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NASCAR weekend scheduled at Atlanta postponed

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UPDATE: At 11:38 a.m. ET Friday, NASCAR announced it is postponing the Atlanta race weekend and next weekend’s races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Previous post follows.

While fans will be prohibited from attending any of this weekend’s action at Atlanta Motor Speedway due to concerns about COVID-19, NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck series teams will continue with a business-as-usual approach in terms of preparation and racing.

Today will see all three series take part in two practice sessions apiece. Qualifying for all three series takes place Saturday, with the Xfinity and Truck series holding their races. Cup teams race Sunday.

For Friday, forecasts a high of 71 degrees and a 50% chance of rain.

Here is today’s schedule with TV and radio info:

(All times are Eastern)

11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. – Truck garage open

11:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

12:30 – 9 p.m. – Cup garage open

1:35 – 2:25 p.m. – Truck practice (no TV)

2:35 – 3:25 p.m. – Xfinity practice (FS1)

3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1)

4:32 – 4:57 p.m. – Final Truck practice (FS1)

5:02 – 5:27 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)

5:35 – 6:25 p.m. – Final Cup practice (FS1)

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Chase Elliott takes Phoenix Cup pole from Kevin Harvick

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Chase Elliott took the pole from Kevin Harvick for Sunday’s Cup race at Phoenix Raceway.

Harvick looked like he would win the pole with a speed of 137.878 mph until Elliott’s 138.116 mph effort came late in qualifying Saturday afternoon. It’s the ninth career pole of Elliott’s Cup career.

“Great to get a pole,” Elliott told FS1. “It’s always a good thing when you can put down a fast lap. Hopefully tomorrow goes good. That’s always the challenge. We’ll see and I’m looking forward to it.”

Harvick will start alongside Elliott on the front row of the 38-car race day field.

Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin was third fastest (137.841 mph), followed by Kyle Larson (137.604) and Ryan Blaney (137.457).

Sixth through 10th were Aric Almirola (137.457), Kurt Busch (137.420), last week’s winner Alex Bowman (137.321), Matt DiBenedetto (137.289) and Kyle Busch (137.247).

Cup qualifying results

Sunday’s race begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised on Fox. The race will also be broadcast on the radio on the Motor Racing Network (also and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Tyler Reddick is top Cup rookie so far — but it hasn’t been easy

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Like most NASCAR Cup rookies, Tyler Reddick knew it would be a difficult transition from success in the Xfinity Series to similar success in the top echelon Cup Series.

Reddick has a bit of an edge on many of his fellow Cup rookies this season, having won the last two Xfinity Series championships.

But for a guy who is used to wins or at least top-five finishes, moving up to the Cup level has had its challenges not just for Reddick but also all other members of the 2020 Cup rookie class. Still, Reddick has made the upgrade more successful than his counterparts, being the top finishing rookie in each of the last two races, including just barely missing a top-10 showing (he finished 11th) last Sunday at Fontana.

“It’s a huge jump,” Reddick said Friday during a media session at Phoenix Raceway. “I feel like what would have been battling for top two or three in the Xfinity side is what you’re dealing with when you’re just trying to get inside the top 15 (in Cup).

“(There are) a lot of good drivers. It’s pretty crazy. You have a lot of guys who are very successful that you’re racing around.

“It’s just tough. It’s just part of it. But it’s been a lot of fun and makes the racing fun and it’s really cool to race those guys. But still, even guys like them, they have bad days and we just have to capitalize on it and make the most of those days and try to get good finishes.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Phoenix, Reddick – at 23rd place – is the highest-ranked member of the Cup rookie class of 2020. John Hunter Nemechek is right behind in 24th, Cole Custer is 26th, Brennan Poole is 29th, Christopher Bell is 32nd and Quin Houff is 34th.

Breaking down how those six rookies have finished in the first three races:

* Daytona: Nemechek (11th), Poole (16th), Bell (21st), Reddick (28th), Custer (37th), Houff (39th).

* Las Vegas: Reddick (18th), Custer (19th), Nemechek (24th), Poole (29th), Houff (32nd) and Bell (33rd).

* Fontana: Reddick (11th), Custer (18th), Nemechek (25th), Poole (32nd), Houff (35th) and Bell (last place, 38th).

This Sunday, Reddick is looking to continue his upward climb in the final results , but knows that will be easier said than done.

“You’re probably going to out-run some good cars on days even when you aren’t running that good yourself,” Reddick said. “That just goes to show how tough it is.”

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Jimmie Johnson tops final Cup practice at Las Vegas

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Jimmie Johnson was the fastest driver in Friday’s second and final NASCAR Cup practice of the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The seven-time Cup champion hasn’t won a race since 2017, but showed plenty of speed, pacing the 38 cars that took to the 1.5-mile track, clocking a best speed of 179.432 mph.

Johnson and his Chevrolet were followed by five Fords.

Clint Bowyer, who was second-fastest in the first practice earlier in the day, was once again second-fast in the final session at 179.271 mph.

Aric Almirola, who was fastest in the first practice, was third-fastest in the final session at 179.170 mph.

Rounding out the top-5 were Kevin Harvick (179.015 mph) and Matt DiBenedetto (178.814 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Ross Chastain (178.660 mph), who will be filling in for the injured Ryan Newman in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400, followed by Kyle Larson (178.424), Ryan Blaney (178.359), John Hunter Nemechek (178.259) and Alex Bowman (178.089).

Final Cup practice results

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Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer fastest in first Las Vegas Cup practice

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Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer paced the 37 cars that took part in the first of two NASCAR Cup practices Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Almirola was the fastest at 178.654 mph, followed by his teammate at 178.383 mph.

Third through fifth were Ty Dillon (178.071 mph), Joey Logano (178.042) and Alex Bowman (177.632).

Sixth through 10th were Matt DiBenedetto (177.491), Kurt Busch (177.223), Chase Elliott (177.194), Kyle Larson (177.165) and Ryan Blaney (176.980).

Toyotas uncharacteristically lagged around the 1.5-mile oval, with Martin Truex Jr. being the fastest of the brand at 14th (176.448 mph).

Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin was 25th (175.120 mph).

There will be one more practice session later today, from 7:30 – 8:20 p.m. ET, while qualifying for Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 will take place Saturday afternoon.

Friday’s first Cup practice results

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