Cole Custer

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Larson holds off late rally by Logano to win Xfinity race at Fontana

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Kyle Larson held off a late surge by Joey Logano to win Saturday’s Service King 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

Logano and Larson jousted for the lead over the last 20 laps, but it wasn’t until a final restart with four laps to go that allowed Larson to gain an advantage and remain ahead of Logano the rest of the way to the checkered flag.

Larson won by 0.127 seconds over Logano to earn his sixth career triumph in the Xfinity Series, including the second at Fontana in his home state.

“The racing there at the end with Joey was awesome,” Larson said on Fox Sports 1. “We just had a couple lap fresher tires than he did and was able to chase him down. I was trying to be patient.

“… It was a heck of a race. I honestly didn’t think we’d be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice, fought the balance a lot throughout the race, and then finally the last two runs we hit it.”

Kyle Busch finished third, followed by Erik Jones and William Byron.

Sixth through 10th were Darrell Wallace Jr., Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier and Ty Dillon.

MORE: Race results of Service King 300 Xfinity Series race at Fontana

MORE: NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings after Service King 300 at Fontana

Despite finishing second, Logano was exceptional and overcame several bits of adversity, including a pit road speeding penalty.

Then on Lap 96 Logano was leading and suffered a major pit malfunction. A jack broke before crew members were able to put left-side tires on, leaving the car on the ground.

NASCAR officials allowed Logano’s team to use a second jack, helping the team finally lift the left side of the car. Logano returned to the track in 26th but quickly worked his way back to the lead with 32 laps left.

Unofficially, Logano gained more than 60 positions on the racetrack from start to finish.

Larson now goes for a second consecutive win, starting from the pole in the weekend’s main event: Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup race at the 2-mile oval about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.

“I’m happy, this is our second win here in California, and I hope we can do it again tomorrow,” Logano told FS1.

Winner of first stage (laps 1-35): Kyle Busch

Winner of second stage (laps 36-70): Kyle Busch

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Six-time Fontana Xfinity winner Kyle Busch struggled at times, but like Logano, kept finding – and fighting – his way back to the front, finishing third. … Rookie William Byron finished fifth, giving him back-to-back top-five Xfinity finishes (he was fourth at Phoenix last week).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Paul Menard was running fourth on Lap 94 when he was pushed into the wall by Erik Jones. Menard’s car caught fire, but he escaped unharmed. Menard finished 36th. … A small fire also started when Cole Custer wrecked on Lap 106. He was OK and finished 35th.

NOTABLE: Logano led the most laps (70) in the 150-lap event. Kyle Busch led 55 laps and Larson 21. … The No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was ruled to have an improperly installed lug nut during post-race inspection. Also, the cars of Larson, Logano and Kyle Busch were taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center for routine inspection.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’ll start from the pole and hopefully be right here tomorrow.” – Race winner Kyle Larson, who has four runner-up finishes in his past five Cup starts (dating to last season), including the past three races.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity Series is off next weekend (the Camping World Truck Series returns from hiatus). Both the Trucks and the Cup Series will compete at Martinsville Speedway. The Xfinity Series returns with the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Logano, Hemric will start on front row for Xfinity race at Fontana

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Joey Logano did not take a qualifying run for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Auto Club Speedway after failing to get through inspection Friday.

He made up for that on Saturday, taking the pole for that afternoon’s Service King 300 with a top speed at 182.556 mph. It was the 32nd Xfinity pole in Logano’s career.

The No. 22 Ford Fusion hasn’t won for Team Penske since 2015. Ford also hasn’t won an Xfinity race at Fontana since 2007 (Matt Kenseth won).

“It’s nice to see speed back in the 22 again,” Logano told Fox Sports 1. “It’s been a while since they’ve won, and today would be a great day for that.”

Daniel Hemric qualified a career-best second (181.658).

“If you’re going to be second to a guy like Joey – he’s been around here a couple times – so we’ll take it,” Hemric told FS1.

Hemric was followed by Erik Jones (181.470), Cole Custer with a career-best start (180.955), Paul Menard (180.5789.7), William Byron (180.451), Kyle Larson (180.397), Brandon Jones (179.982), Ty Dillon (179.847), Darrell Wallace Jr. (179.717), Blake Koch (179.448) and Brendan Gaughan (178.527).

Saturday’s race will take the green flag shortly after 4 p.m. ET. It will be televised on FS1.

Click here for the qualifying results.

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Danica Patrick: ‘NASCAR makes a really big mistake of fining for some stuff’

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Danica Patrick wants her money back. Or she at least wants to know what it bought.

Fined $70,000 over the past 17 months for intentionally wrecking a rival driver under caution and tossing and walking onto the track to gesture at another, Patrick was asked Friday at Auto Club Speedway how she felt about Austin Dillon avoiding a fine for crashing Cole Custer under caution at Phoenix.

Give me my money back,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said. “I think NASCAR makes a really big mistake of fining for some stuff, especially something that happens in the car because it makes for good TV, just like fights and all that stuff.  We can handle it.

“I think it’s a mistake.  I might be speaking too much, but I’ve been fined a few times, and I think that it makes for good TV, and I think that we handle it out on the track ourselves.”

NASCAR has said it funnels the fine payments to the NASCAR Foundation, which supports several charitable organizations.

Patrick would prefer NASCAR avoid fining anyone but is curious about how the money gets earmarked.

“I would actually rather know what it did,” she said. “I would actually love to see like the playground that got built for it, or homeless people that got food.  I would like to see actually what the money does for fines because it’s supposed to go to charity, right?  So what does it really do?  I would like to see that.”

Joey Logano tops first Xfinity practice at Auto Club Speedway

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Joey Logano was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions at Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300.

Logano, driving Team Penske’s Xfinity No. 22 for the first time this season, posted a speed of 178.904 mph. Logano recorded the speed on the first of 10 laps in the session.

The top five was filled by Kyle Larson (177.344), Erik Jones (177.061), Paul Menard (176.852) and Cole Custer (176.570).

William Byron and Brandon Jones recorded the most laps in the session with 24 each.

Ty Dillon had the best 10-lap average at 173.739 mph.

Click here for the full practice report.

 

Austin Dillon: NASCAR will issue ‘very harsh’ penalties for repeat offense

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Following his meeting with Cole Custer and NASCAR officials Friday at Auto Club Speedway, Dillon told ESPN any further stepping out of line by him would lead to “very harsh” penalties.

“NASCAR did a really good job of sharing with me that if I make a mistake like that again that the penalties would be very harsh,” Dillon said. “I love to race, and I don’t want to be on the sideline, ever.”

NASCAR told NBC Sports it does not comment on what drivers are told in hauler meetings.

Neither Dillon nor Custer were penalized for their episode last weekend at Phoenix Raceway that saw Dillon intentionally squeeze Custer into the wall at slow speed under caution in the Xfinity Series race.

Dillon retaliated against Custer after the rookie Stewart-Haas Racing driver got loose in Turn 1 on Lap 190 and ran up into Dillon, sending him into the outside wall and causing significant damage to his No. 2 car for Richard Childress Racing. After slowly leaving the scene of the accident, Dillon drove up the track as Custer came around him.

NASCAR parked Dillon for the final nine laps of the race and spoke to him and his crew chief following the event.

During a Friday press conference, Custer said his meeting with NASCAR and Dillon “went really good.

“We both have things that we wish we would have done different in the moment, but it is what it is and we’ll just try to move on from it.”

Custer had apologized on Twitter after the race and said Friday he did not feel any anxiety about the meeting with Dillon.

“I think we both felt like we got along pretty well and we weren’t on bad terms that much, so we talked a little bit about it and just said how we messed up,” Custer said. “If it’s a pretty bad situation, sometimes you’ll just sit there and say nothing, but it just depends.”

Custer said the meeting ended with the drivers shaking hands.

NASCAR has not issued any punishments the last two weeks after driver altercations. There were no penalties after Kyle Busch threw a punch at Joey Logano after the Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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