NASCAR New Hampshire and Kentucky Weekend Preview

Kurt Busch (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Kurt Busch tries to rebound as Playoffs head to New Hampshire

Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch got off to a slow start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a 19th-place finish at Chicagoland – the second-lowest showing among postseason drivers.

Right now, Busch sits 13th on the Playoff Grid. He’s even with Austin Dillon in points, but Dillon holds the tiebreaker for the 12th and final advancement spot.

Busch will try to move up the Playoff Grid as the series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN). The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford driver is tied for the active series lead with three New Hampshire wins. In 33 career starts at The Magic Mile, he also has three wins, eight top fives, 14 top 10s and a 15.6 average finish.

“It’s a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport,” Busch said. “I raced there for the first time in the [Camping World] Truck Series and won that race. Then, it’s a track where I have three wins in the [Monster Energy Series] cars and, when you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you confidence.”

A win by Busch on Sunday would advance him to the second round of the Playoffs and tie him with Jeff Burton for the all-time wins record at New Hampshire.

Busch explained what he needs his car to do to put him in position to take the checkered flag.

“It depends upon the circumstances but, yes, usually you’re trying to keep your eye on the main prize, which is Victory Lane at the end of the day,” Busch said. “If you have a run-in early in the race, that guy is going to be trying to find you or you’re looking over your shoulder. So if you can sort of hit a reset button and right a mistake, you do that, but not at the expense of taking yourself out of position for the win.”

Sadler attempts to open Playoffs with win for second straight season

Elliott Sadler won the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season championship, but only has one goal on his mind now – capturing the overall series crown.

He starts his quest in Saturday’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET on N

(Getty Images)

BCSN) where he won the Playoff opener last year.

“Our OneMain Financial team has been gearing up for the playoffs ever since Daytona in February,” Sadler said. “Our strong regular season and Kentucky win last year helps our confidence heading into this weekend.”

In 12 career starts at Kentucky, Sadler claims one win, five top fives, eight top 10s and a 7.8 average finish.

Although Sadler earned the regular season championship, he starts the Playoffs third in the standings. He sits five points behind leader William Byron and trails second-place Justin Allgaier by three points.

Byron and Allgaier are ahead of Sadler because they accumulated more playoff points during the regular season. Byron won three races and two stages to earn 17 playoff points in addition to his eight for finishing third in the standings. Allgaier recorded two victories and three stage wins for 13 playoff points to supplement his 10 for placing second in the standings. Sadler earned 15 playoff points for his regular season championship and logged five for his five stage wins.

“We’re still a long way from Homestead and that’s where we ultimately want to be – racing in the final four for the championship. Kevin (Meendering, crew chief), myself, and the guys are going to take it one race at a time, starting with this weekend’s race. We’re confident in our strategy and we’re ready.”

Bell begins run at NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship

Christopher Bell has his sights set on greater accomplishments than the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season title he captured at Chicagoland.

“The regular season championship is nice,” said Bell, who leads the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with four wins, 10 top fives and 14 top 10s. “But now it’s time to get the playoffs started and win another championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports.”

Christopher Bell (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

He’ll begin his run at the series crown when the Camping World Truck Playoffs open with Saturday’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FS1).

In his one career start at New Hampshire last year, Bell finished third after leading 11 laps.

As a Sunoco Rookie last season, Bell placed runner-up in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings.

“New Hampshire is a great place for the Playoffs to get started because Kyle Busch Motorsports has been really successful there – including a one-two finish last year. I’m excited to go there with Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and have a shot at winning another race. Our tactic as the playoffs start is to go out and win races. Ultimately, if you go out and win races you are going to make it all the way to Homestead and that’s our No. 1 goal.”

Race Weekend Guide

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Race: ISM Connect 300

Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. ET

Tune-in: NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 317.4 miles (300 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 75), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on lap 300)

What to Watch for: Martin Truex Jr. opened up the Playoffs with a win at Chicagoland to advance to the Round of 12. … Denny Hamlin tries for a second consecutive victory at New Hampshire. … Kevin Harvick attempts to win at New Hampshire for the second fall race in a row. … Nine of the 16 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers have won at New Hampshire: Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Race: VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300

Place: Kentucky Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. ET

Tune-in: NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

What to Watch for: The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs open with a stand-alone race at Kentucky Speedway. … No driver in the NASCAR XFINITY Playoffs field has won a national series championship before. … Ryan Preece returns to the No. 20 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota after winning at Iowa and finishing runner-up at New Hampshire. … Angela Ruch will attempt to make a start in the No. 78 Chevrolet. She is one of five female drivers to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Kentucky.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Race: UNOH 175

Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Date and Time: Saturday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. ET

Tune-In: FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 225 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 55), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on lap 175)

What to Watch for: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs begin at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. … Matt Crafton begins his quest for a third series title. … Johnny Sauter tries to defend his 2016 series championship. … Chase Briscoe leads Grant Enfinger by three points in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

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