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NASCAR National Series News & Notes -- Richmond

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Federated Auto Parts 400
The Place: Richmond Raceway
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 9
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (400 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 100),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 200), Final Stage (Ends on lap 400)

NASCAR XFINITY Series
Next Race: Virginia529 College Savings 250
The Place: Richmond Raceway
The Date: Friday, Sept. 8
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 187.5 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 75),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on lap 250)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Chicagoland 225
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Friday, Sept. 15
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 225 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 35),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

Three’s A Crowd: A New Winner At Richmond Would Shake Up The Playoff Picture

The Playoffs are almost here as NASCAR concludes its regular season with Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Plenty of drama can unfold with the potential of a new winner making the Playoffs as just three points separate the trio of drivers currently holding on to the final postseason slots.

If there is no new winner, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray would all make the playoffs on points. But if there’s a fresh face in Victory Lane, all three are in danger of missing the postseason. Elliott sits 14th on the playoff grid, a mere two points ahead of Kenseth and three points ahead of McMurray.

Elliott has struggled at Richmond throughout his young career. In four starts, he has a high finish of 12th and an average showing of 17.8.

Kenseth claims two wins, six top fives, 16 top 10s and a 16.1 average finish in 35 career starts at Richmond. He won the September race in 2015.

In 29 starts at Richmond, McMurray has posted three top fives, eight top 10s and a 19.2 average finish. He has finished no lower than 16th in his last eight starts there. Included in that stretch are three fourth-place finishes and five top-seven showings.

Truex Captures Regular Season Title At Richmond

Following his performance at Darlington, where he won the first two stages and finished eighth, Martin Truex Jr. captured the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season championship. He’ll be formally crowned champion following Saturday’s race at Richmond.

Truex leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in points (107 more than second-place Kyle Busch), wins (4, Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson are second with 3), stage wins (17, Kyle Busch is second with 10) top 10s (17, Kevin Harvick is second with 16), playoff points 37 (Kyle Busch is second with 20), average running position (8.0, Kyle Busch is second with 8.7), driver rating (113.9, Kyle Busch is second with 107.3), fastest laps run (892, 15.6%; Busch is second with 727, 12.7%) and laps led (1,448, 20.7%; Busch is second with 1,311, 18.7%).

“It’s an honor to win the regular-season championship and a milestone for Martin and Furniture Row Racing,” said Joe Garone, president of Furniture Row Racing. “At the end of the day, though, our sights are set on the long term-goal which is winning the championship at Homestead. We’ll use this regular season championship, and the bad luck the 78 team had at the end of tonight’s race, as a springboard to take us to that goal.”

Logano A Favorite At Richmond?

Joey Logano’s lone win this season came at Richmond in April. The victory was encumbered after Logano failed inspection, so he must take the checkered flag in this weekend’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at the Northern Virginia track to make NASCAR’s Playoffs.

Logano has placed in the top 10 in his last eight races at Richmond. In 17 starts there, he claims two wins, six top fives, nine top 10s and a 12.5 average finish.

The No. 22 Ford driver has struggled since his April Richmond win. Since then, he’s registered only three top 10s in 16 starts.

The last driver to sweep Richmond was Jimmie Johnson in 2007.

Must-Win Race For Bowyer At Richmond

Clint Bowyer suffered an engine failure early in the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway that’s forced him out of Playoffs contention through points. He must win this weekend at Richmond to make the postseason.

Fortunately for Bowyer, Richmond is one of his top courses. In 23 starts at the .75-mile short track, he owns two wins, four top fives, 12 top 10s and a 12.9 average finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gets Last Chance To Make Playoffs In Final Season

For Dale Earnhardt Jr. to make the Playoffs in his final season, he’ll have to win Saturday Richmond - a feat he’s achieved three times in his career (2000, 2004 and 2006), Still, it’s been 11 years since he last won at the .75-mile short track.

In addition to his three wins, Earnhardt has 10 top fives, 14 top 10s and a 13.7 average finish at Richmond.

The No. 88 Chevrolet driver enjoys running at Richmond because it has a similar setup to Myrtle Beach Speedway where he raced often growing up.

Denny The Defender: Hamlin Goes For Back-To-Back Wins

On Saturday, Denny Hamlin will not only try for his second consecutive win after taking the checkered flag last weekend at Darlington, he’ll attempt to visit Victory Lane in consecutive September Richmond races.

A win on Saturday would give Hamlin an extra five playoff points heading into NASCAR’s postseason. Right now, he trails the following drivers in playoff points: Martin Truex Jr. (37), Kyle Busch (20), Kyle Larson (18), Jimmie Johnson (16) and Brad Keselowski (18).

The Chesterfield, Virginia, native claims three wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s and a 9.8 average finish at the .75-mile track. He has finished sixth or better in the last four races there. His 110.3 driver rating at Richmond ranks second among active drivers.

Hamlin has been one of the top-performing drivers in NASCAR this summer. Since the June Michigan race, he has finished fourth or better in eight of 11 races. Included in that stretch are two wins.

Jones Hits Groove, Will Try To Make Last-Ditch Playoff Push

Sunoco Rookie of the Year frontrunner Erik Jones has hit his groove recently. The 21-year-old Michigan native boasts five consecutive top-10 finishes and three straight top-five showings.

Jones will try to win his way into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Richmond where he finished 38th due to a wreck in April. In four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at the Virginia track, he has two top fives, including a runner-up performance this spring.

On the season, Jones claims four top fives, 10 top 10s and a 16.3 average finish. He leads Daniel Suarez by 12 points in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Two Races To Go And Plenty Of XFINITY Playoff Spots To Fight For

Following the 24th race of the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series season at Darlington Raceway, six drivers - William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Reed, Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole and Daniel Hemric - have all clinched a spot in the postseason on either wins or points.

Though Jeremy Clements has a win, he has not yet clinched a Playoffs spot because he hasn’t clinched a top 20 spot in the standings. Clements is currently 18th in the standings, 101 points ahead of 21st, and can still possibly fall out of top 20 in the next two races. If Clements was to fall out of the top 20 in the standings, even though he has a win, he would be ineligible for the postseason. Clements can lock himself into the top 20 and the playoffs with 17 points this weekend.

With two races to go and several NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff spots still up for grabs in Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway (on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 7:30 p.m. ET) here are the clinch scenarios for this weekend.

Cole Custer (0 Wins, 590 Points, +316 Points Ahead of 21st) - Custer can clinch on points with 11 points and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would then clinch on points with eight points. He can also clinch a playoff spot with a win.

Custer has made two series starts at Richmond, posting one top 10 and an average finish of 9.5.

Matt Tifft (0 Wins, 558 Points, +284 Points Ahead of 21st) - Tifft can clinch on points with 43 points and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would then clinch on points with 40 points. He can also clinch a playoff spot with a win.

Tifft has made two series starts at Richmond, posting a best finish of 14th earlier this season. His average finish at RIR is 23.5.

Blake Koch (0 Wins, 511 Points, +237 Points Ahead of 21st) - Koch can clinch a spot with a win. He could also clinch on points, but would need help.

Koch has made 12 career starts at Richmond posting one top 10 and an average finish of 24.2.

Michael Annett (0 Wins, 490 Points, +216 Points Ahead of 21st) - Annett can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win. He can also clinch on points with a repeat winner and help.

Annett has made 10 series starts at Richmond posting one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 16.6.

Brendan Gaughan (0 Wins, 487 Points, +213 Points Ahead of 21st) - Gaughan can only clinch a spot in the playoffs this weekend with a win.

Gaughan has made 11 series starts at Richmond posting two top 10s and an average finish of 18.0.

The remaining drivers in contention to make the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs can only clinch a spot in the postseason this weekend with a win:

Dakoda Armstrong (0 Wins, 467 Points, +193 Points Ahead of 21st)

Ross Chastain (0 Wins, 432 Points, +158 Points Ahead of 21st)

JJ Yeley (0 Wins, 429 Points, +155 Points Ahead of 21st)

Ryan Sieg (0 Wins, 413 Points, +139 Points Ahead of 21st)

Brandon Jones (0 Wins, 388 Points, +114 Points Ahead of 21st)

Impossible to Clinch: Joey Gase (0 Wins, 274 Points, 13 Points Behind 20th In Points) - Even with a win, he would not clinch a Top 20 spot, so he cannot clinch a Playoff berth at Richmond. If he can't clinch a Top 20 with a win, no driver below him in the standings could clinch either.

Outside Looking In: JGL Racing’s Dakoda Armstrong Has Two Races Left To Make The Playoffs

JR Motorsport’s Michael Annett and Richard Childress Racing’s Brendan Gaughan have no room for mistakes in the next two races as JGL Racing’s Dakoda Armstrong is within striking distance of knocking one of two from the Playoffs in the upcoming final two races of the regular season (Richmond and Chicago).

Armstrong is currently 13th in the series driver standings, the first spot outside the Playoffs, a mere 23 points back from Michael Annett and just 20 points behind Brendan Gaughan in the final postseason spot heading into this weekend’s race the Virginia529 College Savings 250 (Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Richmond Raceway.

Armstrong has made seven series starts at Richmond, recording one top 10. Richmond is one of Armstrong’s better tracks and battling for the final Playoff spot could get interesting this weekend as all three drivers have fairly similar average finishes at RIR - Annett (16.6), Armstrong (16.8) and Gaughan (18.0).

Virginian Elliott Sadler Comes Home To Lock-Up Regular Season Title

JR Motorsport’s Elliott Sadler, from Emporia, Virginia, returns to his home state hoping to not only get his first win of the 2017 season, but also lock up the NASCAR XFINITY Series Regular Season championship this Friday at Richmond Raceway in the Virginia529 College Savings 250. To clinch the regular season title, Sadler will need a 61-point lead over second-place in the driver standings following Richmond; he is currently 91 points ahead of second.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series Regular Season championship is more than just an accomplishment with a title, it also comes with 15 playoff points; which equals three wins’ worth of playoff points to take to the postseason.

Though Sadler has yet to win in 2017, he has been a dominant competitor on the track. Not only has he posted the series-most in top fives (9) and top 10s (17), but he has also been the points leader following every race but two this season.

Sadler is not only looking for his first win of the season, but also his first win of his career at Richmond Raceway. In 28 series career starts at Richmond, he has posted four top fives, 13 top 10s and an average finish of 13.8. He finished seventh in the spring race earlier this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Leads A Cavalcade Of Stars Competing In The Virginia529 College Savings 250

The sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and five other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors - Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Reed Sorenson, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski - will be pulling double duty this weekend at Richmond Raceway in the Virginia529 College Savings 250.

Earnhardt Jr. has been quite successful at Richmond in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. In six series career starts, he has four wins (2016 spring, ’02 fall, ’99 fall and ’98 fall), five top fives and an average finish of 6.3. Among drivers with multiple series wins at Richmond, Earnhardt Jr. has the highest winning percentage at 66.7%; followed by Harry Gant with a 36.4% winning percentage after winning four races in 11 starts at Richmond. Earnhardt will be driving the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet with crew chief Scott Radel.

Joining Earnhardt this weekend is the series’ all-time winningest driver and defending Richmond Fall race winner, Kyle Busch (91 wins), who returns to Richmond Raceway looking to tie Kevin Harvick (seven victories) for the series-most wins at the track. In 21 series starts at Richmond, Busch has posted six wins (2016 fall, 2014 fall, 2011 fall, 2009 spring, 2007 fall and 2004 spring), 15 top fives, 18 top 10s and an average finish of 5.5. Three of his six wins came from the pole. He hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his last seven series starts at Richmond.

Brad Keselowski is also a former Richmond Raceway winner who will be pulling double duty this weekend. He has made 16 starts at Richmond posting three wins (2013 sweep, 2010 Spring), eight top fives and nine top 10s.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Austin Cindric Scores First Career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Win

NASCAR Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and Brad Keselowski Racing driver Austin Cindric won his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race with the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

Cindric, who also won his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole earlier in the day, was aggressive in his last lap bump into fellow rookie and GMS Racing Kaz Grala for his first win and a ticket to the Playoffs.

Cindric did not shy away from the incident or going after his win to get into the postseason.

“I’d say it’s an incredible week for this entire 19 race team. Everyone has seen this race and from how it plays out in the end. I don’t think I saw one highlight that didn’t show someone getting into the back of another driver to win the race. I hate for it to come down to that. I think I made an easy decision since Kaz already had a win to get into the playoffs. For us, it gives us a brighter light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully something for us to chase after for the rest of the year.”

You can find the rest of that post-race audio here.

With the win, Cindric became the sixth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver to win this season joining Christopher Bell, John Hunter Nemechek, Johnny Sauter, Matt Crafton and Kaz Grala.

Cindric has had a very strong season, winning once and scoring four top fives and nine top 10s. He’s led 66 laps this season and has seven consecutive top 10s.

Chase Briscoe Clinches NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Berth

It was a strong week for Brad Keselowski Racing at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park as Austin Cindric won the Chevrolet Silverado 250 and Chase Briscoe clinched a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs berth with his seventh-place finish.

Briscoe is currently the seventh seed on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs grid and still has a shot to win his first career race with one regular season race remaining at Chicagoland Speedway.

He’s had a strong Sunoco Rookie season with five top fives and nine top 10s. Briscoe has never finished outside the top-25 this season and has led 109 laps in the No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford.

Top Four Finishers At Canadian Tire Under 20-Years-Old

The top four finishers in Sunday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park have two things in common...they’re all under the age of 20 and are all in contention for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season.

Race winner Austin Cindric and second-place finisher Noah Gragson are both 19, while third-place finisher Kaz Grala and fourth-place finisher Justin Haley are both 18.

All four drivers have had strong Sunoco Rookie campaigns as Cindric and Grala both have wins this season and will be in the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Gragson (11th) and Haley (12th) are both on the outside of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs bubble, but a win at Chicagoland Speedway could change everything for either driver.

Speaking of young drivers, 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver Todd Gilliland made his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start this season at Canadian Tire last Sunday. He scored a career-best finish in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, placing 11th after starting 13th.

2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs Final Countdown: 1 Race

With only one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season race remaining before the playoffs begin, below is a look at the playoff picture following Canadian Tire Motorsports Park:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Playoff Points Pts from Cutoff

1 Christopher Bell 634 4 24 -

2 JH Nemechek 463 2 11 -

3 Johnny Sauter 604 1 10 -

4 Matt Crafton 574 1 7 -

5 Austin Cindric 447 1 6 -

6 Kaz Grala 373 1 5 -

7 Chase Briscoe 573 0 1 -

8 Ben Rhodes 505 0 1 7

9 Ryan Truex 498 0 2 -7

10 Grant Enfinger 474 0 0 -31

11 Noah Gragson 458 0 1 -47

12 Justin Haley 386 0 0 -119

Trucking Down Into The Windy City

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this week - but picks back up next week at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, September 15 for the Chicagoland 225 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN & SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Kyle Busch is the defending race winner, while Christopher Bell (fourth), Johnny Sauter (fifth) and Grant Enfinger (sixth) all finished inside the top-10.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Clinch Scenarios At Chicagoland

With a pair of Brad Keselowski Racing drivers clinching two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs spots in Austin Cindric (win) and Chase Briscoe (points) at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, there is only one Playoffs spot up for grabs at Chicagoland Speedway.

ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes, who is currently in the eighth and final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs position could officially clinch that spot with a win at Chicagoland or on points if he scores at least 49 points in the race.

The following drivers could clinch their Playoffs berth with a win or on points based on a repeat winner and help from other drivers:

Ryan Truex
Grant Enfinger
Noah Gragson

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Etc.:

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner Standings Update: Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 4 Toyota Tundra retains a 30-point lead over GMS Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner standings after 15 races this season. ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 Toyota Tundra (-60), Brad Keselowski Racing’s No. 29 Ford F-150 (-61) and ThorSport Racing’s No. 27 Toyota Tundra (-129) round out the top five.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Manufacturer Standings Update: Through 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season, Toyota leads Chevrolet by 23 points in the manufacturer standings, 559-536. In third place, Ford sits at 472 points and captured their first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win this season when Austin Cindric won at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

--- NASCAR ---