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Xfinity Rookie Report: How William Byron, Daniel Hemric and others are faring after six races

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The Xfinity Series is six races and two off weeks into its season.

That gives us a small sample size to look at how this years’ rookie class is stacking up against each other.

Five drivers on five different teams are competing for Rookie of the Year honors, and so far the best of bunch – and the series – is JR Motorsports’ William Byron.

The 19-year-old driver is first in the point standings after six races. He’s the only rookie to earn a pole and a stage win. Byron’s Stage 2 win last week at Texas Motor Speedway made him just the second Xfinity regular to win a stage this season. Elliott Sadler is the only other one.

Byron and Cole Custer are the only rookies to earn top-five finishes so far with one each.

Three rookies, Byron, Matt Tifft and Daniel Hemric, are in the top 10 in points.

Here’s a break down of each rookies’ season so far.

(Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

William Byron, No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet

Points Position: First

Top fives: two
Top 10s: five
Laps Led 19
Avg. Finish: 7.7
Best finish: fourth (Phoenix)
Poles: One (Phoenix)
DNF: None

MORE: Xfinity Spotlight Q&A with Byron

 (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

Matt Tifft; No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Points: Sixth

Top fives: None
Top 10s: One (Texas)
Lap led: four
Avg. finish: 15.8
Best finish: Ninth (Texas)
DNF: One

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Daniel Hemric; No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

Points: Seventh

Top Fives: None
Top 10s: Two
Laps Led: None
Avg. finish: 17.2
Best finish: Seventh (Phoenix)
DNF: One

MORE: Xfinity Series Spotlight Q&A with Hemric


(Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

Cole Custer; No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

Points: 12th

Top Fives: One (Texas)
Top 10s: Two
Laps Led: None
Avg. Finish: 19.8
Best Finish: Fifth (Texas)
DNF: Two

(Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Spencer Gallagher; No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet

Points: 17th

Top Fives: None
Top 10s: None
Laps Led: None
Avg. Finish: 23rd
Best Finish: 14th (Texas)
DNF: One

MORE: Xfinity Series Spotlight Q&A with Gallagher

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Stats, Results for Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway

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John Hunter Nemechek led the final six laps to win the Camping World Truck Series’ M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It’s his second win in two weeks.

Nemechek beat out Johnny Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Engfinger and Christopher Bell.

Click here for race results.

Johnny Sauter keeps Truck points lead, John Hunter Nemechek in eighth

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With his Stage 2 win and his second-place finish in the M&M’s 200, Johnny Sauter retains his lead in the Camping World Truck Series standings leaving Iowa Speedway.

Sauter has a 42-point lead over Christopher Bell.

Completing the top five is: Chase Briscoe (-76), Matt Crafton (-95) and Ben Rhodes (-123).

With his second win in two weeks, John Hunter Nemechek moved from ninth to eighth in the standings, 153 points back from Sauter.

Click here for the full points standings.

John Hunter Nemechek wins at Iowa, second Truck victory in a row

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At one point going four-wide on a restart with seven laps to go, John Hunter Nemechek drove from fourth to first to win the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway.

It is Nemechek’s second Camping World Truck Series win in two weeks after an emotional victory at Gateway Motorsports Park. It is his fifth career win.

Nemechek passed low on Chase Briscoe and Johnny Sauter into Turn 1 and cleared them on the backstretch a lap into the final run. The No. 8 team changed four tires during the final caution. Sauter, who led 72 laps, did not pit.

“All year we felt really good about this whole stretch,” Nemechek told Fox Sports 1. “Gateway, Iowa and Kentucky. Hopefully we can go to Kentucky and make it three in a row.”

Driving the same truck he used to win last week, Nemehcek had to pass Sauter, Briscoe and Noah Gragson on the restart.

The top five was Nemechek, Sauter, Brandon Jones, Grant Enfinger and Christopher Bell.

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell

Stage 2 winner: Johnny Sauter

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Brandon Jones’s third-place finish is his season best and first Truck top five since 2015 … Christopher Bell earned his sixth top five through nine races … Grant Enfinger earned his fourth top five, but it came at the expense of teammate Matt Crafton, who he caused to crash to bring out the final caution … Jesse Little finished ninth for his first career top 10 in his 11th start.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ben Rhodes, Kaz Grala and Austin Wayne Self were in a wreck with three laps left in Stage 2 …. Ryan Truex’s night ended with 33 to go when he brought his truck to pit road for an engine problem. He finished 20th … Matt Crafton backed hard into the outside wall with 15 laps to go after being tagged by his teammate, Grant Enfinger, on his left-rear quarter panel. It is his first DNF of the year. Crafton finished 19th … Harrison Burton and Justin Haley crashed in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag. Burton placed 11th; Haley 10th.

NOTABLE: The race was red flagged for 12 minutes and 26 seconds to clean up fluid from the three-truck crash at the end of Stage 2.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “That’s me. Four tires. That’s the man right there. Fire Alarm (Services). What do they want? They want a win and we got them one.” – Gere Kennon, crew chief for John Hunter Nemechek after winning the M&M’s 200.

WHAT’S NEXT: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on July 6 on Fox Sports 1.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s farewell tour begins at Sonoma with service dogs named in his honor

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To commemorate Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s career and his final start at the track, Sonoma Raceway gave the driver a gift he doesn’t have to take home and will benefit others for year to come.

During his Friday press conference, the track surprised Earnhardt with three Labrador Retriever puppies. Named “Dale,” “Junior” and “Amy” – after his wife – the puppies are being given to the organization Paws as Loving Support (PALS) Assistance Dogs.

Donated by Micons Labradors and Fieldstone Labradors and sponsored by the track, the puppies will be trained to help children with disabilities in the Sonoma community.

“I’d like to thank the track for their investment to make this happen,” Earnhardt said. “It really warms my heart. Amy is going to be excited but sad she is not here. We do love dogs and making a difference in people’s lives. I’m excited to maybe come back and see how the dogs are doing.”

Sonoma is the first track Earnhardt is racing at for the last time since he announced his retirement plans in April.

The puppies will take part in PALS thorough training process, including time with incarcerated youth twice a week, before being matched with a child with a disability and his/her family as a service dog or placed with a professional as a facility dog.

PALS Assistance Dogs trains dogs to help children with disabilities including Autism, Down syndrome and mobility impairments. Some are placed with professionals working with children with special needs as facility dogs. In addition, Courthouse PALS dogs provide emotional support and comfort to victims and witnesses of violent crimes before, during and at the conclusion of a trial.

“Dale has such a huge following among our fans and we wanted to find a way for his legacy to carry forward locally, well beyond his days as a driver,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “These three puppies – Dale, Junior and Amy – will make a meaningful difference in the lives of young people in the North Bay for years to come.”

On race day, 10,000 “Thanks, Junior” hand-held fans will be given out and the No. 88 will be written in the sky by the Patriots Jet Team.

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