Brad Keselowski won the Busch Pole Award for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The lineup was determined using NASCAR’s new competition-based formula, which is a total number based on the previous event: 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the Owner Points position. Any ties will be broken by the Rule Book.
RELATED: Learn more about the new lineup formula | ADVANCING through the playoffs
The No. 2 Team Penske Ford driver will be joined by teammate Joey Logano on the front row in the No. 22 Ford.
In the majority of national series events since NASCAR‘s May return, starting lineups have been set by random draws. The new structure draws on performance from both individual races and season-long results, rather than leaving a range of starting spots up to chance.
See the full starting lineup for Saturday’s race below.
|Starting spot||Driver||Car #||Team|
|1||Brad Keselowski (P)||2||Team Penske|
|2||Joey Logano (P)||22||Team Penske|
|3||Martin Truex Jr. (P)||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|4||Kevin Harvick (P)||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|5||Austin Dillon (P)||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|6||Chase Elliott (P)||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|7||Denny Hamlin (P)||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|8||Alex Bowman (P)||88||Hendrick Motorsports|
|9||Kyle Busch (P)||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|10||Aric Almirola (P)||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|11||Clint Bowyer (P)||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|12||Cole Custer (P)||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|13||Kurt Busch (P)||1||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|14||Ryan Blaney (P)||12||Team Penske|
|15||William Byron (P)||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|16||Matt DiBenedetto (P)||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|17||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|18||Christopher Bell||95||Leavine Family Racing|
|19||Matt Kenseth||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|20||Erik Jones||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|21||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|22||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|23||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|24||Jimmie Johnson||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|25||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|26||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|27||Bubba Wallace||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|28||Ty Dillon||13||Germain Racing|
|29||Daniel Suarez||96||Gaunt Brothers Racing|
|30||Corey LaJoie||32||Go Fas Racing|
|31||John Hunter Nemechek||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|32||Brennan Poole||15||Premium Motorsports|
|33||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|34||Reed Sorenson||77||Spire Motorsports|
|35||James Davison||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|36||Joey Gase||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|37||Gray Gaulding||27||Rick Ware Racing|
|38||Timmy Hill||66||Motorsports Business Management|
|39||Josh Bilicki||7||Tommy Baldwin Racing|
|40||Garrett Smithley||78||B.J. McLeod Motorsports|
Warriors stars Curry and Green to miss minicamp
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have been excused from the Golden State Warriors’ voluntary minicamp due to family reasons.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr confirmed the absence of stars Curry and Green following Golden State’s first practice session on Wednesday.
The Warriors have returned to training after their 2019-20 season was cut short amid the coronavirus pandemic – Golden State not qualifying for the Orlando bubble at Walt Disney World Resort with a league-worst 15-50 record.
Curry only made five appearance last season due to a broken left hand sustained in October, while Green was restricted to just 43 games for the injury-hit Warriors.
“First of all, I want to make clear that this is a voluntary camp,” Kerr said. “And so [general manager] Bob [Myers] and I have both been in touch with Steph and Draymond and we are well aware of their circumstances.
“And so they both have important family issues to attend to and so they have excused absences.”
Kerr added: “Would I like them to be here? Of course. We know, we’re watching all these teams in the bubble; the ones that didn’t make the playoffs, even they got six weeks together to practice and play games and try different combinations and line-ups.
“And we haven’t had that opportunity, so we’re just going to use the opportunity that we have here over two weeks, just like the other seven teams that didn’t go to the bubble, and we’ll try to make the most of this time, get plenty of work in.
“A lot of guys are going to get a lot better and really thrive in this environment. I’m not worried about Steph and Draymond; I know how hard they work and I know they’ll be prepared for next season.”
Warriors star Klay Thompson is also recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury suffered during the 2019 NBA Finals.
“He’s doing well,” Kerr said. “He worked out here at the facility for several days in a row, maybe four or five days in a row with [assistant coach] Chris DeMarco, and Chris gave me really positive updates.
“I was here for a couple of those days and got a chance to see him, and Klay looks great. And he’s anxious to play, so we’re excited about that.”
Tyler Herro’s unexpected contributions just a portion from a day filled with frustration
The words rolled off Tyler Herro’s lips as easily as the clutch buckets released from his fingertips on a career night when asked why he selected “Black Lives Matter” on his jersey nameplate.
“Because Black lives matter,” he responded without a hint of sarcasm or annoyance but with the same force that was necessary and shocking given the gravity of the day — and his own day.
The Miami Heat moved one win away from reaching their first NBA Finals since 2014 after a 112-109 Game 4 victory over the Boston Celtics, with the unexpected contributions from Herro and his 37-point explosion, joining the ranks of Magic Johnson and Derrick Rose as rookie wonders in the postseason. In other words, the Miami Heat system working as it was designed to.
Hours earlier, the state where Herro played one year of college ball, Kentucky, did the expected as the grand jury refused to indict the officers for their roles in the death of Breonna Taylor six months ago. In other words, the justice system working as it was designed to.
Like most in the NBA bubble, compartmentalizing is what’s expected from the Heat. Keeping sane in a restrictive environment while being away from family, friends and creature comforts, playing high-level competitive basketball, and oh yeah, being reminded of what’s hovered over the country for the last several months every time you put on a jersey.
More than the other conference finalists, the Heat have dictated the terms of engagement on the floor. They can play your way, but it’s better when they play their own way. For what they lack in talent, they make up for in dedication to staying in character for longer stretches than anyone else.
Herro may have played out of character given his absence in the Rookie of the Year balloting, where teammate Kendrick Nunn finished second behind Ja Morant. But anyone watching him could see this long arc bending toward his brand of victory, his confidence brimming but not obnoxious, or corny or phony.
“I’m gonna bet on myself,” Herro said, a notion backed up by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s claims that Herro’s no longer a rookie, and that his work ethic earned the respect and trust of his teammates — an aspect more critical than the trust from the coaching staff.
Never did he look rushed or hurried or overwhelmed by the moment or the day itself, perhaps taking a cue from the man who was the ultimate “bet on myself” type, Jimmy Butler.
For three days, Butler had to endure lightweight calls for him to be more assertive, especially considering Game 3 was on the table and could’ve been pushed over the top if he summoned a superstar performance. It’s very much his moment, his validation, but seizing it isn’t as conventional and linear as some have seen it with others on this stage.
But he’s played the long game this entire season, eschewing the thirst for the raw numbers to throw in the faces of the organizations who didn’t believe he could lead. Instead, preferring to instill confidence in guys who at any moment could be the guy in a critical situation.
“I’ve been on teams where I put up a lot of shots, scored a lot of points, never went anywhere,” Butler said. “Here, it can be anybody’s night.”
Whether it’s Bam Adebayo or Goran Dragic, the avalanche of domination can come from anywhere, validating Butler’s beliefs in his teammate.
If nothing else, you see the method to his madness, or perceived passivity.
‘If you didn’t know my name, it could be me’
When Butler refused one of the twenty-something NBA-approved names or statements each player could wear on his jersey nameplate and wanting his to be blank, he looked as if he were a man going rogue, not wanting to be either unified or bold.
But Breonna Taylor was a nameless, faceless person we didn’t know about until she was no more. Everybody’s saying her name, but we’d be better off not knowing it.
“If you didn’t know my name, it could be me,” Butler said, explaining his reasoning for his blank nameplate wishes. “It still could be me. We’re all equal. We need everybody to see it that way.”
Butler said he hopes the news of the day makes the world see his logic without having to squint or ask for more elaboration, considering the blank slate of justice that has been left unfilled.
“It’s some BS they let that go down like that,” Butler said. “We know what should’ve happened. I think we knew what was gonna happen, unfortunately. That’s our country for you. You hate to see it.”
Miami dictates the terms of engagement on the floor in a way they cannot influence it off the floor. Miami Heat czar Pat Riley isn’t a Kentucky native but was a Wildcat under coach Adolph Rupp when Kentucky went against the All-Black starting five of Texas Western 54 years ago.
No one knows how Riley felt about losing a national title game under such circumstances, but he went into the winner’s locker room that night and shook hands, and has attended reunions of the historic event time and time again.
Riley, and by proxy Spoelstra, are not shy about playing games on their terms. It’s not a way, like an option for the Heat; It’s the only way. Perhaps that’s why Spoelstra has been so adamant about his frustration with the state of affairs with racism and justice in these cases. It’s been just as dogged as his determination to keep everything in the moment, to not look ahead to getting back to the Finals just yet.
“Stay in the moment,” he routinely says, his eyes trying to hide the excitement as his team is on the doorstep of something so unexpected in this unconventional setup. But the day called for equal parts jubilation and frustration, one task unfulfilled and draining, the other exhilarating and exhausting.
Spoelstra tried not to gush too much about Herro’s exploits, crediting the work. But in his own way, he could’ve been chiding a system that left so many of us unsurprised and heartbroken at the same time.
“Everyone overestimates what you can do in a day and underestimates what you can do over the course of months or a year.”
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There goes my Herro
The Miami Heat took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Celtics on Wednesday and were led by the youngest player on the floor as 20-year-old Tyler Herro put on a masterful display of shot making. He scored with ease at all three levels, racking up 37 points (14-of-21 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with five triples, six rebounds, three dimes and one turnover in 36 minutes. He closed out the game in style with 17 points alone in the fourth quarter, breaking some records in the process — he broke Dwayne Wade’s rookie playoff record (27 points) and also became the second 20-year-old to score at least 37 in the playoffs alongside Magic Johnson’s record of 42.
I don’t think Pat Riley gets enough credit for refusing to tank after LeBron James left as he’s managed to build another powerhouse team that has only lost twice so far in the playoffs — he drafted Herro and Bam Adebayo 13th and 14th overall, found two hidden gems in Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn, and to top it all off he convinced Jimmy Butler to leave Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in order to be the leader of this revamped roster.
Speaking of Butler, he was having a pretty quiet series on the offensive end before this one, but popped off for 24 points on 8-of-20 shots, adding nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He deferred to Herro down the stretch though which he should get a lot of credit for, and he has spear-headed Miami’s zone defense and has been the ultimate disruptor on that end with seven total steals and three blocks this series. He’s on the verge of making it to his first NBA Finals so all those 3 AM training sessions and noise complaints for dribbling in his hotel room are going to pay off.
Goran Dragic reminded us why he’s going to be one of the hottest free agents this summer, dropping 22 points on 8-of-21 shots with five boards, three dimes, two steals and three triples. That improves his playoff average to 21.3 points, 4.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 1.0 steals and 2.6 triples. He legitimately might get a one-year deal worth roughly $20M, but no longer than that with the Heat preserving cap space to make a run at Giannis in 2021-22.
Bam Adebayo was instrumental for the Heat once again with a 20/12/4 line with two steals, his 6th game of the playoffs with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. How he didn’t make any of the All-NBA teams remains absurd to me. The Heat will have some concern going forward though, as Bam Adebayo tweaked his wrist in the fourth quarter and it was clearly bothering him — he was grimacing a lot and was just letting it hang by his side.
Bam said after the game that he just twisted it and that he’ll be fine, sporting a huge icepack on his wrist. Coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t have an update and the Heat weren’t exactly transparent either, so we’re pretty much in the dark here. Hopefully everything is OK but I wouldn’t be surprised if he undergoes an MRI Thursday to be safe.
UPDATE: Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press is reporting that Bam’s injury is an aggravation of something he picked up in Game 3 and that he is good to go for Game 5.
As for Boston, let’s first give a shoutout to Gordon Hayward who became a father to his fourth child on Wednesday. He was originally expected to depart the bubble for the birth, but because he took so much time off for his ankle injury he opted to stay and help Boston. “I think his ankle’s fine right now,” coach Brad Stevens said after the birth was announced. “I don’t think he’s thought about it all afternoon obviously. Very, very happy to hear the news.”
He had another strong performance in his second game back, scoring 14 points in 30 minutes with seven rebounds, three assists and two triples. He’s played 30 minutes in back-to-back games, and with Boston’s season on the line I’m expecting that number to go up as Boston’s best bet is to play smaller lineups unless Brad Stevens starts suddenly trusting Robert Williams. The reason for that is because Daniel Theis was absolutely torched all evening, finishing with a +/- of -14 in 30 minutes.
Kemba Walker continues to be targeted on defense, but at least he’s finally making up for it on the other end. He scored 20 points for his third straight game with at least that many, adding five assists, four rebounds and three triples. Jaylen Brown added 21 points, nine boards and four triples for Boston, while Marcus Smart had an off shooting night (3-of-12 FGs) but still managed to post a 10-point, 11-dime double-double.
Jayson Tatum had his first scoreless half of the season, but erupted late to finish with 28 points (10-of-22 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) with nine rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks in 39 minutes. “I take a lot of blame,” Tatum said. “I didn’t play like myself in the first half.” He also called his performance “unacceptable,” and something is telling me he won’t go down without a fight in Game 5.
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News and Notes from around the NBA
– Sacramento’s new GM, Monte McNair, spoke to the media for the first time on Wednesday since being hired. He said he’s “excited” to work alongside coach Luke Walton who was previously on the hot seat, but this will certainly be an interesting dynamic to watch. McNair said that floor spacing and pushing the pace will be two things that he’ll preach as GM, and hopefully Walton delivers in that regard because he refused to do that this season despite saying otherwise. McNair comes from Houston’s front office, so that alone is reason for optimism (at least from a fantasy basketball perspective).
Pushing the pace will be huge for Sacramento’s franchise PG in De’Aaron Fox, a player that I’ve got my eyes on next season as a post-hype breakout. He still managed to average a career-high 21.1 points in his age-22 season despite so many things working against him, so if we get some positive regression with his 3-point shooting, free throws, and defensive stats then I think we’re talking about a top-40 finish in 8-cat leagues.
One other thing that stood out from the press conference is how much he talked about Buddy Hield, saying that he’s “absolutely” one of the elite shooters in the league and that he can’t wait to utilize that in his system. McNair also talked about being smart with the team’s finances, and with so much money tied up in Hield I got the sense that he was leaning towards letting Bogdan Bogdanovic walk this summer. Maybe I’m wrong, but if Bogdan bounces then Hield will have a clear runway to a top-50 bounce-back season.
– Mitchell Robinson will not attend New York’s voluntary workouts under new head coach Tom Thibodeau for personal reasons, but all we know right now is that it’s not COVID-19 related. Robinson didn’t live up to the hype this season but it had more to do with the former coaching staff, so you better believe I’ll be buying his discounted ADP this time around with a coach who is notorious for playing his studs 36+ minutes.
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