2017 NASCAR Playoffs at Texas Motor Speedway

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 501 miles (334 laps)
Sunday, Nov. 5 2 p.m. ET TV: NBCSN, 1:30 p.m. ET Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Stage 1 (Ends on lap 85), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on lap 334)

NASCAR XFINITY Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Saturday, Nov. 4 8:30 p.m. ET TV: NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series JAG Metals 350
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 220.5 miles (147 laps)
Friday, Nov. 3 8 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Stage 1 (Ends on lap 35), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on lap 147)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Turbos Into Texas
One week after the dramatic Round of 8 opener at Martinsville, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Kyle Busch has locked up a berth in the Championship 4 with his win at “The Paperclip.” The Playoff leaderboard shakes out as follows:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins
1. Kyle Busch 4100 1
2. Martin Truex Jr. 4117 –
3. Brad Keselowski 4079 –
4. Kevin Harvick 4053 –
5. Jimmie Johnson 4050 –
6. Ryan Blaney 4047 –
7. Denny Hamlin 4045 –
8. Chase Elliott 4027 –

Johnson won the Texas spring race.
Of the contenders, only Johnson (six wins), Busch (2) and Hamlin (2) have won at Texas. Retired Carl Edwards is the defending race winner, while Johnson took the checkered flag at the spring race earlier this year in Fort Worth. The top-10 finishers in this year’s Texas spring race: 1. Johnson 2. Kyle Larson 3. Joey Logano 4. Kevin Harvick 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6. Brad Keselowski 7. Jamie
McMurray 8. Martin Truex Jr. 9. Chase Elliott 10. Kurt Busch. Johnson Texas Ranger: Seven-Time Champ Goes For Record Seventh Texas Win, Championship 4 Berth. Superman wears Jimmie Johnson pajamas. While we don’t have proof of that, we do know Johnson is Superman at Texas Motor Speedway – the site of Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Playoffs race. He holds the all-time track records for wins (7), top fives (15) and top 10s (21). Among active drivers, Johnson boasts the top driver rating (107.3), the second-best average finish (8.2) and the third-best average running position (10.3). Johnson, who won the spring race at Texas, sits three points below Kevin Harvick for advancement to the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He’s won four of the last six races in the Lone Star State.

Elliott Attempts To Rebound From Disappointment With Texas Win
In the closing laps of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race, Chase Elliott looked like he was going to get his first career win and a berth in the Championship 4. Instead, he wrecked in the closing laps and is now 26 points below the cutoff line for advancement to the title race. The No. 24 Chevrolet driver essentially needs to win one of the next two races (Texas or Phoenix) to join the Championship 4. He’ll get his first shot at Texas where he’s run strong in his first three races at the 1.5-mile track. In the three starts, he’s placed fifth (spring 2016), fourth (fall 2016) and ninth (spring 2017). Among active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers at Texas, Elliott ranks first in average finish (6.0), second average running position (9.6) and fourth in driver rating (98.3).

Blaney Tries To Pull Off Another Strong Texas Performance
In this year’s spring Texas race Ryan Blaney led an event-high 148 laps and won the first two stages, but couldn’t close the contest out with a victory. He finished 12th. He’ll try to close the deal in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Blaney enters the race six points behind Kevin Harvick on the cutoff line to advance to the Championship 4. He’s coming off a third-place finish at Kansas and an eighth-place showing at Martinsville. In five starts at Texas, Blaney has never finished better than 12th (twice). He did not finish his first two races at the 1.5-mile
track.

Plenty Can Play Spoiler At Texas
Again, just because a driver is not in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs doesn’t mean he/she can’t win a postseason race.

Six non-Playoff drivers have won at Texas Motor Speedway previously: Matt Kenseth (twice), Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.

The highest finishing non-Playoff drivers in this year’s Texas spring race were Kyle Larson (second), Logano (third), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (five), Jamie McMurray (seven) and Kurt Busch (10th).

Kyle Busch Can Become Second Driver This Season To Lead 2,000 Laps
Kyle Busch is only 27 laps led away from pacing the field for 2,000 laps this season. If he were to accomplish the feat – joining Martin Truex Jr. (2,068 laps led this season) – It will be the first time since 1989 (28 years ago; Dale Earnhardt led 2,735 laps and Rusty Wallace led 2,020) the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has seen more than one driver lead 2,000 or more laps in a single season.

Velocity Motorsports News Picks to make the Final 4
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Busch
2. Jimmie Johnson
4. Kevin Harvick

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Matt Kenseth Set To Run XFINITY Team USA Paint Scheme
Matt Kenseth will drive the No. 20 XFINITY Team USA Toyota Camry during Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The car celebrates Comcast’s official partnership with the United States
Olympic Committee (USOC).

The No. 20 will feature Comcast’s Xfinity brand and USOC logo lock-up on the hood of Kenseth’s Toyota Camry to commemorate the 100-day milestone from the start of the Olympic Winter Games 2018.

“Being able to feature XFINITY and Team USA aboard our No. 20 Camry this weekend is really exciting,” Kenseth said. “The Games give our country and the world a way to unite in competitions through sport and I always enjoy getting to watch these athletes do what they do best.”

NASCAR XFINITY Series

XFINITY Series Playoff Challengers Prepare For Texas Motor Speedway
Following the final off-week of the 2017 season, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff contenders head to Texas Motor Speedway for the second race of the Round of 8 (Charlotte, Texas and Phoenix). The top four drivers at the conclusion of the Round of 8 advance to the Championship 4 for a shot at the title in Homestead-Miami. Below is the latest Playoff leaderboard following the race at Kansas:

NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff Round Of 8

Rank Driver Points Leader
1. Justin Allgaier 3,066
2. William Byron 3,064
3. Elliott Sadler 3,055
4. Brennan Poole 3,038
5. Matt Tifft 3,033
6. Ryan Reed 3,032
7. Daniel Hemric 3,032
8. Cole Custer 3,030
9. Brendan Gaughan 2,103
10. Michael Annett 2,081
11. Jeremy Clements 2,064
12. Blake Koch 2,059

None of the current Playoff contenders have won at Texas in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but here are their career average finishing positions – Cole Custer (5.0), William Byron (7.0) Elliott Sadler (11.6), Justin Allgaier (12.4), Matt Tifft (12.7) Ryan Reed (14.9), Brennan Poole (19.3) Daniel Hemric (32.0).

A Dive Into The XFINITY Playoff Round Of 8 Contenders At Texas
Just eight drivers remain in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs as the series heads to Texas Motor Speedway. Below is a quick look at the eight Playoff challenger’s career performances at Texas, and what they will need to do to secure a spot in the Championship 4:

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)
Allgaier is currently the No. 1 seed going into Texas this weekend with 3,066 points; 33 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff line and fifth-place Matt Tifft. In 30 starts this season, Allgaier has posted two wins, 10 top fives and 16 top 10s.

Allgaier has made 14 series starts at Texas, posting seven top-10 finishes and an average finish of 12.4. He finished 10th in this event last season.

Clinch Scenario: Allgaier can clinch a spot in the next round with a win. He could also clinch on points with a new winner and help.

William Byron (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)
Byron roles into Texas this weekend as the second seed with 3,064 points; 31 points ahead of fifth-place Matt Tifft – the first position outside the Playoff cutoff. In 30 starts this season, Byron has posted three wins, 10 top fives and 19 top 10s.

Byron made his series track debut at Texas earlier this season; he started fifth and finished seventh.

Clinch Scenario: Byron can clinch a spot in the next round with a win. He could also clinch on points with a new winner and help.

Elliott Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)
Sadler is currently ranked third in the Playoff standings with 3,055 points; 22 markers ahead of fifth-place Matt Tifft in the first position outside the Playoff cutoff line. In 30 starts this season, Sadler has posted 11 top fives and 23 top 10s.

Sadler has made 19 starts at Texas, posting two poles, three top fives, 12 top 10s and an average finish of 11.6.

Clinch Scenarios: Sadler could clinch a spot in the next round with a win this weekend. He could also clinch on points with a repeat winner and help.

Brennan Poole (No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet)
Poole currently sits fourth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff standings with 3,038 points; just five points ahead of fifth-place Matt Tifft outside the Playoff cutoff line. In 30 starts this season, Poole has posted four top fives and 15 top 10s.

Poole, from The Woodlands, Texas, has made four series starts at his home track, posting one top 10 and an average finish of 19.2.

Clinch Scenario: Poole can clinch a spot in the next round with a win.

Matt Tifft (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
Tifft heads to Texas this weekend ranked fifth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs with 3,033 points. Tifft is currently the first driver outside the Playoff cutoff line, five points back from Brennan Poole in fourth. In 30 starts this season, Tifft has posted two top fives and 11 top 10s.

Tifft has made three series starts at Texas, posting two top 10s and an average finish of 12.7.

Clinch Scenario: Tifft can clinch a spot in the next round with a win.

Ryan Reed (No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)
Reed currently is sixth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff standings with 3,032 points; six points behind fourth-place Brennan Poole. In 30 starts this season, Reed has posted one win, two top fives and seven top 10s.

Reed has made seven series starts at Texas, posting a best finish of 11th earlier this season. His average finish at Texas is 14.9.

Clinch Scenario: Reed can clinch a spot in the next round with a win.

Daniel Hemric (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)
Hemric roles into Texas this weekend ranked seventh in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings with 3,032 points; six points behind fourth-place Brennan Poole. In 30 starts this season, Hemric has
posted six top fives and 15 top 10s.

Hemric made his series track debut at Texas earlier this season; he started seventh but finished 32nd after being in an accident in the early stages of the race.

Clinch Scenario: Hemric can clinch a spot in the next round with a win.

Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
Custer currently is ranked eighth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff standings with 3,030 points; eight points back from fourth-place Brennan Poole. In 30 starts this season Custer has posted five top fives and 16 top 10s.

Custer made his series track debit at Texas earlier this season; he started sixth and finished fifth.

Clinch Scenario: Custer can clinch a spot in the next round with a win.

The 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series season has produced a total of 17 different winners and is the first time the series has seen that many different winners since 1994 (23 seasons ago).

17 different winners in a single NASCAR XFINITY Series season has only happened three other seasons (1994, 1992 and 1989), and is the second highest number of different winners in single NXS season behind the record of 18 different winners in 1988.

2017 Could See An Impressive Seven First-Time Winners
Following Christopher Bell’s win at Kansas two weeks ago, the 2017 season is now tied with seven other seasons (1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2006) for the second most first-time winners behind the inaugural series season, 1982, which saw 14 first-time winners.

So, will we see a seventh? There is a good chance.

Of the 40 drivers entered this weekend, 21 (52.5%) have yet to win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series; including four of the Playoff contenders – Cole Custer, Matt Tifft, Brennan Poole and Daniel Hemric.

Texas Motor Speedway has produced five first-time NASCAR XFINITY Series winners (all-time) – Erik Jones (2015), Chase Elliott (2014), Trevor Bayne (2011), Kurt Busch (2006) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998).

Plus, since 2007 (last 10 seasons), there have been 35 first-time winners fielded by 12 different organizations in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Of the 12 organizations since 2007, Joe Gibbs Racing has produced the most first-time winners (six; Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Aric Almirola and Joey Logano); followed by Chip Ganassi Racing and Roush Fenway Racing
(with five each).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Gragson Grabs First Career Win At Martinsville
NASCAR Next (Class of 2016) and Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Noah Gragson captured his first career NASCAR national series victory when he won the Texas Roadhouse 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

On a restart with 10 laps remaining, Gragson took the lead over two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton and never looked back.

After taking the checkered flag, Gragson’s enthusiasm couldn’t be contained as he climbed up the frontstretch catchfence to celebrate.

Gragson added his name back to the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors contention with the win and now sits in third place behind leader Grant Enfinger and second-place Chase Briscoe.

Former Champions Score Top Martinsville Finishes
Even though Noah Gragson came away from Martinsville Speedway the victor of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, former series champions Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter showed they have their sights set for the Championship 4 at Homestead.

Crafton, the only driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to win back-to-back championships (2013 and 2014), led 102 laps at Martinsville and won Stage 2 on his way to a runner-up finish.

Sauter, the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, won Stage 1 of the race and led 33 laps as he finished third.

Both former champions sit top-three on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs leaderboard right now and look to be serious contenders in reaching the Championship 4 for the second consecutive season.

Sauter (second in Playoffs standings), is three points back of leader Christopher Bell. And the three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series tracks remaining might as well be considered Sauter’s playground. He won at Texas Motor Speedway last year, finished runner-up at Phoenix Raceway and then scored a third-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the 2016 championship a year ago.

Crafton (third in Playoffs standings), is 12 points back from Sauter and 15 from Bell. Crafton also has championship-caliber experience at the three remaining Playoff tracks. He’s won at Texas twice (spring 2014 and spring 2015), he’s finished top-five or better in three of his last four races at Phoenix and won at Homestead in 2015.

Both will officially look to punch their return ticket to the Championship 4 this week at Texas Motor Speedway.

Nemechek Entering Must-Win Situation
NEMCO Motorsports’ and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs contender John Hunter Nemechek was struck with bad luck at Martinsville Speedway.

He crashed out his No. 8 Chevrolet after 37 laps at Martinsville – resulting in him finishing 30th. The finish put Nemechek last in the Round of 6 Playoffs standings and 62 points behind current leader Christopher Bell.

The good news? Nemechek has two chances left with Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway to win a race and advance to the Championship 4. Nemechek has four top 25s in four career starts at Texas and has finished inside the top seven in three consecutive races at Phoenix.

Nemechek currently sits 28 points behind Ben Rhodes, who right now would be the fourth transfer driver into the Championship 4 from the Round of 6.

We’ve seen Nemechek make magic happen already this season. After struggling in his opening race in the Round of 8, Nemechek was able to string together strong finishes at Las Vegas and Talladega to advance to the Round of 6.

He will need some help, and similarly good luck, to advance to the Championship 4 in the next two races.

NASCAR Next Drivers In The Top Five At Martinsville
Noah Gragson wasn’t the only NASCAR Next driver to score a top-five finish at Martinsville Speedway this past weekend.

Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton, both driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, landed in the top five at “The Paperclip,” too.

In his fifth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season, Gilliland fittingly finished fifth. Since struggling due to suspension and transmission issues in his first two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season, Gilliland has now finished in the top 11 or better in his last three series starts, including back-to-back top fives at New Hampshire (third) and Martinsville (fifth).

Making his sixth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Burton finished a career-best fourth. It was his first top five finish in a NASCAR national series race. Burton has yet to finish outside the top 18 this season for KBM.

Playoff Battle In The Lone Star State
Following the opening Round of 6 race at Martinsville Speedway, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs shift to Texas Motor Speedway for the JAG Metals 350 on Friday (8 p.m. on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter is the defending race winner, while two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton finished right behind him in second in last year’s contest.

It’s important to note that current Playoffs leader Christopher Bell won the WinstarOnlineGaming.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this season.

Ben Rhodes (fifth), Sauter (eighth) and Crafton (ninth) all finished inside the top 10 in that Texas showdown.

2017 NASCAR Playoffs Outlook Update: Post-Martinsville
Following the opening race of the Round of 6, below is an updated NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs grid heading into Texas:

Rank Driver Points
1. Christopher Bell 3083
2. Johnny Sauter 3080
3. Matt Crafton 3068
4. Ben Rhodes 3049
5. Austin Cindric 3038
6. JH Nemechek 3021

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Clinch Scenarios
Below is a look at the clinch scenarios for all six Playoffs drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Round of 6 heading into Texas Motor Speedway:

Christopher Bell (0 Wins, 3083 Points): Bell would clinch a Championship 4 spot with a win or could clinch on points with help.

Johnny Sauter (0 Wins, 3080 Points): Sauter would clinch a Championship 4 spot with a win or could clinch on points with help.

Matt Crafton (0 Wins, 3068 Points): Crafton would clinch a Championship 4 spot with a win or could clinch on points with a repeat winner and help.

Ben Rhodes (0 Wins, 3049 Points): Rhodes would clinch a Championship 4 spot with a win.

Austin Cindric (0 Wins, 3038 Points): Cindric would clinch a Championship 4 spot with a win.

John H Nemechek (0 Wins, 3021 Points): – Nemechek would clinch a Championship 4 spot with a win.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs By Round
As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs began its Round of 6 at Martinsville Speedway, below is a look at the remaining NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs rounds and which tracks line up per round.

ROUND OF 6
JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway
(Friday, November 3 at 8 p.m. on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway
(Friday, November 10 at 8:30 p.m. on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

CHAMPIONSHIP 4
Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
(Friday, November 17 at 8 p.m. on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Texas Motor Speedway Quick Facts
As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the JAG Metals 350 Friday (8 p.m. on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), below are some series quick facts at the 1.5-mile track:

Races: 39
Pole Winners: 25
Youngest Pole Winner: Tyler Reddick (10/31/2014 – 18 years, 9 months, 20 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Mike Skinner (11/02/2007 – 50 years, 4 months, 5 days)
Race Winners: 22
Youngest Winner: William Byron (06/10/2016 – 18 years, 6 months, 12 days)
Oldest Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr. (06/10/2011 – 52 years, 11 months, 21 days)
Races Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 5
Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Todd Bodine (06/08/2007)
Race Record: Erik Jones – 158.002 mph (11/06/2015)
Qualifying Record: Noah Gragson – 185.134 mph (06/09/2017)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner Standings Update: Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota Tundra leads GMS Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado by a rail-thin three points in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner standings after 20 races this season. ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 Toyota Tundra (-15), Kyle Busch Motorsports’ second entry, the No. 51 Toyota Tundra (-22) and Brad Keselowski Racing’s No. 19 Ford F-150 round out the top five.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Manufacturer Standings Update: Through 20 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season, Toyota leads Chevrolet by 48 points in the manufacturer standings, 753-705. In third place sits Ford with 629 points.

NASCAR
http://www.nascar.com/
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR

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