After shaky start to weekend, Ross Kenseth has strong showing in Xfinity Series debut

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Ross Kenseth’s first career Xfinity Series weekend began with an out-of-control spin and ended with a confident driver and strong sixth-place finish.

For Ross, son of NASCAR Sprint Cup veteran Matt Kenseth, Sunday’s Owens Corning AttiCat 300 was his first opportunity to race in the Xfinity Series. It will be his only start this season for now unless enough eyes were opened at Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsors to bring the younger Kenseth back for additional races.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s had two strong showings in a row when you include last week’s ARCA victory at Michigan International Speedway.

Kenseth had a rough go of it in Friday practice, spinning in a single-car incident. To his credit, he was able to keep the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry off the wall and away from other cars, suffering just two flat tires as a result.

Saturday, Kenseth looked completely different. He likely would have earned the pole had it not been for a late burst by Austin Dillon who took it away from Kenseth by .012 of a second.

That built Kenseth’s confidence but he admits during the race, “I made a little too many mistakes . On a green flag stop, I lost a lot of time and a couple pit stops there I messed up getting into the box.”

But Kenseth kept digging and ultimately worked his way back up in the pack.

“Man, it’s frustrating sometimes,” Kenseth said. “I thought we had a real good car at the end. We needed a last caution to come out for us. (If that would have happened) I thought we could pick up some track position and get up to third or fourth.”

The weekend was a trial-and-error type of situation for Kenseth. If he made mistakes, he’d work at it until he corrected them.

It was the same in Sunday’s race, particularly on restarts. After some slow ones early on, he showed steady improvement as he went along.

“The first couple of restarts there, I just didn’t get it as good as I should have,” Kenseth said. “At the end there, I pretty much held it wide open for the first lap of a run there.

“Being a little bit more aggressive there at the end saved us a couple more spots. It took 100 hard laps after halfway to get the car dialed in and get me a lot more comfortable.”

There’s no guarantee Kenseth will get another Xfinity Series start in the remaining 19 races, but he’s hoping that may change for the better.

“For a one-off deal like this, I was happy,” Kenseth said. “Hopefully, we can do it again.”

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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.”