Brandon Jones

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William Byron leads final Xfinity practice at Charlotte

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William Byron and group of Xfinity Series regulars led the final practice session for the Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Byron led the way with a speed of 182.716 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

In second was Christopher Bell (182.008), who is making his first Xfinity start this weekend. Filling out the top five was Brandon Jones (181.990), Spencer Gallagher (181.348) and Ryan Sieg (180.578).

Tyler Reddick was sixth and Ryan Blaney seventh.

Reddick and Daniel Hemric each recorded 50 laps in the session.

Click here for the full practice report.

Kyle Busch wins Charlotte Truck race for second straight victory

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CONCORD, N.C. – Kyle Busch swept all three stages and ran away with the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 for his second Camping World Truck Series win in a row.

Busch led 90 of 134 laps on the way to his seventh Truck win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In both his wins this year, Busch has swept all three stages.

Busch held off the field on a three-lap shootout following a late caution.

It’s Busch’s 48th career Truck win.

Busch was followed by Johnny Sauter, Christopher Bell, Ryan Truex and Timothy Peters.

Bell, the pole-sitter, competed for the win after he lost a tire on Lap 4 and went a lap down.

“I struggle on restarts, I don’t know why,” Bell told Fox Sports 1. “It seemed like one time I would spin the tires and the next time I wouldn’t spin the tires. Overall bummed that I finished third with a second-place car.”

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Buch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Ryan Truex finished fourth after a pit penalty for the third top-five finish of his career … Johnny Sauter’s second-place finish is his best result at Charlotte in nine starts. It’s his second top-three finish in a row here. … Parker Kligerman finished 10th for his first top 10 since the April 2016 Martinsville race. Pit strategy allowed him to lead six laps in Stage 2.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Austin Cindric, who graduated from high school Friday morning, spun on Lap 32 to cause the second caution. He finished 19th … Kaz Grala was the cause of two cautions, getting involved in a wreck with Brandon Jones on Lap 60 and single-truck accident on Lap 69. He finished 30th. … John Hunter Nemechek and Brett Moffitt got into each other on Lap 78. Nemechek pitted after pit road had been closed and was penalized. He finished 22nd, two laps down  … Regan Smith wrecked with 33 to go after being turned on the frontstretch and hitting the wall on the driver’s side. He finished 29th.

NOTABLE: The No. 24 of Justin Haley failed height measurements in post-race inspection. Any penalties will come later in the week … With his win, Busch is three shy of Ron Hornaday Jr.‘s series record of 51 … Sauter is winless but has finished in the top three in four straight races.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “The record is just a number I guess. I remember when I passed Mark Martin on the Xfinity side and that was a lot of fun and pretty interesting. Look forward to hopefully passing Ron on the Truck side and be able to set that a little bit higher. Maybe one day when I’m all said and done on the Cup stuff, maybe I’ll run my retirement tour in the Truck Series, win the championship and get the trifecta.” – Kyle Busch on getting closer to Ron Hornaday Jr.’s Truck win record.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway at 5:30 p.m. ET on June 2 on Fox Sports 1.

Xfinity Series Spotlight: Ben Kennedy, the racer in the France family

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Until his racing career’s late start at 13, Ben Kennedy had a “normal childhood.”

He went to grade school, played multiple sports and even attended soccer camp.

“Hanging out and making friends and just being a kid,” Kennedy told NBC Sports. “That was something that kind of stuck out in my mind that I’m thankful for.”

Then there was the family business.

Ben Kennedy will be one of the drivers who pilots the No. 2 Chevrolet this year. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

Kennedy has vague memories. Attending the Daytona 500, meeting his favorite driver Jeff Gordon at the age of 3 and the annual visits to the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City.

As the grandson of former NASCAR CEO Bill France Jr., Kennedy got plenty of opportunities to see the “moving circus” up close and personal.

“I think it took awhile to understand the scope of it and the roles my family has played both on the NASCAR and ISC side,” Kennedy said. “I understood my mom (Lesa France Kennedy) was involved in the tracks (as CEO of ISC) and my family was involved in NASCAR. It was awhile before I really grasped it completely, and I still don’t completely understand all the ins and outs of this sport. Maybe never will. It’s a cool sport. It amazes me everyday how complex it is and how many different facets there are between NASCAR and the tracks, the teams, the drivers, the partners, everybody involved. It’s so diverse.”

Now, at 25, he’s one of the moving circus’ performers.

Nearly a year ago, Kennedy became the first member of the France family to win a national NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Truck Series. Last week at Talladega, he made his first start of the year in the Xfinity Series, driving for Richard Childress Racing. He finished fourth. He will split the season between RCR and GMS Racing in the No. 96 Chevrolet.

That’s in addition to his ownership of a part-time K&N Pro Series East team.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NBC Sports: In the seven months you were out of a car, how did you keep busy? What was a day in the life of Ben Kennedy?

Kennedy: It’s been really hectic for me. … Just staying as fit as possible. Staying healthy and training as much as I can to be ready for the season. Got some other stuff I’ve been working on with not only putting these Xfinity races together and finding partners. I’ve also got a K&N team down in Daytona. I’ve been managing that and been pretty involved with that this year. Also, random stuff, did “American Ninja Warrior” about a month ago. Just kind of all over the map.

NBC Sports: How did American Ninja Warrior come about?

Kennedy: Such a cool experience. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to train for it. Those guys that you’re going up against, they train for years and months on end. I didn’t have much time. Upper body is probably my weakness on this side of athleticism. I trained my tail off for it. I was sick the entire time training. It’s wild to get up there in front of all the bright lights and cameras and all that stuff. When you watch on TV from the couch and in the AC it’s a completely different experience then being out there in the elements.

(Writer’s note: Kennedy’s episode of airs on June 26 on the USA Network)

NBC Sports: In a couple of months we’ll be coming up on a year since you won at Bristol. Where’s that trophy located now?

Kennedy: It’s at my apartment in North Caroline right now. I got it up there, the Bristol trophy, along with the … flag from when I had team and family members sign at a celebration party after. I got it in a good spot in my place.

NBC Sports: How much space does it take up, because it looked like a pretty big trophy.

Kennedy: It takes up the floor. I tried to find counter space to put it on. Nothing really made sense and my girlfriend wasn’t really crazy about it. It’s on the floor right now.

NBC Sports: When you did the NASCAR on NBC podcast last year, you said that you really liked that you went to a college (University of Florida) where no one really knew who you were or who your family was. When that would eventually come up, how’d you address that ‘yeah, my family founded NASCAR?’

Kennedy: I never went out and said it. I never said I was a driver or anything. Any of that stuff. Naturally, it does come out. People Google you or Wikipedia or something. They find that out. Some people understood I was a driver, some people understood I was a driver and my family was involved in NASCAR. You’ve got to kind of embrace it and be a part of it. Your family is something you should definitely be proud of. At the same time be very cautious and know who your friends are. It’s kind of a double-edged sword in some ways. Nonetheless, they’re family to me. That’s all I know.

Ben Kennedy drives GMS Racing’s No. 96 Chevrolet during a May test at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Daniel McFadin)

NBC Sports: Do you remember the first time you saw or name or face on merchandise?

Kennedy: Gosh, it was probably a long time ago. I remember we made these hats that had my number on it a long time ago. It wasn’t really merchandise. I think my first shirt, and I’ve still got it somewhere, it was a Hanes shirt like you’d buy at Wal-Mart and a friend of mine embroidered Kennedy on it, put my No. 96 on it. It’s very retro and one of a kind.

NBC Sports: What’s your attachment to the No. 96?

Kennedy: I don’t know. It’s kind of been a number that I started with in go-karts. I kind of forget how I ended up with it. I think it’s one of those things where you have to pick a number but you have to pick a number no one else has so far. Ninety-six was one that was available. It’s one that stuck ever since.

NBC Sports: What’s on your bucket list that’s not related to racing?

Kennedy: I’m kind of an outdoor, action-adventure junkie. I think traveling the world is pretty cool. Obviously, something I want to do is go skydiving. That’s on my list. I went bungee jumping one time, which was incredible.

NBC Sports: Speaking of traveling the world, you won a race in Paris, France a few years ago (in 2012, the first oval race in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series history at Tours Speedway). What was that experience like?

Kennedy: That was awesome. It was neat because they set it up in a parking lot outside this convention center. You go Turn 1 and 2 and it’d be kind of smooth, then you’d go through Turns 3 and 4 and you’d hit a gutter. Pretty soon, all four tires are off the ground. It was the first year that they did it, but it was so neat because they did it parallel to a motorcycle convention that was out there at the time and I had never seen so many American flags in one place in my life and I thought that was really cool. …

The race itself was really fascinating because those cars are very spaced out, everything is very similar from car to car. Kind of a bit of a learning curve for me. The team I was working with didn’t speak great English. That was a little bit of a challenge. I remember in practice, I came in and I told them what was wrong with the car and what I wanted to adjust. They’re like, ‘ok, that’s fine. Go back out and practice. We can’t make any changes here, we don’t want to make any changes here.’ So, alright.

During the race, I actually got carbon monoxide poisoning. The crash panels were a little bit open between that and the body. I was sucking in fumes the entire race. There was a caution with like five to go or something, they were doing their first ever green-white-checkered there and they were trying to figure it out. … The pace car was going like 10 mph, I’m sucking up fumes. I almost passed out. I got out of the car. I was beat red in the face. The guy that was interviewing me asked me, ‘You must be working out hard out there.’ I said ‘I feel like I’m going to hurl right now, too.’ I did that.

Then I leaned over the side of the car and just caught my breath for a while and then did all the celebrations after that.

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

Kennedy: Oh, that’s a good question. I don’t even know. Something cool. … Like Kings of Leon, something like that … What’s that one song, I don’t even know if it’s Kings of Leon, but “Centuries”?

NBC Sports: That’s Fall Out Boy.

 

Previous Xfinity spotlights

Justin Allgaier

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Michael Annett

Ryan Reed

Brandon Jones

Daniel Hemric

William Byron

Spencer Gallagher

Cole Custer

Ross Chastain

Elliott Sadler

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Blake Koch scores first career Xfinity pole

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Blake Koch earned his first career NASCAR Xfinity pole in 190 starts Saturday for the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Koch earned the pole with a lap of 183.490 mph in the final round of qualifying. Kasey Kahne will start second in a JR Motorsports car after a lap of 183.112 mph.

Daniel Hemric (182.431 mph) starts third. Ben Kennedy (182.424) starts fourth and is followed by Richard Childress Racing teammate Brandon Jones (182.299).

The race is scheduled to take the green flag at 1:19 p.m. ET today.

Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Click here for qualifying results

 

Brandon Jones, Blake Koch top final Xfinity practice at Talladega

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The final Xfinity Series practice at Talladega Superspeedwway was once again led by five Richard Childress Racing related cars.

This time, Brandon Jones led the session with a speed of 182.814 mph.

Filling out the top five was Blake Koch (182.372), Daniel Hemric (181.974), Ben Kennedy (181.480) and Ty Dillon (181.055).

Only 20 cars made laps in the session that saw most teams conduct single-car runs to prepare for qualifying on Saturday.

The fastest non-RCR car was Daniel Suarez in sixth at 181.055 mph.

Click here to see the full practice report.