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© 2017 Charlotte Observer. Distributed by Tribune News Service

Xfinity quote: “It’s really hard to get a car like that
(Willliam Byron’s), and, to be honest, we didn’t have
it in the first run. We were a little bit off on the first
run. We made some great changes after the first stage
to get it better to where it needs to be.”
- Ryan Blaney, who won the second Xfinity Series
Playoffss race Saturday at Dover, taking the lead late
from Byron off pit road under caution on Lap 64.

Go online and check out thatsracin.com for the latest information and news on stock-car racing, updated daily.

BANK OF AMERICA 500

Distance: 334 laps, or 501 miles.
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile,
asphalt quad oval in Concord, N.C.
When: 2 p.m. ET Sunday. TV: NBCSN.
Last year’s winner: Jimmie Johnson.
Worth mentioning: This is the first race of the
second round of the playoffs. Who’s hot heading in? Kyle Busch — he’s won back-to-back
races and risen to second place in the standings;
and Brad Keselowski — he won a stage point
in Stage 1 at Dover, and he’s up to fourth in
the standings. Who’s not? Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
survived to the second round of the playoffs, but
he’ll need to improve significantly if he hopes
to make it another round; and Denny Hamlin
— he finished 35th at Dover, he’ll need better
finishes this round to keep from slipping.

ON ROBERT YATES’ PASSING

BRIAN LAWDERMILK/FOR NASCAR

Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, celebrates winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday.

MONSTER CUP PLAYOFFS

NASCAR playoffs are down
to final 12 drivers — this is
where things get good

N

ow we get the good part.
Last week’s NASCAR
Cup Series race at Dover,
Del., eliminated four playoff
drivers — Kasey Kahne,
Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Austin
Dillon — were eliminated. That leaves
12. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Jimmie
Johnson, they’re all among them.
And now they’re going to go straight at
each other.
The thing is, while the playoffs have
been going on for the past three races,
there hasn’t been the drama that comes in
the later stages. Think of it this way: The
first round of the NBA playoffs are great
and all, but after a while you get bored
with watching No. 1 seeds beat up on
teams just sneaking on.
NASCAR’s the same way. Drivers such
as Kahne and Dillon were in the playoffs
in the first place by virtue of their singular
wins. Their driving the rest of the season
was too irregular, too streaky to truly com-

• Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey
Kahne and Kurt Busch were eliminated from the Playoffs, as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed the 12th and final
spot in the next round by two points
over Newman, thanks to a risky pit call
by crew chief Brian Pattie.

pete for a championship. In much the same
way the Portland Trail Blazers were never
going to defeat the Golden State Warriors,
Kahne was never going to beat Truex for a
championship.
But now we’re through to the next
round, and this is where things pick up.
This is when we get the sport’s heavy hitters going head to head, or bumper to bumper in their case.
It’s also the part of the postseason when
upsets become possible, and who doesn’t
love a good upset? Take last season for
example. Truex was one of the championship favorites all year, but some poor

WINNER’S QUOTE
“Great job by the team being able to get in Victory Lane
here in Dover. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in
Victory Lane here, and it’s hard to come by wins here
because (11-time Dover winner) Jimmie (Johnson) takes
up all the darn Monster trophies.”

showings in the first round dropped him
down the standings. He ended up not making the third round, even though his car
was one of the faster ones.
There’s no one now who fits that same
billing — the leaders all season (such as
Truex, Kyle Larson, and Kyle Busch, to
name a few) are still cruising – but if there
was going to be a dramatic shakeup on the
leaderboard, now is the time.
With Charlotte and Kansas City, with
wild-card Talladega sandwiched between
them, on the menu for the next three races,
there’s plenty of moving still to be done.
This is the part of the playoffs where
things start to get interesting. This is the
part of the playoffs when fan favorites start
to miss the cut.
This is the part of the playoffs where
if you haven’t been watching, it’s time to
tune in.
All that, of course, and our championship picture crystalizes a lot more.
— Brendan Marks, Charlotte Observer
Kyle
Busch
celebrates
in Victory
Lane.
CHRIS
TROTMAN
FOR NASCAR

— Kyle Busch, who ran Chase Elliott down from more than four seconds
back in the last 40 laps Sunday at Dover International Speedway for his
second straight victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff, leaving Elliott still in search of his first victory in the series

NASCAR team owner and engine builder
Robert Yates died Monday night at age 74.
Yates started out in auto racing as an engine
builder. He won 57 Cup races as an owner,
including three Daytona 500s with drivers such
as Davey Allison and Dale Jarrett.
Yates was selected for the NASCAR Hall
of Fame in May. He was set for induction in
January.
“Robert Yates’ excellence
spanned decades, from the 1983
championship powered by his
engines and the 1999 title captured by the cars he owned,
both of which helped earn him a
deserved spot in the NASCAR
Hall of Fame Class of 2018,” said NASCAR
Chairman and CEO Brian France.
“And though he was a master at his craft, it
was Robert’s passion and character that endeared
him to every single person he encountered and
will ensure that his memory will live on for generations.”
MONSTER CUP POINTS LEADERS
12 Cup advancers, plus 4, as of Oct. 1
Rank/Driver

Points

1 Martin Truex Jr. #78 3059
2 Kyle Busch #18
3041
3 Kyle Larson #42
3034
4 Brad Keselowski #2 3020
5 Jimmie Johnson #48 3017
6 Kevin Harvick #4
3015
7 Denny Hamlin #11 3013
8 R. Stenhouse Jr. #17 3010

Rank/Driver

Points

9 Ryan Blaney #21
3008
10 Chase Elliott #24 3006
11 Matt Kenseth #20 3005
12 Jamie McMurray #1 3003
13 Ryan Newman #31 2067
14 Austin Dillon #3
2065
15 Kasey Kahne #5
2046
16 Kurt Busch #41
2044

XFINITY SERIES POINTS LEADERS
12 playoff drivers, plus 8, as of Sept. 30
Rank/Driver

Points

1 Justin Allgaier #7
2 William Byron #9
3 Elliott Sadler #1
4 Cole Custer #0
5 Daniel Hemric #21
6 Brennan Poole #48
7 Matt Tifft #19
8 Ryan Reed #16
9 Bren. Gaughan #62
10 Michael Annett #5

2107
2104
2094
2093
2090
2082
2067
2055
2053
2048

Rank/Driver

Points

11 Blake Koch #11
2043
12 Jer. Clements #51 2035
13 Dak. Armstrong #28 521
14 J.J. Yeley #14
500
15 Ross Chastain #4
496
16 Ryan Sieg #39
477
17 Brandon Jones #33 452
18 Tyler Reddick #42
385
19 Darrell Wallace Jr. #98 348
20 Spen.Gallagher #23 346

NEXT RACE: Drive for the Cure 300, Charlotte
Motor Speedway, 3 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN

TRUCK SERIES POINTS LEADERS
8 playoff drivers, plus 2, as of Sept. 30
Rank/Driver

Points

1 Christopher Bell #4
2 Ben Rhodes #27
3 Matt Crafton #88
4 Johnny Sauter #21
5 Chase Briscoe #29

2152
2105
2101
2098
2084

Rank/Driver

Points

6 Austin Cindric #19 2082
7 Kaz Grala #33
2074
8 J.H. Nemechek #8 2068
9 Ryan Truex #16
630
10 Grant Enfinger #98 577

NEXT RACE: Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola
at Talladega, 1 p.m. ET Saturday, Oct. 14, Fox

Trucks: Ben Rhodes claims first win in thrilling fashion
Ben Rhodes took the lead on the final restart and held
off Christopher Bell to capture his first NASCAR Camping
World Truck Series career win in Saturday night’s Las Vegas
350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Rhodes, who earlier in the season lost what appeared to
be a sure victory at Kansas Speedway when a piece of debris
punctured his Toyota’s radiator, blocked Bell’s last-gasp
effort by going all the way to the track’s apron to take the
checkered flag.
Rhodes, who drives for ThorSport Racing, started sixth
in the 28-truck field to become the 1.5-mile speedway’s 10th
consecutive different winner. He joins Bell to advance to the
Round of 6 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Playoffs.
“I used every play in my playbook,” said Rhodes of the
final laps battle. “I knew if I could keep him close to me, he
couldn’t break the (air) bubble. This is the biggest high of
my life.
“So many things have gone wrong and now here I am in
Victory Lane.”
Rhodes’ victory came in his 45th series start. His official
victory margin over Bell was 0.066 seconds.
Bell, who led three times for 64 laps and dominated much

Ben Rhodes in Victory Lane at Las Vegas Motor
Speedway Saturday night.
of the 146-lap race in his Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota,
blamed himself for coming up short in his quest for a sixth
season victory.
“I just didn’t get it done there on the last restart (at Lap
140),” he said. “He’s (Rhodes) been long overdue for that win
and he earned it tonight.”
Chase Briscoe finished third in his Brad Keselowski
Racing Ford, followed by BKR teammate Austin Cindric,

who overcame an early-race accident. Kaz Grala, who started
14th, also battled back from an early incident, was the topfinishing Chevrolet in fifth.
Pole sitter Ryan Truex was unable to lead the opening lap
but had put his Toyota in position for a solid top-10 finish. A
brush with the wall in the closing laps while battling Briscoe
and Grant Enfinger for third sent his Toyota to pit road,
where he lost two laps and finished 12th.
Seven different drivers traded the lead 11 times. There
were six cautions consuming 32 laps.
Briscoe won the race’s first stage by 1.25 seconds over
Johnny Sauter. Sauter clawed his way back to 10th-place finish, a lap behind, after cutting a tire and twice speeding on pit
road.
Rhodes claimed Stage 2 by 0.419 seconds over Bell in a
preview of the final stage finish.
While both Rhodes and Bell are guaranteed to move into
the Round of 6 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck
Series Playoffs, the final four spots remain up for grabs at
Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 14. Crafton is best placed,
followed by Sauter and Briscoe while Grala and John H.
Nemechek are currently below the cutoff point.
— NASCAR reports

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