NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

NASCAR increases damaged vehicle repair time to 10 minutes

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NASCAR has increased the allowable repair time for race cars on pit road from six minutes to 10, according to a rule book update announced Wednesday afternoon.

Previously, if damaged cars could not be repaired within a six-minute window, the driver’s race ended because of what has been called the Damaged Vehicle Policy (DVP). That time has been expanded to 10 minutes for the playoffs, which are scheduled to begin Sunday with the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. ET on USA Network). The change will remain in effect for next season.

NASCAR said the change was made “in collaboration with race teams throughout the season following learnings on repair time of the Next Gen race car.”

NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s Motormouths program that Ryan Blaney‘s team had told him they had about 20 seconds left on their six-minute DVP clock last week at Daytona International Speedway when he left his pit. He stayed in the race and got the final playoff spot.

Numerous cars were damaged in a series of accidents in last Sunday’s race at Daytona International Speedway. Three were parked because of the DVP limit; 16 were eliminated by crashes.

Sixteen drivers will begin the search for the Cup championship Sunday.

 

NASCAR viewer’s guide: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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This NASCAR weekend will be one of the most unusual of the season.

Joining the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be the IndyCar Series, which will race in a 12:30 p.m. event Saturday.

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, while Cup drivers will run at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. All races will be on the IMS road course.

NBC will televise the Cup, Xfinity and IndyCar races.

Additionally, the Camping World Truck Series is scheduled to race at Indianapolis Raceway Park near IMS at 9 p.m. Friday. The race will be the first of seven in the Truck playoffs.

Chase Elliott will be looking for his fifth win of the Cup season after scoring the win Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

On the Indy road, again

The NASCAR Cup Series raced 27 times on the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval before moving to the track’s road course last year.

The Cup Series debuted at Indy in a rush of positive publicity in 1994 as stock cars raced on the bricks in a history-making move for both NASCAR and IMS. Some of the shine dimmed over the years, however, as the rectangular track proved a difficult surface for stock cars, and NASCAR moved the event to the road course last year. Some fans and drivers prefer the oval course, and improved competition at intermediate tracks this year has led to discussion about the possibility of returning the Cup race to the oval..

Last year’s race turned into a strange one. It was scheduled for 82 laps but was extended to 95 by a pair of overtime runs. Eleven cars plowed through and damaged curbing in Turn 6 on lap 78.

Chase Briscoe was running second on the second-overtime restart but cut through Turn 2 for a penalty. He said he wasn’t aware of the penalty when he knocked Denny Hamlin out of the lead in Turn 7 on that lap. AJ Allmendinger took the lead, led the last two laps — his only laps led that day — and scored an upset win.

Damages forced nine cars to the garage area.

As an example of what became a topsy-turvy day, Tyler Reddick won the first two stages but finished 21st.

Chasing Chase

Chase Elliott was almost apologetic Monday for winning Sunday’s Cup race at Pocono after apparent winner Denny Hamlin and second-place Kyle Busch were disqualified for infractions.

He didn’t want to celebrate someone else’s misfortune, Elliott said.

Nevertheless, Elliott’s season is worthy of grand celebration.

Consider:

  • He leads the regular-season point standings by 105.
  • Over the past six races, he has gained 96 points on the second-place driver.
  • He has four wins. No one else has more than two.
  • He has finished no lower than second in the past five races.
  • He has 25 playoff points, 11 more than the next closest driver (Ross Chastain).
  • And, just as a bonus, he won Saturday night’s SRX series race in Ohio.

With 15 races remaining, Elliott has a great shot at breaking his career-high number of wins – five in 2020.

The siren at the Dawsonville (Georgia) Pool Room, world headquarters for Elliott fans, might need replacing by the end of the year.

Five races to go

The final five weeks of the Cup regular season offer a patchwork of virtually every kind of race course.

After Sunday’s race on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the series moves to the fast 2-mile oval at Michigan, the short-track bumping of Richmond, another 2.45-mile road course at Watkins Glen and, for the finale, Daytona’s 2.5-mile superspeedway.

It’s a dizzying assortment for the drivers still searching for spots on the 16-driver playoff grid.

Entering the Indy race, 14 drivers have qualified for the playoff list with victories. Two spots are open. Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. hold those positions based on points, but a race victory by a non-winner in any of the remaining five regular-season races would leave only one spot open for a points qualifier.

Blaney is 105 points in front of the cutoff line, and Truex is 83.

Lurking below the line are Kevin Harvick (83 behind) and Aric Almirola (140 back).

Harvick and Truex, who might ultimately battle for the final playoff spot, have some great recent history in the chase for the championship.

Harvick won the title in 2014 and has followed with finishes of second, eighth, third, third, third, fifth and fifth. Truex was champion in 2017 and followed that performance with finishes of second, second, seventh and second.

Entry lists

Thirty-eight entries have been filed for Sunday’s Cup race.

Among the non-regulars on the list are former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kyvat (driving for Team Hezeberg), Joey Hand, Josh Bilicki and AJ Allmendinger.

Indianapolis Cup entry list

Forty-two drivers will be looking to fit into 38 starting spots for the Xfinity race.

The Dillon brothers – Ty and Austin – are entered, along with Alex Bowman, Parker Kligerman and Saga Karam.

Indianapolis Xfinity entry list

The Truck Series will open its playoff run at Indianapolis Raceway Park. There are 36 entries.

Truck playoff races will follow at Richmond, Kansas, Bristol, Talladega, Homestead and Phoenix.

IRP Truck entry list

This weekend’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, July 29

Forecast: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High of 80.

  • 9:30 – 11 a.m. — IndyCar practice
  • 10:35 – 11:25 a.m. — Truck practice (IRP)
  • 1 – 2:15 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying
  • 3 – 3:35 p.m. — Xfinity practice (USA Network)
  • 3:35 – 4:30 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (USA Network)
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (IRP; FS1)
  • 9 p.m. — Truck race (IRP; 200 laps, 137 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)

Saturday, July 30

Forecast: Mainly cloudy. High of 80.

  • 8:15 – 8:45 a.m. — IndyCar warmup laps
  • 9:35 – 10:35 a.m. — Cup practice (USA Network)
  • 10:35 – 11:30 a.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network)
  • 12:30 p.m. — IndyCar race (85 laps, 207 miles; NBC, IMS Radio Network)
  • 3:30 p.m. — Xfinity race (62 laps, 151 miles; NBC, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)

Sunday, July 31

Forecast: Sunshine and clouds mixed. High of 82.

  • 2:30 p.m. — Cup race (82 laps, 199 miles; NBC, IMS Radio Network, SiriusXM NASCAR radio)

Denny Hamlin on Ross Chastain incident: ‘He just ran out of race track’

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Denny Hamlin got back at at Ross Chastain on Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Hamlin had been wrecked twice by Chastain since early June. After an incident at Atlanta earlier this month, Hamlin said he had “reached (his) peak” with Chastain.

Hamlin earned a mode of payback late in Sunday’s race. 

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Hamlin and Chastain restarted together on the front row with 18 laps left. Hamlin was on the inside and Chastain on the outside.

As the field went through Turn 1, Hamlin and Chastain were side-by-side. Hamlin moved Chastain up the track. Chastain got out of the groove and drifted into the wall and was struck by Kevin Harvick’s car, ending Chastain’s race.

“I think that’s something that has been owed me for a few months now,” Chastain told NBC’s Parker Kligerman.

Asked if he felt the score was settled, Chastain said: “I don’t know.”

Hamlin discussed the issue with NBC’s Marty Snider after the race.

Asked if that was payback, Hamlin said: “What would you want me to do? What would you expect me to do? I got position on him, and he just ran out of race track.”

Asked if it was over now with Chastain, Hamlin said: “We’re just going to keep racing hard until we get the respect back from these guys. We’ve been wrecked four times, twice while leading in the last 10 months and I’m at the end of it.”

Chastain wrecked Hamlin at World Wide Technology Raceway. At one point, Hamlin was in front of Chastain and significantly slowed during the event. Eventually, NASCAR told Hamlin to stop the gamesmanship. Chastain apologized afterward, but Hamlin was frustrated with Chastain.

At Atlanta, contact from Chastain turned Hamlin. 

But Hamlin’s day didn’t end well. Although he crossed the finish line first, NASCAR stripped Hamlin of his win about two hours later when his car failed post-race inspection. Teammate Kyle Busch‘s car also failed post-race inspection, giving the win to Chase Elliott.

Mid-Ohio Truck results: Parker Kligerman holds off Zane Smith to win

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Parker Kligerman held off Zane Smith in a fierce duel over the final laps of Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race to earn his first series victory since 2017.

The win is Kligerman’s third in his Truck Series career.

“This is the small team that could,” Kligerman said to FS1 of his Henderson Motorsports team before planting the checkered flag in the infield grass.

MORE: Mid-Ohio Truck race results

MORE: Mid-Ohio Truck driver points

Kligerman’s first series win came in 2012 at Talladega. He won again at Talladega in 2017.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Kligerman said to FS1 of his victory. “This whole team is like a team of second chances. Two years ago, I thought my driving days were done. This team gave me a call and wanted to get back racing and it’s just been steady improvement since. … It’s unbelievable when you put a talented group of people together what they can achieve.”

Smith finished second. Carson Hocevar was third and followed by Stewart Friesen and Christian Eckes.

Ty Majeski, Hocevar and Eckes each clinched a playoff spot. They join Smith, Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Chandler Smith and Friesen, who had previously clinched a playoff spot. Two playoff spots remain with one race left in the regular season.

Cup owner Justin Marks finished 31st for Niece Motorsports after his brakes went out and he crashed.

Stage 1 winner: Parker Kligerman

Stage 2 winner: Zane Smith

Next: The series races July 23 at Pocono Raceway (12 p.m. ET on FS1)