Chase Elliott overcomes adversity again to conquer Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

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CONCORD, N.C. — Chase Elliott continued his mastery on NASCAR road courses Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, overcoming adversity to tame the tricky layout for the second consecutive season.

The last four road course races have been won by the Hendrick Motorsports driver, who rebounded from a loose wheel that necessitated an extra pit stop under green just before the halfway point of the 109-lap race.

Elliott rejoined the race in 36th, but the No. 9 Chevrolet driver quickly made up ground, just as he did last year after he crashed from the lead midway through this race.

He passed teammate Alex Bowman on Lap 92 and led the final 18 laps for his ninth career victory in NASCAR’s premier series. Five of those victories have been on road courses: twice at Watkins Glen International, twice at the Roval and the Daytona International Speedway road course in August.

“Just had another fast Camaro,” Elliott told NBC Sports pit reporter Dave Burns. “Road courses have been fortunate to us the last few trips, but we’ve just tried to get a little better every time and tweak on the small things.

“Just really proud of the effort and appreciate everybody at Hendrick and Chevrolet. It’s always special to win here at Charlotte with the shop across the street. Best way to get in the next round is to win. Hopefully we can do something with it.”

In his third victory of the season, Elliott finished more than 2 seconds ahead of Joey Logano. Erik Jones finished third, followed by Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

MORE: Race results 

Defending series champion Kyle Busch’s tough 2020 season continued as he was eliminated with a 30th-place finish.

Busch, who is in danger of going winless for the first time in his 16th Cup season, suffered a left-front flat tire after a Lap 49 restart in which he made contact with Clint Bowyer, who also was eliminated in the Round of 12 finale. (Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola also fell out of playoff contention.)

Busch rallied into the top five and took the lead by staying on track during a yellow flag on Lap 86. But he was passed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones (who was on fresh tires) a few laps after the final restart of a race that began with a damp 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course.

It was the first time in more than 60 years that a race in NASCAR’s premier series was run with rain tires. There have been multiple Xfinity races in which the tires have been used, and 22 drivers in Sunday’s race had experience with the rain tires in NASCAR.

In contrast to the Xfinity race a day earlier, the Cup race started without precipitation and a drying track, which made for much tamer racing than the standing water and puddles around the course Saturday.

But lap times until the first yellow still were more than 10 seconds slower than the pace of the first two Cup races held on the Roval in 2018-19 as the 38-car field was required to start on Goodyear’s grooved rain tires (which provide more traction but less speed).

Brad Keselowski went from third to first on the first lap Sunday, passing Elliott and Denny Hamlin as drivers tip-toed around a track that still had running water in many infield sections, particularly Turn 3.

By the Lap 10 competition caution, the track had dried enough that a couple of cars elected to pit for the faster slick tires. Over the next 10 laps under green in Stage 1, nearly the entire field had pitted for slicks except leader Bowyer, Truex and Kyle Busch.

All three stopped when John Hunter Nemechek brought out a caution flag on Lap 24, setting up a one-lap restart to end the first stage.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ty Dillon

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A (MOSTLY) GOOD RACE: In the same week he announced he was leaving driving for a TV career, Clint Bowyer led nine laps and spent most of the first two stages at the front. But a problem on a Lap 72 restart dropped his No. 14 Ford off the pace and out of contention. … Ty Dillon started 17th but made his presence felt early after pitting for slick tires during the first yellow. Lapping 4 seconds quicker than drivers on rain tires, he zoomed forward from 22nd to take his first lead on Lap 21 and winning Stage 1. He was involved in an incident that dropped him off the lead lap with 45 laps to go, but Dillon (who is hunting a ride next season) still proved he is a battler.

NEXT: The Cup Series will open the Round of 8 at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway on NBC.

Sunday Talladega Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS COVERAGE

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Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.