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Tyler Reddick joins JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series for 2018 season

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Tyler Reddick will drive full-time for JR Motorsports next season in the Xfinity Series, replacing William Byron with a multi-year agreement the team announced Thursday.

The announcement means the team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. will remain a four-car operation. The team will also field a fifth part-time car.

Details on Reddick’s sponsorship, crew chief and car number will be announced later.

Reddick, 21, will join Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett at JRM.

This year has seen him drive part-time in the Xfinity Series in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet, splitting time with Kyle Larson.

MORE: Xfinity Series Spotlight: Tyler Reddick

A three-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series, Reddick’s part-time Xfinity effort has seen him earn one top five (Iowa I) and three tops 10s in 14 starts.

“This is an amazing opportunity for me,” Reddick said in a press release. “Having the chance to race full-time with an organization like JR Motorsports is something I’ve worked toward my entire life. It’s a thrill to be joining such an accomplished group of teammates in going after a championship next year.”

Before joining Ganassi this season, Reddick competed for Brad Keselowski Racing in the Truck Series for three years in 63 starts. His three wins came at Daytona, Dover and Las Vegas.

“Tyler is a very talented racecar driver and someone we’ve enjoyed watching over the years,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports in a press release. “We’ve seen him make a lot of strides in the short time he’s been in the Xfinity Series. He’s a strong complement to our driver lineup next season, and we’re confident that with consistent seat time he’ll find additional success at this level.”

Reddick follows Byron, who has three wins through 25 races this season.

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Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 at Miami, Brad Keselowski leads Championship 4 drivers

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Kyle Larson won Stage 1 of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, dominating by leading 67 of the stage’s 80 laps, holding a nine-second edge when he took the checkered flag.

Meanwhile, here’s how the four Championship 4 drivers finished after the first 80 laps of the scheduled 267-lap event: Brad Keselowski is second, Kyle Busch is third, Kevin Harvick is fourth and Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.

Truex, with six of his seven wins this season coming on 1.5-mile tracks like Homestead-Miami, wasted little time to take the lead away from pole-sitter Denny Hamlin.

The first caution of the race came out on Lap 6 when Joey Gase appeared to blow a tire and hit the Turn 1 wall hard.

During the subsequent pit stop, the only Championship 4 driver to hit pit road for four new tires was Keselowski, putting him off-sequence of the other contenders.

The move worked, though, as Keselowski quickly climbed from ninth on the restart on Lap 9 to third by Lap 12 and second by Lap 14.

Larson, who also pitted with Keselowski, took the lead away from Truex on Lap 13 and held on for the remaining 67 laps of the stage.

On Lap 38, Jimmie Johnson blew a right rear tire and came to pit road for four new tires. Even though there was no caution, all four championship contenders pitted over the following two laps.

On Lap 58, Harvick passed Truex and into third place for the first time in the race, zeroing on Keselowski in second.

Johnson got into the wall again on Lap 60, even though there was no caution, and sustained moderate damage, pitting for four tires and fuel.

Kyle Busch passed Harvick to take over third on Lap 77.

Sixth through 10th were Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer.

Watch: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s fans on what the driver means to them

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The fan base of Dale Earnhardt Jr. is large and devoted.

Those fans, affectionately called “Junior Nation,” has voted Earnhardt as NASCAR’s most popular driver 14 years in a row.

Justin Hartley of NBC’s “This is Us” is a member of Earnhardt’s fan base. The actor narrates the above essay on the close relationship between the driver and his fans.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks to Bob Costas about his career, legacy before final Cup start

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Sunday marks Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s last start as a full-time Cup driver in NASCAR.

NBC Sports’ Bob Costas sat down with the 14-time most popular driver before the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to get Earnhardt’s thoughts before he climbed in the No. 88 Chevrolet for the last time.

Earnhardt addressed what he hopes his legacy will be after 20 years in the sport as a driver, including his impact on attitudes towards concussions in sports in general.

Earnhardt, who will join NBC Sports in 2018, also talked about what life has in store for him in the near future.

Earnhardt also made sure to credit his devoted fan base for making his career possible.

“I understand the driving force behind my success and opportunity in this sport, whether it be inside the car or outside the car, is all because of Jr. Nation,” Earnhardt said. “This year we’ve tried our best to show appreciation to them.”

Watch the above video for the full interview.

 

Furniture Row Racing going for Cup title after year of success, tragedy

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It’s been a historic year for Furniture Row Racing, the Cup team that has its base of operations in an old water bed factory in Denver, Colorado.

With Martin Truex Jr. piloting the No. 78 Toyota, they won a team record seven races and a series record six races on 1.5-mile tracks. Combined with a dominating performance under the new stage racing format, Truex has put the team in its second Championship 4 in three years.

But it’s also been a season of perseverance and tragedy.

NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan narrates the above video essay on the story of Furniture Row Racing’s 2017 season.