Friday 5: High expectations follow teen Sam Mayer, just as he wants it

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As Sam Mayer prepares for his Xfinity Series debut Sunday at Pocono Raceway, the JR Motorsports driver is not afraid to share his lofty goals.

“Whenever I hear someone say, ‘You always want to underestimate something and then exceed your expectation,’ … you’re pretty much giving up before you get there,” he told NBC Sports.

“I don’t want to get to my expectations right away. I’m going to shoot for eight (Cup) championships and 201 race wins in the Cup Series because I want to break all the records in the world.

“So, I’m going to put all the expectations all the way out there — where it is borderline impossible to reach — and if I can’t get there, a close second is 150 wins and seven championships. … Even if you don’t get to your expectations, you’re still breaking a lot of records, you’re still making a lot of people proud, and you’re doing well.”

Those are gargantuan goals for a driver who doesn’t turn 18 until Saturday, making him eligible to compete in the series.

But Mayer isn’t like most competitors.

The son of a racer, who grew up running laps on a mini Road America go-kart course on the family’s Wisconsin property, Mayer is poised to continue the surge of young drivers changing the face of NASCAR. He’s had a contract with JR Motorsports to race in the Xfinity Series since September 2020 — nine months before he was eligible to compete. He’ll race a full season for JRM in 2022.

A youth movement that saw last year’s Cup champion (Chase Elliott, age 24), Xfinity champion (Austin Cindric, 22) and Camping World Truck Series champion (Sheldon Creed, 23) all in their 20s, continues this season.

  • Ten of 17 Cup races have been won by drivers in their 20s, led by 28-year-old Kyle Larson’s four victories.
  • Seven of 15 Xfinity races have been won by drivers in the their teens or 20s.
  • Eight of 11 Camping World Truck Series haves have been won by drivers in their 20s.

Scott Lagasse Jr., who has raced with and fielded TA2 cars in the Trans Am series for Mayer, is impressed with what he’s seen from the teenager.

“He’s special,” Lagasse told NBC Sports. “I think the sky’s the limit. He’s become almost like a little brother to me, and I’m pretty hard on him because he frankly is that special. He’s got all the ability in the world to go wherever he wants to go to. The cool thing for me is I’ve seen the work he’s willing to put in.”

With any quest for records comes the first step and the first victory.x

Mayer said on Wednesday’s NASCAR America MotorMouths that he is “expecting to win” any of his first three Xfinity starts in the No. 8 car for JRM. That car already has won this season with Josh Berry at Martinsville.

If Mayer wins in the next three races, he would become the youngest series winner, breaking Joey Logano’s record. Logano was 18 years, 21 days when he won the Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway in 2008.

“It’s special to be able to hold it,” Logano said of the record, “but you want to see progression in this sport, so in a ways, you hope it gets beat.”

Should Mayer win this year, he would join Ty Gibbs as the second 18-year-old to win in Xfinity this season. Gibbs has two victories, including a win in his first series start. Gibbs was 18 years, 4 months, 16 days when he won at the Daytona road course in February.

Gibbs’ wins fuel Mayer.

“If he’s beating all these guys in the Xfinity Series, I feel like I can go out and do the same,” Mayer told NBC Sports.

Meyer and Gibbs have raced against each other for years. They’ve often dueled at the front in ARCA races. Both are entered in Friday’s ARCA race at Pocono Raceway.

“We’ve kind of got a relationship where we’re like frenemies, I guess,” Mayer said. “We’re kind of buddies off the racetrack and then when on the racetrack, we race like hell to win.”

Asked about Mayer in a media session this week, Gibbs said: “Sam is a really great kid, and I’ve raced him a lot the last couple of years. I really don’t spend too much time with a lot of race car drivers, honestly. I’ve got three close friends that are racers. … He’s a great kid. I’ll race everybody the same, and I want to beat them all.”

So does Mayer, who started racing go-karts at age 4. Even then, Scott Mayer thought his son could be headed for success.

“It just seemed like it was meant to be, it was what he wanted to do,” Scott Mayer told NBC Sports. “I knew I would have the opportunity and resources through connections and funding to be able to do that. … Looking back, it was really naive of me to think that, but hindsight is also 20/20, it’s proven to be true. What I thought of him at 4, 5, 6, 10 years old, I see coming to fruition now.”

Scott Mayer points to those laps his son ran on the family’s half-mile go-kart course as a good training ground.

“It’s not cleaned every day, and it’s in the middle of a corn field, so there’s constantly dust and dirt blowing on it, so it’s always slippery,” Scott Mayer said. “That built car control for him.”

Sam Mayer says only once did he go flying off course, through the grass and into the corn field.

“My left foot got stuck underneath kind of the nose, and I missed the brake pedal and went shooting off into the corner and went probably like 100 yards into the corn,” Sam Mayer said. “It took probably about a half an hour to get the go-kart out. It was pretty bad. (The corn stalk) was pretty short. It was probably only about 3 feet tall.”

For many years, Sam Mayer focused on IndyCar racing, but he suddenly decided at age 11 he wanted to race in NASCAR. He can’t recall what led to the change, just that his drive became focused on stock cars. The decision shocked his father.

“He about started crying because he had no idea of what to do,” Sam Mayer said of his dad. “He had no connection in NASCAR. He did IndyCar for a while and he knew everyone in the sport. He was well on his way of making connections for me (in IndyCar).”

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 225 Practice
Sam Mayer finished sixth last month in the Camping World Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas, his most recent Truck race. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Scott Mayer consulted Colin Braun, a former NASCAR driver and teammate to Mayer in select NASCAR Grand Am races in 2012. Braun led them to Lorin Ranier, who has helped guide Mayer’s development.

One of the decisions was to have Sam Mayer race a Legend Car in the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That meant Sam and his dad flying from Wisconsin to Charlotte and back each week during the season.

Mayer went on to win the 2017 Young Lions championship at the U.S. Legends Asphalt Nationals in Las Vegas.

He claimed the 2019 and ’20 championships in the ARCA Menards Series East. He won in his seventh career Truck Series start, taking the checkered flag last year at Bristol Motor Speedway. That made him the second-youngest winner in series history. Later that night, he won the ARCA race at Bristol.

“This is truly what he wants and this is what he’s going to do, no question,” Scott Mayer said of his son’s desire for a racing career.

If there was any doubt, consider what Sam Mayer did last August.

Running third in a TA2 race at Road America, he was collected in a chain-reaction, multi-car crash. The fuel cell ruptured and fire quickly spread. A small burn mark remains on the back of his neck.

With a hairline fracture of his right wrist, he pulled the steering wheel off, lowered the window net and began to climb out as flames were around his car.

“The worst part about that was having to run through the flames on the track because gas was all over track,” he said.

A week later, he finished third in the ARCA race on the Daytona road course with the injured wrist.

The chance now to race with one of the top Xfinity teams is not lost on Mayer, who recently graduated from high school.

“I’m getting the opportunity,” he said, “and I just want to make the most out of it.”

2. Different philosophies

There was a time when car owner Rick Hendrick didn’t permit his drivers to race in other series, primarily sprint car racing, but his mindset has changed in recent years.

That’s allowed Kyle Larson to compete in mid-week events at short tracks throughout the country — just as he did this past week in two events in South Dakota. He is scheduled to run three sprint car races next week in Pennsylvania and one in Maryland.

“I basically told them, ‘If you get hurt, I got to put somebody in the car,’“ Hendrick said of his instructions to his drivers.

“I think as we get closer in the playoffs, I think we’ll slow some of it down. But (crew chief Cliff Daniels) and I have talked about it. It makes (Larson) better to drive all these different cars, especially those high-horsepower cars on dirt.”

Hendrick noted that improved safety measures in other series have made it easier to allow his drivers to compete beyond their Cup ride.

Larson isn’t the only Cup driver who will be racing a sprint car next week. Christopher Bell will drive in the same events with Larson on June 28-29.

Not every Cup team is as lenient about what drivers can race. Ryan Blaney said this week that he’d like to race other types of cars but is not allowed by Team Penske.

“If it was up to me, I would race a lot, I would do as much as I can,” Blaney said. “The way it’s worked out right now is that’s just not an option. I’m a racer, and I would love to race all kinds of series, whatever it is because seat time is seat time and it helps you become a better racer. Unfortunately, that’s just not in the cards right now. I wouldn’t mind definitely even like Xfinity and Truck races, but that’s just, like I said, not in the cards.”

Travis Geisler, competition director at Team Penske, says safety is a key reason for why the organization limits what its drivers can do.

“You look at risk level for your driver, who is an asset for your company,” he said. “It’s somebody that represents all of your sponsors. You have your whole program built around your drivers, and I think when you see them in situations where you don’t really have control over, I think that become uncomfortable for people. 

“When you look at going and jumping in other people’s cars, different things, you don’t necessarily have the same kind of oversight to their safety equipment that you have when it’s one of our cars and we’ve prepared it, we know everything about it. We know all the safety stuff that NASCAR puts into their races, so I would say that’s probably what I see as being the biggest limiter to it.”

Geisler noted that there are cases where the organization has allowed its drivers to race in other series. That happened earlier this year. Both Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano raced on dirt before competing in the Cup race on dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“That’s why you saw Brad Keselowski go race a dirt late model,” Geisler said. “You saw Joey Logano go race at Volusia (Speedway Park in Florida) and Bristol in a modified. We were going to race dirt and nobody knew how to do that, so, ‘OK, we have a performance advantage here, let’s go do it,’ and everybody was on board. 

“That was something everybody supported, and I think that applied to our series, so it made sense. Going and racing otherwise, I think that’s evaluated on probably a case-by-case basis.”

3. Seeking to close the gap

After each of its three drivers won within the first 10 Cup races this season, the fortunes for Team Penske have soured.

Since May, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney have combined for four top-five finishes in points races (all three drivers placed in the top five in the NASCAR All-Star Race).

While Team Penske’s drivers have struggled, Hendrick Motorsports has won the last five points races and the NASCAR All-Star Race.

“Certainly, you get tired of going to the track every weekend not feeling like you have the opportunity to go out and dominate and win a race,” said Travis Geisler, competition director for Team Penske. “That’s what we go there for and that’s not the case right now. 

“It’s not necessarily panic, but the realities of where you are and how much ground you need to cover to close the gap.”

How to do that? Geisler was asked if a team focuses on themselves or looks at what the Hendrick cars are doing.

“I think primarily, you have to focus internally because that’s what you can control,” he said. “You can’t control what Hendrick has and what they’re working on.

“But you certainly compare against the best and the SMT tools that we have to compare the on-track performance, where you’re getting beat, where they’re able to make more speed, whether it’s entry, exit, middle, short, medium, long-term runs. … The best you can do when you’re trying to copy somebody is be just a little bit worse than them. You’re never gonna be as good as somebody that you try to copy, so the only thing you can do is be the best version of yourself.”

Yet, for the challenges Hendrick cars present to the rest of the field, they also provide hope. Especially as one looks back to last season when Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the regular season.

“I don’t think you would have looked at (Elliott) as the guy you would have said was gonna go win the championship as the playoffs started to unfold,” Geisler said. “But he had some heroics and won the last two races and ends up the champion, so not panic but definitely realistic on the ground that needs to get covered here over the next couple months and then you’ve got to be there when it counts at the end.”

4. Avoiding a repeat of last year

Tyler Reddick enters this weekend holding the 15th of 16 playoff spots. While he has a 49-point lead on Kurt Busch, the first driver outside a playoff spot, Reddick knows how much this weekend’s two races can change a driver’s playoff fortunes.

All Reddick has to do is look at what happened last year at Pocono.

He entered the 2020 Pocono doubleheader holding the final playoff spot by one point. After the track’s two races, Reddick was outside a playoff spot by 26 points.

A crash during the Saturday Pocono race was part of a miserable weekend last year for Tyler Reddick. (Photo: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports)

Reddick scored nine points — out of a maximum 120 — in the two races. A crash in the first race and a mechanical issue in the second ruined his weekend. He missed the playoffs last year.

It is the memory of that weekend that is with Reddick as the series returns to Pocono.

“You got to make sure you have a smooth weekend,” he said. “If you have a really bad day on Saturday and don’t get any points, it’s really going to set you back going into Sunday. … You got to realize every risky decision and everything that you could do on Saturday that could be a risk potentially affects what happens ultimately on Sunday as well.”

Reddick also said that doesn’t mean he can be conservative all the time.

“Pocono is the type of race where I feel like racing hard on restarts is important, but the way that you win that race or get a good points day out of it is picking and choosing battles and executing the race strategy perfectly,” he said.

“You don’t want to get caught up racing a guy for one point, one spot, and lose 1.5-2 seconds battling someone and lose touch with the rest of the field ahead of you.

“It totally changes up your strategy and what options you have available to you to try and maybe get ahead of them in a pit cycle; whatever it might be. You have to race smart. That’s just the type of race that Pocono is with the package we have. You have to race a little bit smarter than hard.”

5. Key strategy at Pocono 

With Pocono Raceway so large that teams can pit under green and not lose a lap, pit strategy could play a key role in both Cup races this weekend (3 p.m. ET Saturday and 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday, both on NBCSN).

In both of last year’s races, the winner pitted three laps before the end of stage 1, giving up stage points. Kevin Harvick used that strategy to win the Saturday race. Denny Hamlin used that strategy to win the Sunday race. That win tied Hamlin with Jeff Gordon with most victories at Pocono at six.

Winning stages is not typically a route the race winner takes at Pocono. Only two of 16 stage winners there won the race. Two of the last eight stage winners at Pocono finished the race in the top 10. Three of the last five Pocono winners did not lead until past the halfway mark.

Harvick and Hamlin were among five drivers who finished in the top 10 in both Pocono races last year. The others were Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer.

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Kurt Busch ‘hopeful’ he can return from concussion this year

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kurt Busch said Tuesday he remains “hopeful” he will recover from a concussion in time to race again before the end of the NASCAR Cup season.

The 2004 Cup champion has been sidelined since he crashed July 23 during qualifying at Pocono Raceway. He’s so far missed 10 races – both Ty Gibbs and Bubba Wallace have driven the No. 45 Toyota for 23XI Racing since Busch was injured – and withdrew his eligibility to participate in the playoffs.

“I’m doing good. Each week is better progress and I feel good and I don’t know when I will be back, but time has been the challenge. Father Time is the one in charge on this one,” Busch said.

There are six races remaining this season and 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin said the team has contingency plans for Busch’s recovery and is not pressuring the 44-year-old to get back in the car. Busch is under contract at 23XI through next season with an option for 2024.

Hamlin said this past weekend at Texas that Busch has a doctor’s visit scheduled in early October that could reveal more about if Busch can return this season.

Busch has attended a variety of events to stimulate his recovery and enjoyed an evening at the rodeo over the weekend. But his visit to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday for its 10th annual honoring of Breast Cancer Awareness Month was Busch’s first official appearance as a NASCAR driver since his injury.

He attended for the second consecutive year as part of his “Window of Hope” program in which all the window nets on the Cup cars will be pink meshing in next week’s race on The Roval at Charlotte. Busch credited the Toyota Performance Center at TRD’s North Carolina headquarters for helping his recovery and getting him out to events again.

“I feel hopeful. I know I have more doctor visits and distance to go, and I keep pushing each week,” Busch said. “And TPC, Toyota Performance Center, has been a group of angels with the workouts and the vestibular workouts, different nutrition as well and different supplements and things to help everything rebalance with my vision, my hearing. Just my overall balance in general.”

He said his vision is nearly 20/20 in one eye, but his other eye has been lagging behind in recovery. Busch also said he wasn’t sure why he was injured in what appeared to be a routine backing of his car into the wall during a spin in qualifying.

NASCAR this year introduced its Next Gen car that was designed to cut costs and level the playing field, but the safety of the spec car has been under fire since Busch’s crash. Drivers have complained they feel the impact much more in crashes than they did in the old car, and a rash of blown tires and broken parts has plagued the first four races of the playoffs.

Busch said his concussion “is something I never knew would happen, as far as injury” and likened his health battle to that of the breast cancer survivors who aided him in painting the pit road walls at Charlotte pink for next week’s race.

“Each situation is different. It’s similar to a breast cancer survivor. Not every story is the same, not every injury is the same,” Busch said. “It’s not like a broken arm and then you get the cast taken off and can go bench press 300 pounds. It’s a process. I don’t know what journey I’m on, but I’m going to keep pushing.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin returns to first place

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Four races into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs and drivers who are eligible to win the championship remain 0-for-4 in pursuit of race wins.

Tyler Reddick became winner No. 4 on that list Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

And now we go to Talladega Superspeedway, where there is potential for drivers from the far back end of the field to emerge victorious, given the impact of drafting and, more significantly, wrecking.

Sunday’s tire-exploding, wall-banging, car-wrestling craziness at Texas Motor Speedway jumbled the playoff standings again, and the same is true for the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, which see a new leader in Denny Hamlin.

MORE: Winners and losers at Texas

Hamlin could be a busy guy the rest of the season. His potential retaliation list grew Sunday with the addition of William Byron after they had a major disagreement.

Here’s how the rankings look in the middle of the Round of 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Denny Hamlin (No. 3 last week) — Despite everything — the tires, the wrecks, the hassle, the weather and a brouhaha with William Byron, Hamlin finished 10th Sunday and is sixth in the playoff standings entering Talladega. He has the best average finish — 5.75 — in the playoff races. Unless his “list” gets in the way, Hamlin might be ready to seriously challenge for his first championship.

2. Kyle Larson (No. 4 last week) — Larson led 19 laps at Texas and probably should have led more with one of the race’s best cars. Now fourth in points, he figures to be a factor over the final two weeks of the round.

3. Chase Elliott (No. 2 last week) — Elliott was not a happy camper after smashing the wall because of a tire issue and riding a flaming car to a halt. He finished 32nd.

4. Joey Logano (No. 6 last week) — Logano was chasing down winner Tyler Reddick in the closing laps at Texas. He jumps to first in the playoff standings and gains two spots in NBC’s rankings.

5. William Byron (No. 5 last week) — Byron might be No. 1 on Denny Hamlin’s list; here he slides in at No. 5.

6. Christopher Bell (No. 1 last week) — Bell had a rotten Sunday in Texas, crashing not once but twice with tire issues and finishing 34th, causing a precipitous drop on the rankings list.

7. Ross Chastain (No. 7 last week) — Chastain’s team played the tires and the cautions right and probably deserved better than a 13th-place finish Sunday.

8. Ryan Blaney (No. 8 last week) — Mr. Winless (except in All-Star dress) rolls on. A fourth-place run (and 29 laps led) Sunday keeps him relevant.

9. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe’s Texas run started poorly but ended nicely with a fifth-place run.

10. Tyler Reddick (unranked last week) — Reddick Sunday became the only driver not named Chase Elliott with more than two race wins this year. Now totaling three victories, he got his first oval win at Texas.

Dropped out: Alex Bowman (No. 10 last week).

Long: NASCAR needs to quickly correct officiating issue from Texas

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NASCAR’s admission that it did not see William Byron spin Denny Hamlin under caution during Sunday’s Cup playoff race is troubling.

With video evidence of impropriety and Hamlin’s team vigorously arguing for relief, there were enough reasons for series officials to take a closer look at putting Hamlin back to second before the race returned to green-flag conditions. Or some other remedy even after the race resumed. 

Add the lack of access series officials had to Byron’s in-car camera— something fans could readily see at NASCAR.com and the NASCAR Mobile App — and changes need to be made before this weekend’s playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

While NASCAR should make every effort to judge matters between drivers regardless of their playoff status, that it was two playoff drivers involved in an incident demanded greater attention. With three races per round, one misstep can mean the difference between advancing or being eliminated. 

Just as more is expected from drivers and teams in the playoffs, the same should be expected of officials.

“If we had seen that (contact) good enough to react to it in real time, which we should have, like no excuse there, there would probably have been two courses of action,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Sunday night. “One would have been to put Hamlin back where he was, or the other would be to have made William start in the back.”

Here is how the incident played out:

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash at 8:19 p.m. ET.

As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

About 90 seconds after the caution lights illuminated, the USA broadcast showed a replay from a low angle of Byron directly behind Hamlin’s car and apparent contact. 

Contact can happen in multiple ways. It can come from the lead car hitting the brakes and forcing the car behind to hit them, or it can come from the trailing car ramming into the car ahead. The first video replay did not make it clear what caused the contact, making it difficult for any official to rule one way or the other based solely on that.

This also is a time when NASCAR officials were monitoring safety vehicles on track, checking the lineup and making sure pit road was ready to be open. It’s something NASCAR does effortlessly much of the time. Just not this time. 

A different replay aired on USA 11 minutes, 16 seconds after the caution that showed Byron and Hamlin’s car together. That replay aired about a minute before the green flag waved at 8:31 p.m. ET. Throughout the caution, Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart argued that Hamlin should have restarted second.

But once the race resumed, the matter was over for NASCAR. Or so it seemed.

Three minutes after the green flag waved, the NASCAR Twitter account posted in-car video that showed Byron running into the back of Hamlin’s car while the caution was out. Such action is typically a penalty — often parking a driver for the rest of the race. Instead, Byron was allowed to continue and nothing was done during the rest of the event. 

After the race, Miller told reporters that series officials didn’t see the contact from Byron. 

“The cameras and the monitors that we’ve got, we dedicate them mostly to officiating and seeing our safety vehicles and how to dispatch them,” Miller said. “By the time we put all those cameras up (on the monitor in the control tower), we don’t have room for all of the in-car cameras to be monitored.

“If we would have had immediate access to (Byron)’s in-car camera, that would have helped us a lot, being able to find that quickly. That’s definitely one of the things we’re looking at.”

But it didn’t happen that way.

”By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green,” Miller said.

NASCAR didn’t act. By that time maybe it was too late to do so. But that’s also an issue. Shouldn’t the infraction be addressed immediately if it is clear what happened instead of days later? Shouldn’t officials have been provided with access to the in-car cameras so they could have seen Byron’s actions earlier and meted the proper punishment? Instead, Miller hinted at a possible penalty to Byron this week.

Miller didn’t reveal details but it wouldn’t be surprising to drop Byron in the field, costing him points. He’s 24 points from the cutline, so a penalty that drops him from seventh to 30th (the position ahead of Truex) could be logical and that would cost Byron 23 points, putting him near the cutline. 

Texas winner Tyler Reddick said something should have been done. He knows. He was parked in a 2014 Truck race at Pocono for wrecking German Quiroga in retaliation for an earlier incident.

“In William’s situation, whether he ran him over on accident or on purpose, there should be some sort of penalty for him on that side because he’s completely screwed someone’s race up, whether it was on purpose or not,” Reddick said. “I feel like there should be something done there.

“I’m sure (NASCAR will) make some sort of a decision. I’m sure there will be something they’ll address this week, updates, on NASCAR’s side. I’ll be curious to see what that is. We can’t really have this where you dump someone under caution, they go to the back and you don’t. That could potentially be an interesting situation in the future.”

Texas shuffles NASCAR Cup playoff standings

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Texas marked the fourth consecutive playoff race that the winner didn’t advance to the next round.

All three races in the first round were won by drivers not in the playoffs. Tyler Reddick won Sunday at Texas, a week after he failed to advance from the Round of 16 and was eliminated from title contention.

Texas did shake up the playoff standings. Chase Elliott entered as the points leader but a blown tire while leading sent his car into the wall, ending his race. He falls to the No. 8 spot, the final transfer position with two races left in this round. He’s tied with Daniel Suarez, but Suarez has the tiebreaker with a better finish this round.

Chase Briscoe, who scored only his second top 10 in the last 22 races, is the first driver outside a transfer spot. He’s four points behind Elliott and Suarez. Austin Cindric is 11 points out of the transfer spot. Christopher Bell is 29 points out of a transfer position. Alex Bowman is 30 points from the transfer line.

The series races Sunday at Talladega (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

 

XFINITY SERIES

Noah Gragson’s win at Texas moved him on to the next round. The win was his fourth in a row.

Ryan Sieg and Sam Mayer are tied for the final two transfer spots to the next round. Riley Herbst is one point behind them. Daniel Hemric is eight points from the final transfer spot. Brandon Jones is 13 points from the last transfer spot. Jeremy Clements is 29 points shy of the final transfer position.

The series races Saturday at Talladega (4 p.m. ET on USA Network).

 

 

CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

The series was off this past weekend but returns to the track Saturday at Talladega. Ty Majeski has advanced to the championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.