Denny Hamlin charges to Saturday Dover Cup victory

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Denny Hamlin passed teammate Martin Truex Jr. for the lead with nine laps to go and went on to win Saturday’s Cup race at Dover International Speedway.

The victory is Hamlin’s sixth of the year, tying him with Kevin Harvick for the most this season. Hamlin and Harvick have combined to win three of the last four Cup races.

“I’ve been running down the leaders these last few weeks, but I haven’t been able to get there,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “We just didn’t control that restart there and we just had to battle back. We had to go back and get it. I was able to work the top line there a little bit to get the momentum. It looked like our car was just a little bit better at moving around to different lines.”

Hamlin swept both stages in scoring his first career Cup victory at Dover.

MORE: Race results and driver points report

MORE: Jimmie Johnson takes over final playoff spot from William Byron

Truex’s runner-up finish ended his streak of five consecutive third-place finishes, a million to one shot. The odds were 23.5 million to one that Truex would finish third in six consecutive races.

Kyle Busch finished third, giving Joe Gibbs Racing a 1-2-3 finish. Busch was followed by Harvick and Chase Elliott, who won last week’s race on the Daytona road course.

Jimmie Johnson placed seventh and moved ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron for what would be the final playoff spot with two races left in the regular season. Johnson leads Byron by three points. Byron lost 28 points to Johnson on Saturday.

Johnson was solid at the track he’s won 11 times before. He scored seven stage points.

Byron struggled with his car’s handling and had a pit strategy gamble fail and eventually put him two laps down, ruining his race. He finished three laps down in 28th.

The series races again at Dover on Sunday, completing the doubleheader weekend. The race is at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chase Elliott’s fifth-place finish was his fifth top 10 in a row. … Jimmie Johnson moved into a playoff spot with his seventh-place finish. This marks the third time this season he’s had back-to-back top-10 finishes. He’s had three consecutive top 10s once this season. … Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s 10th-place finish is his first top 10 in the last 11 races.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: William Byron entered the race 25 points ahead of Jimmie Johnson for the final playoff spo and left outside the playoff picture after a 28th-place finish. … Kurt Busch crashed early and finished last in the 40-car field. The incident was triggered by contact from Erik Jones, who apologized on NBCSN after the race for the incident.

NOTABLE: Denny Hamlin said after the race that the goal for this season is 10 wins. He’s 60% of the way threre.

NEXT: Sunday at Dover (4 p.m. ET on NBCS)

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