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Today’s Cup playoff race at Texas: Start time, lineup and more

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After the memorable finish at Martinsville last weekend, the Cup playoffs continue today with the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

There are just two races left to determine the championship four at Miami.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s playoff race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: U.S. Army Maj. Ed Pulido (Retired) 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 334 laps (501 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 85. Stage 2 ends on Lap 170.

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

MOMENT OF SILENCE: Will be held at 3 p.m. for Mary Hulman George, Chairman of the Board Emeritus of Hulman & Company, which owns and operates Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NATIONAL ANTHEMAir National Guard Band of the Southwest will perform the anthem at 3:01 p.m.

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

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for sunny skies with a high of 65 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch led 116 laps in the spring and beat Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray. Harvick won this race last year over Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin.

TO THE REAR: Martin Truex Jr. (engine change), Daniel Suarez (engine change), Chris Buescher (engine change), Matt DiBenedetto (transmission change), Aric Almirola (body adjustment)

PRE-RACE INSPECTION: William Byron will start from the rear and a crew member will ejected for the race after his car failed inspection three times. Jimmie Johnson will also start from the rear for failing inspection.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup

Martin Truex Jr. to start at rear for engine change

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Martin Truex Jr. will start at the rear of the field for the second consecutive weekend after his Furniture Row Racing team made an engine change Saturday.

Truex started at the rear last weekend at Martinsville after failing post-qualifying inspection. Truex will give up his 13th starting spot for Sunday’s race (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Truex was third on the speed chart in the final practice session with a top lap of 191.844 mph. He ranked 14th in the best average over 10 consecutive laps in the session.

Truex is one of four drivers going to the rear this weekend.

Daniel Suarez, who qualified 19th, will go to the rear for an engine change. Both Suarez and Truex have Toyota horsepower.

Chris Buescher, who qualified 21st, will go to the rear for an engine change. This team is using a Hendrick Motorsports engine this weekend only. JTG Daugherty Racing runs Earnhardt Childress Racing engines but will switch to Hendrick horsepower next season.

Matt DiBenedetto, who qualified 31st, will go to the rear for a transmission change.

 

JTG Daugherty Racing reveals changes for this weekend, next year

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Changes are taking place this weekend and next year at JTG Daugherty Racing.

Ernie Cope, JTG’s competition director, confirmed to NBC Sports Friday that Chris Buescher’s car has a Hendrick Motorsports engine this weekend.

The organization uses Earnhardt Childress Racing engines — AJ Allmendinger’s car has an ECR engine in its car this weekend — but will switch to Hendrick engines next year.

The team will have a Hendrick engine in its car only this weekend before switching over next season, Cope said.

“The reason we did it is just because the wiring and everything is different,” Cope told NBC Sports of getting acclimated to the differences with the Hendrick engines. “We just didn’t want to go into Atlanta (next year) not knowing … it was worth doing. We found a lot of little things that we needed to get. It was definitely worthwhile doing. Now we’re going to go into the winter time fix all the little bugs instead of next spring.”

Also, Cope confirmed to NBC Sports the team’s driver-crew chief pairings for next year.

Trent Owens will go back to the No. 37 team and be Buescher’s crew chief next season. Tristan Smith will be rookie Ryan Preece’s crew chief next year.

“We’re basically putting Chris’ team back together,” Cope said.

What drivers said after the Cup race at Martinsville

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Joey Logano — Winner: “That was just a hard great race. NASCAR racing at its finest. It was a lot of bumper banging towards the end and a hard race. You know, we didn’t wreck each other. We bumped into each other a lot and that is what this sport was built on. I know a lot of fans out there aren’t too happy about it but it is racing and that is what NASCAR is about and what stock car racing is. I am just glad we finally won here. It has been so long and we have had so many chances and it feels like sweet redemption after everything that has happened here.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “I knew they were going to get into each other. They were leaning on each other pretty good there for a couple laps. It seemed like whoever was on the outside could kind of pinch the inside guy off. I knew it was coming, but I just hoped it would be a little more dramatic.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 3rd: “I was next to him for six laps. I never knocked him out of the way. We were going to race hard for it in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors for me to pass him. He just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way. That’s short track racing, but what goes around comes around.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 4th: “I think that hopefully it was covered well. Everybody – there was a battle for the lead, battle for second, battle for fifth, fourth, third and everywhere. We fought hard for what we had. We were racing (Martin) Truex there obviously. I saw the front two kind of get at it. It wouldn’t surprise me that teammates wreck each other, so we were hoping that that would happen so we could get up there and have a shot to race for the win, so I kind of held Truex a little bit up more than maybe I should have.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 5th: “Our car the last run got really tight in the center and I was really losing quite a bit of rolling time and that is what was allowing cars to get to me and then it was really hard to exit with cars right behind me as I lost air on the spoiler. A big challenge trying to hold everyone off.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 6th: “We had as solid of a day as you could have on the 41 Monster Energy Ford. Thanks to all our guys at SHR. I have never had a car that would run this consistent throughout the whole race at Martinsville. I am really happy with our effort. I needed a different outcome with the winner but I am really glad that Joey won and has his ticket to Homestead, it just makes our road tougher. We finished fifth in the first stage, fifth in the second stage and sixth at the end and we probably lost points today. That is what the playoffs are about. We had to be a fuzz better today and I don’t even know where.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 7th: “Yeah, (the car) was just really bad, really poor execution on our qualifying effort and better in the race, but not near where we needed to be. So, I’m sure we are in a hole and probably going to have to win one of these next two races.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 8th: “We had a good car all day. Seems like we had some inconsistent tires that had us chasing the balance a little bit. Good run for the E-Z-Go Chevrolet. No sure about the speeding penalty. My lights were on so don’t know if we just missed our margin or what? Overall it was a good day. Speeding penalty took us out of the game, but good strategy got us back in the game.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 10th: “As the sun started to go down our speed was definitely better. Everybody just kind of hung in there on our Busch Beer Ford. Our goal is always to come here and kind of just not defeat ourselves with a horrible finish. We had a good day. A decent day. Not a great day. Lost a few spots there at the end racing Newman. His car gets as wide as his neck there sometimes. You know, it is Martinsville and everybody is racing hard and we wound up finishing 10th and we go to Texas and hopefully have a good day.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 11th: “We just missed it today. The car was just off and we had one run where we made an adjustment and a set of tires but the car was really fast. We drove from 15th up to fifth and thought we had a really good shot there. We only made one more minor tweak and the car just lost its handle again. I don’t know. I am just frustrated. I thought we had a really good Smithfield Ford Fusion going into today and thought we could capitalize on an opportunity here at Martinsville. For whatever reason all of our cars were off a little bit. We didn’t have the speed and grip that we had here in the spring race.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 13th: “It was a good Martinsville for our Busch’s Chili Beans Camaro ZL1. I’m proud of this group. That was a good effort start to finish. Martinsville has been hit and miss for me, I’ve had good runs and I’ve had bad ones, and this is a good one here. So, just proud of the effort. From the time we unloaded this was a good car. We had good feel to it, we qualified well, and we executed well. We got a little bit behind there in the middle of the race. We were able to come back from it and just a good job. It’s fun when you can run like that at these short tracks it’s a good time. It looks like a short track car, i’s a little beat up, but all in good fun.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 14th: “It was a solid day for our Kroger ClickList team. As the track changed, it really changed the handling of our Camaro ZL1, but overall, we had a fast car. We just couldn’t seem to get the track position we needed. I love racing at Martinsville Speedway and I’m proud of the hard work the guys put in all weekend to get us something we could really race with.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 15th: “We have been building on this thing and getting better and better each week and Martinsville is a place we knew that we could get more and more competitive and kind of jump ourselves. We really executed well we had a great race car the GEICO Camaro was great. I’m proud of the effort and I’m proud of the way we are building these Camaros to get better and better each week. So, hopefully we can roll this momentum into Texas and finish out the year strong.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 15th: “It was a really frustrating day. The car wasn’t at all like it was in practice, and it got away from us. It’s a bummer to have Nationwide’s last race go like that, but we will learn from it and move on.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 37th: “Just blew an engine out there, and ended our day early. But it wasn’t much of a day anyway. I hate it for First Data. They sponsor the event, and I have yet to do anything special for them here. Just keep working hard and try to figure this place out some day.”

Scott Graves to be Ryan Newman’s crew chief at Roush Fenway Racing

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Roush Fenway Racing confirmed Tuesday that Scott Graves will be Ryan Newman‘s crew chief next season on the No. 6 Cup team.

Graves had been the crew chief for Daniel Suarez this season until leaving Joe Gibbs Racing Oct. 9.

Graves joined Roush Fenway Racing as an engineer in 2006. He was a crew chief there from 2012-15. He did four races as an Xfinity crew chief in 2012, working with a variety of drivers. In 2013, he served as Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s crew chief for three Cup races late in the season. Graves was Stenhouse’s crew chief in Cup for the 2013 season. Graves returned to the Xfinity Series and was the crew chief for Chris Buescher in 2014-15. They won the championship in 2015.

Graves left Roush for Joe Gibbs Racing and was Suarez’s crew chief in Xfinity in 2016 when he won the championship. Graves started 2017 with JGR’s Xfintiy program before moving up to be Suarez’s Cup crew chief early in the season.

“We are very pleased to bring Scott back to the fold,” said team co-owner Jack Roush in a statement from the team. “Scott is an exceptional talent atop the pit box and he has done an outstanding job throughout his career – with multiple championship campaigns attesting to that.

“He brings a strong engineering background to the table and we are excited about the opportunity to pair him with Ryan Newman going into the 2019 season.”

Roush Fenway Racing announced Sept. 22 that Newman would join the team in 2019.

Matt Puccia is the crew chief on the No. 6 car this season. Roush Fenway Racing stated that details on Puccia’s role are being worked out.