Brandon Jones

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Brandon Jones fastest in first Xfinity practice in Chicago

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Richard Childress Racing’s Brandon Jones was fastest in the first Xfinity Series practice session at Chicagoland Speedway.

Jones and his No. 33 Chevrolet posted a top speed of 174.413 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

Following him in the top five were Erik Jones (173.639), Matt Tifft (173.477), Ryan Blaney (173.383) and Brendan Gaughan (172.734).

Darrell Wallace Jr., making his first Xfinity start since June, was 20th in the No. 98 Ford at 169.609 mph.

Tifft recorded the most laps in the session with 30.

Five drivers made runs 10 laps or longer. Jones had the best 10-lap average at 169.276 mph. Gaughan followed him at 168.564 mph.

Click here for the practice report.

NASCAR Spotlight: Q&A with Austin Cindric

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Eleven days ago you may not have known who Austin Cindric was.

Then came the eventful last lap of the Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

After starting the final stage in 16th, Cindric was chasing down Kaz Grala in hopes of passing him and earning his first NASCAR win.

If you were watching, you now know Cindric’s name. You also know the 19-year-old Brad Keselowski Racing driver is willing to give the bump-and-run to Grala, an old friend, to get into the Truck Series playoffs.

“If that didn’t mean a playoff spot for me than it wouldn’t have happened,” Cindric told NBC Sports. “I’ll be frank about that and I’ll be honest it. It’s just one of those things that was going to have to happen for us to move forward. We needed the win and he wanted one.

“Need surpasses want.”

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: What was your biggest career achievement before your Truck win?

Cindric: It’s hard to say. I think my win in ARCA last year at Kentucky was big for me because that was my first stock car win at an oval after several tries and being really close. That was a huge weight off my shoulders to be able to prove that I’d be able to do it a level and on that kind of stage. But to get it done in the Truck Series is a huge thing. It’s a national series in NASCAR. It’s a huge honor to be able to do it for the team.

NBC Sports: What was Brad Keselowski’s advice on how to handle the situation with Kaz?

Cindric: It was kind of funny talking back and forth because the first thing he told me was the best policy is honesty. I kind of laughed because I may have been too honest in my post-race interview. I think that’s what may have upset a few people, just because it may have not come across the right way about how the finish came off. I’ve got to be honest. It’s one of the qualities, it may be positive, it may be negative for me, but I’m not going to execute a move like that and not own up to it, I think that’s not in my nature and it’s only doing myself a disservice doing it the other way.

NBc Sports: When did you find out Brad Keselowski Racing would be shutting down?

Cindric: The only reason I heard about it before everyone else is because I had to stay the week in Bristol … which was the same week they announced it. Jeremy Thompson, our team’s manager, approached me after the race when we were in tech and told me what Brad was going to do at the shop the next morning and explain it to everybody. Yeah, it was a bit of a surprise for me. Obviously, it was tough not being able to be at the shop for that because I wanted to be with everybody. I wanted to take part in something like that. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to. It definitely means more to be able to bring something back this weekend to kind of get everyone excited for the last eight races.

NBC Sports: What’s your earliest memory related to auto racing?

Cindric: I guess going to the Indy 500 as a kid. When I grew up around racing it was mostly IndyCar racing. My dad (Team Penkse president Tim Cindric) did all of the strategy, managed the IndyCar team till both teams merged in North Carolina. It wasn’t until I moved to North Carolina that I got much of an introduction to NASCAR and that was at 7 or 8 years old. I was able to watch as many IndyCar races as I could as a kid and travel around in the summer and be able to go to those cool places and meet all the drivers and get their autographs and be a race fan. That’s what I was when I was little. I had all the Hot Wheels, I had all the diecast cars.

NBC Sports: What was your first car?

Cindric: I have never actually owned my own car. They’ve all actually been Ford vehicles. When I really started racing sports cars, I started with Ford and their factory Mustang program and the same gear box that was in a race car was in their street car. So I got my own Mustang to drive around and get used to the box because it was going to help me on the race track. Now obviously we’re the only truck team that runs Ford, so we get a lot of support from them. Ford’s been good enough to me to be able drive around town. But I’ve actually never owned my own car.

NBC Sports: What’s your favorite phone app to use that’s not social media?

Cindric: Shazam. I’m a huge music guy and Shazam, it’s the worst when you have the radio stations that never show what the (song) is and you just pull out your phone and boom, two seconds. You get the name of the song, screen shot it and go download it. I’m a Shazam guy.

NBC Sports: If you were competing in the Cup night race at Bristol, what would you choose as your introduction song?

Cindric: I’d like one of the Star Wars theme songs. Like when the Emperor walks out of the galactic shuttle.

NBC Sports: The Imperial March?

Cindric: Imperial March, there you go.

NBC Sports: If you were Star Wars character, who would you be?

Cindric: I’d be like a mix of Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi. … You can’t beat Samuel L. Jackson. And he has a purple lightsaber. Which is always cool because nobody else did. And Obi-Wan because he’s always the positive character, he does what’s right and does what’s necessary and he’s pretty level-headed. I think it’s hard not to like Obi-Wan.

NBC Sports: If you could race against any driver past or present, what track would you race at and what kind of car would it be in?

Cindric: I would race Rick Mears in, I’m not sure. I would say in Group C, which was basically the big prototype series in the 80s, a Group C car. And we would be at Mid-Ohio.

NBC Sports: Why Rick Mears?

Cindric: He’s someone a lot of people have respect for and someone I’ve grown up idolizing. I think he’s obviously a damn good race car driver. To be able to be on the race track with him at the same time and to be wheel-to-wheel with someone like that would be pretty neat.

Previous Spotlights

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

Daniel Hemric

William Byron

Spencer Gallagher

Cole Custer

Ross Chastain

Elliott Sadler

Ben Kennedy

Blake Koch

Brennan Poole

Matt Tifft

Tyler Reddick

Kyle Benjamin

Ty Majeski

Ryan Sieg

Dakoda Armstrong

Brendan Gaughan

Garrett Smithley

J.J. Yeley

Harrison Rhodes

James Davison

Jeremy Clements

David Starr

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Brad Keselowski wins Richmond Xfinity race

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After passing Kyle Busch for the lead with 16 laps to go, Brad Keselowski went on to win the Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway.

It is Keselowski’s second Xfinity win of the year and 36th of his career.

“(Busch) is a great racer and when you can race with him you know you’re having a good day, especially in this series,” Keselowski told NBCSN. “We kind of hung with him and got those long runs and right at the end I was able to pounce.”

The top five were Keselowski, Busch, Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric and Elliott Sadler, who clinched the regular-season title.

In his last Xfinity race of the season, Busch led 182 of the 250 laps before Keselowski overtook him for the last time.

“He had a better long-run car, every time, every run he was able to get by us after 50, 45 laps, whatever it was,” Busch told NBCSN. “We were working each other pretty hard there earlier in the run. I thought I beat his tires up, but he was able to come back up through there.”

With only three cautions, two at the end of stages, only nine cars finished on the lead lap.

Keselowski won with backup crew chief Brian Wilson because Greg Erwin was suspended after the No. 22 failed post-race inspection at Darlington last week.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ty Dillon

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowksi

MORE: Race Results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished ninth in his second and final Xfinity start of the year. He was the last car on the lead lap … Christopher Bell finished sixth in his first Xfinity start at Richmond … Cole Custer finished 14th and clinched a spot in the playoffs … Matt Tifft placed 13th and also clinched a playoff spot … Jeremy Clements assured himself a top 20 points finish and clinched a playoff spot after finishing 16th … Ty Dillon’s third-place finish is his best result of the year in 21 starts.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Bobby Earnhardt, making his first Xfinity start, caused the only non-stage ending caution when he blew a tire and hit the wall on Lap 53. He continued and finished 34th … Brandon Jones spun from contact with Ross Chastain on the last lap of Stage 1. He finished 23rd … Brendan Gaughan finished 21st, two laps down.

NOTABLE: Keselowski’s four wins at Richmond are his most at any track in the Xfinity Series … Brian Wilson is the sixth crew chief Keselowski has won with in Xfinity.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I knew Kyle (Busch) wasn’t going to just let me have it so I had to force something there. Whenever you make a pass for the lead and the win by going three-wide it is really damn cool.” – Brad Keselowski on his winning pass of Kyle Busch.

NEXT: Chicagoland 300 at Chicagoland Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 16 on NBCSN.

Kyle Busch wins pole for Richmond Xfinity race

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Kyle Busch won the pole for tonight’s race at Richmond Raceway – his 10th and final Xfinity Series race of the year.

Busch claimed his seventh pole of the season with a speed of 119.268 mph around the .75-mile track. It is his 64th Xfinity pole.

“I wish I was holding anything back (in the first two rounds),” Busch told NBCSN. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t fire off on the first lap in any other round. We had to make two laps every single time. Obviously, that was not really built into the strategy, let’s say. But it worked out.”

Busch’s seven poles lead all Xfinity drivers this season. His six career poles at Richmond lead all drivers.

Rounding out the starting top five are Brennan Poole, Brad Keselowski, Cole Custer and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who making his second and final Xfinity start of the year.

Earnhardt won his last Xfinity start at Richmond in April 2016.

The first five drivers outside the top 12 are Matt Tifft, Christopher Bell, Jeremy Clements, Ty Dillon and Brendan Gaughan.

Tyler Reddick and Brandon Jones failed to advance out of Round 1 and will start 25th and 26th respectively.

Morgan Shepherd failed to qualify.

The race is set to air at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Click here for qualifying results.

Blake Koch leads final Xfinity practice at Richmond

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RICHMOND, Va. – Blake Koch posted the fastest lap in Friday’s final Xfinity practice at Richmond Raceway.

Koch went 122.912 mph. He was followed by William Byron (122.139 mph), Brandon Jones (121.847), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (121.819) and Ryan Reed (121.583).

Justin Allgaier, who finished second at Richmond in April, posted the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 119.210 mph. He was followed by Spencer Gallagher (118.665 mph) and Brad Keselowski (117.041).

The session marked the debut of the flange fit composite body. NASCAR stated that 30 teams were using the composite body on their primary car. The composite bodies also can be used at Dover and Phoenix in the playoffs this year. Teams can use the composite body for all races next season except the superspeedways.

Click here for practice report