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Denny Hamlin nears mark for most speeding penalties in last 10 years

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Denny Hamlin is one pit road speeding penalty away from tying the mark for the most in a season in the past 10 years.

Hamlin, who is among the drivers still eligible for the championship, has been penalized 10 times for speeding on pit road this year.

Over the last 10 years, only Ryan Newman and David Gilliland have had more penalties for speeding on pit road in a season, according to Racing Insights Inc. Newman had 11 in 2008; Gilliland had 11 in 2012.

Hamlin could tie — or top the mark — this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. He was caught speeding on pit road in this race a year ago.

Here is the list of most speeding penalties on pit road in the last 10 years:

11 – Ryan Newman (2008)

11 – David Gilliland (2012)

10 – Denny Hamlin (2016)

10 – Jamie McMurray (2010)

9 – Michael Waltrip (2008)

9 – Sam Hornish Jr. (2008)

Here is the list of most speeding penalties this season:

10 – Denny Hamlin

7 – Greg Biffle

7 – Kyle Larson

7 – Paul Menard

7 – Ryan Newman

7 – David Ragan

7 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

6 – Austin Dillon

6 – Jimmie Johnson

6 – Michael McDowell

6 – Jamie McMurray

6 – Regan Smith

5 – AJ Allmendinger

5 – Chase Elliott

5 – Casey Mears

5 – Brian Scott

Hamlin was penalized for speeding last weekend at Martinsville Speedway — the second race in a row he’s been caught exceeding the speed limit on pit road.

“Typically the way I shift from first to second, leaving my pit box, I usually wind out first gear,’’ Hamlin said after the race. “With first and second gear being so close together, I was over. I knew when they called it that I sped.

“It wasn’t like we were just rolling and just rolling too fast. It was just exiting my pit box. If I remember right, got jammed up by whoever was pitted in front of me. There was cars coming on the outside, so I was trying to gas to get clear of them, then back off. These shorter sections, I just didn’t have time to get it back.’’

Even with such penalties, Hamlin has scored five top-five finishes this season. He placed third after serving penalties for speeding on pit road at Auto Club Speedway, Bristol in August, the fall Talladega race and fall Martinsville. Hamlin finished fourth at Indianapolis after a pit road speeding penalty.

Christopher Bell on Xfinity pole at Atlanta

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Rookie Christopher Bell qualified first for Saturday’s Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 181.176-mph lap in his No. 20 Toyota.

it’s the second pole in 10 starts for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Joey Logano was second in his No. 22 Ford, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick.

Click here for the Xfinity Series qualifying results and click here for the Xfinity lineup by row.

The Xfinity race will start at 2:16 p.m. ET, starting a doubleheader with the truck series at Atlanta.

Sunday’s Atlanta race moved to 1:06 p.m. ET start with threat of weather

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HAMPTON, Georgia – The threat of inclement weather has moved up the start of Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway by an hour.

NASCAR announced Saturday morning that the green flag will fall on the second race of the 2018 season at 1:06 p.m. ET.

Races become official after the second stage. The second stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race will end on Lap 170 of 325.

The wunderground.com site calls for an 80 percent chance of rain Sunday with the forecast worsening from 10 a.m.

Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson top list of drivers docked practice

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HAMPTON, Georgia — Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson both will be held during the final Cup Series practice Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Because his No. 78 Toyota failed to clear prequalifying inspection three times Friday, Truex will miss the final 30 minutes of the 80-minute session that will begin at noon ET. Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet will be out for the last 15 minutes because it failed the new Optical Scanning Station twice.

Harrison Rhodes also will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice. Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding Jr., Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt each will miss 15 minutes because they were late to qualifying inspection.

NASCAR changed its policy on how practice holds will be conducted this season. Instead of serving the penalty in the pits at the start of the session, drivers will park their cars for the length of the penalty up until the end of the session.

Today’s Xfinity race at Atlanta: Start time, lineup and more

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A week after Tyler Reddick‘s victory over Elliott Sadler by 0.0004 seconds to win at Daytona, the Xfinity Series is back in action at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Today’s race is the first in a doubleheader. The Camping World Truck Series will race after the Xfinity Series event.

Here are the details for today’s Xfinity race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Larry “The Cable Guy” will give the command to start engines at 2:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 163 laps (251 miles) around the 1.54-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 40. Stage 2 ends on Lap 80.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 11:45 a.m. Driver introductions are at 1:35 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. Race coverage begins at 2 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 77 degrees and a 15 chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch led the final 19 laps to win this race last year. Brad Keselowski was second. Kyle Larson placed third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 9:10 a.m. ET