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Heads up: Dover and Las Vegas weekend
Here are the hot topics, trending news and key story lines to get you ready for this weekend's races at Dover International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway . WEATHER The weekend forecast for Dover, Delaware, looks like there's a chance for rain. Friday for Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole qualifying there is a 60 percent chance for precipitation. For the XFINITY Series race on Saturday, there is an 50 percent chance for precipitation with a high of 76 degrees. And for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday, there's a 30 percent chance for precipitation and a high of 76 degrees. For Las Vegas, site of this weekend's Camping World Truck Series events, it will be clear and 70 degrees for the start of Saturday's practices. And on Saturday it will be clear and 90 degrees for the start of the race. KEY TIMES Sprint Cup Series: The Sprint Cup Series holds its first practice Friday at 10 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) followed by Coors Light Pole qualifying at 3:40 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Citizen Soldier 400 is at 2 p.m. ET Sunday (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). XFINITY Series: The XFINITY Series opens practice on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App) and qualifies Saturday at 11:45 a.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App). The Drive Sober 300 is on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Camping World Truck Series: The Camping World Truck Series is scheduled for a Keystone Light Pole qualifying session Saturday at 6:10 p.m. ET on FS2, followed by the DC Solar 350 race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). CATCH DRIVERS LIVE We'll stream every driver press conference in the Dover media center at NASCAR.com/presspass. Click here for a full schedule. Click here to tune into the live stream . LAST TIME In September of 2015, Kevin Harvick punched his ticket to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by leading 355 of 400 laps at Dover International Speedway , a career-best at any track. Harvick beat out eventual 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch by 2.639 seconds for the victory. YOU SHOULD KNOW • Chris Buescher (-30 from 12th place), Tony Stewart (-11), Austin Dillon (-5) and Jamie McMurray (-5) are all on the outside looking in as far as the Chase Grid standings are concerned. Of those drivers, Stewart is the only one who has won at the "Monster Mile" -- three times to be exact. Stewart's most recent win came in 2013. • With 10 wins, six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson has been to Dover's Victory Lane more times than any NASCAR driver. Johnson is looking to punch his ticket to the next Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup round and a win at his best track could be in the cards. • Winning the opening XFINITY Series Chase race at Kentucky, Elliott Sadler continues his momentum to Dover where he has earned three top five and 10 top-10 finishes, two of which came in the last two XFINITY Series races at the 1-mile track. Sadler's experience in 17 starts at Dover could shine through on Saturday compared to the young guns he's competing against for the championship. • Of the Camping World Truck Series Chase drivers, only Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters have wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . Canadian Tire Motorsport Park winner John Hunter Nemechek has the best average finish of 4.0 out of the Truck Series Chase drivers. Behind Nemechek is Ben Kennedy with 5.0. Nemechek has run just one Truck Series race at Dover, while Kennedy has experienced two. In 15 starts, two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton has an average finish of 11.9, but is still seeking a win.
As sun sets on Stewart, Elliott's time to shine brightening
CHICAGO -- Perhaps this is the last one of these for Tony Stewart , the last time to answer the somewhat entertaining questions and to skewer reporters for the lame ones at a media day . For Chase Elliott , it was the first one, the bright-lights pre-staging to the rookie's first Chase playoff run and likely the first of many to come. But it will be the only one where Elliott gets to go head-to-head and fender-to-fender with Stewart. For that, the 20-year-old is thankful. "Tony is a guy I've looked up to for a long time," said Elliott , son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott . "As many of you guys know, Tony was the first guy, other than my dad, I was ever OK with pulling for. I've always had a lot of respect for him." It's a mutual feeling, Stewart said, and one of the ties that binds the oldest and youngest competitors in the 16-driver Chase field. Thursday was Stewart at his best in the Windy City's South Side at the Ready. Set. Chase. launch events, offering witty barbs in one breath and suffering no fools in the next, all the while commanding the attention that a freewheeling three-time champion is prone to do. But the 45-year-old veteran was his most open in discussing his relationship with Elliott , who joins Denny Hamlin (2006) and Chris Buescher (2016) as the only rookies ever to qualify for Chase eligibility. Stewart recognized the youngster's focus early on, when Elliott and his father would pay visits to Stewart's car at the race track. What Stewart said he noticed was an engaged kid, but one who was too shy to speak before his grade-school years -- "I didn't know if he was going to be mute or what," Stewart said. As the years moved on, Elliott began to open up more and his fandom for Stewart's racing career began to grow. Eventually, the fondness for his own racing pursuits sprouted as well, steadily advancing up the NASCAR ladder to his current state as the premier series' presumptive Sunoco Rookie of Year. "That's what was cool about him," Stewart said. "I mean, you never dream at that spot, at that time, that these guys are going to grow up and they're going to follow in their father's footsteps. I'd say Chase has got an extremely good chance of being every bit as good if not better than his father, and his father was great. "So, you know, it's cool to say that I got to know these guys. I mean, John Hunter Nemechek , I was his very first sponsor when he was racing go-karts. You know, stuff like that. When you see these kids that are growing up now, you don't realize how old you are until you realize how old they are now. Start doing the math. You're like, hmm, it's changed a lot." Stewart's calculations this year seem to add up after a tumultuous last few seasons. He's in his first Chase since 2012, has his first race victory since 2013 and will wrap up his final full season with a chance at a fourth championship. The upswing in performance stands in stark contrast to the lean years that were marked by personal hardships away from the NASCAR world. The adversity from his extracurricular events was almost enough to make him walk away from stock-car racing's big leagues after the 2015 season, but Stewart said he returned to bid his fans farewell. Elliott -- a fan himself -- is among those selfishly happy that he did, providing a 10-race denouement to his own Hall of Fame career. "I'm glad that he decided to wait one more year because that is a pretty special moment for me to be able to race against one of my heroes like that," Elliott said. "So, you know, I don't necessarily look at him any different than I do anybody else when it comes to a competitor or how you treat anyone. But, you know, I think he's obviously done a good job. I have a lot of respect for him. I expect him to be strong in these next few weeks." While Stewart acknowledges that his time as a full-time driver in NASCAR is coming to a close, he's hoping to rekindle some of the magic from his championship charge in 2011. Thursday, he superstitiously reiterated his refrain that he was "wasting a spot" in that year's Chase, when he turned a winless regular season into a stirring five-win playoff run. Stewart still pines for a last hurrah behind the wheel, starting this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway , site of Sunday's Chase-opening Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). But win or lose when his driving days are done, he already sees a bright future in the sport coming from the next generation, from a driver he first encountered as a quiet kid from Georgia with a rich racing pedigree. "He's definitely going to be a marquee guy. I mean, he's already a marquee guy and is in his rookie season," Stewart said of Elliott . "As time goes on, some of us that are getting up there in age and are retiring, he's going to be the guy that's going to carry the flag and carry the torch for NASCAR." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Elliott : 'Nothing is yours until it's over'
Chase Elliott discusses the late-race events that saw him go from leading the race to a third-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.
Elliott : Gordon texted apology after incident
RELATED: Gustafson furious at Gordon over radio Things got a little awkward at Richmond on Saturday night between Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Jeff Gordon , driving the No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., caused contact with Chase Elliott , driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet -- you know, the one that Gordon drove to four Sprint Cup Series titles -- and nearly cost his teammate a shot at the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after his ride was damaged. Elliott managed to still make the cut on points, but Gordon, in some ways Elliott's mentor, went out of his way to text the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and apologize for the incident, the 20-year-old told media at the Ready. Set. Chase. launch event Thursday in Chicago. "He sent me a text after the race," Elliott said. "I knew it wasn't his fault. I wasn't concerned with it at all. It was a racing deal. You hate, of course, it had to be two teammates, it had to be myself and Jeff. But at the end of the day we both get it and our teams get it." Elliott later added, that the apology "wasn't at all necessary." Alex Bowman will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 at the Chicagoland Chase opener, but now we know there will be no tension between Gordon and Elliott over the incident for the veteran driver's last two starts of 2016 -- Dover and Martinsville -- moving forward. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Sprint Cup Series GarageCam takes over NHMS
GarageCam host, Matthew Dillner, takes you on an exclusive and interactive tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage before teams hit the track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Elliott finds the wall after contact with Gordon
Chase Elliott , a Chase bubble driver, gets the worst of contact between Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman in Turn 1.
Kenseth: 'I feel like we can definitely get it together'
RELATED: Chase Grid CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The last two times NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series has competed at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Matt Kenseth has come away with the win. In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has won three of the last six Sprint Cup events at the 1.058-mile track located in Loudon, New Hampshire. Maybe that makes him one of the favorites heading into this weekend's race but Kenseth isn't taking anything for granted. The Bad Boy Off Road 300 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the second race of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the second of three in the opening Round of 16. "You never know until you get there but we ran really well in July," Kenseth, 44, told NASCAR.com Wednesday. "We ran really well last fall, too. Probably could have run second or third, ended up getting by (teammate) Denny (Hamlin) there at the end and Kevin (Harvick) ran out of gas. "We've had really good cars there since I've been (at) JGR. It used to be a track that I sort of dreaded … but the last three years it's been pretty good." Kenseth won twice during the 26-race regular season to qualify for one of the 16 Chase positions but had to rally for a ninth-place finish a week ago in the Chase opener at Chicagoland. Misfortune struck the 2003 series champion twice, leaving him scrambling to regain lost track position. "I can't say we weren't good," Kenseth said. "We started seventh … we pit under green and the caution came out … and that really got us behind. I had just gotten back to maybe the top 10 again … and I sped on pit road. "So that put us in the back again. Really we just fought most of the day trying to get back our track position. I really felt like we had a pretty good car … I don't know why, but for me it was just incredibly hard to pass." Kenseth has failed to qualify for only one Chase, in 2009. Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson is the only active driver with more Chase appearances. But while all of Johnson's titles have come since the debut of the Chase in '04, Kenseth has yet to solve the riddle of the 10-race playoff. In the two years the Chase has featured an elimination format, he's failed to advance to the Championship Four. "There's not a magic formula besides beating the rest of the cars because you just don't know what the others are going to do," he said. "It's definitely different. One thing I really learned is that it's unpredictable. You don't know what’s going to happen. You've got to get that finish every week and not make mistakes." While he said he doesn’t feel as if his No. 20 team is running as good or getting the consistent finishes it was at this point a year ago, Kenseth said he's confident his group will continue to contend. "I feel like our equipment is just as good or better than it was last year," he said, "so I feel like we can definitely get it together."
Elliott Sadler celebrates emotional, hard-fought victory
Elliott Sadler celebrates in Victory Lane at Kentucky Speedway after being in 20th position halfway through the race and coming back to win the first NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase race.