Justin Allgaier wins Phoenix Xfinity race, $100k bonus and playoff berth

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In a sense, Justin Allgaier earned three victories in Saturday’s DC Solar 200 Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway.

First was Allgaier taking the checkered flag, his fourth career Xfinity Series win and his first since August 2012 at Montreal, snapping an 80-race winless streak. It was also the first career Xfinity win for JR Motorsports at Phoenix.

Second, the Illinois native also earned an automatic berth in this season’s Xfinity Series playoffs.

Third – and perhaps the best part of all for Allgaier and his JR Motorsports team – was winning $100,000 in the first of four Dash 4 Cash races this season in the Xfinity Series.

“I knew it was going to come down to a short run at the end,”said Allgaier, who jumped ahead of the pack with four laps to go on the final restart. “I knew we had the car and just needed a good restart and we got that.”

MORE: Results from DC Solar 200 Xfinity Series race at Phoenix

MORE: Xfinity standings after Phoenix: Sadler remains No. 1, leads Byron by 11 points

If Allgaier goes on to win the other three Dash 4 Cash races this season, the spring events at Bristol, Richmond and Dover, Allgaier has the potential to earn $1 million in total.

Ryan Blaney finished second, followed by Erik Jones, pole-sitter William Byron and Elliott Sadler.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth, followed by Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Michael Annett, Ty Dillon and Ryan Reed.

Also of note:

* Erik Jones led 51 of the first 60 laps to win Stage 1. William Byron (finished third) and Elliott Sadler (fifth) advanced into Dash 4 Cash eligibility for the final stage of the race (Laps 121-200).

* Ryan Blaney won Stage 2 (Laps 61-120), while Allgaier finished second and Tyler Reddick sixth, earning the other two Dash 4 Cash positions for the final stage.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: In only his fourth career Xfinity race, rookie William Byron not only won the pole but also finished a very strong fourth. Byron now has three top-10 finishes in his first four starts (ninth at Daytona, seventh at Atlanta and 14th at Las Vegas).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Defending Xfinity Series champ Daniel Suarez (finished 39th) saw his day end early, blowing a tire after making contact with Jeremy Clements and wrecking on Lap 11. … Joey Gase lost a tire on Lap 151, but things got worse when his car caught fire. Gase, who finished 35th, was uninjured. … With 11 laps left, Austin Dillon was running in sixth place when he was clipped by Cole Custer, spun and collected Ryan Sieg. Dillon finished 33rd while Sieg ended up 34th. The ninth caution of the race resulted in a red flag period to clean up oil in Turns 1 and 2.

NOTABLE: Austin Dillon and crew chief Justin Alexander were called to the NASCAR trailer after the race due to the apparent retaliation of Dillon intentionally running into Custer’s Ford during the caution period after his wreck with Sieg. On his way to the NASCAR hauler, Dillon was asked by Fox what he expected to happen. “I don’t think it’ll be that bad,” Dillon said. “We’ll probably just have a Coke, discuss things and it’ll be all good.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “To finish first, first you must finish. We’ve gotten the first finish out of the way. We’ve got three more to do.” – Race winner Justin Allgaier on winning not only Saturday’s race but also the first of four Dash 4 Cash events in 2017.

WHAT’S NEXT: NXS 300, March 25, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California.

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AJ Allmendinger making return to Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018

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After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.

Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.

A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.

Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.

“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”

Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.

Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s to sponsor RCR in Cup, Xfinity in 2018

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Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will sponsor Richard Childress Racing in multiple races in the Cup and Xfinity Series next year, the team announced Monday.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s merged in September 2017.

The outdoors brands will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet during the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and in several other races during the season.

Richard Childress Racing

They will also be a primary sponsor for Austin and Ty Dillon on the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for several races.

“Our relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to the mid-1990s and we’re thrilled to be able to continue it during the 2018 season,” team owner Richard Childress said in a press release. “Austin, Ty and Ryan are terrific ambassadors for the great outdoors. They are all passionate about our hunting, fishing and conservation heritage which has made this partnership thrive.

“Next season will be exciting as we welcome Cabela’s, the iconic outdoor brand acquired by Bass Pro Shops, to the RCR family.”

Bass Pro Shops, founded in 1972 by Johnny Morris, is also a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota owned by Furniture Row Racing.

The store chain will be on the hood of the No. 78 in 16 races and on the sides of it in 14 others.

Here’s the eligible drivers for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona

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NASCAR has officially announced the 20 drivers who are eligible to take part in the Cup Series’ season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The 75-lap exhibition event is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 11, the same day as qualifying for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

The race will be divided into two segments. A competition caution on Lap 25 will divide them.

Drivers become eligible for the Clash by winning a pole the previous season, being a Daytona 500 pole-winner who competed full-time the previous season or being a playoff driver the previous season.

Here are the eligible drivers.

2017 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (14)

Former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (3)

2017 Playoff Drivers (3)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are not expected to compete in the race. Earnhardt retired from Cup competition following the 2017 season and Kenseth doesn’t have a ride for the 2018 season.

Danica Patrick, the 2013 Daytona 500 pole-sitter, announced last month she was done as a full-time driver but that she planned to race in the Daytona 500. No definitive team plans have been announced for her.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram injury update: still in ICU, but continues to show progress

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram continues to show improvement from the serious injuries he suffered in a December 3 car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina.

In an update Sunday written on CaringBridge.org, Ingram’s daughter, Ingrid Jones, said her father remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Asheville’s Mission Hospital.

According to Jones:

“Daddy continues to hold his own, making healing steps forward and then a step back, which we fully expected-but he’s surprising us each and every day with his strength and courage to overcome this. Overall, he’s doing amazingly well.”

Ingram’s family had hoped he could have moved out of ICU and into the Trauma Unit as the next phase of his recovery, but he remains in intensive care.

Said Jones:

“For now, he’ll remain in ICU until he can go a full 24 hours without ventilator assisted breathing. We’re almost there … but may still be a few days.”

Ingram, who turns 81 on Dec. 28, was able to sit in a chair and watched part of Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with his family. Jones wrote that Ingram also was surprised to learn that the mountain near the family’s Asheville-area home received a total of 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday.

Jones added, “We continue to be optimistic for his health, and we also continue to appreciate the prayers and encouraging thoughts.”