NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Cup Series News Wire
  • NASCAR playoffs intensify after wild opener at Las Vegas
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 17, 2018

    LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- All but a couple of the 16 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contenders had to rally from "issues" in Sunday's playoff opener. There were spins, flat tires, pit road penalties, collisions and wall contact.

    • It was Las Vegas Motor Speedway after all -- a 1.5-mile track to start the championship run in a city home to high-stakes and plenty of action. Sometimes more action than the NASCAR's best even anticipated.

      Yet Kyle Busch -- who spun through the infield grass late in the race -- still managed to rally to a top-10 finish (seventh) and stay two points off the championship pace set by Martin Truex Jr. who finished third on Sunday. They were a couple of the fortunate ones.

      "There was a lot of racing going on there at the end and the restarts were very, very hectic with three-wide and everything kind of happening off of Turn 2 and guys banging into one another," Busch said, shaking his head.

      "If you would have taken the finish from 20 (laps) to go, it would have been a heck of a lot different finish than it is now -- there was a lot of racing and a lot of chaos happening the last few restarts. Good for us, a couple of those cars having trouble and getting pushed to the back and things happening the way they were obviously helped us and got us farther up front. If it wasn't for those, we probably would have been 16th or so.

      "We'll take what we can get and hope for better days ahead."

      That seemed to be a common theme.

      Brad Keselowski won his third-straight Monster Energy Series race, earning Team Penske it's 500th overall victory. His was one of the relatively smooth outings and it helped move him into third place in the playoff standings.

      Kevin Harvick, a seven-race winner this season heading into Las Vegas, had a tire problem and ended up in the wall. Unable to avoid Harvick, who crashed between Turns 1 and 2, Sunday's polesitter and fellow Playoff driver Erik Jones ran into Harvick's car. The drivers finishing 39th (Harvick) and 40th (Jones) in the 40-car field.

      Throughout the race, one after another of the series' championship eligible drivers had a rough day on pit road. Austin Dillon started the race from the back for an unapproved adjustment. Alex Bowman who ran among the top-three early was dinged for a pit road violation near the race midpoint and then was caught up in a collision in the race's waning laps.

      Playoff driver Chase Elliott was an innocent victim caught up in Jamie McMurray's accident on Lap 234 of the 272-lap race. Denny Hamlin crashed out with about 20 laps remaining.

      "We'll try to rebound next week," Elliott said. "I had a really good car today and just barely, just barely clipped him. So many cars fell out, I feel like half the top-16 fell out. Just gotta finish I guess."

      And Jimmie Johnson, who had run among the top-five for much of the afternoon, had his car make contact with fellow contender Kurt Busch on a late restart, sending Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet into the wall. They both finished the race despite multiple trips to pit road -- but were scored 21st and 22nd, respectively.

      Kyle Larson finished runner-up to Keselowski but had to overcome a flat tire early in the race that put him down a lap. Ryan Blaney hit the wall in tight racing with fellow playoff driver Aric Almirola, although they rallied to finish fifth and sixth.

      "Yeah, a lot of people had trouble," said Blaney. "We had our own troubles and luckily our damage didn't affect us to the point of taking us out of contention. We fought for 400 miles and it was a good job by the No. 12 group today."

      And the hot temperatures -- in the high 90s at the drop of the green flag -- created a tougher-then-typical race physically as well.

      Nine playoff drivers qualified among the top-10 and all 16 were among the top-18 on the grid. But the unpredictable and action-packed race, left seven in the top-10 by the checkered flag. Eight playoff drivers finished 19th or worse.

      "I felt like our Ford was pretty good today," Almirola said. "We got behind on qualifying, and that kind of set the tone. That was my fault. I was trying to get too much.

      "I got in the fence and made another mistake today. We were able to come down on pit road and get all the damage fixed, and the car was back to being good again.

      "I am proud of that effort. That was a really hard-fought sixth-place finish. Man, one of these races we will have it go smooth and we will be a contender."

      And that is a sentiment shared by most of the championship drivers.

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Tough-luck Truex laments Las Vegas loss
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 16, 2018

    Martin Truex Jr. took the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship lead Sunday afternoon with a third-place finish in the playoff-opening South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

    • The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota led the most laps (96) and out-pointed the two other most dominant regular season drivers -- Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick -- to hold a two-point advantage on the 16-driver Cup playoff field as it heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway next weekend.

      Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski won his third consecutive Cup race and the legendary team's 500th overall auto racing trophy, but Truex reminded everyone afterward that it was also Keselowski's third consecutive victory without leading the most laps in a race.

      So Truex -- a four-time winner this season -- acknowledged feeling confident and optimistic even in his podium showing Sunday.

      "Brad clearly found a horseshoe," Truex said, allowing a slight smile. "Three races in a row he's won and he has not had the best car. ...

      "Obviously he hasn't led the most laps in any of those races, and he showed up at the end with good pit stops and good short-run speed. I think clearly it's pretty obvious how it worked out. He's hot right now. He's on a streak. That's the way it goes.

      "We finished third with the best car. The last three weeks we had a top-three car and we finished 14th or worse in every one of them; know what I'm saying? So it's a tough sport. A lot of things can happen, and momentum and luck being on your side, there's a lot to say for it. Obviously they're executing, they're doing all the little things right, and that's what it takes to win these things."

      Three weeks ago, Keselowski started the streak with a win at Darlington, leading 24 laps compared to Kyle Larson's 284 out front. He won again at Indianapolis last week leading nine laps total, compared to 37 laps out front for both Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.

      Keselowski owns the third three-race winning streak on the year. Seven-time 2018 winner Harvick won three straight early in the schedule, including the regular-season race at Las Vegas in March. Kyle Busch, a six-time race winner in 2018, won three straight in April at Texas, Bristol, Tenn.; and Richmond, Va.

      But both Harvick and Busch -- who were tied atop the standings entering the Las Vegas playoff opener -- either crashed out (Harvick) or had to rally from a mishap (Busch) on Sunday.

      Truex's strong effort resulted in his place atop the championship -- by two points over Busch and 18 over Keselowski. And the 2017 series champ was especially impressed by his team's hard work -- heartily disproving naysayers who have questioned whether the crew would still be as devoted or motivated after news that the team would cease operations after the season.

      "Too many cautions at the end, and it really, really took away our chances at winning," Truex said. "It was obviously clear that after 15 or 20 laps we were the class of the field.

      "(The finish) was a little disappointing, but at the same time, to answer the call of all the critics and all the people who asked, 'Could we rise up back to where we were last year with all the distractions of the team shutting down at the end of the year?' I'm really happy about that and really proud of the speed we brought today.

      "The guys are doing a fantastic job, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come the next nine weeks."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Late cautions foil Larson's Vegas chances
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 16, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- The late caution flags Sunday in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were just what Brad Keselowski needed.

    • However, they were inimical to the winning chances of Kyle Larson, who couldn't match Keselowski's short-run speed.

      Larson had just passed Keselowski for the top spot on Lap 245 of 272, but two laps later, Denny Hamlin spun off Turn 4 to bring out the ninth yellow flag of the afternoon. Three more cautions followed in short order, and Larson never had a chance to use his long-run advantage.

      Instead, Larson finished second in a two-lap overtime dash, 1.276 seconds behind Keselowski. The runner-up finish was Larson's sixth of the season without a victory.

      "I needed it to stay green there (after the pass of Keselowski)," Larson said. "I felt like I could have won the race right there because he was really good on the short run and I was terrible on short runs today, but once I could get the top (lane) going, I was really good.

      "Right when I moved up top in (Turns) 3 and 4 and pulled away, the caution came out. I felt like I was going to be able to stretch it. I felt like the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) would probably get by (Keselowski) at some point and then maybe chase me down.

      "I knew if I could hold Brad off for a little bit, I would have a good shot, but it didn't work out. And then we had a ton of restarts there. A couple of them worked out for me, a couple of them didn't, and, thankfully, the last one worked out and we were able to get to second."

      JOHNSON FINDS SPEED BUT CAN'T SHAKE BAD LUCK

      Fans at Las Vegas Motor Speedway might have had to do a double take.

      After starting 17th and falling back early, Jimmie Johnson charged into the top five, a position he hasn't occupied for much of the 2018 season.

      Johnson was running seventh for a restart on lap 257, but on that circuit he was part of a four-car tangle with playoff contenders Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch. Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was heavily damaged, and after repairs, he finished 22nd, two laps down.

      The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion leaves Las Vegas 13th in the standings, six points behind Bowman, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.

      "We could have closed with a top-five finish that would have really helped and given us a cushion," Johnson said. "Today was really a good day for the Lowe's team. We had good speed in the car, good pit stops... everything was going well, and, unfortunately, (we) cut a right front tire when we touched the No. 41 (Busch) off of Turn 2.

      "I don't know how next week is going to go (at Richmond), I really don't, and I sure as hell don't know how the (Charlotte) Roval is going to go (Sept. 30). So, sure, we finished higher than some guys, but any cushion we could have gotten today would have been nice."

      DILLON A SURVIVOR IN A WAR OF ATTRITION

      Austin Dillon got his wish -- the South Point 400 didn't finish the way it started for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing team.

      The reigning Daytona 500 winner was relegated to the rear of the field for the opening green flag because of unapproved adjustments to the body of the Chevrolet. But Dillon persevered, and when attrition took care of more than half the playoff contenders, he rolled home with an 11th-place finish that left him 10th in the standings heading to Richmond for the second race in the first round of the postseason.

      Dillon finished behind teammate Ryan Newman in ninth and former teammate Paul Menard in 10th.

      "Yeah, I'm proud of our guys," Dillon said. "They brought a really fast race car. We gave up a lot of track position throughout the day, not just from starting in the back, but on pit stops we really struggled.

      "But, you know, proud of the effort. I felt like I got out all I could out of it. Bummer at the end. We needed a top 10. Eleventh is good, but racing my teammate to the line there, I thought we would get him, but we didn't."

      Compared with pole winner Erik Jones, though, Dillon's turnaround could be described as spectacular good fortune -- Jones started first and finished last.

      Martin Truex Jr. took the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship lead Sunday afternoon with a third place finish in the Playoff opening South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

      The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota led the most laps (96) and out-pointed the two other most dominant regular season drivers -- Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick to hold a two-point advantage on the 16-driver Cup Playoff field as it heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway next weekend.

      Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski won his third consecutive Cup race and the legendary team's 500th overall auto racing trophy, but Truex reminded everyone afterward that it was also Keselowski's third consecutive victory without leading the most laps in a race.

      So Truex -- a four-time winner this season -- acknowledged feeling confident and optimistic even in his podium showing Sunday.

      "Brad clearly found a horseshoe," Truex said, allowing a slight smile. "Three races in a row he's won and he has not had the best car.

      "... Obviously he hasn't led the most laps in any of those races, and he showed up at the end with good pit stops and good short run speed. I think clearly it's pretty obvious how it worked out. He's hot right now. He's on a streak. That's the way it goes.

      "We finished third with the best car. The last three weeks we had a top three car and we finished 14th or worse in every one of them; know what I'm saying? So it's a tough sport. A lot of things can happen, and momentum and luck being on your side, there's a lot to say for it. Obviously they're executing, they're doing all the little things right, and that's what it takes to win these things."

      Three weeks ago Keselowski started the streak with a win at Darlington, leading 24 laps compared to Kyle Larson's 284 out front. He won again at Indianapolis last week leading nine laps total, compared to 37 laps out front for both Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.

      And this is the third three-race winning streak on the year. Seven-time 2018 winner Kevin Harvick won three straight early in the schedule, including the regular season race here at Las Vegas in March. Kyle Busch, a six-time race winner in 2018, won three straight in April at Texas, Bristol, Tenn. and Richmond.

      But both Harvick and Busch -- who were tied atop the standings entering the Las Vegas Playoff opener -- either crashed out (Harvick) or had to rally from a mishap (Busch).

      Truex's strong effort Sunday resulted in his place atop the championship -- by two points over Busch and 18 over Keselowski. And the 2017 series champ was especially impressed by his team's hard work -- heartily disproving naysayers who have questioned whether the crew would still be as devoted or motivated after news that the team would cease operations after the season.

      "Too many cautions at the end and it really, really took away our chances at winning," Truex explained. "It was obviously clear that after 15 or 20 laps we were the class of the field.

      "(The finish) was a little disappointing, but at the same time, to answer the call of all the critics and all the people who asked, 'Could we rise up back to where we were last year with all the distractions of the team shutting down at the end of the year?' I'm really happy about that and really proud of the speed we brought today.

      "The guys are doing a fantastic job and hopefully this is a sign of things to come the next nine weeks."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • South Point 400 results
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 16, 2018

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race -- South Point 400

    • Las Vegas Motor Speedway

      Las Vegas, Nevada

      Sunday, September 16, 2018

      1. (13) Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 272.

      2. (11) Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 272.

      3. (10) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 272.

      4. (2) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 272.

      5. (6) Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 272.

      6. (16) Aric Almirola (P), Ford, 272.

      7. (4) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 272.

      8. (19) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 272.

      9. (22) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 272.

      10. (20) Paul Menard, Ford, 272.

      11. (18) Austin Dillon (P), Chevrolet, 272.

      12. (25) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 272.

      13. (23) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 272.

      14. (29) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 272.

      15. (28) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 272.

      16. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 272.

      17. (36) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 272.

      18. (37) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 272.

      19. (9) Alex Bowman (P), Chevrolet, 271.

      20. (34) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 271.

      21. (8) Kurt Busch (P), Ford, 271.

      22. (17) Jimmie Johnson (P), Chevrolet, 270.

      23. (15) Clint Bowyer (P), Ford, 270.

      24. (26) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, DVP, 269.

      25. (35) * Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 269.

      26. (33) * Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 269.

      27. (27) David Ragan, Ford, 268.

      28. (38) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 268.

      29. (24) Michael McDowell, Ford, Accident, 265.

      30. (14) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Accident, 251.

      31. (40) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 246.

      32. (3) Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, Accident, 245.

      33. (39) * Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 231.

      34. (30) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 218.

      35. (12) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, Accident, 211.

      36. (7) Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, Accident, 211.

      37. (21) William Byron #, Chevrolet, Accident, 210.

      38. (31) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, Front Hub, 164.

      39. (5) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, Accident, 147.

      40. (1) Erik Jones (P), Toyota, Accident, 147.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 111.849 mph.

      Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 28 Mins, 15 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.276 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 12 for 59 laps.

      Lead Changes: 23 among 9 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: 0; J. Logano (P) 1-33; K. Harvick (P) 34-37; Kyle Busch (P) 38; D. Hamlin (P) 39; R. Smith 40-49; K. Harvick (P) 50-59; M. Truex Jr. (P) 60-112; B. Keselowski (P) 113-124; M. Truex Jr. (P) 125-150; B. Keselowski (P) 151-161; J. McMurray 162-166; K. Larson (P) 167-177; B. Keselowski (P) 178-183; K. Larson (P) 184; B. Keselowski (P) 185-201; M. Truex Jr. (P) 202-218; B. Keselowski (P) 219-221; J. Logano (P) 222-234; B. Keselowski (P) 235-237; K. Larson (P) 238-239; B. Keselowski (P) 240; K. Larson (P) 241-250; B. Keselowski (P) 251-272.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): M. Truex Jr. (P) 3 times for 96 laps; B. Keselowski (P) 8 times for 75 laps; J. Logano (P) 2 times for 46 laps; K. Larson (P) 4 times for 24 laps; K. Harvick (P) 2 times for 14 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 10 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 5 laps; D. Hamlin (P) 1 time for 1 lap; Kyle Busch (P) 1 time for 1 lap.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 78,4,88,41,9,18,22,20,10,31

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 2,41,78,48,1,22,9,12,88,42

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Xfinity Series Playoffs field set after Las Vegas
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 15, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- The NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was high action and great drama with a first time winner in Ross Chastain and the 12 championship eligible drivers entering the race maintaining their contention for the opening round of the Playoffs, which begin next week at Richmond, Va.

    • Chastain's Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet held off five-time season winner Justin Allgaier and fellow Playoff bound driver Cole Custer for his first career victory in 132 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. Allgaier wrapped up the regular season title following the second stage of Saturday's race and will take a seven-point advantage over Christopher Bell and the rest of the 12-driver field heading into the Playoff opener next week.

      Custer enters the Playoffs ranked third sharing the same points total with veteran Elliott Sadler, who led the championship for 15 weeks and announced earlier this season he would be retiring following the season finale.

      Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick and Vegas winner Chastain all move into the Playoffs a point behind Custer and Sadler. Brandon Jones, Ryan Truex, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric and Ryan Reed round out the 12-driver field vying for the championship.

      "I feel like today was a lot of fun, comers and goers, guys good on the short run, guys good on the long run,'' Allgaier said. "Everybody at one point in the race that we'll be battling [in the Playoffs] had a run or two where they were really, really good.

      "I think that shows the strength of the series. We're going to have to execute and do our job.''

      Allgaier has certainly executed this season -- his win total (five) more than doubles his career win total in nine previous Xfinity seasons. The 32-year old Illinois native's runner-up finish gave him a series best 21 top-10s in 2018. He has five runner-up finishes in addition to his victory total in the JR Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet.

      Eight of the top 10 finishers Saturday advanced to the Playoffs -- something that bodes well for the competitive nature of the series. The rookie Bell, who finished fourth on Saturday, takes four wins into the Playoffs. Reddick, who won the season-opener at Daytona Beach, and Chastain are the other race winners.

      Although Chastain led 180 of the 200 laps, he was definitely pressured throughout the race. And the pack of cars on his bumper were driven by equally motivated Playoff competitors eager to glean some good mojo for next week's Playoff opener. He, Allgaier and Custer traded the point often and Hemric led as well.

      "Just didn't have everything go our way, but I'm glad we're in it and we're going to be a force to be reckoned with,'' Custer promised on pit road.

      "I feel like we compete for wins each weekend, it's just about having it all fall in place. We have to just keep trying to do what we do."

      For a couple of the Playoff contenders, Saturday afternoon marked a rough end for the regular season. Tifft and Reed were involved in a crash only 63 laps into the race. Reddick and Hemric were collected in an accident with only 12 laps remaining. Both of them had been front-running cars for much of the race.

      "It's better to have this day today rather than in the Playoffs,'' Tifft said, managing a smile. "We had the speed today again, just a freak deal [the accident]. I'm real excited about the Playoffs, a lot of tracks really suit me and our team's strengths. I'm looking forward to get going.''

      "You saw it today, it's going to be a lot of hard, close racing. We saw it all year, we've been putting on some incredible races. Glad to be a part of it and hope to come out on top.''

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

  • Newman announces exit from Richard Childress Racing
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 15, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- Ryan Newman announced via his Twitter social media account Saturday afternoon from Las Vegas Motor Speedway that he would not be returning to the Richard Childress Racing team in 2019. He has competed for the organization since 2014.

    • Newman, 40, assured fans he will be competing fulltime in the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but that he was not able to share the details of that new ride yet. He thanked the RCR team for its effort and promised to spend the remainder of the 2018 season contending for a win.

      The four-paragraph statement appeared on Twitter following final practice for Sunday's South Point 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the first race in the 10-race Monster Energy Series Playoffs. Newman is currently ranked 17th and did not qualify for the playoffs.

      "I want to take a moment to let everybody know that I will not return to Richard Childress Racing in 2019," Newman wrote on his Twitter account. "I have very much enjoyed driving the No. 31 car and want to personally thank Richard Childress and everyone at RCR for the support over the past five seasons.

      "We were able to put competitive race cars on the racetrack, qualify for the Playoffs on multiple occasions and make a strong run at a championship, and I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish. I have nothing but respect for the organization and everyone involved, and I'm thankful for having had the opportunity to drive at RCR."

      Newman finished a career best runner-up to Kevin Harvick for the 2014 championship in his first year with the RCR Chevrolet team. He won one race for the organization -- at Phoenix last year. He has 18 career wins and 51 career poles in 17 fulltime seasons at the Cup level.

      "I'm not ready to announce my future plans at this time, but it is my full intention to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series full-time in 2019 and beyond," Newman said on Twitter. "We are currently working through the options for next season and hopefully we will be able to announce those plans in the very near future."

      Team owner Richard Childress told NASCAR.com, "We knew we were going to change. It's just when we were going to announce it."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • NASCAR notebook: Allgaier setting sights on championship
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 14, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- The Xfinity Series regular season concludes in Saturday night's DC Solar 300 (5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and current points leader Justin Allgaier is not only enjoying a career year but intent to turn it into a championship.

    • The JR Motorsports driver has five wins and leads Cole Custer by a healthy 49 points in the championship standings. The victory total is more than double that of Allgaier's entire previous nine-year career competing in the series.

      "Personally I feel that I'm in the best place I've ever been behind the wheel of a race car," Allgaier said trackside Friday morning. "I'm more confident in what we're doing. The better we run, the more confidence you build, and I think that's been a huge part for me and it's been a lot of fun this year.

      "It took me almost 10 years to win five races, and we've done that already this year. So I'm not going to take it for granted because I know how hard it is to get to victory lane and how lucky we are right now to be in this position. Hopefully we can carry this momentum through the playoffs and see what happens.

      Allgaier, who drives the No. 7 Chevrolet for JRM, has won three of the last five races, including last weekend at Indianapolis. He has a streak of 13 top-10 finishes and has only one finish outside the top five in the last seven races. His best previous championship finish was third in 2016 and 2017.

      A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO THE VICTIMS OF THE LAS VEGAS CONCERT TRAGEDY

      Kyle Larson's No. 42 DC Solar Chevrolet will carry a special paint scheme honoring the victims of the 2017 Las Vegas concert tragedy.

      Several DC Solar company employees attended the music festival last October and were in the crowd during the shooting. The company has provided donations to the charities that help the victims.

      One of those charities, "58 Strong," will be on the Larson's car this weekend. The organization was established to help support children who lost a parent in the tragedy.

      CINDRIC, TEAM PENSKE GAIN SPONSOR

      Xfinity Series championship hopeful Austin Cindric gained a key sponsorship with MoneyLion signing on to be the primary sponsor of Cindric's No. 22 Penske Racing Ford this week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, plus another three upcoming races to close out the 2018 season.

      "Team Penske has an incredible record of success on the track, and as one of the most promising drivers in NASCAR, Austin Cindric is a great match for MoneyLion," said the company's CEO Dee Choubey.

      "He and his entire team at Penske inspire fans and illustrate the power of dreaming big to achieve your goals. At MoneyLion, we aim to inspire people to take control of their finances to achieve their dreams, and we're excited to introduce our products to NASCAR fans across the nation."

      Cindric is currently ranked 12th in the Xfinity Series championship standings with the regular-season finale set for Saturday in Las Vegas. He'll close out the season in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, which leads the owner's championship with six victories and six poles with drivers Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Cindric.

      "To be a part of their first foray into NASCAR and bringing a new sponsor into the sport and my age is really tied in with what they are able to do with the services they provide on the app,"' Cindric said. "To have that tie-in with them being a young company and me being a young driver, trying to move up together, I think is an opportunity for a lot bigger things."

      HISTORIC RUN FOR HAILIE DEEGAN

      Hailie Deegan made NASCAR history Thursday night as the first woman to qualify on pole position for a NASCAR K&N West Series race. She finished runner-up to Sheldon Creed in the race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. And while the historical moment is promising, the 17-year old Californian said she is encouraged but not satisfied.

      "Coming back in here everyone was like, 'Good job, a top five.' And I'm like, 'Top five, what are you talking about?'" Deegan said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

      "Everyone is saying, 'You finished second, highest finishing place for a girl.' And I'm like, 'No, I qualified on pole, this is actually back a position.' It's those things. First girl to qualify on pole, but I don't want to be the best girl, I want to be the best driver.

      "That's my mentality."

      The runner-up finish was Deegan's second of the season, equaling her showing at Douglas County Speedway (Ore.) earlier this season. She has four top fives and nine top 10s in 11 races this season.

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Johnson hopes to rally for title despite challenging season
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 14, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- Jimmie Johnson made a lot of eye contact with the reporters eager to gauge his Playoff expectations Thursday afternoon at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Media Day. The sincerity in his voice and the passion of his words left no doubt. He is as motivated as he has ever been to end a first-of-its-kind, season-long winless streak.

    • A championship run now would certainly change the narrative.

      Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman have qualified for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Playoffs that begin Sunday with the South Point Hotel and Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) taking the final two positions in the 16-driver Playoff grid. Their teammate Chase Elliott is also title eligible, securing his Playoff bid with a career first victory at the Watkins Glen, N.Y., road course in August.

      First-year teammate William Byron didn't qualify for the Playoffs but is the leading contender for Rookie of the Year.

      It's an unusual position for Johnson, a seven-time Cup champion, who typically has already earned a high-profile, high-title seed by the time the Playoffs begin -- with multiple race trophies already in hand.

      "It would be a disappointing year if we didn't win a race,"' acknowledged Johnson, who is on the longest winless streak (49 races) of his certain NASCAR Hall of Fame career. "I've set a high bar to win since my rookie year, so winning a race seems like something we should be able to do. If that doesn't happen, I'd certainly be disappointed.

      "I do know that we have not left anything on the table and poured everything we can into it. Not that it would be satisfying on every level but making sure we acknowledge the effort that went into it and not beat ourselves too hard on it. But I certainly hope that doesn't happen."

      It's been an uncharacteristic season for Johnson in all statistical categories. His two top-five finishes and eight top-10 showings are the lowest totals in his 17-year, full-time Cup career. He's led only 29 laps through the opening 26 races and his average finish is 17.0.

      But Johnson is quick to assure that progress has been made. His No. 48 Chevrolet is a new body style, and to be fair -- Elliott and Austin Dillon are the only Chevy drivers to win this season. Not to mention, Dillon's victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 came on a last-lap pass.

      Johnson prefers to look ahead, not behind. And who could argue with someone who has 83 victories and a historic championship haul that ties him with Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.

      "I've never been stats-driven," Johnson said. "It's really been about the experience. I love being around people and working with my team. I love driving that race car.

      "So, for me, I had a lot of years when I wasn't very successful in my ascension to my time at Hendrick Motorsports. I fell in love with racing for my own reasons and it wasn't because of trophies or fame or money. It was because of the experience I had driving the car and I'm still very much in that space.

      "I'm not expecting anybody to say, 'Oh, poor Jimmie Johnson.' But I would ask people not to think that I've had enough and am ready to throw in the towel or that I don't care or don't want it. That's just unfair. Anybody who knows me knows that I'm the opposite."

      For his part, Johnson's teammate Elliott remains cautiously optimistic about advancing through the Playoffs. Boosted by his first career Cup victory, the 22-year old sees no reason not to feel good about his Playoff chances, even though he acknowledges the organization has struggled at times this year.

      "It's been an up-and-down year,'" said Elliott, who leads the Hendrick team with eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.

      "I feel like we started off kind of slow. But, to get a win and lock-in to the first round of the final 10 is nice, at least and see where it goes.

      "I'm just excited to get this last stretch going. The summer months can be tough. The season is long. I feel like everybody kind of gets a last little bit of fire for these last 10 races and kind of resets. I'm ready to get going."

      Bowman, who drives the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, acknowledges it's a challenging road ahead. However, he has earned some legitimate confidence, putting that car in the Playoffs in his first full season driving it.

      He has a career best nine top-10 finishes and a pair of top-fives and has led 67 laps. Securing the final Playoff bid is an achievement. Advancing out of the first round would be high achievement.

      "I think we have made pretty dramatic improvements from where we started the year," Bowman said. "It's too good of a company to keep down. We have too many good people and great resources. I think we will continue to improve and I think we can start off the Playoffs with some good runs."

      "I think we can do as good of a job as anybody. We obviously have a great team behind us at Hendrick Motorsports, one of the best in the business. We have a lot of people working really hard and our cars have been getting better each and every week. We are just going to continue that and take it from there."

      Johnson, who is the all-time winningest driver (four victories) at this week's Las Vegas Motor Speedway venue, conceded that even a champion like himself can glean inspiration when needed. He's won at least two races every season of his career -- all but one previous season (2011) he's won at least three races.

      He remains optimistic about his Playoff chances and still smiles thinking of his last championship in 2016 when he won the Homestead-Miami, Fla., finale despite having his car taken off the grid minutes before the race for inspection and still working his way back to win the event.

      He knows how to rally.

      Reminded of the valiant way NFL veteran Aaron Rodgers lead his Green Bay Packers to a victory after the quarterback was hurt in the season-opener Sunday night, Johnson smiled and agreed about the powerful intangibles of heart and desire.

      "I watched the game," Johnson said. "It is so inspirational to see that happen, and I've been able to live through and create a few of those moments on my own. It's amazing to experience it and when you reflect back you're like, 'Wow, I really did that.'

      "You want to believe you're capable of it, but until you do it and see it, you just don't know. I know what we're capable of and I know we've done the unthinkable in the past. To win this eighth championship, we're going to have to do something that's never been done before, so I have optimism and belief that we'll have another look at an eighth championship.

      "I don't know if it's this year, next, the year after, but we have everything stacked up around it to make it happen. I don't expect it to come easy; no championship does."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Enfinger happy to be back on an oval track at Vegas
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 14, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- Grant Enfinger found a novel way to knock off some of the rust accumulated since the opening race of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

    • Enfinger was out in the Mojave Desert, near Nellis Air Force Base and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, kicking up dust and sand in a dune buggy, negotiating the maze of trails that crisscross the barren landscape.

      That was just a diversion, a taste of speed on a Wednesday evening before the serious business of championship competition was set to resume on Friday. And Enfinger was ready for redemption after a 17th-place finish Aug. 26 on the road course in Bowmanville, Ontario, left him last among the eight drivers eligible for the series title.

      Chafing to get back into the seat of his No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford, Enfinger was looking forward with relish to Friday's World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      "I'm definitely happy to get back on an oval," Enfinger said. "I was actually happy with our performance and the speed we had in Canada. The race just didn't play out the way we needed it to. We had some mistakes on our side and then got caught up in that big mess at the end (an accident with five laps left).

      "Overall, I was happy with the effort everyone put in, but for our standards, it wasn't a clean race. So I'm happy to get to Vegas. We had a strong run here earlier this year. We finished fourth. I've always liked this place when we've come here. We're bringing our favorite mile-and-a-half truck. So I feel we'll be in shape to get a checkered flag on Friday night. I think we're overdue at this point."

      A victory, of course would give Enfinger a ticket into the second round of the Playoffs. After Friday's race at Vegas and the Oct. 13 event at Talladega Superspeedway, the NCWTS Playoff field will be cut to from eight to six drivers. Enfinger is eighth in the standings, 11 behind Ben Rhodes in seventh but only 12 behind teammate Matt Crafton and Stewart Friesen, who are tied for fifth.

      Consequently, the next two races could produce a major shuffle. Though he's an Alabama native, Enfinger doesn't want his fortunes to ride on the outcome at his home track at Talladega.

      "Me and Talladega have a rocky relationship, but we've had some good times there, too," Enfinger said. "Really, the only way to secure ourselves before we get to Talladega is to win (at Las Vegas). That would alleviate a lot of stress if we can go ahead and take care of that on Friday night and just have fun at Talladega.

      "If that doesn't happen, we'll just race like heck and let the chips fall where they will. We're going all out -- all out every time we're on the race track. We can't afford to be conservative with anything."

      The NCWTS Playoffs are punctuated with breaks in the schedule during the first round. Though the drivers might get antsy during the time off, it gives the teams time to adjust and prepare their trucks for upcoming races. That has been particularly useful for ThorSport, which switched manufacturers from Toyota to Ford this season.

      "The time off has helped us, but it's a testament to the guys downstairs at ThorSport that do the heavy fab and all of the body stuff. They've worked a ton -- night and day, seven days a week the first few months of the year to get us ahead where we could start fluffin' and buffin' on our trucks, which is what we need to do to go out and contend for wins.

      "They really did a good job at the beginning of the year, even though we got a late start, to get us in a good position now. It's definitely worked in our favor to have some of these breaks along the way to have everybody caught up and for a few of those guys to get a little bit of sleep."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Defending champ Truex focuses on playoffs, not 2019
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 13, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- Martin Truex Jr. managed a big smile in anticipation.

    • The reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion fully knew his plans for next season would be as important a topic to reporters as his present run for a second consecutive season title.

      Two weeks ago, his Furniture Row Racing team announced it would cease operations at the conclusion of the season -- leaving Truex's team with an uncertain 2019, although rumors are rampant that that he and most of the team will land in a good place.

      Truex addressed the situation immediately as reporters began gathering around him at Las Vegas' South Point Casino during a Media Day opportunity with the 16 drivers who qualified for NASCAR's postseason.

      The 10-race pursuit of the 2018 championship begins with Sunday's South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      But first, Truex left no doubt about his commitment to the FRR team and their focus on claiming a second consecutive Cup championship. He seemed confident in staying the course and said his team's attention was on 2018 -- on becoming the first driver to win consecutive titles since Jimmie Johnson reeled off five straight from 2006-10.

      "I feel like we're in a great place," Truex said of his title hopes. "We definitely want to repeat, no question about it. I think you could take all this (team news) in one of two ways. You could hang your head down and say, 'This sucks, why are we in this position' and be mad at the world.

      "Or you can look at each other and say, 'Let's go do this.' And I feel like that's where we're at. ... Look at the names on our team, their names were made at Furniture Row and (team owner) Barney (Visser) giving us the opportunity to work at a great place and giving us all the tools we needed to go out and win a championship. So I think all of us, we look at that and say, 'Hell yes. Let's go do this. Let's send Barney out on top, give him the best going-away gift we ever could.'

      "I truly, honestly feel like that's our mindset, that's our focus and I have no questions about where our team is and how they'll approach the playoffs."

      Truex has good reason for the hopeful attitude. A member of the season's "Big 3" -- a group that includes regular-season champion and six-race winner Kyle Busch, seven-time race winner Kevin Harvick and himself, a four-time winner -- it's been a successful answer to his 2017 trophy hoist.

      Truex has scored 15 top-five finishes through the opening 26 races in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, putting him on good pace to top his career-best season mark of 19 (2017) with 10 races still remaining.

      He has won races at Fontana, Calif.; Pocono, Pa.; the Sonoma, Calif., road course and the Kentucky 1.5-miler this year. And, he has finished second four other times -- including back-to-back at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., and at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., to start the summer.

      Truex hopes the team rediscovers the good vibes this weekend after just enduring a rough three-race span. In the previous three weeks, he's had two DNFs, resulting in a 30th-place finish at Bristol, Tenn., and a 40th-place finish at Indy on Monday -- his worst outcome of the year.

      Yet even with five DNFs on the season, Truex's average finish is 11.3 -- second only to his title-winning mark of 9.4 last year.

      "I look at our potential and I know what we can do," Truex said. "These last three weeks are a perfect example. We get crashed at Bristol, were running second at Darlington. ... then last week we ran 40 laps and broke the brake rotor. But we've had speed and I key on speed.

      "We're fast. I know we can win races, and if we do things right, we'll be in position. Can we capitalize? That's the question. That's the hardest thing to do in racing. Can you take advantage of all the opportunities? When the race is on the line, can you have that pit stop that keeps you in position?

      "It's the little things like that make the difference, and we were able to be perfect on them last year. Our average finish was stupid, like 2.5 in the playoffs, and that's what it takes. I know we can do it, it's just a matter of going out there and getting it done."

      Amid distractions, Truex has proven to be a master of focus. He has faced challenges in his career and in his private life -- his longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, is battling ovarian cancer. And right now, it's really all good -- he's the defending Cup Series champion, armed with four wins and a highly motivated single-car team intent to earn a second straight title for a beloved retiring owner.

      "I've been tested and gone through adversity quite a bit," Truex said. "But that's life. That's just part of it. How you get through those things is how you show what you're made of.

      "Anyone can win. Anyone can have great days and have things go all their way. That's easy. Anybody can do that. When you show your true colors (is) when you're put in tough situations. I've got a great team behind me, and we know what it takes and we're going to put it all together and see what happens."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • NASCAR notebook: Newfound speed has Larson optimistic for Playoffs
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 13, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- The speed Kyle Larson found at Darlington Raceway, where he led 284 of 367 laps before finishing third, gave the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet a boost of confidence heading into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

    • But what was the source of the newfound speed? Larson said something clicked during an Aug. 27-28 test at Richmond Raceway.

      "I felt like we had been ... I wouldn't say struggling, but we weren't running where I wanted to run or the team wanted to run," Larson said on Thursday at Playoffs media day at South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa. "We were still getting top 10s and stuff, but I didn't see us being fast enough to contend for a championship.

      "We had a really good test at Richmond. Normally when you go to a test, it feels like a waste of two days. But there, I felt like we learned three or four good things, and we implemented it into our Darlington car and dominated the race. We didn't get the win, but we dominated."

      Richmond is a .75-mile short track and Darlington a 1.366-mile intermediate speedway, but Larson trusted crew chief Chad Johnston to incorporate what he found at Richmond into the car that was being readied to run at Darlington.

      "I trust Chad," Larson said. "And I remember that, right after we made the run where he made a change, he was immediately calling our car chief at the shop to get it put on the Darlington car.

      "He and the engineers have the brains, and, anyway, we're turning left ..."

      DILLON TRIES TO BUILD SINISTER ALLIANCE AMONG YOUNG GUNS

      At a fan event during media day at South Point, Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon took the stage with five other young Playoff drivers -- Larson, Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.

      Those drivers enter the Playoffs at a considerable disadvantage to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' so-called "Big Three" -- Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. -- who collectively have won 17 of the 26 regular-season races and have racked up the three highest totals of Playoff points.

      Dillon offered a practical, edgy and ostensibly facetious solution to the Big Three problem.

      "These drivers up here, we should just make a deal," Dillon said. "If we just wreck the Big Three the next couple of weeks, we'll have a lot better shot of getting to Homestead."

      After the laughter and the applause from the audience died down, Bowman chimed in.

      "I'm not scared," he said.

      "If we split the profits from the championship, it would go a long way," Dillon responded. "Our odds in Vegas would go way up if they're not in it at Homestead."

      Bowman, however, was the only taker.

      "Everybody else is scared," Bowman said.

      KURT BUSCH'S CONTRACT STATUS FOR 2019 STILL IN LIMBO

      Despite rumors that he is headed to Chip Gannasi racing next year -- and though team owner Chip Ganassi has confirmed that Jamie McMurray won't return to the No. 1 Chevrolet in 2019 -- Kurt Busch says he remains unsigned beyond this season.

      Busch is driving the No. 41 Ford as one of four Stewart-Haas Racing entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, which start with Sunday's South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      The contract limbo has become familiar territory for Busch in recent years. Last season, Stewart-Haas declined to pick up Busch's option before re-signing him later to a one-year deal. This season, Busch has acknowledged fielding offers from more than one team but has yet to announce his plans for next year.

      "It's all the same stuff that I've been through before, and I don't look at it like a (distraction)," Busch said. "The contracts that I signed when I was a rookie or a younger guy, they were five-year deals. And now, as of late, I haven't signed anything that was more than two years."

      Busch, however, doesn't think the uncertainty of his future will affect his prospects for a second Cup title.

      "It doesn't matter in this day and age what's going on behind the scenes," he said. "It's just a matter of executing when you're at [the] track, and there are so many things that are out of your control in a race on the track that it doesn't matter what's going on outside the car.

      "So each week, when I fire up the car for the first Friday practice session, that's the best feeling, 'cause I know that I'm going into a zone that I can control the most, and that keeps me away from having to thing about other stuff during the week."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Weekend preview: Showtime for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 13, 2018

    LAS VEGAS -- The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins its 10-race Playoff run with this Sunday's South Point Hotel and Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) -- the first time the 1.5-mile oval has hosted the Playoff opener.

    • All members of the Cup Series' "Big 3" have strong resumes at the track. Kevin Harvick won here in March -- part of a three-race winning streak. Martin Truex Jr. won here in 2017, the same year he also claimed the 2017 Playoff opener (then at Chicago). And Kyle Busch, who has led the standings for the last 21 weeks, won at his hometown track in 2009.

      The threesome come to the first round -- which also includes races at the 3/4-mile Richmond, Va., oval and the debut of the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield road course -- ranked first through third in the standings, Busch and Harvick tied for first, with Truex third.

      Busch, who has six wins and 21 top-10 finishes through the season's first 36 races, won the regular season trophy on Monday following the rain-delayed race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

      Harvick, who has a series best seven wins this season, is tied in points with Busch heading into Vegas. And Truex, who crashed out at Indy, is third in the standings with four wins. It's been a season-long three-race "winning drought" for those three drivers with Kurt Busch (Bristol, Tenn.) and Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski (at Darlington, S.C. and Indy) claiming the wins on the eve of the Playoffs.

      The final four members of the 16 drivers to advance to the playoffs include Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola, seven-time Cup champion -- and four-time Las Vegas winner -- Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman. All of them are looking for their first victory of the season. The bottom four drivers in the rankings following the Charlotte race will be eliminated from the playoffs.

      PLAYOFF TIME APPROACHES FOR XFINITY

      The DC Solar 300 on Saturday (5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the final regular season race for the Xfinity Series with three Playoff positions still to be firmed up, technically. Five-race winner Justin Allgaier leads the points by 49 over Cole Custer, who has 20 top-10 finishes but is still looking for his first 2018 victory.

      Rookie Christopher Bell, 23, has four race wins and is third in the standings, trailing Allgaier by 52 points. After leading the standings for four weeks this summer, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has finishes of 23rd or worse in two of the last three races. He won the pole position, however, and finished runner-up to Kyle Larson in the Vegas race in March.

      Others to have already clinched a postseason berth include Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick, Brandon Jones, Matt Tifft and Ryan Truex. Saturday's race will formalize the final three spots in the Playoff rankings, which are currently filled by Ryan Reed, Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric. A win by a championship-eligible driver outside of the 12 listed above would push one of those three out of contention.

      ROUND TWO FOR TRUCKS

      The Camping World Truck Series returns to Playoff competition Friday night in the World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Justin Haley, 19, won the Playoff opener on the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park road course two weeks ago and has assured himself a position in the Round of 6.

      Defending series champion Johnny Sauter (2009) and Ben Rhodes (2017) are the only two Playoff drivers with previous victories at the Vegas 1.5-miler. Sauter has seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts here.

      Cup championship co-leader Kyle Busch won here in March but is not entered this weekend. Four drivers among the top five in that race are current Playoff drivers -- runner-up Sauter, Brett Moffitt, Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen.

      MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

      Next Race: South Point Hotel and Casino 400

      The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, Nev.)

      The Date: Sunday, Sept. 16

      The Time: 3 p.m. ET

      TV: NBCSN

      Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

      Distance: 400 miles (267 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

      Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), and Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

      What to Watch For: Last year's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Martin Truex Jr. started his title run with a win in the opening Playoff race -- then at Chicagoland. ... Regular season champion Kyle Busch and seven-time race winner Harvick enter this 10-race Playoff run tied atop the points standings -- with a 15-point lead over third place Truex. ... Johnson is the winningest driver in Sunday's field with four victories at Vegas. Matt Kenseth has three and Playoff drivers Kyle Busch and Keselowski each have two wins here. They are the only four drivers with multiple wins at the track. ... Las Vegas native Kyle Busch is both the youngest ever pole winner at the track (22 years old, 2008) and youngest race winner (23 years old, 2009). ... Kyle Busch is also the only driver to win consecutive pole positions (2008-09) and the only driver to win a race from the pole position (2009). ... Kasey Kahne, who is not racing this weekend for medical reasons, holds the track record for most pole positions (3). He is the only driver to win his first pole at the track. ... Five of the 21 Cup races at Vegas have been won from the front row. Kenseth's win in 2004 from the 25th starting position is the farthest back a winner has started. ... Roush-Fenway Racing leads all organizations with seven Vegas wins. Hendrick Motorsports is next with five. ... Ford leads manufacturers in wins here (10), Chevrolet is second with seven. ... Ryan Newman has the most starts (17) without a victory at Vegas. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the most runner-up finishes (three). Kyle Busch is next with two. ... Kenseth's 10 top-10 finishes are most among active drivers at the track. ... The closest margin of victory is .045-seconds -- when Johnson beat Kenseth in 2006.

      XFINITY SERIES

      Next Race: DC Solar 300

      The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, Nev.)

      The Date: Saturday, Sept. 15

      The Time: 5 p.m. ET

      TV: NBCSN

      Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

      Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

      Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), and Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

      What to Watch For: This week marks the first time the Xfinity Series has raced twice at Vegas in one season. ... This is the final regular season race. Five-time winner Allgaier leads the standings by 49 points over Custer. The regular season champion will receive a 15-point bonus. ... Allgaier's five wins double his career win total. Last year he won twice and that was a single season best for him. ... Allgaier has not won at Las Vegas but has seven top-10 finishes in eight starts, a runner-up in 2011 and a third place earlier this season are his best marks. ... Custer has a career best 10 top-five and 20 top-20 finishes but is still looking for a victory in 2018. His only win in the series came at the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale last year. ... Rookie Bell has four wins but is ranked third in the standings with a recent spate of tough luck. He has two finishes of 23rd or worse in the last three races. He was runner-up in his only Xfinity Series start here, finishing second to Larson in March. ... Reed, Chastain and Cindric are looking to lock in their position in the Playoffs. A new winner this week would eliminate one of those drivers. ... The last five race winners at Vegas include Cup stars Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Larson. ... There are no previous race winners in the field this weekend. ... Mark Martin holds the record for most series wins at the track (four).

      CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

      Next Race: World of Westgate 200

      The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas, Nev.)

      The Date: Friday, Sept. 14

      The Time: 9 p.m. ET

      TV: FS1

      Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

      Distance: 200 miles (134 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40),

      Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 80), and Final Stage (Ends on Lap 134)

      What to Watch For: Cup driver Kyle Busch won the race here in March but is not entered in this week's Playoff round. ... Rhodes, who is among the Playoff contingent, won in 2017 and defending series champion Sauter won in 2009. They are the only two members of the eight-driver Playoff field to hoist a trophy in Vegas. ... Toyota has won the last five manufacturer's championships. Should they win in 2018 it would be a record for most consecutive wins. ... Chevrolet has won the most races (9) at Las Vegas. ... Haley, 19, is the youngest member of the Playoff field and the only one to have already secured his entry into the next round thanks to a win in the Playoff opener at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park two weeks ago. ... Eight times the pole-winner has gone on to win the race -- the most prolific starting position. ... Erik Jones is the youngest championship driver in series history, winning the big trophy in 2015 at the age of 19. ... Playoff contender and two-time former series champ Matt Crafton has won at every 1.5-mile track the series visits except for Las Vegas and Chicagoland. ... Noah Gragson, a Las Vegas native, has finishes of 13th (2017) and 12th (2018) at his home track. ... At 42, Crafton is the oldest driver among the playoff eight. Of note, Ted Musgrave won the 2005 title when he was 50.

      --Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Bowyer not settling as Playoffs near
    By Field Level Media / Thursday, September 13, 2018

    With the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs set to begin Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Clint Bowyer will be the first to tell you he's not satisfied with "best-of-the-rest" status.

    • True enough, NASCAR's so-called Big Three -- Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. -- have dominated the action during much of the 26-race regular season, winning seven, six and four races, respectively.

      Bowyer and Brad Keselowski, who triumphed in back-to-back crown jewel events at Darlington and Indianapolis, are the only other multiple winners on the circuit so far this season. To Bowyer, the difference between his effort in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas racing Ford and that of Harvick, his teammate, comes down to consistent performance, not lack of speed.

      "Our speed is there, our capabilities are there, but we're struggling to put races together," Bowyer said last Friday after a Mobil 1 appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. "We've got to get that nipped in the bud.

      "I've been at the shop this week and been in a lot of conversations with (crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and the guys, just trying to build that confidence and that self-esteem, that communication, open that line back up, make sure that there's no rough edges as far as that goes ... try to get everything smoothed up before we get into the Playoffs."

      Sunday's Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard was a good start. Bowyer won the first stage and finished fifth, showing excellent speed and gathering momentum for the Playoffs.

      Ask any of his teammates: Bowyer has little patience for team meetings, and he's usually the first to leave. But if he has a point to make, he's quick to get it across, and he expects the same from those who support his efforts.

      "I'm a no-BS guy," Bowyer said as he prepares for Sunday's Playoff opener -- the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). "I hate meetings, but I do use 'em. If I'm going to a meeting, I'm going to speak my mind, and I want people to speak theirs and get to the bottom of it. I don't want to be there for three hours and get to the bottom of it."

      Bowyer believes his team is capable of contending for the championship, but he concedes that the elimination system at work in the Playoffs also may open up opportunities to drivers who haven't been at their best during the regular season.

      "Our race team is one of the best I've ever had," he said. "This is one of the best opportunities I've ever had to win a championship. We're definitely capable of winning a championship and competing at that level. All you've got to do is put together 10 races, and, really, within that, you've got to focus on three at a time.

      "That changes the game big-time. That opens up the door for a lot of different people. A guy like Jimmie Johnson ... that opens the door right back up for a seven-time champion -- wake up a sleeping giant."

      Bowyer is well-known for keeping things loose within the organization. His quick wit is irrepressible, and his penchant for a party well-known. That comes in handy when he has to keep Bugarewicz off the ledge.

      "I've got a young crew chief," Bowyer said. "He's as intense as anybody I've ever been around in my life. I've been doing this for 15 years, and I've never encountered a crew chief that's as intense as he is. He expects results. He works his ass off, and he expects big things.

      "It's hard to answer that every single time. But the thing I've always been able to do is keep the pressure off a guy like that and not let the heat get to him and enable him to make the right decisions on strategy and things like that without feeling pressure."

      With two victories in hand, Bowyer and "Buga" have enjoyed a relatively stress-free summer. What remains to be seen is how they'll perform when the pressure ramps up on Sunday.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Kahne to skip next 3 NASCAR races
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, September 12, 2018

    Kasey Kahne will skip the next three NASCAR races, with Regan Smith driving in his place.

    • Leavine Family Racing announced Tuesday night that Smith will drive the No. 95 car Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, on Sept. 22 at Richmond Raceway and on Sept. 30 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

      Smith finished 20th in Monday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

      Kahne is taking the time off for health reasons. He had dehydration issues during the Southern 500 on Sept. 2, an affliction he has battled for more than a year.

      "I just can't control the temperature in my body and my heart rate," Kahne said last week in advance of the race in Indianapolis. "Once it gets to that point, there's nothing I can do until I get out of the car. We're still trying to figure that out."

      Temperatures could reach 100 degrees this weekend in Las Vegas.

      Last month, Kahne, 38, said this would be his last season racing on a full-time basis. He said health issues contributed to that decision.

      Kahne currently is in 28th place in the NASCAR Cup standings.

      Kahne addressed his situation Wednesday on Twitter. In part, he said, "People want to know why I just don't retire and sit out the rest of the season...the answer is simple. I love racing."

      --Field Level Media

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 11, 2018

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

    • MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: SOUTH POINT 400 (267 laps, 400.5 miles around a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval), Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas.

      TV: Sunday, 3 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 3:16 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The playoff-field of 16 is set after Brad Keselowski won his second straight race Sunday at Indy coming on the heels of the Labor Day weekend win at Darlington. ... Not a lot of drama as to who made the playoffs as there were only two spots up for grabs and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and teammate Alex Bowman -- both winless this season -- advanced on points. ... The playoffs start at Las Vegas, the first time the speedway has had two races in a season, and this will be the 22nd race there -- the first coming in 1998. ... The 1.5-mile D-shaped oval is often branded as a "cookie-cutter" track, following the formula of so many of the newer tracks in NASCAR, so drivers with success this season on similar tracks should be expected to fare well here. That includes winners Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. ... Truex's team announced it is shutting down at the end of the season, so it will be interesting to see how the defending series champion fares down the stretch. ... Harvick won the race at Las Vegas in March. ... This is the 27th race of 36 on the season and the first of the three-race Round of 16, where the bottom four drivers in the standings after the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway's road course on Sept. 30 will be eliminated from contention. A win automatically propels the victor into the next round of the playoffs. ... Kyle Busch won the regular-season title and leads the reset point standings with 2,050, followed by Harvick (2,050), Truex (2,035), Keselowski (2,019), Clint Bowyer (2,015), Joey Logano (2,014), Kurt Busch (2,014), Chase Elliott (2,008), Ryan Blaney (2,007), Erik Jones (2,005), Austin Dillon (2,005), Kyle Larson (2,005), Denny Hamlin (2,003), Aric Almirola (2,001), Johnson (2,000) and Bowman (2,000).

      (All stats and standings per NASCAR.com)

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: DC SOLAR 300 (200 laps, 300 miles around a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval), Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas.

      TV: Saturday, 5 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 5:18 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The 26th of 33 races on the season, the series is ready to settle its playoff picture before the Round of 12 begins next Friday at Richmond, the question being can a surprise first-time winner vault into the playoffs? ... This will be the 23rd series race at the track, but the first time a race has been held at Vegas for the second time in a season. ... Logano won this race last season and fellow full-time Cup regular Larson won in March. ... Justin Allgaier won at Indy, his fifth victory of the season. ... Christopher Bell is the only Xfinity regular to win on a 1.5-mile track such as Las Vegas this season, taking the trophy at Kentucky in July. ... *Allgaier leads the points with 943, followed by Cole Custer (894), *Bell (891), Daniel Hemric (888), Elliott Sadler (874), *Tyler Reddick (731), Brandon Jones (713), Matt Tifft (700), Ryan Truex (679), and Ryan Reed (585) rounding out the top 10. The playoffs will start with 12 drivers, with Ross Chastain (570) and Austin Cindric (552) holding spots 11 and 12, respectively. Michael Annett (495) is currently the first driver out and will need to win to get in.

      (All stats and standings per NASCAR.com)

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth

      NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES: LAS VEGAS 350 (134 laps, 201 miles around a 1.5-mile D-shaped oval), Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas.

      TV: Friday, 9 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 9:18 p.m. ET) -- FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The Trucks are back for race 18 of 23 races on the season with two races to go in the Round of 8, kicking off a NASCAR tripleheader weekend in Las Vegas. ... Seven drivers are left vying for five spots in the Round of 6 as Justin Haley already punched his ticket with a win in Canada three weeks ago, with the next race at Talladega looming as the cutoff on Oct. 13. ... Kyle Busch won the race in Vegas in March, but Truck regulars Brett Moffitt, Noah Gragson, Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes all have wins this season on 1.5-mile D-shaped ovals similar to this one. ... Sauter leads the Truck standings (2,081 points), followed by Moffitt (2,075), Gragson (2,070), *Haley (2,065), Matt Crafton (2,047), Stewart Friesen (2,047), Rhodes (2,046) and Grant Enfinger (2,035).

      *Victory and advancement to the next round.

      (All stats and standings per NASCAR.com)

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: INDYCAR GRAND PRIX OF SONOMA (85 laps, 202.725 miles around a 2.385-mile 12-turn permanent road course), Sonoma Raceway; Sonoma, Calif.

      TV: Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET (approx. green flag 6:35 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app).

      THIS WEEK: The championship again comes down to the final race of the season and double points are on the line. ... This will be the 14th series race at Sonoma and championship frontrunner Scott Dixon has won three times, including back-to-back in 2014-15. ... Dixon's nearest pursuer, Alexander Rossi, finished fifth in 2016 and 21st last season in his only two trips to the track. ... Simon Pagenaud, out of contention for the title, has won the past two races at Sonoma. ... The undulating course has an elevation change of 160 feet and it is a fast track with precision required, particularly in the Turn 11 hairpin. ... Dixon's championship lead is at 29 points (598) as the New Zealander hopes to fend off Rossi (569), Australia's Will Power (511) and Josef Newgarden (511). ... Last place will pay a minimum of 12 points. A win could mean as many as 105 points based on bonuses, but a minimum of 101.

      FORMULA ONE: SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX (61 laps, 191.967 miles around a 3.147-mile 23-turn temporary street course), Marina Bay Street Circuit; Singapore, Singapore.

      TV: Sunday, 8 a.m. ET (Green flag approx. 8:10 a.m. ET) -- ESPN2 (Radio: SiriusXM Radio Channel 132).

      THIS WEEK: It's off to Singapore and Asia for a Hermann Tilke-designed street circuit that is technical and challenging, the Marina Bay Street Circuit. ... This will be the 15th of 21 races this season. ... This will be the 11th Singapore Grand Prix, the first being held in 2008 and then every year since. With no real elevation changes, the difficulty lies in negotiating the 23 turns, Particularly Turn 10, named "The Singapore Sling," a flowing left-hander that leads to a right-hand kink at Turn 11. ... Lewis Hamilton won this race last season. ... Hamilton won the previous race at Monza, extending his lead over chief rival Sebastian Vettel. .'. Great Britain's Hamilton leads the standings in his Mercedes with 256 points, followed by Vettel, Ferrari (226), Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (164), Finland's Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes (159) and Belgium's Max Verstappen, Red Bull (130).

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION: DODGE NHRA NATIONALS, Thursday-Sunday, at Maple Grove Raceway; Mohnton, Pa.

      TV: Eliminations, Sunday, 1-2 p.m. ET (live) FS1; 7:30-10:30 p.m. ET (Delayed) FS1

      THIS WEEK: It's time for the playoffs -- Countdown to the Championship in the NHRA -- to begin, and that means Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa. ... All 10 drivers who qualified for the playoffs in each class will vie for the championship, with none eliminated along the way, so it's a six-event sprint to the title now that the points have reset. ... This is the 19th of 24 events on the season. ... Winners at the U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend were Terry McMillen in Top Fuel, J.R. Todd in Funny Car, Tanner Gray in Pro Stock and LE Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle. All four classes will race at Maple Grove. ... Steve Torrence leads the Top Fuel standings (2,100 points), followed by Clay Millican (2,080), Tony Schumacher (2,070), Leah Pritchett (2,060), Doug Kalitta (2,050), Antron Brown (2,040), McMillen (2,040), Brittany Force (2,020), Mike Salinas (2,010), and Scott Palmer (2,000) to start the 10-driver playoffs. ... Courtney Force leads Funny Car (2,100), followed by Matt Hagan (2,080), Robert Hight (2,070), Ron Capps (2,060), Todd (2,050), Jack Beckman (2,040), Tommy Johnson Jr. (2,030), Shawn Langdon (2,020), John Force (2,010) and Tim Wilkerson (2,000). ... Gray leads Pro Stock (2,100) followed by Greg Anderson (2,080), Erica Enders (2,070), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2,060), Vincent Nobile (2,050), Deric Kramer (2,040), Drew Skillman (2,030), Jason Line (2,020), Bo Butner (2,010), Chris McGaha (2,000). ... Eddie Krawiec leads Pro Stock Motorcycle (2,100), followed by Andrew Hines (2,080), Tonglet (2,070), Hector Arana Jr. (2,060), Jerry Savoie (2,050), Matt Smith (2,040), Scotty Pollacheck (2,030), Steve Johnson (2,020), Angie Smith (2,010) and Angelle Sampey (2,000).

      --Field Level Media

  • Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard results
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 10, 2018

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race -- Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard

    • Indianapolis Motor Speedway

      Speedway, Indiana

      Monday, September 10, 2018

      1. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160.

      2. (13) Erik Jones, Toyota, 160.

      3. (10) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 160.

      4. (2) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 160.

      5. (8) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 160.

      6. (4) Kurt Busch, Ford, 160.

      7. (21) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 160.

      8. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 160.

      9. (19) Paul Menard, Ford, 160.

      10. (17) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 160.

      11. (9) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 160.

      12. (29) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 160.

      13. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 160.

      14. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 160.

      15. (11) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 160.

      16. (14) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 160.

      17. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 160.

      18. (20) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 160.

      19. (22) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 160.

      20. (27) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 160.

      21. (30) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.

      22. (18) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 160.

      23. (12) Aric Almirola, Ford, 159.

      24. (25) David Ragan, Ford, 159.

      25. (23) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 158.

      26. (32) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 158.

      27. (33) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 158.

      28. (38) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 158.

      29. (35) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 157.

      30. (40) * BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 157.

      31. (34) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 150.

      32. (37) * Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, Accident, 150.

      33. (15) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 142.

      34. (16) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Engine, 136.

      35. (39) * Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Fuel Pump, 124.

      36. (31) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Rear End, 89.

      37. (24) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 66.

      38. (28) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, Accident, 57.

      39. (36) David Starr(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 57.

      40. (3) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Brakes, 41.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 128.629 mph.

      Time of Race: 03 Hrs, 06 Mins, 35 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.904 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 10 for 39 laps.

      Lead Changes: 14 among 9 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: Kyle Busch 1-11; D. Hamlin 12-32; Kurt Busch 33-44; C. Bowyer 45-51; Kyle Busch 52-67; K. Harvick 68-89; C. Bowyer 90-96; M. Kenseth 97-101; W. Byron # 102-104; C. Bowyer 105-127; R. Blaney 128; Kurt Busch 129-135; B. Keselowski 136-142; D. Hamlin 143-158; B. Keselowski 159-160.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): C. Bowyer 3 times for 37 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 37 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 27 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 22 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 19 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 9 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 5 laps; W. Byron # 1 time for 3 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 1 lap.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 14,41,11,42,18,2,10,21,9,20

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 6,9,20,22,41,19,2,24,31,48

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Keselowski bumps Hamlin to win in Indy
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 10, 2018

    Brad Keselowski bumped his way past Denny Hamlin with two laps to go on Monday and went on to win the rain-postponed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Monday afternoon.

    • The victory, which gave team owner Roger Penske his first in a stock car race victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after winning 17 times there in Indy cars, was the second of the year for Keselowski. He also won last week at the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

      The key to the victory was a decision by Keselowski's crew chief -- Paul Wolfe -- to pit later than other teams on the final green-flag stops. That gave him the better rubber on the final laps.

      "He made a heck of a call to pit late in that run," Keselowski, who led just nine laps, said. "We came out eighth and he gave me the ball, you know? He gave me the ball and I had to make a play. We weren't a dominant car by any means, but Paul executed an incredible race and I just had to do my job. Here we are in Victory Lane at the Brickyard."

      Wolfe said of the win, "It's something that hasn't been done at (Team) Penske. Roger has had a lot of success here, done a lot of things. Obviously this one's for him."

      Hamlin appeared to have command of the race over the final laps, but a series of wrecks closed up the field and forced a couple of late race restarts. Asked what he needed to hold off Keselowski and get his first win of the year, Hamlin said, "Not have meaningless guys in the back wreck. I don't know what they're doing crashing with a couple laps to go while multiple laps down. Meaningless."

      Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing finished second, while Hamlin slipped to third in the No. 11 Gibbs Toyota.

      The race cemented the field for the upcoming Cup Series playoffs, which start next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

      Unless a driver were to win his first race of the season Monday -- none did -- only two berths remained available for the playoff when the race started. Those two berths went to Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson -- who will chase his series-record eight championship -- and Alex Bowman.

      Bowman needed the winner's help as he was involved in a wreck on Lap 67 and fell multiple laps off the pace. Had Hamlin held on to win, Bowman would have been out.

      The 16 drivers who will compete in the playoffs are Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Keselowski, Jones, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Johnson and Bowman.

      The green flag dropped a couple of minutes after 2 p.m. with Kyle Busch on the pole and Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing lining up next to him.

      Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing won the first stage -- his first of the season -- while part-time Roush Fenway Racing driver and former Cup champ Matt Kenseth won the second of the three stages.

      Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 Cup champion who has won four races this season, will start the playoffs sans momentum. Early in the race, he suffered a race-ending incident.

      "Left-front brake rotor exploded and went through the hood," the Furniture Row Racing driver said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Brickyard race postponed (rain) until Monday
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 9, 2018

    Sunday's Big Machine Vodka 400, the Brickyard Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has been postponed until Monday afternoon because of persistent rain on Sunday.

    • Wet weather has plagued IMS all weekend, cancelling practices and qualifying sessions for both the Cup and Xfinity series on Friday and Saturday.

      Race time has been set for 2 p.m. ET for the Cup race. That event will be preceded by the postponed Xfinity race, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

      Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will start Monday's Brickyard race from the pole based on point standings. Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford will start from the other side of the front row.

      "It's really good for us to be able to start on the pole," Busch said during a press conference on Sunday. "We qualified on the pole here last year I believe it was, so being able to get out front and get out in that clean air, obviously it helps you, helps your day. When you're out there though, you're kind of in clean air. You're racing yourself essentially and time, but also when you get back in traffic later on in the event, you still have to have a good handling race car.

      "Without having any practice and without having any opportunity to get out there behind people or around people, it's going to be a big difference throughout the day."

      The Indy race marks the end of the regular season in Cup competition. The 10-race playoffs begin next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been postponed until Monday afternoon because of persistent rain.

      --Field Level Media

  • NASCAR notebook: Stenhouse Jr. faces all-or-nothing Sunday
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 8, 2018

    SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Roush Fenway Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. knows both ends of the spectrum.

    • Last year, with breakthrough victories at Talladega and Daytona, he locked himself into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs long before the final regular-season race at Richmond.

      This year, with the regular-season finale contested at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Stenhouse is winless, but he needs to change that status in order to compete in the Playoffs again. Currently 16th in the standings, Stenhouse can't catch 15th-place Alex Bowman on points, and Bowman is the last driver currently in a Playoff-eligible position.

      Having to win Sunday's Machine Vodka 400 (1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) isn't without its advantages. Certainly, it has simplified Stenhouse's approach to the race.

      "For one, it's clear-cut what we've got to do, so throughout the race we're not really worried about each stage," Stenhouse said on Saturday at the Brickyard, where rain washed out all practice and qualifying sessions. "We're only worried about setting ourselves up for the end of the race, because that's all that really matters for us in this particular race.

      "Even if it doesn't all work out we still have a tight race for trying to be 17th in points (because Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon, currently 18th, secured one of the top 16 spots with the victory), and I think 17th in points would still be probably my second-best in points since I've been in Cup, so that's something that I strive for to continually get better and make our stats look better ...

      "We haven't run as well as what we wanted, but we still kept ourselves in contention to battle to get in on points, but definitely enjoyed it a lot more last year being locked in at this point."

      DALE JARRETT REMEMBERS BRICKYARD 400 HE SHOULD'VE WON

      NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett won his first Brickyard 400 in 1996 and his second during his 1999 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship season in 1999, but he still remembers the one that got away.

      Jarrett's No. 88 Robert Yates Racing Ford was the fastest car in the 1998 race at Indianapolis, qualifying second and at one point building a 16-second lead. The payout for winning the race was $637,000, but crew chief Brad Parrott and owner Robert Yates wanted to collect every dollar that was up for grabs in the event.

      That included a $10,000 prize for leading Lap 80, the halfway point.

      Parrott told Jarrett he would be able to stretch his fuel to Lap 80 and make it back around to pit road, thanks to the 16-second lead. Unfortunately, the fuel mileage calculations weren't entirely accurate, and Jarrett ran out of gas in Turn 1.

      The race stayed green, and Jarrett lost four laps before he got to his pit stall to refuel. In the second half of the race, he got those four laps back under a format where lapped cars restarted in the bottom lane with lead-lap cars to the outside.

      "We finished (16th) on the lead lap," Jarrett said on Friday during an appearance for Mobil 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum. "I passed the leader every time -- we were that fast ... Drove back to North Carolina, still pissed, and Monday morning at about 10:15, I got a call from one of the guys who worked on the car.

      "He said, 'I know you're still not happy. None of us are. We should have won that race, not trying to win $10,000, but just I thought this might make you laugh. We just got a call from Todd Parrott, who was driving to the race shop. He only lives about 12 miles from the race shop. He ran out of gas.' "

      MATT DIBENEDETTO TAKES A MAJOR LEAP OF FAITH -- IN HIMSELF

      When Matt DiBenedetto told the world on Twitter that he was leaving Go Fas Racing and scheduled a media availability for Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the natural assumption was that the driver of the No. 32 Ford already had something lined up for next year.

      Not so, said DiBenedetto, who is leaving his current ride at the end of the season with no specific backup plan. When Go Fas team owners Archie and Mason St. Hilaire asked DiBenedetto for a decision on 2019, it crystallized the driver's desire to prove himself.

      To do so, DiBenedetto felt he had to make it known he was available for a more competitive ride, even if that means competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series instead of Cup.

      "They (team owners) came and talked to me a couple of weeks ago and said they'd like to know what direction I was taking by September 15," DiBenedetto said. "I was already thinking about it. And, honest to God, I woke up about a week-and-a-half ago -- I'd been thinking about what I wanted to do -- and it just became clear to me.

      "I don't know what made me feel that way. I believe in fate and things happen for a reason. But I woke up one morning, and it became clear to me that I needed to take a bold move, and I needed to show everybody what I got."

      DiBenedetto has developed the reputation for overachieving in less than winning equipment.

      "We make the most out of what we've got here," he said. "And it's been great to get the support a lot of people, but it was time to take that chance. It was clear that I needed to take a step back and put myself in a position or make myself available to have a shot like (Alex) Bowman did and getting in a car that I can win in and show that I can prove it to everybody.

      "I think everybody knows that I make the most of what I get in. We all do as a team. But until they see it -- and winning in winning equipment, I want to show them so they will see it first-hand."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Rain wreaks havoc for NASCAR at Indianapolis
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, September 8, 2018

    SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Persistent rain forced postponement of all track activity at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, forcing postponement of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race until Monday at 10 a.m.

    • Practice and qualifying sessions for both the Xfinity and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series were canceled. Accordingly, the fields for Lilly Diabetes 250 Xfinity race and for the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Cup series event will be set according to owner points.

      In addition, the starting time for Sunday's Cup race has been moved from 2 p.m. ET to 1 p.m. to create a larger weather window for completion.

      Drivers for both series will start the respective races without benefit of practice.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • NASCAR notebook: Kahne seeking answers to dehydration issues
    By Field Level Media / Friday, September 7, 2018

    SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- In a Friday conference call with reporters, Kasey Kahne provided greater detail as to why he won't be racing in Sunday's Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard.

    • Kahne opted to exit the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet for the final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular-season race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after suffering from extreme heat exhaustion and dehydration during the final 100 laps of last Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

      The issue has been a chronic problem that came to a head at Darlington, even though Kahne had made a point to stay hydrated in the days leading up to the event.

      "I was super hydrated," said Kahne, who announced in August he will retire from full-time Cup racing at season's end. "I was in really good condition going into the race. Had a great practice on Friday. About halfway through the race, I started getting to the point where I couldn't drink any more. Once I can't drink any more, I've already lost a lot more at that point in time in fluids than what I was able to put in.

      "That's why (when) I can't drink anymore, it will start coming back out. I keep drinking the most that I can throughout the rest of the race, but it just gets super hard. My body keeps sweating so much that I have, like, absolutely nothing left by the end of the race."

      Kahne slowed down and tried to stay as motionless as possible inside the car because his heart rate was elevated.

      "At Darlington, about 100 (laps) to go, it was really hard to keep my eyes open and see," Kahne explained. "I was struggling to do that. I was trying to control my heart rate because it was so high. I basically just kind of laid in the car and drove around the corners.

      "I had to just control the car just to try to do as little as possible, so my heart rate would go down because it was so high. At that point all I'm doing is focusing on my body and my health, not on what I should be actually focusing on, and that's racing.

      "After the race, I went to the care center. I threw up all the way there. A lot of fans saw it. Threw up in the care center. They got IVs going in both arms. At that point I got to where I wasn't sick anymore. Sick all the way on the drive home."

      Since then, Kahne has been working with his doctors to trying to find a solution.

      "It's just been a rough week," he said. "That's where I'm at today. Not racing Indy. Really tough decision. I would much rather be there than not.

      "At this point I have to just figure out how to finish these races, how to be able to go that long in a hot car in the environment that we're in, between the air temp and the dew point degrees, just to control it all."

      If Kahne can't find a way to combat the condition, he may miss more races than the Brickyard 400. The forecast for the Sept. 15 event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway calls for 100-degree temperatures throughout the weekend.

      "Just taking it one race at a time," Kahne said. "My whole reason for doing this is because I know that Indy is a tough one, the dew point is always up there. I just know that I'll be in that same situation there.

      "For the full race, I'd be in the same situation. I can't go through it again, so I've had to not go there, you know, learn more by the next one, decide from there."

      CHRISTOPHER BELL WON'T CHANGE APPROACH IN XFINITY PLAYOFFS

      Christopher Bell has found an approach to racing that works, and he's not about to change it when the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs start Sept. 21 at Richmond.

      A four-time winner this year, Bell plans to continue to strive for victories in the postseason.

      "For me, I suck at points racing," said Bell, who finished fifth in Thursday night's BC39 USAC National Midget feature at a dirt track built near Turn 3 in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield. "I'm going to be out there trying to win races. My team has done an excellent job bringing fast race cars to the track every single week.

      "Every single week, we have an opportunity to win the race. My finishes have been top fives or wrecks, so we've won enough that we've got a lot of bonus (Playoff) points that will hopefully carry us through any hard times. We're going to go out there and try to win."

      MATT DIBENEDETTO ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE FROM GO FAS RACING

      "It is that time of the season," Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt DiBenedetto wrote on Twitter on Friday afternoon.

      He could have said, "It's that time of the (silly) season."

      That was DiBenedetto's way of announcing his departure from the No. 32 GoFas Racing team at the end of the year.

      "I wanted to take this opportunity to let everyone know that after two exciting years with Go Fas Racing, (owners) Archie, Mason St. Hilaire and I have decided to move in different directions for 2019," DiBenedetto wrote.

      DiBenedetto did not indicate he had specific plans for next season.

      "I believe that this gives me the best opportunity to further my career and showcase my talent and ability at the highest level," DiBenedetto wrote. "Winning races has always been the goal, and now I'm taking a leap of faith and betting on myself to prove it."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Furniture Row Racing is ceasing operations
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 4, 2018

    One year after winning the NASCAR Cup Series title, Furniture Row Racing announced Tuesday it will not field a racing team in 2019.

    • The entity was unable to find the needed sponsorship to continue despite having 2017 champ Martin Truex Jr. in its stable of drivers.

      "This is not good for anybody," team owner Barney Visser said in a statement. "The numbers just don't add up. I would have to borrow money to continue as a competitive team and I'm not going to do that. This was obviously a painful decision to arrive at knowing how it will affect a number of quality and talented people.

      "We've been aggressively seeking sponsorship to replace 5-hour Energy and to offset the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but haven't had any success. I feel that it's only proper to make the decision at this time to allow all team members to start seeking employment for next year."

      The decision to cease operations comes just before the start of the NASCAR playoffs as Truex looks to defend his title in the No. 78 car.

      Truex has known for months that it was possible Denver-based Furniture Row Racing might not be back in 2019. He has been with the team since 2014.

      "While I am saddened by today's announcement, I totally understand the decision," Truex said in a statement. "Barney Visser, (general manager) Joe Garone and the entire Furniture Row Racing team took me in while my career was in a bad place, and together we reached the pinnacle of the sport. I will forever be grateful to each and every one of them, and also to Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and the Visser family.

      "But make no mistake, this is not the immediate end. We still have unfinished business to attend to and that's to give everything we have to successfully defend our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Right now that is foremost on my mind as it is with the entire team."

      Rumors in recent weeks have Truex a candidate to end up at Joe Gibbs Racing for next season.

      Meanwhile, NASCAR offered the following comment on Furniture Row Racing's decision.

      "NASCAR wishes the very best to Barney Visser and his family," NASCAR said in a statement. "Barney has been a successful owner and an amazing champion, and his presence will certainly be missed. We look forward to seeing Martin Truex Jr., (crew chief) Cole Pearn and the entire No. 78 team finish the 2018 season strong and competing for another championship.

      "NASCAR will continue to work on growing the sport and working with the race teams on competitive and operational excellence. Much of those efforts have already been put in place, and will continue to be a focus."

      Furniture Row Racing's demise was cemented when 5-hour Energy didn't renew its sponsorship for 2019.

      That left 69-year-old Visser in the position of personally investing more of his own money to keep the team afloat after already reportedly pouring tens of millions into FRR.

      In addition, Visser suffered a heart attack two weeks before the 2017 final -- he was unable to attend Truex's winning effort in Miami -- and that personal crisis affected his outlook.

      "I had a wake-up call last year and while I feel great, I need to make the best decisions that will have an impact on myself and my family," Visser said.

      --Field Level Media

  • Auto Racing Glance
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, September 4, 2018

    MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

    • MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES: BIG MACHINE VODKA 400 AT THE BRICKYARD (160 laps, 400 miles around a 2.5-mile quad oval), Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Indianapolis, Ind.

      TV: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 2:20 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: ISM Radio Network).

      THIS WEEK: One of NASCAR's signature races moves to September for the first time, but a win at The Brickyard is still one of the most coveted in the sport. ... The 2-mile quad oval is tailor-made for great racing with open-wheel cars, but NASCAR has been a bit of a slog there and attendance has dwindled from more than 200,000 to less than 50,000 in recent years. ... But the list of winners is largely a who's-who of NASCAR royalty, and being the final race before the playoffs begin, a win would be vital to many. ... This will be the 26th of 36 races on the season, and this is the 25th running of the race at Indy. ... Kasey Kahne won the race last season. ... With one race to go, 14 of the 16 playoff spots are spoken for, but the bubble drivers are interesting. ... Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is 14th in the standings but could get knocked out of the playoffs if there's a first-time winner at Indy from outside the top 15 and his teammate Alex Bowman does not win but passes him in points. ... Brad Keselowski notched his first win of the season last week at Darlington. ... *Kyle Busch leads the points standings with 1,038, followed by *Kevin Harvick (999), *Martin Truex Jr. (883), *Kurt Busch (835), *Joey Logano (818), *Keselowski (785), Kyle Larson (783), *Clint Bowyer (777), Ryan Blaney (755) and Denny Hamlin (738) rounding out the top 10. ... *Chase Elliott is 11th (737), *Erik Jones 13th (679) and *Austin Dillon 19th (496), all inside the playoff cutoff. ... The four drivers currently winless but in the playoffs on points are Blaney, Larson, Hamlin and Aric Almirola (12th, 681 points). Johnson is 14th (605) and Bowman 15th (586). With Dillon in the playoffs with his win at Daytona, the first driver out is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 16th (518), and he can't catch Bowman on points.

      (All stats and standings per NASCAR.com)

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth

      NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: LILY DIABETES 250 (100 laps, 250 miles around a 2.5-mile quad oval), Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Indianapolis, Ind.

      TV: Saturday, 3 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 3:20 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

      THIS WEEK: The 25th of 33 races on the season, the series is set to run only its seventh race at the mammoth Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ... There are two races left for the Xfinity full-timers in the regular season before the playoffs begin at Richmond on Sept. 21. ... William Byron won this race last year as a full-time Xfinity driver, and Ty Dillon did it in 2014, but the other five were all won by Cup regulars. ... Brad Keselowski won last week's race at Darlington. ... *Justin Allgaier leads in points with 888, followed by Elliott Sadler (872), Cole Custer (871), *Christopher Bell (852), Daniel Hemric (844), *Tyler Reddick (693), Brandon Jones (687), Matt Tifft (663), Ryan Truex (660), and Ryan Reed (559) rounding out the top 10. The playoffs will start with 12 drivers, with Austin Cindric (549) and Ross Chastain (543) holding spots 11 and 12, respectively. Michael Annett (489) is currently the first driver out.

      (All stats and standings per NASCAR.com)

      *Denotes race winner and playoff berth

      NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES

      THIS WEEK: The Trucks are taking their second of two weekends off after 17 of 23 races on the season and two races to go in the Round of 8. ... Seven drivers are vying to be in the Round of 6, with Justin Haley already punching his ticket with the win in Canada two weeks ago. Fearsome Talladega serves as the cutoff on Oct. 13. ... The next race is at Las Vegas on Sept. 14. ... Johnny Sauter leads the Truck standings (2,081 points), followed by Brett Moffitt (2,075), Noah Gragson (2,070), *Haley (2,065), Matt Crafton (2,047), Stewart Friesen (2,047), Ben Rhodes (2,046) and Grant Enfinger (2,035).

      *Victory and advancement to the next round.

      (All stats and standings per NASCAR.com)

      VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES

      THIS WEEK: This series takes its final weekend off before running the double-points race on the Sonoma road course on Sept. 16. ... For the 13th consecutive season, the championship will be decided in the final race. ... Takuma Sato won last week at Portland but is out of the championship picture. ... Scott Dixon's championship lead is at 29 points as the New Zealander is on top of the standings (598). He'll win the title at Sonoma if he finishes first or second there; he's won the race twice. He is followed by Alexander Rossi (569), Australia's Will Power (511), Josef Newgarden (511), and Ryan Hunter-Reay (462).

      FORMULA ONE

      THIS WEEK: The Italian Grand Prix may go down as the turning point in the championship race after Sebastian Vettel collided on the first lap with Lewis Hamilton, who went on to win at Monza. Vettel recovered to a fourth-place finish, but Hamilton gained 12 more points. ... Now the series takes a week off before heading to Asia for the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 16. ... Great Britain's Hamilton leads the standings in his Mercedes with 256 points, followed by Vettel, Ferrari (226), Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (164), Finland's Valterri Bottas, Mercedes (159) and Belgium's Max Verstappen, Red Bull (130).

      NATIONAL HOT ROD ASSOCIATION

      THIS WEEK: The "Big Go" in Indianapolis settled the playoff picture, and now the NHRA takes a week off before heading to Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, Pa., next week to start the Countdown to the Championship. ... Winners at the U.S. Nationals over Labor Day weekend were Terry McMillen in Top Fuel, J.R. Todd in Funny Car, Tanner Gray in Pro Stock and LE Tonglet in Pro Stock Motorcycle. All four classes will race at Maple Grove. ... Steve Torrence leads the Top Fuel standings (2,100 points), followed by Clay Millican (2,080), Tony Schumacher (2,070), Leah Pritchett (2,060), Doug Kalitta (2,050), Terry McMillen (2,040), Antron Brown (2,040), Brittany Force (2,020), Mike Salinas (2,010) and Scott Palmer (2,000) to start the 10-driver playoffs. ... Courtney Force leads Funny Car (2,100), followed by Matt Hagan (2,080), Robert Hight (2,070), Ron Capps (2,060), Todd (2,050), Jack Beckman (2,040), Tommy Johnson Jr. (2,030), Shawn Langdon (2,020), John Force (2,010) and Tim Wilkerson (2,000). ... Gray leads Pro Stock (2,100), followed by Greg Anderson (2,080), Erica Enders (2,070), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (2,060), Vincent Nobile (2,050), Deric Kramer (2,040), Drew Skillman (2,030), Jason Line (2,020), Bo Butner (2,010) and Chris McGaha (2,000). ... Eddie Krawiec leads Pro Stock Motorcycle (2,100), followed by Andrew Hines (2,080), Tonglet (2,070), Hector Arana Jr. (2,060), Jerry Savoie (2,050), Matt Smith (2,040), Scotty Pollacheck (2,030), Steve Johnson (2,020), Angie Smith (2,010) and Angelle Sampey (2,000). The playoffs start with 10 drivers in each class.

      --Field Level Media

  • Bojangles' Southern 500 results
    By Field Level Media / Monday, September 3, 2018

    Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race -- Bojangles' Southern 500

    • Darlington Raceway

      Darlington, South Carolina

      Sunday, September 2, 2018

      1. (13) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 367.

      2. (8) Joey Logano, Ford, 367.

      3. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 367.

      4. (22) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 367.

      5. (11) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 367.

      6. (9) Kurt Busch, Ford, 367.

      7. (5) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 367.

      8. (7) Erik Jones, Toyota, 367.

      9. (31) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 367.

      10. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 367.

      11. (3) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 367.

      12. (25) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 367.

      13. (19) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 367.

      14. (12) Aric Almirola, Ford, 367.

      15. (21) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 367.

      16. (18) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 367.

      17. (14) Paul Menard, Ford, 366.

      18. (23) David Ragan, Ford, 366.

      19. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 366.

      20. (26) Michael McDowell, Ford, 365.

      21. (28) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 365.

      22. (24) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 365.

      23. (4) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 365.

      24. (29) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 364.

      25. (15) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 364.

      26. (27) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 363.

      27. (34) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 360.

      28. (33) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 360.

      29. (16) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 358.

      30. (35) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 357.

      31. (32) * JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 350.

      32. (37) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 347.

      33. (38) * Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 346.

      34. (40) * Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 344.

      35. (10) William Byron #, Chevrolet, Engine, 329.

      36. (17) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Accident, 309.

      37. (36) * Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 268.

      38. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Rear End, 254.

      39. (20) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Oil Pump, 227.

      40. (39) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, Accident, 120.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.408 mph.

      Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 48 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.224 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 6 for 35 laps.

      Lead Changes: 7 among 5 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: D. Hamlin 1-11; K. Larson 12-129; M. Truex Jr. 130-159; K. Larson 160-258; B. Keselowski 259-260; J. Logano 261-278; K. Larson 279-345; B. Keselowski 346-367.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Larson 3 times for 284 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 30 laps; B. Keselowski 2 times for 24 laps; J. Logano 1 time for 18 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 11 laps.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 42,20,78,22,2,4,11,41,18,9

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,2,22,9,20,41,31,18,1,4

      --By NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • NASCAR notebook: Some of Darlington's hottest aren't racing
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, September 2, 2018

    DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Car buffs will get a feast for their eyes during the parade laps for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

    • Six different Chevrolet Camaros, driven by six NASCAR luminaries -- all with connections to the Track Too Tough to Tame -- will pace the field.

      NASCAR Hall of fame car owner Richard Childress, himself a former driver, will pace the field in his own 1969 Camaro. He'll be joined on track by NASCAR Hall of Fame members Ron Hornday Jr. and Ray Evernham, as well as former Darlington winners Jeff Burton, Ward Burton and Ricky Craven, all driving Camaros of different vintages, from 1981 to 2017.

      "I'm looking forward to getting back on a racetrack with my 1969 Camaro," Childress said. "I ran a Camaro in the Talladega 500 in 1969 when the track was opened, so it seems fitting for me to be a part of Chevy's Camaro parade laps.

      "Darlington's throwback weekend is really special for our fans and a good way to remember our heritage. I'm honored to share the track with this group, I just hope they make sure my Camaro is out front!"

      Craven was the winner of the closest finish in Darlington history, beating Kurt Busch to the finish line by .002 seconds in 2003.

      "I'm excited to celebrate what has become my favorite weekend -- throwback weekend at Darlington," said Craven, who is driving a 1993 Camaro owned by Jim Ramsey of Darlington. "This year's event has become more significant for several reasons.

      "It's been 15 years since my Southern 500 win in 2003, coupled with the fact that I have been asked by Chevrolet to drive one of the pace cars representing the six generations of Camaro during the Seven Decades of Darlington celebration.

      "If it had not been for the support of Chevrolet early on in my career and life, I would not have met my goals and realized my dreams. For that, I will always be very grateful."

      HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS SHOWS UPTICK IN SPEED AT DARLINGTON

      The first round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying looked like old times for Hendrick Motorsports.

      Led by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron, Hendrick drivers posted the second- through fifth-fastest laps in the opening round. Alex Bowman topped the speed chart in the second round before claiming the fourth starting spot in the final session.

      Byron, Bowman and Chase Elliott all advanced to the final 12, with Byron and Elliott qualifying 10th and 1tth, respectively for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500.

      "The biggest thing I have seen this weekend is just an increase in speed, and I feel like it's really good to have that," Byron said after the time trials. "We kind of went both sides of the balance throughout qualifying, but I feel like ultimately, towards the end, we kind of figured out what we needed the most, which was good.

      "I feel like, as we keep going towards (the race), just understanding the balance each run and trying to manage the lap time the best is going to be really important. It's good to start in the top 10 and I'm excited for it."

      It wasn't all rosy news for Hendrick. After recording the fifth-fastest lap in the first round, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson scraped the wall on his second-round lap and could do no better than 20th. Subsequent unapproved adjustments to the no. 48 Chevrolet relegated Johnson to a back-of-the field start on Sunday.

      MISFORTUNE CONTINUES TO FOLLOW NO. 60 ROUSH FENWAY FORD

      Fighting for a spot in the 12-driver NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, Austin Cindric can feel a sense of relief after Saturday's Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway -- he won't have to drive the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in the final two regular-season races.

      Cindric was the innocent victim of a tap from Ryan Truex on the second lap of Saturday's race, and the resulting wreck knocked him out of the event in 40th place. The early exit was Cindric's fourth DNF in the No. 60 ride he shares with Chase Briscoe and Ty Majeski.

      After climbing from the car, Cindric was close to tears.

      "I get turned and plug the fence two laps into the race," Cindric said. "I'm really frustrated about that. I'm frustrated that this is my last race in the 60 car."

      Then again, given the ill-fortune he has endured in the ride, Cindric might consider himself lucky to be driving Team Penske cars as he tries to preserve his 11th-place position in the series standings at Indianapolis and Las Vegas.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.