Texas winners and losers


A look at the winners and losers coming out of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway…


Kyle Larson – He nearly destroyed his NASCAR career with one awful mistake. He then set out on a mission to grow as a human being and better understand the world around him. Now, after winning Sunday’s Round of 8 playoff opener, he has a shot to win the top prize in America’s most popular motorsport Nov. 7 in Phoenix.

William Byron – Finished second after being eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 12. Earned his fourth top-two finish of the season, including a win at Homestead. Also contributed to Hendrick Motorsports’ sixth 1-2 finish of the season. Led 55 laps Sunday, a career-best at Texas. He only led 24 laps over his previous six starts there.

Christopher Bell – Rallied from two laps down to finish third, a solid result after he was eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 12. He also finished third last fall at Texas for now-defunct Leavine Family Racing.

Brad Keselowski – Finished fourth in one of his better performances on 1.5-mile tracks this season. He only gained one point to the cutline (moving from -16 to -15), but was still optimistic about his hopes to make the Championship 4.

Ryan Blaney – Finished sixth and scored 17 critical stage points doing it. His 48 overall points scored was second-best among the playoff drivers on Sunday (winner Kyle Larson scored 58) and the most he’s scored in a race during these playoffs. Blaney started the Round of 8 one point above the cutline. He heads to this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway with a 17-point cushion.

Tyler Reddick – Was up for a top-five finish but contact from Kevin Harvick on the race’s next-to-last restart led to him nursing the No. 8 car home to a ninth-place finish. He’s posted three top-10 finishes in the last four races since being eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 16.


Martin Truex Jr. – The slightest of contact from Daniel Suarez was enough to send Truex hard into the Turn 4 wall with 15 laps to go. That relegated him to a 25th-place finish. A lack of pace all day meant no stage points as well. It adds up to a 22-point deficit to the cutline going to Kansas.

Joey Logano – The former Cup champion lost his engine with 36 laps to go and finished 30th. Logano also failed to score stage points, which left him at a 43-point deficit below the cutline. “I don’t know if it is a ‘holy crap’ moment – it is just a real letdown moment,” Logano said afterwards.

Alex Bowman – Swept up in a 15-car crash on the backstretch at Lap 31. While he was eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 12, the seven-race postseason run has seen him post an average finish of 21st and just one top-five finish. He later dubbed it the “Playoffs. From. Hell.” on social media.

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole


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


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.

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


The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.


Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?


Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.