won three of the season’s first five races, scoring victories at Daytona, Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Hill has been close in previous road course runs. He has a second at COTA, a third at Portland, a fourth at Road America and a ninth at Indianapolis.

MORE: Dr. Diandra takes a look at top Cup road course drivers

Kyle Busch and AJ Allmendinger own wins in the previous Xfinity races at COTA.

Allmendinger and three other Cup Series regulars — Aric Almirola, William Byron and Ty Gibbs — are scheduled to race in the Xfinity event.

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled at 5:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 2 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Jordan Thiessen of Pit Boss Grills at 5 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Payton Keller at 5:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 46 laps (156 miles) on the 3.41-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 14. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 5 p.m. … NASCAR RaceDay airs at 4 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at goprn.com. …SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. Temperature of 82 at race time. No chance of rain.

LAST TIME: AJ Allmendinger won last March’s Xfinity race at COTA. Austin Hill was two seconds behind in second place. Cole Custer finished third.