Cole Custer

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NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick’s out, Martin Truex Jr. back on top

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Even though he came in second at Dover, it was enough of a performance for NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers to put Martin Truex Jr. back on top in this week’s Power Rankings.

With 37 of a maximum 40 points, Truex is once again No. 1, while last week’s top vote-getter, Kevin Harvick, falls to third place (32 points). Dover winner Kyle Larson jumps to the No. 2 spot, up from eighth last week.

Also of note, based on earning three straight top 10s for the first time since 2016, Jimmie Johnson appears in the rankings heading into Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

The biggest drop this week came from Roval winner Chase Elliott, who went from No. 3 last week to unranked after Sunday’s race at Dover.

Here are this week’s rankings:

1. Martin Truex Jr. (37 points): Consistency is his middle name. Just keeps on scoring top fives. Returns to top spot in rankings after Kevin Harvick was No. 1 in last week’s rankings. Last week: Second.

2. Kyle Larson (34 points): Gets to enjoy a stress-free Talladega after his Dover win. No other driver will feel as good this weekend. But even though he broke a 75-race winless streak and earned a berth in the Round of 8, the pressure shifts to see him win again and make it to Miami. Last week: Eighth.

3. Kevin Harvick (32 points): Fourth-place run marks his 10th top 10 in the last 11 races. That includes three wins and seven top fives. Last week: First.

4. Alex Bowman (29 points): Another strong run for the No. 88. Could he be the dark horse in the playoffs? Last week: Fifth.

5. Denny Hamlin (24 points): Dominated early at Dover before finishing fifth, primarily because he was frustrated with Joey Logano. One cause for concern, however, is that he hasn’t had consecutive top 10s since August. Last week: Tied for 10th.

6. Kyle Busch (15 points): Didn’t have a good car this weekend, got caught speeding and finished sixth. Sometimes one has to just plow through a tough weekend and he did. But there is cause for concern. He’s managed just two top 10s in the first four playoff races. Last week: Tied for 10th.

7. Brad Keselowski (13 points): Failed to finish in the top five for the first time in the playoffs, capping off an unremarkable weekend for this team. Last week: Fourth.

8. Clint Bowyer (12 points): Earned sixth top 10 in the last seven races. Still plugging away. These playoffs haven’t been easy for him but he’s still alive. Last week: Sixth.

9. Jimmie Johnson (8 points): Earned a third straight top 10 for the first time this year. Even though Johnson hasn’t won in his last 89 starts, it’s clear this team is getting better. Last week: Unranked.

10. Matt DiBenedetto (6 points): Earned his seventh top 10 of the season. Given the right circumstances, potentially could steal a playoff race win. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Chase Elliott (4 points), William Byron (3 points), Cole Custer (3 points).

Xfinity results, points after Dover playoff elimination round

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With his win in Saturday’s final race of the first round of the Xfinity Series playoffs at Dover International Speedway, Cole Custer joins Christopher Bell as the only drivers to earn seven wins in the circuit this season.

What a way for Custer to head into the second round of the playoffs, which begin in two weeks at Kansas Speedway (the Xfinity Series enjoys next weekend off).

Custer led twice for 31 laps in the 200-lap event. Chase Briscoe, who won the pole but had to start the race from the back of the field for unapproved adjustments, rallied back to lead a race-high 71 laps before an engine misfire – which cropped up during qualifying – returned late in the race, relegating Briscoe to a still strong fifth-place finish.

In-between Custer and Briscoe in the top five finishing spots were Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric and Justin Haley.

The eight drivers that advanced to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs were Custer, Bell, Allgaier, Briscoe, Cindric, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson and Michael Annett. Failing to advance to Round 2 were Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Haley and Ryan Sieg.

Click here for the results.

Here are the points immediately after the race:

Click here for the points.

Here are the points after the reseeding for the second round. Christopher Bell leads.

Click here for reseeded points heading into the second round

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Pole sitter Briscoe to back of pack, Cindric to lead field to green for Xfinity elimination race

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Chase Briscoe may have won the pole, but when the green flag falls for this afternoon’s Xfinity Series final first round playoff race at Dover International Speedway, he’ll start from the back of the 38-car field.

Citing unapproved adjustments, NASCAR stripped Briscoe of the top spot less than an hour after he earned the pole.

Also being sent to the back of the field following Saturday’s qualifying was Michael Annett due to an engine change. That is a major development for Annett, as he currently holds the final transfer spot into the Round of 8 two weeks from now.

Before he was ordered to the back of the field, Briscoe was the fastest car in the field on the 1-mile, banked all-concrete oval with a speed of 157.246 mph — that, even though his Ford suffered a slight engine misfire.

“The motor was running, once we got going, it was under load and just missing a little bit,” Briscoe told NBCSN. “It’s probably something electrical, we think. It’s a testament to all the awesome motors at Roush Yates Engines. We weren’t even under full power and were able to get the pole, so that’s good.”

But a couple seconds later in the same interview, Briscoe kind of foretold what eventually happened to him: “Hopefully, we can find something little, like a wire loose or something and be able to start up front. But if not, we’ll probably have to go to the back with everything big picture-wise and make sure we don’t take ourselves out of the playoffs. We’ve got a good race car, but hopefully we can find out what our gremlin is and go from there. At least we’re now aware of it and it’s not a surprise when it does happen.”

Now, Cindric, who recorded a speed of 156.733 mph, will start from what had been Briscoe’s spot at the front of the field.

“Great to be on the front row, have a little speed and hopefully we can do everything we can to move on to the Round of 8 and maybe get some bonus points,” Cindric told NBCSN. “Making the Round of 8 is a box checked. … We’re happy where we are as a team but we’ve got to keep the momentum going.”

Cole Custer (156.685 mph) will be alongside Cindric on the front row.

Third through fifth are Tyler Reddick (156.461 mph), Harrison Burton (155.864 mph) and Christopher Bell (155.858).

Sixth through 10th are Noah Gragson (155.736), Justin Allgaier (155.649), Brandon Jones (155.555), Zane Smith (155.454) and Justin Haley (155.112).

Bell narrowly avoided disaster when he almost lost control of his car coming out of Turn 4 during his qualifying effort. Bell was able to rein the car back in. Several cars later, Tyler Reddick also got loose twice during his qualifying run but also managed to save it both times.

Today’s Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 race starts at 3 p.m. ET (televised on NBCSN, and on radio on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The four lowest-ranked playoff drivers after the race will be eliminated from advancing to the second round of the playoffs, which begin October 19 at Kansas Speedway.

Click here for full qualifying results.

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Results, Xfinity point standings after Richmond playoff race

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Christopher Bell led a career best 238 laps Friday night on his way to winning the Xfinity playoff opener at Richmond Raceway.

It is his seventh win of the year, matching his total from 2018.

The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

Bell secured a spot in the second round of the playoffs with his win.

The four drivers currently below the cutline for advancing to the next round are Brandon Jones (-15 points from cutline), Ryan Sieg (-19), Justin Haley (-20) and John Hunter Nemechek (-21).

Click here for the point standings.

Cole Custer wins pole for Las Vegas Xfinity race

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Cole Custer will start on the on the pole for today’s Xfinity Series regular-season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Custer claimed his series-leading sixth pole of the year with a speed of 181.372 mph around the 1.5-mile track. His six poles match his total from last season.

Christopher Bell qualified second (181.372 mph). The top five is completed by Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler will start eighth in his final NASCAR start.

Driving for Morgan Shepherd, Landon Cassill qualified ninth. It is the best start for a Shepherd Racing Ventures car since Charlotte in October 1995 when Shepherd started ninth.

Noah Gragson will start 36th and Alex Labbe will start 37th after they spun in Turn 4 on their qualifying runs. Gragson slid onto pit road and barely managed to keep his car from hitting the pit wall.

Ja Junior Avila had his qualifying time disallowed after he did not have a window in place on his car. He will start last.

Click here for the starting lineup.