Austin Dillon wins Texas Cup race, earns playoff spot

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Austin Dillon used pit strategy and strong restarts late to win Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, marking the second consecutive weekend a driver outside a playoff spot won and secured a spot in the postseason.

Dillon’s third career Cup victory snapped an 88-race winless streak. It was his first win since the 2018 Daytona 500.

Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Tyler Reddick finished second. He was followed by Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

MORE: Race results

MORE: What drivers said after the race 

MORE: Brad Keselowski raises point of if drivers should be demoted from Cup

Dillon gained track position with a two-tire pit stop on Lap 307 and restarted second to Reddick, who took no tires.

“I thought more guys would do two (tires),” said Dillon’s crew chief, Justin Alexander. “I honestly was not expecting to be starting on the front row for that first restart.”

Said Dillon of Alexander deciding to change only two left-side tires on that last pit stop: “The call was the win.”

Dillon took the lead from Reddick on Lap 312 of the 334-lap race. Dillon held off the field on the final two restarts, the final one with two laps to go.

Afterward, Dillon went to the infield care center for treatment. The race was held in 90-plus degree weather and NBCSN’s coverage showed the temperature inside cars above 135 degrees. Dillon said in his winner’s interview with NBCSN: “I’m out of breath right now. I’m about to go down. I need a drink.”

Dillon said he received IVs after the race.

The race was stopped after Lap 219 for a crash that included Martin Truex Jr., Chris Buescher, Cole Custer, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Bubba Wallace, William Byron, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Ryan Preece. Cole, Truex and Buescher suffered the most damage. Kyle Busch went through the infield grass and had minor damage. Harvick and Kurt Busch each had minor fender damage. The crash started when Ryan Blaney got  loose in Turn 4 and bottled up the field as it came down the frontstretch.

“It’s always one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of,” Custer said on NBCSN about being eliminated in the crash a week after winning his first Cup race.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Richard Childress Racing went 1-2 with Austin Dillon winning and Tyler Reddick finishing second. This was RCR’s first 1-2 finish in a Cup race since 2011 at Talladega Superspeedway when Clint Bowyer won and Jeff Burton was second) … Joey Logano’s third-place finish was his best result since he won at Phoenix in March, the last Cup race before the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. … Kyle Busch’s fourth-place finish was his best result since his runner-up finish at Atlanta in early June. … Aric Almirola overcame brake problems and a penalty for violating the blend line to finish 10th, marking his seventh consecutive top-10 result.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Cole Custer, who scored his first Cup win last weekend at Kentucky, was collected in the multi-car crash that brought out the red flag after Lap 219 and finished 39th in the 40-car field. … Jimmie Johnson hit the wall and then was penalized two laps for too many crew members servicing the car while it was under the Damaged Vehicle Policy.

NOTABLE: Ryan Blaney led 150 laps. He’s led at least 100 laps in a race seven times in his career but failed to win all seven of those races.

NEXT: The series races Thursday night at Kansas Speedway (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

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



Kurt Busch win capped off big racing weekend for family

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After hopping from the door of his No. 1 Chevrolet Sunday night, Kurt Busch let out a primal scream.

The source of his emotion?

“20 years of agony and defeat” at the his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, had been replaced by “triumph.”

After the fortunate timing of a caution and pit strategy Sunday night, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver led the final 26 laps and visited LVMS’ Victory Lane for the first time, a day after his brother Kyle Busch experienced a special win.

There was plenty more for the 42-year-old driver to celebrate. He’d entered the Round of 12 as the last driver in the playoff standings. But with his first win in 46 races, Busch became the first driver to plant in his flag in the Round of 8.

But the Las Vegas native’s focus was on the 1.5-mile track, which he’d seen evolve from a “desert gravel pit” into the site of two NASCAR race weekends each year.

“This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built … when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I’m like, ‘Man, there’s going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars (and race there). And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother (Kyle Busch) to make it in racing.

“For me it was a hobby. I never knew I’d get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas, took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.”

Busch made his first NASCAR start on the Las Vegas oval in 2001 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Between then and Sunday, he won 31 Cup races, the 2004 championship and the 2017 Daytona 500.

But his home track eluded him until his 21st year competing on the sport’s top circuit.

Busch said Sunday’s win is “right there underneath” his Daytona win and the championship.

“Any time you win, it’s special,” Busch said. “But to do it in front of my hometown crowd and nobody was there (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and all the people that I see every time I come to Vegas and I get to say thank you and I can’t right now, that’s the hardest part. So this one is easily ramping up to being my third most favorite win ever.

“Right now it’s my favorite because it’s here, it’s Vegas, and I have so many people to thank. They know they helped me, and they know who they are, and it just all started with mom and dad taking me to the racetrack right here at the Bullring in Las Vegas.”

The Busch family got to celebrate more than one win over the weekend.

The night before Kurt’s Vegas breakthrough, a third generation racer got his first taste of victory.

Kyle and Samantha Busch’s son, Brexton, won his first karting race and celebrated with his parents in Victory Lane.

“It’s so much fun to watch him and just to see his excitement and how much he enjoys going to the race track and being with is friends,” Kyle Busch said after his sixth-place finish Sunday. “It’s three generations worth, I guess. My dad (Tom) did it, myself and Kurt and now him. It’s pretty fun to just be out there. My dad is kind of the truck driver, the team manager, the crew chief, the lead mechanic and all that stuff on his kart.

“He’s got a big task at hand in order to get it all ready to go and get us to the race track every week. It’s been fun to see (Brexton) and to see how excited he was when he was able to win and beat the other competition that was out there and to see his joy. I told him, ‘Whatever that feeling is, whatever you’re feeling, however that sits in you, that’s feasible, that’s possible a lot more often than just one time. So don’t rest on just getting one, we gotta go out there and fight for more.'”

Kurt Busch wasn’t there for his nephew’s win, but he got all the details from his sister-in-law as they flew to Las Vegas.

“It definitely felt like a generational shift was happening,” he said. “But maybe not. Maybe not. This old guy has still got it going on.”