Erik Jones dominates to win Xfinity race at Texas again, Sadler now No. 1 in points

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NASCAR Cup regular Erik Jones showed the eight remaining NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders how it’s done, winning Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones won his second consecutive Xfinity race (and third in his career) at TMS, dominating throughout the night, starting from the pole and leading 142 of the race’s 200 laps, including winning Stage 1 and Stage 2. Jones, who also won April’s Xfinity race at TMS, has made six career Xfinity starts there. Including his three wins, he has an average finish there of 2.2.

“It’s sure been a good place for me, just been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to,” Jones told NBCSN. “First time I came here in a Truck, I never thought I’d like the place. But since then, it’s just kind of clicked for me.”

Jones led most of the race, but gave up the lead when he and most of the other drivers pitted for fuel on Lap 185, 15 laps from the finish.

Jones then worked his way back up to the front, regaining the advantage on Lap 192 when Ty Dillon was forced to pit for fuel. From that point on, it was a drag race to the finish between Jones and Ryan Blaney, with Jones reaching the start-finish line first. It was Jones’ third Xfinity win in 17 starts this season.

Blaney finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Cole Custer. Sadler moves into first place in the Xfinity standings.

This was the second of three races in the Round of 8 semifinal round. With Jones’ win tonight and Christopher Bell’s win at Kansas, that means at least three of the four finalists for the championship race at Miami in two weeks will qualify on points.

MORE: Results from Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity race at Texas

MORE: Xfinity standings: Elliott Sadler now No. 1, takes big step closer to first title

STAGE WINNERS: Erik Jones (Stage 1), Erik Jones (Stage 2)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: With a fourth-place finish, Elliott Sadler moves into first place in the standings. Sadler leads William Byron by five points, Justin Allgaier by nine and Brennan Poole by 24. … Cole Custer bounced back from a cut tire early and also rallied from one lap down to finish fifth and helped improve himself in the standings. He was eighth coming into tonight’s race. He leaves Texas in sixth, 13 points shy of the cutoff line heading to Phoenix. … Matt Tifft is five points below the cutoff line, followed by Custer, Daniel Hemric (-18) and Ryan Reed (-33).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Reed had a disappointing 23rd-place finish. Given that he’s 33 points below the cutoff line and 62 points behind Sadler, Reed is in a must-win situation at Phoenix if he hopes to make the championship race in Miami. … Brandon Jones suffered a hard hit on the restart on Lap 61.

NOTABLE: NASCAR met with Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan because of a post-race scuffle that involved them.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We came to Texas with a plan and tried to do some stuff for Homestead. … I’m just living the dream. I had so much fun tonight. All in all, it was a great night for us.” – Elliott Sadler, who takes over the Xfinity points lead.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ticket Galaxy 200; Saturday, Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m. ET; Phoenix Raceway.

Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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Danica Patrick has Daytona 500, Indy 500 sponsor; now needs ride

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GoDaddy will return to be Danica Patrick‘s sponsor for the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, the company announced Thursday.

Patrick said in November that she would retire from racing after competing in those two events. She has yet to secure a ride for either race but that was slowed by the lack of sponsorship until Thursday’s announcement.

A Chip Ganassi Racing executive said last week that the team was no longer in discussions with Patrick for her to drive for the team in either race. Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team would stay focused on its current operations instead of adding another car for those races: “We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.”

MORE: Danica Patrick confirms she is dating NFL quarterback

GoDaddy signed Patrick in 2006 when she was in IndyCar and followed her to NASCAR, ending its sponsorship after the 2015 season. While together, Patrick was the face of the company, appearing in 13 GoDaddy Super Bowl ads – the most Super Bowl commercial appearances by a celebrity.

“You could say, ‘we’re getting the band back together,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman. “It makes sense in that our goals are so well-aligned – she’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the Internet and turn their ‘side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers. We love it.”

Said Patrick in a statement: “This is definitely the way I want to finish my racing career – at these two iconic races, backed by my iconic, long-time sponsor. GoDaddy was there for me when my career was just really starting so it’s exciting to be getting back in the GoDaddy ‘green’ for my final two races. Our brands have always been powerful together, and I think it’s awesome to have them at my side when I go ‘all in’ with my businesses after racing.”

Patrick has made six starts in the Daytona 500. She won the pole for the 2013 race. She finished eighth that year, her best finish in the season-opening Cup race. She finished fourth in last year’s Advance Auto Parts Clash. She is eligible for that race this year. Patrick has made seven starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005-11. She finished a career-best fourth in her first race there, leading 19 laps. She has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the Indy 500.

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Atlanta Motor Speedway accepting lucky charms to help Chase Elliott earn first Cup win

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The president of Atlanta Motor Speedway is hoping history will repeat.

Ed Clark is doing whatever he can to get Georgia-native Chase Elliott to Victory Lane for the first time in the Cup Series.

To do that, he’s using the same marketing scheme he executed in 1983 in the weeks before Bill Elliott’s first Cup victory.

AMS is asking for fans to send lucky charms to the track, which will be presented to Chase Elliott during a special event there Feb. 13.

There’s no restrictions on what can be sent.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is winless after 77 starts in NASCAR’s premier series.

Bill Elliott in 1983. (Atlanta Motor Speedway).

His father went winless in his first 155 starts from 1976-83.

Clark put together the original lucky charm drive ahead of the October race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he served as public relations director.

“The promotion we came up with for Bill in ’83 created an amazing amount of interest and support from fans all over the country,” said Clark in a press release. “We received package after package full of good-luck charms, and it seemed like everybody was pulling for him to get that first win.”

Three races later, in the season finale at Riverside International Raceway, the 28-year-old Bill Elliott claimed his first of 44 Cup victories.

Fans can send their lucky charms to Elliott by shipping them to AMS at 1500 Highway 19/41, Hampton, GA 30228, with attention to “Good Luck, Chase.” Fans can also participate by using the hashtag #GoodLuckChase across the various social media platforms with pictures and messages to Elliott.

The Cup season begins Feb. 18 with the 60th Daytona 500. The following weekend, the series visits Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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