NASCAR unveils latest Driver for Diversity class

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NASCAR has announced the latest class for its Drive for Diversity program, which is made up of six drivers.

The Drive for Diversity program is NASCAR main initiative for developing multicultural and female drivers.

The group of six were selected from a drive combine at New Smyrna Speedway last October and will compete for Rev Racing in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series.

“Now more than ever, we’re seeing the impact of NASCAR’s development program in producing drivers who excel at the highest echelons of our sport,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “There’s a great deal of talent and potential in this year’s class. With the strong foundation that NASCAR Drive for Diversity provides, these drivers will have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to elevate their racing careers.”

Four drivers in the program are returning members and they are joined by newcomers Chase Cabre and 16-year-old Macy Causey. Causey is the granddaughter of Diane Teel, the first woman to compete in the Xfinity Series race in 1982.

Here’s a look at the 2017 class of the Drive for Diversity program.

Collin Cabre (@CollinCabre12): An impressive second year in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program was highlighted by four top-five and six top-10 finishes and a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings. After winning the 2015 season finale at Dover International Speedway, Cabre was named to the 2016-2017 NASCAR Next class. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Florida, will compete in his third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing.

Chase Cabre (@CabreChase): Cabre, 20, registered 12 race wins in 21 starts in a 600 Mini Sprint Car and is a two-time Fall Brawl Champion at Florida’s Ocala Bullring. In 2016, he averaged a fourth-place finish in races at Hickory Motor Speedway and set two poles during the season. Chase will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in his rookie season with Rev Racing.

Rubén García Jr. (@RubenGarcia4): At age 20, the Mexico City native became the youngest NASCAR PEAK Mexico driver to win the series championship in 2015. García was also part of the NASCAR Next program in both 2015 and 2016. He returns to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East after finishing 10th in the series last season.

Jay Beasley (@Jbeasleyracing): Beasley, 24, made history in 2013 by becoming the first African-American driver to win a Super Late Model race at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his first season with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in 2014, he earned two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He returns to the series for his third season with Rev Racing.

Macy Causey (@MacyCausey): Causey was honored with the NASCAR Young Racer Award in 2016. The year prior, she won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia Rookie of the Year Award and earned top rookie honors at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, where in 1978 her grandmother became the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track. Causey will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series.

Madeline Crane (@MaddieCrane78): The Georgia native began her career racing Bandoleros at Atlanta Motor Speedway at age 10. Crane, 19, moved into Legend cars, and by the time she was 14 had garnered 59 top-five finishes in 82 starts. Returning for a second season with NASCAR Drive for Diversity, she will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series following two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2016.

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Ryan Preece is fastest in final Xfinity practice Friday at Kentucky

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Ryan Preece soared to the top of the speed chart in the final Xfinity practice Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Preece covered the 1.5-mile oval with a top speed of 181.629 mph. He hit that speed on his first of 38 laps run during the session.

Justin Allgaier was second (180.777 mph), followed by Spencer Gallagher Jr. (180.114), Tyler Reddick (179.832) and Daniel Hemric (179.712).

Sixth through 10th: Matt Tifft (179.665), who was fastest in the first practice session earlier in the afternoon, William Byron (179.605), Brennan Poole (179.581), Sam Hornish Jr. (179.521) and Brandon Jones (179.521).

Five of the 12 Xfinity playoff contenders ended up in the top 10: Allgaier, Hemric, Tifft, Byron and Poole.

Others playoff contenders on the speed chart were Elliott Sadler (12th, 179.194), Ryan Reed (16th, 178.944), Cole Custer (17th, 178.838), Brendan Gaughan (19th, 178.453), Blake Koch (20th, 178.159), Michael Annett (21st, 178.124) and Jeremy Clements (25th, 176. 286).

Qualifying for Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 takes place at 5:30 p.m. ET, with the race set to take the green flag at 8 p.m. ET.

Click here for the full speed chart from the final Xfinity practice.

Starting lineup for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 NASCAR Cup race at Loudon

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Up until this season, Kyle Busch wasn’t necessarily looked upon as a prolific qualifier.

He earned a career-best three poles in 2013 and 2014.

But that’s nothing compared to 2017, as Busch earned a career-best eighth pole Friday for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It’s also his second consecutive pole, having won the pole for last weekend’s playoff-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kyle Larson was next and will join Busch on the front row Sunday.

As for the other 14 NASCAR Cup playoff contenders: Denny Hamlin (134.763) was third, followed by Ryan Blaney (134.720), Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr. (134.188), Kevin Harvick (134.108), Kurt Busch (133.985), Kasey Kahne (133.966), Matt Kenseth (133.589), Jamie McMurray (133.680) and Jimmie Johnson (131.989).

Of the top 12 qualifiers, 11 are playoff drivers. The only non-playoff driver was Erik Jones (eighth, 133.971).

As for the other five playoff contenders, Brad Keselowski was 13th (133.422), Chase Elliott (133.357) was 14th, Austin Dillon was 17th (133.133), Ryan Newman was 18th (133.007) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 24th (131.628).

Click here for the starting lineup.

 

Kyle Busch gets past Kyle Larson to take Cup pole at Loudon

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In a battle between Kyle and Kyle, it was Kyle Busch who emerged with the pole for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The younger Busch brother was the only driver over 135 mph, taking his 27th career Cup pole with a speed of 135.049 mph.

“Just went out there and gave it what she had,” Busch told NBCSN. “It certainly would be great to finish this out in victory lane on Sunday.

“We knew we were going to have a shot for the pole, just didn’t know if we were going to get it. For as ugly as that session looked or felt from my vantage point, it certainly worked out.”

Busch has now won the pole for the first two playoff races, having won the pole last week at Chicagoland.

What’s more, this is the most prolific season of qualifying for Busch in his career: this is his eighth pole in 2017, most of all drivers in the Cup series and his most in a single season. His previous mark for most poles in a single season was three in both 2013 and 2014.

As for the other Kyle, Kyle Larson, he qualified on the outside of the front row with an effort of 134.911 mph.

“I feel overall that my lap was pretty good,” said Larson, who finished second in the July race at New Hampshire. “The 18 has been real fast, especially in qualifying all year. For us to be second to him is not bad.”

Denny Hamlin (134.763) was third, followed by Ryan Blaney (134.720), Martin Truex Jr. (134.188), Kevin Harvick (134.108), Kurt Busch (133.985), Erik Jones (133.971), Kasey Kahne (133.966), Matt Kenseth (133.589), Jamie McMurray (133.680) and Jimmie Johnson (131.989).

Of the top 12, 11 are in the NASCAR Cup playoffs. The only non-playoff driver was Jones.

As for the other five playoff contenders, Brad Keselowski was 13th (133.422), Chase Elliott (133.357) was 14th, Austin Dillon was 17th (133.133), Ryan Newman was 18th (133.007) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 24th (131.628).

Elliott and Johnson both wrecked their primary cars in the Cup practice session earlier in the day.

While Johnson was able to get back on-track for that practice session with his back-up car, Elliott qualified cold with his back-up, unable to get back on-track during the morning practice.

Joey Logano did not take a qualifying lap after failing pre-qualifying inspection four times. Logano will start last (40th position) in Sunday’s race at NHMS, which he considers his “home track.”

Click here for the full qualifying grid.

Matt Tifft fastest in first of 2 Xfinity practices at Kentucky Speedway

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Matt Tifft ran 25 laps during Friday afternoon’s first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practice sessions at Kentucky Speedway.

But it was just one lap that mattered the most, as Tifft (180.427 mph) emerged from the 55-minute practice as the fastest in the 36 cars that took to the track.

Brian Scott was second (179.253 mph), followed by Ryan Preece (178.465), Brandon Jones (178.288), Justin Allgaier (178.271), Ben Kennedy (178.136), Elliott Sadler (177.573), Tyler Reddick (177.544), Spencer Gallagher Jr. (177.503) and Brennan Poole (177.381).

Interestingly enough, only four of the top-10 were playoff contenders. The seven-race Xfinity playoffs begin with Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300.

There will be one more practice session today from 6:30-7:25 p.m. ET.

Qualifying and the race are Saturday.

Click here for the full practice speed grid.