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Six drivers earn season-best finishes at Las Vegas

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Racing is a zero sum game. For one driver to succeed, another must fail.

The opposite is also true. When one driver fails, it creates an opportunity for another to succeed.

Heavy attrition in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas last week opened to door for six drivers to score season-best results.

12th – Regan Smith: In his second start in relief for Kasey Kahne, Smith earned his 30th career top 15 in his 215th Cup start. This was his best finish since finishing third at Pocono in 2016 (19 races for the part-time driver).

16th – Corey LaJoie: This was the second time this season LaJoie finished on the lead lap. He also went the full distance at Michigan in June’s rain-shortened race and finished 27th.

17th – JJ Yeley: He scored another top 20 (18th) earlier in the year at Daytona in the Coke Zero 400. This was Yeley’s best finish on a non-restrictor plate track since he finished third at New Hampshire in June 2008.

18th – Landon Cassill: In 20 starts in 2018, this is Cassill’s first time to finish on the lead lap. His previous best finish this year was a 20th at Bristol in April.

26th – Kyle Weatherman: In six Cup starts, this is Weatherman’s first top-30 finish. He came close to cracking the top 30 in his last two starts, however, with 31st-place results at Pocono and New Hampshire.

28th – BJ McLeod: This is McLeod’s best career finish in 20 Cup starts. It comes on the heels of another top-30 finish the previous week at Indy (30th).

Two other drivers earned their second-best finish of 2018.

Playoff contender Aric Almirola took full advantage of problems for his championship rivals and finished sixth – moving up to ninth in the standings from 14th. His best finish this year was third at New Hampshire in July.

Coming off his first career Xfinity win, Ross Chastain finished 20th at Las Vegas. His best Cup finish of 2018 was an 18th at Texas – another race with heavy attrition.

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Today’s Cup race at Las Vegas: Start time, lineup and more

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The playoffs start today at Las Vegas. This is the first playoff race at Las Vegas and the first time that the track has hosted two races in a season. All 16 playoff drivers will jockey for the win to advance to the second round.

Here are the details for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Las Vegas native and NASCAR driver Brendan Gaughan will give the command to start engines at 3:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 9:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:20 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Sierra Black will perform the anthem at 3:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins with NASCAR America at 1:30 p.m. on NBCSN, followed by Countdown to Green at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard on goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 95 degrees and a zero percent chance of showers at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: This is the inaugural race. Kevin Harvick won in March after starting on the outside of the front row.

TO THE REAR: Austin Dillon (unapproved body modification) and BJ McLeod (rear gear change).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup at Las Vegas.

Christopher Bell wins pole for Truck race at Bristol

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Christopher Bell climbed into the No. 51 to sub for an ailing Harrison Burton and qualified on the pole for tonight’s Truck race at Bristol Motor Speedway with a speed of 125.839 mph.

He beat Ben Rhodes (125.765 mph) by .020 seconds.

John Hunter Nemechek (125.518), Johnny Sauter (125.273) and Grant Enfinger (124.533) rounded out the top five.

In round one of qualification, Matt Crafton and Norm Benning made contact, doing damage to the right front fender of the Crafton’s No. 88. He posted the 17th best time in that session. Crafton failed to advance to the final round and will line up 18th.

Gray Gaulding, Timothy Peters, BJ McLeod, Benning, and Jennifer Jo Cobb failed to qualify.

NASCAR penalizes seven Cup teams practice time at Michigan

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Six teams will be docked practice time in Saturday’s first practice session, and one team will lose time in the final practice session at Michigan International Speedway, NASCAR announced.

Martin Truex Jr. will lose 15 minutes of practice in the first session for being late to pre-race inspection last weekend at Watkins Glen.

Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman each will lose 15 minutes in the first practice Saturday because they didn’t come to a complete stop in the inner loop during last weekend’s practice at Watkins Glen.

Bubba Wallace and BJ McLeod will miss 15 minutes in the first practice Saturday because their cars were late to pre-qualifying inspection Friday at Michigan.

First Cup practice Saturday is from 8:35 – 9:25 a.m. ET on CNBC.

Michael McDowell will be docked 15 minutes of the final practice Saturday because his car failed pre-qualifying inspection twice Friday at Michigan.

Final Cup practice Saturday is from 11:30 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports App and online.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Michigan, Mid-Ohio

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Cup and Camping World Truck Series teams are at Michigan International Speedway. The Xfinity Series is at the Mid-Ohio  Sports Car Course. Here are the preliminary entry lists for each series:

Cup – Consumers Energy 400 (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

Forty cars are on the entry list for the Michigan Cup race. Garrett Smithley is listed in the No. 7 car for Premium Motorsports. Blake Jones is listed in the No. 23 car for BK Racing. BJ McLeod is listed in the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing. Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for MBM. Corey LaJoie is in the No. 72 for TriStar Motorsports. Jeffrey Earnhardt is in the No. 96 for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Gray Gaulding is listed in the No. 99 for StarCom Racing.

Click here for Cup entry list

Xfinity – Rock N Roll Tequila 170 (2:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Forty cars are entered for the event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Katherine Legge will make her NASCAR debut, driving the No. 15 for JD Motorsports. Brendan Gaughan will drive the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing. Spencer Gallagher is back in the No. 23 for GMS Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

Truck – Corrigan Oil 200 (1 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

Thirty-four trucks are entered for the event at Michigan International Speedway.

Click here for Truck entry list