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2016 Season in Review: Austin Dillon

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Austin Dillon

CREW CHIEF: Richard “Slugger” Labbe

TEAM: Richard Childress Racing

POINTS: 14th

WINS: 0

LAPS LED: 17 (lowest since he led just 10 laps in 2014)

TOP 5s: 4 (career-best)

TOP 10s: 13 (career-best)

POLES: 2 (Fontana, Texas II)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: In his third full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, 2016 was a breakthrough season for Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress. While he’s still seeking his first Cup-level win, he had highs in top-fives (four) and top-10s (13), poles (2), average start (14.0) and average finish (15.9), lead lap finishes (26) and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time (although he was eliminated after the second round on a tiebreaker with Denny Hamlin after Talladega). … Also earned two wins, 11 top-fives, 16 top-10s and one pole in 19 Xfinity Series starts.

WHAT WENT WRONG: While he definitely showed significant improvement as a driver, Dillon had a problem getting to the front of the field, leading just 17 laps, less than half of the number of laps he led in 2015 (39). … He had three DNFs for the second season in a row after none in his rookie season in 2014.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2017: While 2016 was a breakthrough season for Dillon, 2017 very well could be a breakout season. He’s ready to win a race – and RCR certainly needs a win, not having visited victory lane since 2013 with Kevin Harvick. Look for Dillon not only to win a race or more, he’ll also make the Chase for the second straight year and has the potential to advance at least to the second or third rounds — if not all the way to the final round — of the playoff eliminations.

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Kyle Larson posts fastest lap in Saturday morning practice

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Kyle Larson posted the fastest lap in Saturday morning’s Cup practice at Kansas Speedway with a lap of 181.671 mph.

He was followed by Kevin Harvick (181.586 mph), Daniel Suarez (181.513), Paul Menard (181.269) and Clint Bowyer (181.178).

Ryan Blaney, who will starts last in the 40-car field after his car failed inspection after qualifying on Friday, was sixth on the speed chart with a lap of 181.038 mph.

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Cup session is scheduled from 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Six teams will be docked 15 minutes of time in that session, including playoff contenders Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray.

Six cars to miss time in final Cup practice session

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Six Cup teams, including playoff contenders Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray, will each miss 15 minutes of today’s final practice session at Kansas Speedway because of inspection issues, NASCAR announced.

Three teams were penalized 15 minutes in Saturday morning’s first practice – Derrike Cope, Landon Cassill and AJ Allmendinger. Each were penalized for being late to qualifying inspection Friday.

Teams penalized 15 minutes in final Cup practice will be Elliott, McMurray, Cope, Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola.

Bayne, Elliott and Almirola were penalized for failing qualifying/race inspection twice at Talladega.

Cope, McMurray and Menard were penalized for failing qualfiying qualifying inspection twice at Kansas.

Final Cup practice is scheduled from 1:30 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Today’s Xfinity race at Kansas: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The Xfinity Series begins the second round of its playoffs with today’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Here is all the info you need for the race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Kansas Lt. Gov. Dr. Jeff Colyer will give the command to start engines at 2:56 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:05 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Qualifying is slated for 12:05 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:25 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Mary Ann Hotaling will perform the anthem at 2:51 p.m..

TV/RADIO:  NBC will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. on NBCSN with Countdown to Green. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 76 degrees and a 15 percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Kyle Busch dominated this race last fall, leading 150 of 200 laps. Elliott Sadler finished second. Daniel Suarez was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 12:05 p.m.

Saturday’s NASCAR Cup, Xfinity schedule at Kansas Speedway

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Today’s racing action at Kansas Speedway includes two NASCAR Cup practices, as well as Xfinity qualifying and race.

Today’s Xfinity race will be the first in the Round of 8, which will determine the four finalists for next month’s championship race.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All times are Eastern)

8 a.m. — Xfinity garage opens

9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Cup garage open

11 – 11:55 p.m. — Second Cup practice (NBC Sports App, MRN)

12:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (NBCSN)

1:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

1:30 – 2:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3 p.m. – Kansas 300 Xfinity race (200 laps, 300 miles) (NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)