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Brad Keselowski wins Cup playoff race at Richmond

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Brad Keselowski said this week that his team’s “expectations going into Richmond are really high.” He showed what he meant Saturday night, winning the Cup playoff race at Richmond Raceway to move into the second round.

Keselowski had reason to look forward to this race. He was in the same car that he won with at New Hampshire in August, a race he dominated.

“Man, this thing was awesome,” Keselowski told NBCSN after his fourth win of the season.

Keselowski said he wants this car for the championship finale in Phoenix.

Keselowski’s Ford was too strong for others to overcome with various pit strategies in the middle race of the opening round of the playoffs. He led 192 of the 400 laps, including the final 48.

“We knew this was gonna be a really big pit strategy race, but we had the speed, we had the strategy,” Keselowski said. “This team today did it all.”

MORE: Race results, driver points report 

Keselowski joins Kevin Harvick in the second round of the playoffs. Harvick advanced with last week’s Southern 500 win.

Keselowski’s win came a few hours after Team Penske teammate Will Power won the NTT IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio.

Martin Truex Jr. finished second despite missing pit road during a green-flag stop in the first half of the race. Joey Logano placed third. Austin Dillon was fourth despite a pit road speeding penalty and missing pit road with less than 70 laps to go. Chase Elliott completed the top five.

Kyle Busch, who had to start at the rear because his car failed inspection twice before the race, finished sixth.

Clint Bowyer holds the final transfer spot to the second round going into next weekend’s cutoff race at Bristol. He is three points ahead of William Byron and eight points ahead of Cole Custer. Matt DiBenedetto trails Bowyer by 25 points. Ryan Blaney trails Bowyer by 27 points.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Dillon followed his runner-up finish at Darlington with a fourth-place finish at Richmond. This is the first time in his career he’s scored back-to-back top-five finishes. … Runner-up Martin Truex Jr. has finished in the top four in nine of the last 10 races. … Alex Bowman placed ninth, marking his fourth consecutive race he’s finished in the top 10, a career high. … Denny Hamlin secured a spot in the second round on points with his 12th-place finish.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Blaney finished 19th. He’s never finished better than 17th in nine Richmond starts. … Matt DiBenedetto struggled all race and finished 17th.

NOTABLE: The only cautions were for the competition caution and the two stage breaks.

NEXT RACE: The series races Sept. 19 at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) in the final race of the first round. This race will cut the playoff field from 16 to 12 drivers.

GMS Racing, Brett Moffitt to honor Jimmie Johnson with special scheme

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GMS Racing and sponsor Plan B Sales have created a special paint scheme to honor seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on championship weekend in November at Phoenix Raceway.

Brett Moffitt, the 2018 Truck Series champion, will pilot the the specially adorned truck at Phoenix.

“Brett has been a part of the Plan B family and a great ambassador for our company over the years,” said Brent Powell, owner of Plan B Sales in a statement. “Last year we partnered with Brett and GMS for the Phoenix race, but this year is different with it being the season finale and Jimmie’s final (full-time Cup) weekend. It truly is an honor for us to showcase this throwback for Jimmie and hopefully see Brett clinch his second championship in our truck.”

Said Moffitt of Johnson in a statement: “I have looked up to him, leaned on him and had the utmost respect for everything he has done for our sport. This is the coolest paint scheme I’ve had in my career because of how much respect and admiration I have for Jimmie. I’m rooting for him to go out on top, and maybe we’ll both get the chance to celebrate a championship in Phoenix later this year.”

Johnson has announced this will be his final full-time Cup season. He drove a Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar in a July 28 test on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Johnson has expressed a desire to race different vehicles after this season.

 

Brickyard 400 weekend schedule for NASCAR; TV, live stream info

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This weekend will mark the first doubleheader for the NASCAR Cup Series and NTT IndyCar Series as they both compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making the Brickyard 400 weekend schedule a busy one (Sunday, 4 pm ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app).

They’ll be joined by the Xfinity Series, which will hold its first race on the IMS road course today (3 pm ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app) after the IndyCar race. The series will get two practice sessions before Saturday’s race, the first practice sessions for any NASCAR series since the sport returned in May.

The weekend culminates Sunday with the Cup Series’ Brickyard 400.

All three races will air on NBC. You can stream the Xinfity race here. You can stream the Cup race here.

RELATED: Brickyard 400 entry lists

For Saturday, wunderground.com forecasts partly cloudy skies, a high of 90 degrees and a 24% chance of rain for the start of the Xfinity race.

For Sunday, the forecast is for partly cloudy skies, a high of 91 degrees and a 14% chance of rain for the start of the Cup race.

Here’s the full Brickyard 400 weekend schedule with TV and radio info:

(All times are Eastern)

Brickyard 400 schedule: Thursday, July 2

4 – 4:30 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (electronic communication)

4 – 8 p.m.- IndyCar haulers enter (screening and equipment upload)

Brickyard 400 schedule: Friday, July 3

6 a.m. – 9 p.m. – IndyCar garage open

7:30 – 9:30 a.m. – Xfinity haulers enters (screening in progress)

10 a.m. – IndyCar team manager/crew chief meeting

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Xfinity garage access screening in progress

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – First IndyCar practice (NBC Gold)

1:30 – 2:25 p.m. – First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

4:30 – 5:45 p.m. – IndyCar qualifying (NBCSN)

5 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

Brickyard 400 weekend schedule: Saturday, July 4

6 a.m. – IndyCar garage opens

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Xfinity garage access screening in progress

9 – 9:30 a.m. – IndyCar warm-up and pit stop practice

10:30 a.m. – IndyCar driver, team manager and spotter meeting

11:30 a.m. – IndyCar engine prime and final adjustments

11:45 a.m – IndyCar drivers report to cars

Noon – IndyCar race; 80 laps/207.32 miles (NBC, IMS Radio Network)

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

3 p.m. – Xfinity Series; 62 laps/151.22 miles (NBC, Performance Radio Network/IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

5 p.m. – Cup driver/crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers leave

6 – 9 p.m. – Track conversion to oval layout

8 – 10 p.m. – Cup haulers enter

Brickyard 400 weekend schedule: Sunday, July 5

9 a.m. – 3 p.m. – Cup garage access screening in progress

2 – 3 p.m. – Cup engine prime and final adjustments (pit road)

3:50 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

4 p.m. – Brickyard 400; 160 laps/400 miles (NBC, PRN/IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

8:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit

Indy says no need to alter barrier Brad Keselowski struck in 2019 race

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials told NBC Sports on Friday that they reviewed Brad Keselowski’s crash in last year’s Cup race but that no changes were made to the tire barrier or angled wall despite Keselowski’s concerns.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway stated to NBC Sports:

“IMS officials, in conjunction with NASCAR and IndyCar, reviewed the incident involving Brad Keselowski in last year’s race and determined that the existing safety features of that area meet all standards, while also allowing proper and expedient conversion of the circuit from road course to oval configuration for events like this historic tripleheader this weekend. The incident was also reviewed with industry experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. They reviewed video footage and data of the incident. They concluded that the design and installation provided safety coverage for oval traffic and allows the track to be a multi-usage facility.”

MORE: Crew chief strategies will be key at Indy

MORE: Jimmie Johnson open opens the door to racing at the Indianapolis 500

Keselowski crashed after contact with Erik Jones sent him into the outside wall in Turn 2. Keselowski’s car then slid across the track toward an angled wall protected by tire barriers. The right side of Keselowski’s car slammed into the tire barrier and came to rest propped up by the tire barrier, forcing Keselowski to slide out of the car to the ground.

The wall separates the oval portion of the track from Turn 10 on the road course. It also was where safety vehicles were located.

 

Overhead shot of the area Brad Keselowski hit in the 2019 Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Keselowski’s car hit the tire barriers in the bottom right where the yellow construction vehicle is. The barriers protected the angled wall that was designed to keep cars from the oval going through the grass near Turn 10 of the track’s road course. Photo: NBC Sports

 

Keselowski expressed his displeasure with the angle of the wall after emerging from the infield care center last year.

 “There’s this spot on the wall with just an atrocious angle,” Keselowski told NBC Sports.

“I don’t know what that spot is for, but it does not need to be there. We found it. That’s how racing goes. You find the things and we found this. This track really was part of the safety revolution about 15, 20 years ago. I think it’s time for another.”

Keselowski said after last year’s race he talked to Doug Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway about the wall.

 

NASCAR’s Friday schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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NASCAR’s historic weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins today as both the Xfinity Series and IndyCar take to the track’s road course to prepare for their races Saturday on NBC.

The Xfinity Series will hold two practice sessions. They are the first practice sessions for any NASCAR national series since the sport returned in May.

wunderground.com forecasts partly cloudy skies, a high 92 degrees and a 10% chance of rain for the day.

Here’s today’s full schedule with TV info:

(All times are Eastern)

6 a.m. – 9 p.m. – IndyCar garage open

7:30 – 9:30 a.m. – Xfinity haulers enters (screening in progress)

10 a.m. – IndyCar team manager/crew chief meeting

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Xfinity garage access screening in progress

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – IndyCar practice (NBC Gold)

1:30 – 2:25 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

4:30 – 5:45 p.m. – IndyCar qualifying (NBCSN)

5 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting (electronic communication)