NASCAR viewer’s guide for Kansas Speedway


The first round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs continues this weekend at Kansas Speedway after a historic start to the championship run last Sunday at Darlington Raceway.

Erik Jones won the Southern 500 at Darlington, becoming the first non-playoff driver to win the playoff opening race since the debut of the NASCAR postseason in 2004.

A fourth-place run at Darlington boosted Joey Logano into the playoff standings lead, and a last-place finish dropped Chase Elliott from first to ninth.

Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET) will be televised by the USA Network. Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races also are scheduled at Kansas.

Playoff Recipe: Scrambled, Well

When the checkered flag fell Sunday night at Darlington Raceway, the playoff standings immediately looked very different from their appearance at the beginning of the race.

For example, 15 of the 16 drivers in the standings changed position. Kyle Busch, who was 11th entering the race and 11th after the race, was the only driver who stayed in the same spot.

MORE: NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

The biggest mover was Chase Elliott, whose last-place finish at Darlington dropped him eight spots to ninth in the standings. Kevin Harvick dropped seven places to 16th. Christopher Bell showed the biggest gain, moving from 10th to fourth.

Drivers below the cutoff line entering Kansas are Austin Cindric (-2), Austin Dillon (-4), Chase Briscoe (-10) and Harvick (-13).

Ringing The Bell?

Christopher Bell is upwardly mobile as the playoffs move on to Kansas.

He gained six positions in the standings with a fifth-place run at Darlington and trails only Joey Logano, William Byron and Denny Hamlin on the playoff leaderboard. One of three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers in the playoffs, Bell is making a serious run at a first championship.

Bell’s 15 top-10 finishes this year are the most of all JGR drivers. He has finished in the top five in eight races, including four of the past eight, and that run includes a win at New Hampshire. That victory is the only win for a Toyota driver in the past 13 races.

Bell has three top-10 runs in the past four races at Kansas. His best career finish at the track is a fifth in May.

Can Elliott Rebound?

Chase Elliott had very little to say Sunday night after he pounded the wall early in the race and failed to finish, recording a last-place run.

He suddenly dropped from the peak to the valley, slipping eight positions from first to ninth in the point standings.

MORE: NASCAR working on fire issue

Is a rebound likely at Kansas? Elliott has one career win at the 1.5-mile oval, scoring it in October 2018. He finished 29th in the May race at Kansas. He was running sixth on lap 196 when a flat tire sent him into a spin in Turn 3.

In last October’s race, Elliott finished second to Kyle Larson.

He has six finishes of sixth or better in the past eight races at Kansas.

Entry lists

Thirty-six drivers are entered for Sunday’s Cup race. Landon Cassill, Noah Gragson and JJ Yeley will be joining Cup regulars.

Kansas Cup entry list

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for Saturday’s Xfinity race. Cup regular Ross Chastain is on the list.

Kansas Xfinity entry list

The Truck entry list contains 38 entries, meaning two will miss the race.

Kansas Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 9

Forecast: Sunny. High of 87.

  • 3 – 3:30 p.m. — Truck Series practice (FS2)
  • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying (FS2)
  • 5:05 – 5:35 p.m. — Xfinity Series practice (USA Network)
  • 5:35 – 6:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)
  • 7:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (134 laps, 201 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, Sept. 10

Forecast: Partly cloudy. Slight chance of a shower. High of 86.

  • 12:05 – 12:50 p.m. — Cup Series practice (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:50 – 2 p.m. — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (200 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Sept. 11

Forecast: Partly cloudy in the afternoon. High of 70. Chance of rain 24% at the start of the race.

  • 3 p.m. — Cup Series race (267 laps, 400 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.