Like father … Ross Kenseth will be sporting a familiar look for his Xfinity Series debut in June

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Ross Kenseth will make his Xfinity Series debut with the same team, car number and sponsor his famous father has in the Sprint Cup Series.

How much impact did Matt Kenseth have in making it happen?

“Chances are he had something to do with it,” Ross said Friday, aping the deadpan delivery of his dad.

It will be a family affair in the June 20 race at Chicagoland Speedway, where Ross Kenseth will drive the Dollar General-sponsored No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in his first NASCAR national series start. With the Cup circuit off that weekend, Matt Kenseth will be on hand for the race after helping broker the deal to put his son in the No. 20, which is shared by JGR drivers and carried Erik Jones to victory last Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

“Ross has been working really hard to get a good opportunity,” Matt Kenseth said before Sprint Cup practice Friday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I don’t think it can be any better than this. I feel the 20 is one of the best (Xfinity) cars out there. It’ll be a great shot for him. I really appreciate Joe and everyone at JGR giving him that chance, and Dollar General to sponsor his first ever NASCAR start.

“He’s never going to be more ready for the opportunity than he is now.”

The departure of Darrell Wallace Jr. from JGR for Roush Fenway Racing in the preseason opened some voids in the No. 20 schedule, allowing the team to follow through on discussions to put Ross Kenseth in the car.

“We’ve talked about it quite a bit over the last year,” Ross said. “It’s been trying to get the situation to be right. Everything came together with Dollar General, and Coach (team owner Joe Gibbs) taking a chance on me. Having everything line up where they had an open race, and it worked out to be Chicago, which I was excited about being so close to home.”

Kenseth, who will turn 22 on May 25, is a Wisconsin native like his father and has followed his footsteps in racing on short tracks around the Midwest the past few years (including a car fielded by his father in 2013). Last season, Ross Kenseth took on more responsibilities, sometimes driving his team’s hauler in between races.

“I probably ran 25 races last year, and for the amount of work I put in, it seemed like a lot more than that,” he said. “I think it worked out. We were competitive.”

Though he didn’t win last year, Kenseth turned heads with his second career ARCA start —  finishing third at Kansas Speedway last September.

He will run ARCA races for Ken Schrader Racing at Michigan International Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway to help prepare for his Xfinity debut, which he called “a dream come true. To get your first start with a competitive organization that’s won a lot of races, it’s everything a driver wants to have.”

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

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What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

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On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.

NASCAR America: Bubba Wallace Jr.’s search for a ride continues (video)

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Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.’s search for a new ride continues.

Wallace joined NASCAR America in-studio on Thursday and talked about his recent fill-in role at Richard Petty Motorsports during Aric Almirola‘s crash recovery, as well as his hope that a new ride will come around soon.

Wallace also weighed in on Alex Bowman being selected Thursday to replace the retiring Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevrolet and what it means for the young generation of drivers.

Find out what Bubba had to say in the video above.

 

 

NASCAR America: What happens to Brad Keselowski now that 88 ride has been filled? (video)

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Amid all the news about Alex Bowman replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Team Hendrick Chevrolet next season, one thing was kind of overlooked.

Rumors had floated throughout the sport the last several weeks about Brad Keselowski being a possible candidate to replace Earnhardt, as well.

Those rumors were only bolstered more by the fact Keselowski has still not signed a contract extension with Team Penske. His current deal runs out at the end of the current Cup season.

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan appeared on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America and talked about the various ramifications of the Bowman deal. But Ryan also suggested that with Bowman now in place, will that potentially hasten Keselowski’s re-signing with Team Penske perhaps sooner than later now that the 88 ride is off the table?

“Whether Brad Keselowski was seriously weighing a move to the 88 or whether he was using it as leverage to get a better deal from Team Penske and Ford, this just makes it all the more likely that he will re-sign with Team Penske and stay in the No. 2 Ford next year,” Ryan said.

“It’s very likely that we will hear soon that Brad Keselowski is re-signing with Team Penske. That deal is very close.”

Ryan also discussed whether another driver whose name was mentioned as a potential replacement for Earnhardt, young William Byron, may also score a promotion to the Cup Series with Team Hendrick.

“I think Cup could still be in the cards for next year,” Ryan said of Byron. “Kasey Kahne is under contract in the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports for 2018, but he is having a very disappointing season.

“If Hendrick elected to make a change on that ride, it could depend on sponsorship. That ride doesn’t have much sponsorship announced yet for 2018 and William Byron could certainly be an option there.

“He brings some sponsorship from Liberty University, and he also has been sponsored in a few races with Axalta and they really like what he’s done. If he goes to Cup, they really want to be on his car.”