Tyler Reddick, Brennan Poole going for Dover Xfinity sweep for Ganassi

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For the last 11 years, Dover International Speedway has been really kind to the Xfinity Series team that won the spring race at 1-mile track.

Because in eight of the last 11 seasons, the team that won that race also went on to win the fall event at “The Monster Mile.”

Beginning in 2006, the only years this hasn’t taken place were 2007, ’09 and ’15.

Chip Ganassi Racing is the organization that’s set up to try to extend this trend after Kyle Larson won in June. Of its 13 Xfinity wins, it was Ganassi’s first at the track.

Piloting the No. 42 Chevrolet this weekend is the newest winner among the ranks of Xfinity drivers, Tyler Reddick. Joining him in the effort is playoff driver Brennan Poole in the No. 48. The duo delivered a 1-2 finish for Ganassi last weekend.

Reddick, who won at Dover in the Camping World Truck Series in 2015, is coming off winning last Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.

“We can’t get too caught up in Kentucky,” Reddick said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” on Wednesday. “Yeah, it’s the first win. Yeah, it’s exciting, but I don’t want to pass up another good opportunity at Dover, a place the 42 won already this year. I need to hunker down and get focused on it.”

When Larson won, he led 137 laps from the pole to beat Ryan Blaney, who will be back in the No. 22 Ford this weekend for Team Penske.

“(The 42) car was so good there,” Reddick said. “Kyle and the 22 of Ryan Blaney had the field covered by 15 seconds at the end of that race. So I know our car is fast. … We know what we need to do. My first time there in a Xfinity car, it will be a little tough at first. … I will just have to adjust what I do as I’ve done in the past. (Crew chief) Mike (Shiplett) has tried to make the car as close to what Kyle has. … I’m sure I’ll be fine. Dover is a track I love a lot. It’ll be an exciting challenge.”

Poole, in his second full-time season with Ganassi, will be making his fifth start at the high-banked oval. In his first four, he did not finish better than 10th (May 2016).

“Dover is a really tough race track, it’s definitely one of the most demanding tracks that we go to,” Poole told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” on Wednesday. “We’ll have to make sure our car gets through the bumps really well and make sure we don’t get tied to the 2/3-mark in the corners. That sounds strange, but the corners are so long at Dover you get where you’re carrying some maintenance throttle. So you’re half-throttle in the middle of the corner and the car will get tight on you as you’re trying to make the final turn up out of the corner.”

Unlike last weekend at Kentucky, a standalone race for the Xfinity Series, there will be six Cup regulars in the race.

Poole said that will have some impact on the potential pit strategy calls his team makes over the course of the 200-lap race.

“There’s some pit strategy and stuff like that that could put you behind on having an opportunity to get up there and win the race,” Poole said. “You just have to be smart on the pit strategy and decisions you make on keeping some of your track position and still making sure you’re going to get those stage points.”

Poole cited that although he came in second at Kentucky to Reddick, he lost a spot in the points after placing 12th in Stage 2.

“I’m sixth in points where I started fifth,” Poole said. “So I think you’ll see a lot of guys going after stage points.”

If either Ganassi driver is able to complete the Dover sweep, it would join Joe Gibbs Racing (five times), Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing (once each) in completing it since 2006.

The Use Your Melon, Drive Sober 200 airs at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBCSN.

Christopher Bell wins first career Xfinity Series race at Kansas

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Christopher Bell passed teammate Erik Jones with four laps left in the Kansas Lottery 300, withstood contact from behind by Jones and went on to claim his first career Xfinity Series win.

Bell, driving the No. 18 Toyota, earned the win in his fifth career start. It comes in the opening race of the second round of the playoffs.

Jones had dominated the race until the pass by Bell. He led 186 of the race’s 200 laps and swept the first two stages. He finished 15th, one lap down due to damage from running into the back of Bell.

It is the first win for Joe Gibbs Racing since Denny Hamlin won at Darlington Raceway, a five-race stretch. JGR has won 11 Xfinity races this season.

Bell, 22, is a full-time driver in the Camping World Truck Series.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Erik Jones

STAGE 2 WINNER: Erik Jones

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. bursting with joy over thoughts of baby girl

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — They laughed.

When the doctor told Dale Earnhardt Jr. and wife Amy that Amy was pregnant, the couple laughed.

It wasn’t the kind of laugh one makes after a joke or a funny story. It was … well, let Dale explain:

“Something just comes out,’’ Earnhardt said Saturday at Kansas Speedway. “You just burst out like joy. It wasn’t funny ha-ha. It was a joyful moment.’’

And then they got to hear the heartbeat.

“Somebody says you’re wife is pregnant, that registers a little bit but, man, when you hear that heartbeat, it’s like yep, it’s real,’’ Earnhardt said. “This is a real thing in there. It’s here. My God, it’s happening. Just all this emotion pops out.’’

The prelude to the excitement was the waiting. It was almost too much for Earnhardt when they first went to the doctor’s office to confirm that Amy was pregnant.

We went to the doctor and I’m still thinking man, I’m not believing crap until this doctor tells me,’’ Earnhardt said. “So, we’re sitting in there for like 20 minutes. And they’re talking woman language and I’m not understanding. They are just talking about things and I’m like well, when is she going to say it? I want to hear it from the doctor’s mouth that she’s pregnant, so we can rejoice.

“It took them a while. I was scared to speak up. Finally, they said something that confirmed it for me and I was like, awesome. And then we had the ultrasound and got to hear the heartbeat and all that right there, and that was great. We go back for another checkup here soon, in a couple of days, and those are awesome. They are so much fun because it’s like the closest you can get to it before they’re born and I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.”

Earnhardt said on his podcast this week that the baby is due May 2.

“I know that Amy has changed my life a lot, and I imagine this baby is going to have the same impact and just can’t wait to meet her,’’ Earnhardt said Saturday. “It’s just taking forever.”

Earnhardt says he understands the excitement friends and family have had with their children.

“I guess the thing that hits me is I’ve watched all my friends, a lot of them, have kids and my sister have kids,’’ he said. “I was happy for those milestones in their lives, but I had no idea what that really meant. And as we found out and were going through these little moments through the pregnancy it’s just hitting home how impactful that child has been in all the lives of my friends and family. And I just really didn’t understand or appreciate, I guess, how incredible that moment must have been for them and how their lives completely changed. I saw it from a completely different point of view when I wasn’t experiencing it myself. 

“I look at my friends completely different. I look at my sister completely different knowing what I know now and what I’m learning as I go. And I know there is more to be exposed to and more enlightening and more eye-opening experiences that will make me not only appreciate what me and Amy, what we have, but what my friends and family and folks that I am very close to have and what they have experienced. 

“Because I thought I knew, childbirth is exciting, it’s awesome to have children and everybody says it changes your life and everybody says it’s the greatest thing ever, but you just don’t know until you really go through it.’’

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Ryan Blaney fastest in final Cup practice at Kansas

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Ryan Blaney was fastest in the final NASCAR Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway.

Blaney, who will start last Sunday after failing post-qualifying inspection, posted a top speed of 182.057 mph.

He was followed by Kyle Busch (181.143), Kevin Harvick (181.720), Danial Suarez (181.665) and Matt Kenseth (181.543).

Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. was 12th fastest.

Harvick posted the best 10-lap average at 180.120 mph.

Jimmie Johnson, who was 15th fastest, recorded the most laps with 53.

There were no accidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.

Tyler Reddick wins pole for Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway

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Tyler Reddick claimed his first career Xfinity Series pole Saturday at Kansas Speedway, winning the top spot with a speed of 181.117 mph.

Rounding out the top five are Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Austin Dillon

William Byron was the highest qualifying playoff driver in sixth, but he will start from the year because of unapproved adjustments.

Reddick’s pole comes in his 17th Xfinity start. It also continues an impressive stretch for Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet. Both Reddick and Alex Bowman earned their first Xfinity wins in the last three races. Reddick won at Kentucky Speedway. Bowman won at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago.

“This cooler weather might be helping us,” Reddick told NBCSN. “We were really tight yesterday. I think that’s going to help us in the race.”

The pole also comes the week after one of his grandmothers, Carolyn Joyce Brown, passed away. Her name is on the roof of his car.

“The last two weeks have been rough,” Reddick said. “She was battling health for a long time and just finally lost the battle. She watched every single race and ever lap on track. She was there watching it at the race track or at home. Hopefully we can do something special for her. This will be the first race she hasn’t been here to see.”

Here is where the playoff drivers qualified:

William Byron – sixth

Cole Custer – seventh

Matt Tifft – eighth

Brennan Poole – ninth

Daniel Hemric – 10th

Elliott Sadler – 11th

Justin Allgaier – 13th

Ryan Reed – 15th

Click here for the qualifying results.