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Archive for September 18th, 2019

NASCAR Playoffs visits Richmond Raceway this Weekend

Richmond Raceway at night 2018 photo By Dough4872 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https commons.wikimedia.org

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Federated Auto Parts 400

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Saturday, September 21

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)

2018 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Go Bowling 250

The Place: Richmond Raceway

The Date: Friday, September 20

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)

2018 Race Winner: Christopher Bell

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Sugarlands Shine 250

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway

The Date: Saturday, October 12

The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250.04 miles (94 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 94)

2018 Winner: Timothy Peters

 

Mike Stefanik decal to honor late legendary champion

This weekend, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series will honor NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik, who died in a plane crash last Saturday. A decal commemorating his life will be placed on the A-Pillar on each car. The decal will reflect the red of his most recent paint schemes, as well as his stylized name from his car. Additionally, the years of his nine NASCAR championships (seven in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and two in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) are listed on the decal (1997 and 1998 are repeated for his championships in both series in the same year).

 

The decal will also run on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Pinty’s Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East cars competing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. The Modifieds will then carry the decal for the remainder of the 2019 season.

 

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

 

Truex locked into second round of Playoffs

For the first time this season, Martin Truex Jr. takes over the top position in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings thanks to a hard-fought victory in last week’s Playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. And he arrives at Richmond Raceway for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) the most recent winner there – earning the win last April.

 

Truex’s five victories in 2019 are most in the series. He and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch are the only two drivers in the series to win at least four races a season the last four years. They each have won a series high 21 races since 2016. And neither appears to be slowing down.

 

Truex, specifically, boasts some important momentum. He has 11 top-five and 16 top-10 showings through the opening 27 races and holds a three-point edge on second place Kevin Harvick in the Playoff driver standings following Las Vegas. He has five top-six finishes in the last seven races. His previous wins came in April (at Richmond), May (at Charlotte, Dover) and June (Sonoma).

 

Richmond has been a good place for Truex, who was third in this Playoff race last year and has five top-10 runs in the last seven races there. Ironically, his worst finish in that stretch was a 20th in the 2017 regular season finale at Richmond and Truex would go on to win his first Cup title two months later. He won four of the 10 Playoff races that year, including the Homestead-Miami season finale.

 

Kyle Busch looking to bounce back by defending at Richmond

After a couple challenging weeks behind the wheel, Kyle Busch welcomes the opportunity to restore his Playoff course this week at Richmond Raceway, where he is the defending race winner. The Monster Energy Series Regular Season Champion has suffered back-to-back rough outings in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – a season-worst 37th-place finish at Indianapolis two weeks ago and a 19th place in the Las Vegas Playoff opener last week.

 

Although Busch’s work this season earned him the top ranking to start the Playoffs, the tough luck at his home track of Las Vegas has now dropped him to fourth in the standings – 19 points behind the points leader, his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. It’s the lowest Busch has been ranked since the first Las Vegas race of the season, when he was also fourth in the standings. The upside for the 2015 Monster Energy Series champion is that he led the points for 14 weeks. And he leads the Monster Energy Series with six victories at this week’s venue, Richmond Raceway.

 

Busch swept both Richmond races in 2018 and is coming off an eighth-place finish at the track in April. He has top-10 finishes in eight of the last 10 races. And he is one of only four active drivers to win a Richmond race from the pole position (2010). He has the best average finish (7.0) in the field since 2005 and boasts the second-best driving rating – 110.2, compared to Kevin Harvick’s series-best 110.4.

 

Since 2005, Busch has a series best 17 top-five finishes in 28 starts at Richmond – 60 percent of the time he finishes in the top five. His six career wins is twice that of any driver in this week’s field. His victory in May 2018, from the 32nd starting position is the farthest on the grid a race winner has started in the track’s 126-race history.

 

Busch’s four wins this season have come at ISM Raceway, Auto Club Speedway, Bristol-1 and Pocono-1 – however that last win was June 2. He’s been runner-up at Sonoma and Kentucky since then.

 

The good news for Busch is that both his 13 top-five and 21 top-10 efforts are tops in the series. And the 15 bonus points Busch earned for winning the regular season title carry over to the next Playoff round.

 

“It’s kind of an insurance policy,’’ Busch said. “We all pay for insurance to hopefully never have to use it, but it’s there just in case.

 

“For us, we’ve done a great job of being able to build those points up throughout the regular season and it’s nice to be able to have that point structure in place to kind of give you the opportunity to have your early season success help you through the postseason. I think it’s the most-fair structure that we’ve had through the Playoff era.’’

 

Harvick is peaking at the right time

Kevin Harvick conceded two weeks ago that maybe his 2019 Playoff push would benefit from better timing. Last year he had a career-high eight-win season but had won five of those before the midpoint of the regular season. This year, Harvick seems to be peaking just in time for the 10-race Playoff.

 

The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford has won two of the last five races, three of the last eight. He won the Indianapolis regular season finale from the pole position and led a dominating 118 laps. Last week he led 47 laps and finished runner-up to Martin Truex Jr. in the Las Vegas Playoff opener.

 

Harvick shows up at Richmond Raceway ranked second in the points – tying his best points position of the year (he was ranked second for two of the season’s opening three weeks).  And more bad news for competition: Harvick is the highest rated Playoff driver at Richmond.

 

He has three wins – the last in May 2013, won four pole positions, and earned a series best 24 top 10s and 15 top fives in 37 starts. He has finished top 10 in 64.8 percent of his starts. His seven Xfinity Series victories is most all-time, and he tied an amazing statistic – winning three Xfinity races in a row (2005-06) – to equal a mark set by Harry Gant in 1991-92.

 

Harvick is currently on a seven-race streak of top-10 finishes at Richmond and was runner-up to Kyle Busch in this Playoff race last year. He’s led laps in four of the last five Richmond races and twice – in 2006 (272 laps) and 2011 (202 laps) – led more than half the race total laps.

 

“I think the back-up plan is to survive and advance, but we want to win,’’ Harvick said. “We want to be racing for the lead and trying to win stages and be aggressive. I think being aggressive is just going to bite you less than kind of being passive and just trying to mediocre your way into the next round by looking at points.’’

 

Virginia is home for Hamlin

Denny Hamlin has long considered Richmond Raceway his “home” venue. Having grown up in nearby Chesterfield, Va., doing well at Richmond was always a goal. And he’s succeeded.

 

Hamlin has three Monster Energy Series victories and three Xfinity Series wins at the 0.75-mile oval. His 1,659 laps led in Cup there is most in the field. He is one of only four active drivers to win from the pole position (2016).

 

In seven of the last eight Richmond races, Hamlin has finished sixth or better. He was fifth this April. He has 12 top-five and 16 top-10 efforts in 26 starts, including a runner-up finish to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2006 – his first ever Monster Energy Series race at his home track. Six times he’s led at least 100 laps, including 381 of 400 laps from the pole position in 2008 – only to finish 24th while Clint Bowyer celebrated in Victory Lane.

 

Hamlin could really use some of his hometown magic. He tumbled from second in the points standings to start the 10-race Playoff push to a season-low seventh place following a 15th-place finish in the Las Vegas Playoff opener last week.

 

Still Hamlin’s season statistics are impressive. He has 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes through the opening 26 weeks and is averaging a 9.9 finish. In seven of the last nine races he’s finished sixth or better – and that includes two victories, at Pocono2 and then Bristol-2 from the pole position.

 

Team Penske performing

All three Team Penske drivers – Brad Keselowski (third), Ryan Blaney (fifth) and Joey Logano (ninth) – earned top-10 finishes in the Las Vegas Playoff opener. And Logano’s 105 laps led was most among all competitors.

 

They arrive in Richmond with a lofty record to launch from. Logano is a two-time Richmond Monster Energy Series race winner (in 2014 and 2017). Keselowski won in 2014 and has four Xfinity Series victories at the track.

 

The reigning Cup champion Logano is ranked third in the Playoff standings – only seven points behind leader Martin Truex Jr. Keselowski is fifth, 24 points out. And Blaney is 10th, 43 points behind Truex and 12 points up on 13th place Ryan Newman with two races remaining to settle which 12 drivers move on to the next round of the Playoffs.

 

Richmond has been a stellar overall venue for Team Penske, which swept both race wins in 2014, including one of the most dominant performances in track history from Keselowski who led 383 of the 400 laps to win the fall race.

 

Logano has the second-best average finish (10.2) on the season among the top five in the points. Of those drivers, only regular season champ Kyle Busch (8.6) has a better average finish.

 

On the bubble

Four drivers came out of the Las Vegas Playoff opener ranked below the top-12 cutoff with two races left to try and get inside that group to advance to the Round of 12.

 

Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman is 13th in the standings – six points behind 12th place Aric Almirola. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, the 2004 Monster Energy Series champion, is ranked 14th, 14 points behind Almirola.

 

Clint Bowyer, who won the pole position last week at Vegas but finished 25th, is ranked 15th – 21 points behind his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Almirola. And Erik Jones, who is points leader Martin Truex Jr.’s teammate, is currently 16th in the standings – 26 points behind Almirola. Jones has had horrible luck the last two weeks with a finish of 39th in the Indianapolis regular season finale and then 36th last week at the Vegas opener with his No. 20 Toyota suffering a mechanical problem.

 

Newman, Kurt Busch and Bowyer all have previous victories at Richmond. Both Busch (2005 and 2015) and Bowyer (2008 and 2012) have two wins. Newman won in 2003.

 

Of the four, Newman has the best career average finish (12.5) and top 10 mark (19) in 35 Richmond starts.  Bowyer is averaging a 12.7 finish in 27 starts with 15 top 10s. Busch has a 15.3 average finish in 37 starts. Busch and Newman have the most top-five finishes (seven) among the four drivers.

 

Best of the rest

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson made good on his promise to remain highly-competitive in the Playoffs even though for the first time in his 16-year Monster Energy Series career, he is not part of the championship mix.

 

Johnson finished 11th  – best among non-Playoff drivers at Las Vegas. He and Austin Dillon (12th) were the only non-Playoff competitors among the top 15.

 

Daniel Suarez, who is ranked 17th in the points – tops among those drivers that did not qualify for the championship run – started second and led 29 laps but finished 20th. He holds a 35-point edge over Johnson in the standings. Johnson holds a 35-point advantage on Paul Menard.

 

Johnson is easily the most successful at Richmond Raceway among those not to secure Playoff berths. He has three victories at the track – scoring those three wins in a four-race span between 2007-09. He’s finished 12th or better in the last 10 consecutive Richmond races – seven times among the top 10. He is the only driver not competing in the Playoffs with a victory there.

 

Competition highlights

In winning his first pole position in 12 years, Clint Bowyer became the 13th different polesitter this season and completes a four-driver pole sweep for Stewart-Haas Racing. SHR is tied with Hendrick Motorsports with the most pole positions on the season (eight). Kevin Harvick leads all drivers with five. Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron is next with four.

 

Team Penske is the only team other than Stewart-Haas Racing to have a pole-winning sweep. All three of its drivers – Joey Logano (two), Brad Keselowski (two) and Ryan Blaney (one) have also earned the top qualifying spot.

 

When it comes to race wins, Joe Gibbs Racing continued to set the high mark with Martin Truex Jr.’s win at Las Vegas on Sunday. There have been 11 winners representing six race teams. But JGR has nearly tripled the work of the next best – earning 14 wins. Next closest is Team Penske with five. Truex, alone, has a Cup Series high five victories.

 

The average Margin of Victory through the opening 27 races is 1.610-seconds and there have been 15 races where the Margin of Victory is less than a second.

 

Green flag passes for the lead are up considerably – 41.2 percent – compared to last season. In fact, there has been record green flag passing this season at Las Vegas-1, Bristol-1, Kansas-1, Chicago, Kentucky and Indianapolis.

 

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations

Six drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman, JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Richmond Raceway in advance of Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m., ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Alex Bowman, 26, of Tucson, Ariz., had a stellar top-10 start to his 2019 Monster Energy Series Playoff run, finishing sixth in the Playoff opener at Las Vegas last week. He’s ranked 11th now in the championship – good enough to keep him inside the 12-driver cutoff for the next Playoff round in two weeks. It is, however, only his second top 10 since notching his first career win at Chicago in June – 11 races ago. Bowman has certainly turned in an improved scoresheet at Richmond since joining Hendrick Motorsports fulltime last year. In the three races he’s competed in for Hendrick at Richmond, he has three top 20s, including a best of 12th in this fall race last year. He was 17th at the track in April. Prior to joining the Hendrick team, Bowman had four finishes of 28th or worse at Richmond. He’s led only one lap in his career at the track – this race, last year.

 

Ryan Preece, 28, of Berlin, Conn., comes to Richmond with an encouraging mark of three top-20 finishes in the last five races. He was seventh at Michigan in August – one of three top 10s he’s earned this season. The driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet started 16th and finished 20th in the series’ April stop there. It’s been a challenging venue in Preece’s young career as he is 0-for-3 in top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series as well. His best showing at the track, an 18th place last fall. Preece does still remain hot on the pace of Sunoco Rookie of the Year points leader Daniel Hemric, who sits 25th in the championship standings with only a 29-point advantage.

 

Aric Almirola, 35, of Tampa, Fla. is making his third consecutive Playoff appearance and started the title run with a 13th-place finish at Las Vegas on Sunday.  He hasn’t scored a top 10 since a seventh at the summer Daytona race. He has 10 top 10s and one top five (ISM Raceway-1) on the season and heads into the second race of the three-race opening Playoff round ranked 12th – with 12 drivers advancing to the next round. Richmond has been a solid venue for Almirola in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. He was 23rd there in April but was fifth in this race last year and led his first career lap at the 0.75-mile oval. His best showing is fourth in the 2015 fall race. He has a pair of top fives and five top 10s in 15 Richmond starts.

 

Kyle Larson, 27, of Elk Grove, Calif., is coming off a solid eighth-place finish in the Playoff opener at Las Vegas and is ranked eighth in the championship – his highest ranking since the fifth race of the season. The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet has six top-10 finishes in the last seven races, including a runner-up showing at Darlington, S.C. three races ago. He’s led laps in the last four races – 113 of his 304 laps led on the season. Richmond Raceway has been a strong venue for Larson. He won this fall race in 2017 and finished seventh in the 2018 Playoff race there. But Larson crashed out and finished 37th in April. He has a pair of top-five and four top-10 finishes – three of those top 10s in the last four races.

 

Clint Bowyer, 40, of Emporia, Kans. won his first pole position in 12 seasons at Las Vegas last weekend, but a late race collision dropped him to 25th in the final race standings and he heads to the second race of the Playoffs at Richmond in a precarious 15th-place ranking. Two races remain in this Playoff opening round to decide which 12 drivers will advance to the next round of the Playoffs. The good news for the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team is that Bowyer’s tough luck at Vegas was the first time he’d finished outside the top 10 in the last four races. He is a two-time winner (2008 and 2012) at this week’s Richmond Raceway Playoff venue. He was third at Richmond this April and has three top 10s in the last four races there. Plus, he has 15 top 10s in 27 starts at the track – better than 50 percent.

 

Ryan Newman, 41, of South Bend, Ind. is coming off back-to-back top-10 finishes – including a 10th-place showing in the Las Vegas Playoff-opening race. He has 10 top-10s on the season now and has finished 12th or better in four of the last five races. He is a Richmond Raceway winner (2003) and polesitter (2004) and has 19 top-10 finishes in 35 starts at the track. He was ninth in April in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford and has finished top-10 in three of the last five races there – leading 29 laps in that span. He goes to Richmond ranked 13th in the championship, only six points behind 12th place Aric Almirola with two Playoff races remaining to set the 12 drivers who will advance to the second round.

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Time to kick off the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs

It’s that time of year – Playoffs baby!

 

For the fourth consecutive year (2016-2019) the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs will be the stage for this season’s 12 best drivers to battle it out over the next seven races in an elimination-style format to decide the series champion. The Round of 12 will be contested at Richmond Raceway, the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and Dover International Speedway – with only eight drivers advancing to the next round.

 

Since the inaugural year of the postseason in 2016, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has seen three different champions hoist the trophy at season’s end – Daniel Suarez (2016), William Byron (2017) and Tyler Reddick (2018). Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick is the first returning champion to compete in the following season’s Playoffs under this format and could become the first driver to win back-to-back titles in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in Playoff era (2016-2019) and the seventh all-time joining Sam Ard (1983-84), Larry Pearson (1986-87), Randy LaJoie (1996-1997), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99), Martin Truex Jr. (2004-05) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12).

 

In 2016 and 2017, Kentucky Speedway hosted the first race of the Xfinity Playoffs, but for the second straight year Richmond Raceway will kick off the postseason in this weekend’s Go Bowling 250 on Friday, September 20 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

“The Playoffs are finally here, and we can’t wait to turn up the wick and go get them this weekend at Richmond,” said JR Motorsport’s driver Michael Annett.

 

Heading into the first round of the Playoffs, wins are still the No. 1 goal for each driver because victory guarantees the driver’s spot in the next round. Starting the Playoffs off with a win can be quite fortuitous – Elliott Sadler (Kentucky, 2016) and Christopher Bell (Richmond, 2018) – each went on to make the Championship 4 after winning the Playoff opener. Only once in the past three Playoffs has the first race of the postseason been won by a non-championship contender – Tyler Reddick’s win at Kentucky in 2017.

 

This season’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs are made up of 12 different drivers from eight different organizations. Eight of the 12-driver Playoff field this season are returning Xfinity Playoff contenders, while four drivers – all Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders – Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Justin Haley and John H. Nemechek are making their first postseason appearances.

 

Three organizations have qualified multiple drivers for the 2019 Playoffs – JR Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. Below is this season’s Playoff field broken down by organization:

 

2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Field

JR Motorsports – Justin Allgaier, Michael Annett, Noah Gragson

Joe Gibbs Racing – Christopher Bell, Brandon Jones

Stewart-Haas Racing – Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe

Richard Childress Racing – Tyler Reddick

Team Penske – Austin Cindric

Kaulig Racing – Justin Haley

RSS Racing – Ryan Sieg

GMS Racing – John H. Nemechek

 

Diving into the 12-driver Xfinity Playoff field

The following is a deep dive into the 12 NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers who have qualified for the 2019 Playoffs and their experience at Richmond Raceway ahead of this Friday’s Go Bowling 250 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 12 drivers are listed below in their current Playoff seeding heading into Richmond:

 

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season second in the driver standings after posting six wins, 15 stage wins, 17 top fives, 18 top 10s and four poles. His average starting position this season is 4.1 and his average finishing position is 8.7. Plus, he has gathered 55 Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Bell’s second career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; he finished the 2018 season fourth in the final standings.

 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Bell is the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs No. 1 seed with 2,055 points. Richmond Raceway is one of Bell’s best tracks, in four starts on the 0.75-mile he has put up two wins (2018 sweep), three top 10s and a pole; including winning this race last season.

 

Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang) - Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season third in the driver standings after posting six wins, six stage wins, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s and six poles. His average starting position this season is 5.8 and his average finishing position is 10.0. In total he collected 44 Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Custer’s third consecutive career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; he finished the 2017 season fifth and the 2018 season runner-up in the final championship standings.

 

Rolling into Richmond this weekend, Custer is ranked second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,044 points. Custer has made six series starts at Richmond, posting one win (earlier this season), three top 10s and one pole. He started fourth and finished 15th in the Richmond Playoff race last season.

 

Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season as the regular season champion after amassing five wins, four stage wins, 20 top fives (series-most), 22 top 10s (series-most) and three poles. His average starting position this season is 6.9 and his average finishing position is 5.7 (also series-best). In total he collected 44 Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Reddick’s second straight appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs. Last season he raced his way into the Championship 4 and then took the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the championship finale to win the series title. Now he is the first returning champion to compete in the following season’s Playoffs and could become the first driver to win back-to-back titles in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the Playoff era (2016-2019) and the seventh all-time.

 

Reddick heads to Richmond this weekend ranked third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,044 points. Reddick has made four series starts at the 0.75-mile track posting one top five and two top 10s. He started 14th and finished seventh in the Richmond Playoff opener last season.

 

Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season fifth in the driver standings after posting two wins, one stage win, 10 top fives, 18 top 10s and three poles. His average starting position this season is 6.4 and his average finishing position is 9.4. In total he collected 17 Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Cindric’s second consecutive career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; he finished the 2018 season eighth in the final championship standings.

 

Preparing for Richmond this weekend, Cindric is ranked fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,017 points. Cindric has made three series starts at Richmond posting two top-five finishes; including a runner-up finish earlier this season. He started 11th and finished 13th in this event last season.

 

Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi Ford Mustang) - Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season sixth in the driver standings after posting one win, two stage wins, nine top fives and 20 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 9.9 and his average finishing position is 8.3. In total he collected 12 Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Briscoe’s first career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; one of four rookies to make the postseason.

 

Currently Briscoe is ranked fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,012 points. Briscoe has made two series starts at Richmond posting one top 10 – an eighth-place finish earlier this season.

 

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro) - Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season fourth in the driver standings after posting five stage wins, 11 top fives and 18 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 7.3 and his average finishing position is 10.1. In total he collected 12 Playoff points to take into the postseason. Allgaier is the only Playoff contender to compete in all four seasons of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs since its inception in 2016. In 2016 and 2017 he made the Championship 4 and ultimately finished third in the final championship standings in both seasons. Last year, he made the Playoffs but was eliminated in the Round of 8 and finished the season seventh in points.

 

Heading to Richmond this weekend, Allgaier is ranked sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,012 points. Allgaier has the most experience of any of the Playoff contenders at Richmond having made 17 series starts at the track, posting four top fives and seven top 10s; including a third-place finish earlier this season. But keep an eye out for Allgaier this weekend, as he will be looking to rebound from last season’s Playoff opener at Richmond, where he started fifth but finished 32nd due to a late race incident. 

 

Michael Annett (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro) - Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season eighth in the driver standings after posting one win, one stage win, five top fives, 15 top 10s and a pole. His average starting position this season is 11.1 and his average finishing position is 10.2. In total he collected nine Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Annett’s second career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs. His first postseason appearance was in 2017 but it was short lived as he was bounced out of the Playoffs following the first round and ultimately finished ninth in the final standings.

 

As Richmond approaches, Annett is ranked seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,009 points. He has made 14 series starts at Richmond, marshaling one top five and three top 10s. He started 17th and finished 14th in this Playoff race last season.

 

Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season seventh in the driver standings after collecting one stage win, seven top fives and 17 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 10.7 and his average finishing position is 8.9. In total he collected five Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Gragson’s first career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; one of four rookies to make the postseason.

 

Rolling into Richmond this weekend, Gragson is ranked eighth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,005 points. Gragson has made two series starts at Richmond posting one top five – a runner-up finish in the Spring 2018 race.

 

“I’m ready to get the Playoffs started this weekend in Richmond,” said Gragson. “I’ve always really enjoyed racing there and we came close to getting the win there last year. We all know what’s on the line now, so we just need to go out and execute and do our jobs.”

 

Brandon Jones (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season 10th in the driver standings after mustering three stage wins, four top fives and 13 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 8.8 and his average finishing position is 15.2. In total he collected four Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Jones’ third career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs. His first postseason appearance was in 2016, but he was quickly bounced out of the Playoffs following the first round and ultimately finished 10th in the final standings. He missed the postseason in 2017 but raced his way into the 2018 Playoffs and finished a career-best ninth in final championship standings.

 

Currently Jones is ranked ninth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,004 points. Jones has made seven series starts at Richmond mobilizing two top 10s; including putting up his career-best finish at Richmond Raceway (eighth-place) in this race last season. 

Justin Haley (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro) - Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season ninth in the driver standings after posting one stage win, three top fives and 17 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 11.8 and his average finishing position is 10.6. In total he collected three Playoff points to take into the postseason. This is Haley’s first career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; one of four rookies to make the postseason.

 

Traveling to Richmond this weekend, Haley is ranked 10th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,003 points. Haley made his series track debut at Richmond earlier this season; he started 14th and finished 10th.

 

Ryan Sieg (No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet Camaro) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season 12th in the driver standings after posting one stage win, two top fives and nine top 10s. His average starting position this season is 13.3 and his average finishing position is 14.8. His lone stage win is the only Playoff point he takes into the postseason. This season is Sieg’s second career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs. In 2016, he qualified for the postseason but was bounced out of the Playoffs following the Round of 12 and ultimately finished the season ninth in the final championship standings.

 

Looking to Richmond this weekend, Sieg is ranked 11th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,001 points. Sieg has made 11 series starts at Richmond posting his career-best finish at the 0.75-mile facility (fifth) earlier this season.

 

John Hunter Nemechek (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro) – Finished the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season 11th in the driver standings after posting four top fives and 13 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 13.0 and his average finishing position is 13.8. This is Nemechek’s first career appearance in the Xfinity Series Playoffs; one of four rookies to make the postseason.

 

With Richmond ahead this week, Nemechek is ranked 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings with 2,000 points. He has made two series starts at Richmond posting one top 10 and an average finish of 10.0.

 

Playoff Opener: Richmond Raceway’s Go Bowling 250

For the second year in a row Richmond Raceway will host the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff opener and this season’s race – the Go Bowling 250 (Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) – looks to be better than ever.

 

Richmond Raceway is no stranger to the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Actually the 0.75-mile track in Richmond, Virginia has hosted 71 series races producing 38 different pole winners and 35 different race winners. At Richmond, Kyle Busch leads the series in poles with six and Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins with seven. This weekend just two drivers entered have previously won a pole or a race at Richmond – Christopher Bell has a pole (this race last season) and two wins (swept 2018) and Cole Custer has a pole (Spring 2018) and won the Spring race earlier this season.

 

Owner Playoffs have a few different faces contending behind the wheel

With the NASCAR Xfinity Series owner Playoffs getting started this weekend at Richmond Raceway two organizations that are not in the driver championship – Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota team and JR Motorsport’s No. 8 Chevrolet team – will be vying just for the series owner title this season.

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team led by crew chief Ben Beshore is currently in the 11th seed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series owner Playoff standings with 2,001 points. Seven different drivers have piloted the No. 18 this season – Harrison Burton (three starts), Kyle Busch (seven), Matt DiBenedetto (one), Jeffrey Earnhardt (five), Denny Hamlin (one), Jack Hawksworth (one) and Riley Herbst (eight) – producing four wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s and two poles. This weekend Harrison Burton will be back in the car, making his series track debut at Richmond.

 

JR Motorsport’s No. 8 team led by crew chief Taylor Moyer is currently in the 12th and final NASCAR Xfinity Series owner Playoff spot with 2,001 points. Nine different drivers have strapped into the No. 8 this season – Jeb Burton (five starts), Sheldon Creed (one), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (one), Chase Elliott (one), Brett Moffitt (one), Ryan Preece (four), Regan Smith (two), Ryan Truex (four) and Zane Smith (seven) – posting six top fives and 17 top 10s. Zane Smith will be back in the car this weekend. He made his series track debut at Richmond earlier this season; he started 10th and finished sixth.

 

“I am fired up to get back behind the wheel this week in Richmond,” said Smith “We had a good run here back in the spring and I feel like Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and I can build off of those notes to have a really solid night on Friday. I can’t wait to get going.”

 

JGR is looking for its sixth NASCAR Xfinity Series owners title; while JRM has won three out of the last driver titles is still looking for its first unified or owner’s championship.

 

Parade Laps: Insights to the drivers in this week’s media breakouts

Three drivers from the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs – Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer and GMS Racing’s John Hunter Nemechek – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Richmond Raceway leading into the Go Bowling 250 on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The media breakout session will be held in the Media Center Deadline Room on Friday, September 20 from 12:30-12:45 p.m. ET.

 

Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: January 11, 1996

Driver’s Age: 23

Hometown: Corning, California

Hobbies: Riding ATVs, gaming, working on cars

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Crew Chief: Randall Burnett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Won the 2019 Regular Season championship.
  • Won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship.
  • Also won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors; just third driver in series history to win the title in his rookie season joining Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017).
  • In 2017, he captured his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory at Kentucky, while running a partial schedule. Currently has six series career wins.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Champion.
  • Currently ranked third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff driver standings with 2,044 points.
  • In 26 starts this season, he has posted three poles (Daytona, California and Daytona-2), five wins (Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan, Bristol and Las Vegas), 20 top fives and 22 top 10s – leads the series in both top fives and top 10s this season.
  • Has won four stages and accumulated 44 Playoff points.

Richmond Raceway Performance:

  • Has made four series starts at Richmond collecting one top five (fourth earlier this season), two top 10s and an average finish of 9.75.

 

Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

Birthdate: January 23, 1998

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Ladera Ranch, California

Hobbies: Watching sports

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Crew Chief: Mike Shiplett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he made the Playoff’s Championship 4; ultimately finishing runner-up in the final driver standings while his No. 00 Ford won the owner’s title for Stewart-Haas Racing.
  • Made the Playoffs and finished fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings in his rookie year (2017).
  • Has eight career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins (Homestead-Miami, Texas, Auto Club Speedway, Richmond, Pocono, Chicago, Kentucky and Darlington); including last season’s Playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway to win his way into the Championship 4 finale.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently ranked second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff driver standings with 2,044 points.
  • In 26 starts this season he has posted six poles (Bristol, Dover, Pocono, Iowa, New Hampshire, Las Vegas), six wins (California, Richmond, Pocono, Chicago, Kentucky and Darlington), 13 top fives and 18 top 10s.
  • Has won six stages and accumulated 44 Playoff points.

Richmond Raceway Performance:

  • Has made six series starts at Richmond posting one pole, one win (April 2019) and three top 10s.

 

John Hunter Nemechek (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet)

Birthdate: June 11, 1997

Driver’s Age: 24

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Hobbies: Snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, cycling

Team: GMS Racing

Crew Chief: Chad Norris

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Has made 44 NASCAR Xfinity Series career starts posting one win, 10 top fives, 24 top 10s and a pole.
  • In 2018, he won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kansas-2 and captured his first pole award at ISM Raceway-2.
  • In 2018 he competed in 18 of 22 NASCAR Xfinity Series races for Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Made his NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Chip Ganassi Racing; he started third and finished fourth.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently ranked 12th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff driver standings with 2,000 points.
  • In 26 starts this season, he has posted four top fives, 13 top 10s and an average finish of 13.8.

Richmond Raceway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Richmond posting one top-10 finish.

 

 

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

 

Moving on

As the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts a three-week break before beginning the second round of the Playoffs, six drivers will enjoy the downtime knowing their postseason dreams are still alive.

 

Brett Moffitt came out of Las Vegas as the top seed moving into the next round and has 3,034 points with the reset. Austin Hill, the winner from Las Vegas, trails him by 17 points at 3,017 points, while Ross Chastain is just one more point back with 3,016 points. Stewart Friesen is fourth with 3,014 points.

 

Matt Crafton (3,011 points) and Tyler Ankrum (3,005 points) round out the group of six drivers who will battle over the next three races for the shot at the title in Miami.

 

Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger were eliminated from the postseason after engine issues at Las Vegas took them out of contention early in the race. This will mark the first time since the elimination-style Playoff format was introduced to the Gander Trucks in 2016 that Sauter will not be part of the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Breaking down the Round of 6 tracks

The Gander Trucks are off until October 12 when they will take on the most unpredictable track of the Playoffs, Talladega Superspeedway, for the Sugarlands Shine 250 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Here’s a look at the three tracks that will make up the Round of 6:

 

Talladega Superspeedway – Saturday, October 12: Talladega is a 2.66-mile, high-banked, high-speed superspeedway. The track features 33 degrees of banking in the corners and 16.5 degrees along the front straight, while the back straight has just two degrees of banking. The front straight is 4,300 feet long and is unique in that the start/finish line is located all the way down near the entrance to Turn 1. The back straight is 4,000 feet long. The race will be 250.4 miles (94 laps) long and was won last year by Timothy Peters – his third win at the track. None of the six remaining Playoff drivers have visited Victory Lane at the track.

 

Martinsville Speedway – Saturday, October 26: Martinsville, affectionately known as “The Paperclip” due to its shape, is a .52-mile short track. It has 12 degrees of banking in the turns and is perfectly flat in the straights. Each straightaway is 800 feet long. The race will be 105.2 miles (200 laps) long. Johnny Sauter won this race last year while Kyle Busch won the spring race this season. Matt Crafton has two wins at Martinsville (Spring, 2014; Fall, 2015) and is the only remaining Playoff contender with a win at “The Paperclip.”

 

ISM Raceway – Friday, November 8: ISM Raceway, located near Phoenix, Arizona, is a one-mile track that was recently reconfigured (prior to the 2018 fall race) to move the start/finish line to the former backstretch, just before the dog leg. The banking in Turns 1 and 2 are 11 degrees while it’s nine degrees in Turns 3 and 4. The frontstretch is 1,179 feet long and banked at three degrees and the backstretch is 1,551 feet long and has nine degrees of banking. Brett Moffitt won this race last year. He is the only remaining Playoff contender with a victory at the track.

 

Breaking down the Playoff contenders at ‘Dega

With three weeks off before the next NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race, we’ll break down the superspeedway performances for two Playoff contenders each week. This week we’ll focus on the top two seeds going into the Round of 6 – Brett Moffitt and Austin Hill.

 

Brett Moffitt – No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet: Superspeedways haven’t been Moffitt’s best friend in his limited appearances at the venues. Moffitt has only made one visit to Talladega – this race last fall. He started eighth and finished 17th there en route to his Gander Trucks title. He has three starts at NASCAR’s other superspeedway – Daytona. His best finish there was 22nd in 2017. Since then he’s had a pair of 26th-place finishes.

 

Austin Hill – No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota: This fall will mark Hill’s third trip to Talladega Superspeedway, he finished 10th there last fall and was 22nd when he raced in Alabama in 2015. Hill has already tamed Daytona – winning the season opener this year to clinch his Playoff berth early. In his other two races at Daytona, he placed 30th (2015) and 11th (2018).

 

RACE PREVIEW WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF NASCAR COMMUNICATIONS

 

NHL Commissioner Bettman issues statement NHLPA

NEW YORK (Sept. 16, 2019) – National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman today issued the following statement:

 

“We are pleased with the NHL Players’ Association’s decision not to reopen the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

 

“We look forward to continuing to work with the NHLPA for the benefit of all stakeholders, especially our fans.”

 

COURTESY NHLmedia.com

 

Philadelphia Flyers 2019-20 Preview: With new head coach Alain Vigneault leading the way, team looks to keep improving and sneak into playoffs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: TEAM LOOK-AHEAD
With new head coach Alain Vigneault behind the bench, the Flyers enter the 2019-20 season looking to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons and advance past the opening round for the first time since 2012.

SEASON-OPENING STATS
* The Flyers have won each of their last three season-opening contests, outscoring opponents 14-7 including a 5-2 defeat of the Golden Knights to start 2018-19. They trail only the Lightning and Canucks for the longest active streak of season-opening victories (both 5-0-0).

OFFENSIVE OUTLOOK
* Fresh off his fourth season with at least 85 points, Claude Giroux (236-526—762 in 820 GP) sits 38 points shy of becoming the fourth player to record at least 800 points with the franchise.

Jakub Voracek (195-444—639 in 846 GP), who looks for a seventh 20-goal season, can become the second member of the 2007 NHL Draft class to collect at least 700 career points – Patrick Kane (356-582—938 in 903 GP) is the only one to hit the mark, while Jamie Benn (281-368—649 in 745 GP) sits just ahead of him.

Sean Couturier can join Jeff Carter (3; 2008-09—2010-11), John LeClair (5; 1995-96—1999-00) and Eric Lindros (4; 1995-96—1998-99) as just the fourth Flyers player in the last 25 years to record three straight 30-goal seasons.

Shayne Gostisbehere (46-141—187 in 298 GP) sits 13 points shy of reaching the 200-point milestone in his NHL career. Only one defenseman has debuted with the Flyers and reached the mark in 350 games or fewer: Behn Wilson (313 GP).

THE FUTURE IS NOW
* The Flyers selected Joel Farabee with the 14th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft. He collected 17-19—36 in 37 GP with Boston University in 2018-19 en route to being named the NCAA (Hockey East) Rookie of the Year as well as the NCAA’s Top Collegiate Rookie. Farabee will celebrate his 20th birthday on Feb. 25.

BETWEEN THE PIPES
* Carter Hart, 21, strung together wins in eight consecutive appearances from Jan. 14 – Feb. 9, 2019 en route to a 16-13-1 record in his rookie season (31 GP). Hart can become the second active goaltender to record 30 or more career regular-season wins before turning 22, in which he would join Carey Price (47).

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
A look at how players have fared historically in their debut game/season with the franchise:

First game with the Flyers. . .
SKATERS
Most goals: 2 (6x; last: Daniel Briere on Oct. 4, 2007)
Most assists: 3 (Al Hill on Feb. 14, 1977 and Paul Coffey on Dec. 19, 1996)
Most points: 5 (Al Hill on Feb. 14, 1977)

DEFENSEMEN
Most goals: 1 (7x; last: Derian Hatcher on Oct. 14, 2005)
Most assists: 3 (Paul Coffey on Dec. 19, 1996)
Most points: 3 (Paul Coffey on Dec. 19, 1996 and Eric Weinrich on Oct. 4, 2001)

GOALTENDERS
Most saves: 42 (Michel Belhumeur on Nov. 15, 1972)
Shutout: Yes (4x; last: Ray Emery on Oct. 2, 2009)

First season with the Flyers. . .
SKATERS
Most goals: 45 (Reggie Leach in 1974-75)
Most assists: 56 (Peter Forsberg in 2005-06)
Most points: 82 (Mikael Renberg in 1993-94)

DEFENSEMEN
Most goals: 20 (Mark Howe in 1982-83)
Most assists: 47 (Mark Howe in 1982-83)
Most points: 67 (Mark Howe in 1982-83)

GOALTENDERS
Most wins: 37 (Ron Hextall in 1986-87)
Most Shutouts: 10 (Roman Cechmanek in 2000-01)

 

PREVIEW WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHLmedia.com

 

Columbus Blue Jackets announce 2019 Preseason Broadcast Schedule for Games

All home games will again be streamed live on BlueJackets.com and on the FOX Sports app

COLUMBUS, OHIO – In advance of the club’s 2019 preseason debut at Nationwide Arena tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced today the following television, streaming and radio broadcast information for the team’s seven-game preseason schedule:

 

DATE AND OPPONENT LIVESTREAM/RADIO/TELEVISION COVERAGE

Sept. 17 vs. Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET BlueJackets.com, FOX Sports Go app/97.1 The Fan

Sept. 19 at Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET           97.1 The Fan

Sept. 21 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 2 p.m. ET BlueJackets.com, FOX Sports Go app/CD102.5/NHL Network

Sept. 22 at St. Louis Blues, 3:30 p.m. ET               97.1 The Fan

Sept. 25 at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET                     97.1 The Fan

Sept. 27 vs. New Jersey Devils, 7 p.m. ET BlueJackets.com, FOX Sports Go app/97.1 The Fan

Sept. 29 vs. St. Louis Blues, 5 p.m. ET BlueJackets.com, FOX Sports Go app/97.1 The Fan

 

Livestream coverage of the Blue Jackets’ home preseason games will feature the Nationwide Arena videoboard feed accompanied by the radio broadcast featuring play-by-play announcer Bob McElligott.  It is available through the club’s NHL-defined broadcast territory, including most of Ohio and parts of Kentucky and West Virginia.

 

Single game tickets for all home games played at Nationwide Arena during the 2019-20 regular season, including the Friday, October 4 home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs are on sale now.  Full and partial season tickets for the Blue Jackets’ 2019-20 campaign are also currently available for purchase.  Information on all ticketing options can be obtained by calling (800) NHL‐COLS or by visiting BlueJackets.com.

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY & COURTESY OF BLUE JACKETS COMMUNICATIONS

 

Blue Jackets getting ready to face an old foe in Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night

Two days after Columbus opened the preseason with a 4-1 win in Nationwide Arena vs. Buffalo on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets will get back in action Thursday with their first road game.

They will face a familiar foe in fellow Metropolitan Division rival, the Pittsburgh, Penguins.

The Penguins enter 2019-20 with their sights set on returning to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 14th consecutive season. They currently hold the NHL’s longest active streak ahead of the Capitals and Predators (5 each; 2014-15—2018-19).

The Penguins have firepower in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but also in Jake Guentzel led Pittsburgh with a career-high 40 goals last season and finished third in team scoring. He can become the first Penguins player to score at least 40 goals in consecutive seasons since Jagr from 1998-99 to 2000-01.

The tentative CBJ roster for Thursday night’s game at Pittsburgh is as follows.

FORWARDS

10 - Alexander Wennberg

11 - Kevin Stenlund

14 - Gustav Nyquist

15 - Jakob Lilja

17 - Brandon Dubinsky

22 – Sonny Milano

29 – Zac Dalpe

37 - Markus Hannikainen

49 - Ryan MacInnis

50 - Eric Robinson

52 - Emil Bemstrom

56 - Marko Dano

DEFENSEMEN

4 - Scott Harrington

44 - Vladislav Gavrikov

53 - Gabriel Carlsson

58 - David Savard

59 – Ryan Collins

84 – Anton Karlsson

GOALTENDERS

31 - Veini Vehvilainen

90 - Elvis Merzlikin

The following is the tentative Pittsburgh Penguins roster for Thursday night’s game.

Forwards:
12 – Simon
13 – Tanev
18 – Galchenyuk
20 – Bjorkqvist
22 – Poulin
24 – Kahun
27 – Bjugstad
34 – Legare
37 – Lafferty
59 – Guentzel
71 – Malkin
72 – Hornqvist

Defensemen:
4 – Schultz
6 – Marino
28 – Pettersson
44 – Gudbranson
55 – Warsofsky
73 – Joseph

Goalies:
30 – Murray
33 – D’Orio

 

INFORMATION FROM GAME PREVIEW NOTES; COURTESY COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS AND PITTSBURGH PENGUINS COMMUNICATIONS

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