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Racing full-time in World of Outlaws remains Kyle Larson’s ultimate career goal

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Kyle Larson wanted to race with his NASCAR racing heroes, but he didn’t need to.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver discussed what his auto racing career goals were last week on the official World of Outlaws podcast, “Open Red.”

The 25-year-old driver was a guest on the show prior to his trip to New Zealand for a six race sprint car tour, which began with proposing to his girlfriend.

Early in the one-hour show, Larson was asked if competing in NASCAR had been always been the ultimate goal for the dirt racer from Elk Grove, California.

He gave an honest answer.

“As everybody knows, there’s a lot of money in the sport (NASCAR), and you know you can make a good living,” Larson said. “So yeah, I wanted to make it to NASCAR. So throughout the 2011 season I had opportunities to go Indy Lights racing and stuff like that, but I just wasn’t into that. I grew up watching Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and you wanted to race with them.”

Larson did get to do that, making his Cup debut in 2013. He’ll head to Daytona in February to start his fifth full-time season in the series.

“NASCAR is where I wanted to make it, but I would have been perfectly fine if I didn’t make it either,” Larson continued. “I’d probably be on the Outlaw (sprint car) tour probably right now, racing and loving life … I would say racing on the World of Outlaws tour full-time is my main goal; NASCAR’s just the step to get there.”

As part of his deal with Chip Ganassi Racing, Larson is permitted to compete in 25 dirt races a year. While he won a career-best four Cup races in 2017, he also won multiple times in sprint cars, including six in a row at one point.

While the topic of Larson potentially competing in the Indianapolis 500 has come up multiple times in the last year, it wasn’t Larson’s answer when asked on “Open Red” what forms of racing he’s still eager to give a try.

“I would say a dirt late model is probably at the top of my list of cars I have not yet raced,” Larson said. “There’s plenty of stuff. But then like I said, I only got 25 (sprint car) races. So I’ve got people who approach me asking if I want to run their car and I’m like, ‘Yeah, but I can’t because I want to race the sprint car more.’ It stinks that I have to pick and choose a lot.”

Earlier this month Larson announced he was taking over full ownership of the World of Outlaws team he had co-owned with Justin Marks.

AJ Allmendinger making return to Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018

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After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.

Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.

A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.

Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.

“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”

Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.

Results, stats for Xfinity Series race at Road America

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Jeremy Clements led the final two laps to win the Johnsonville 180 at Road America for his first Xfinity Series win in 256 starts.

Clements won after an accident with race leader Matt Tifft coming to the white flag.

Completing the top five were Michael Annett, Tifft, Justin Marks and Brendan Gaughan.

Click here for race results

Jeremy Clements scores first career Xfinity win at Road America

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Jeremy Clements won the first Xfinity Series race of his career after an accident with race leader Matt Tifft coming to the white flag of the Johnsonville 180 at Road America.

Clements, 32, earned the win in his 256th start in the series.

Clements took the lead after he made contact with Tifft in the final turn of the road course, causing both to spin. Both drivers recovered, but Clements was quicker, taking the white flag first in his No. 51 Chevrolet.

Michael Annett, who was running in third, was too far back to take the lead. He managed to finish second ahead of Tifft.

Clements is the fifth driver to qualify for the Xfinity playoffs.

“I don’t even know what to say, I’m just shocked,” Clements told NBC. “This is a car built in 2008. Everything we’ve got is old and used. I just can’t believe it. I’m just, is this real? … It’s a total team effort. I’m just so happy. It’s pretty neat to win at Road America. It’s one of my favorite road courses. I want to say sorry to Matt Tifft. I definitely didn’t mean to spin him out there. I got in hot there and he kind of came down and I was there. We collided.

“I’m just so shocked.”

Jeremy Clements Racing is an independent, family owned team that was started in 2010. His father, Tony Clements, is the owner.

“My gosh, it’s crazy,” Jeremy Clements said. “Our budget a year is a fraction of a big teams’. This is just a dream come true. I want to drive for a big team, but it hasn’t been the way it’s gone. I try to keep doing this, to keep my name out here getting as much experience as I can in case I do get the call. To any big team guys. Look at me. Let’s go.”

MORE: Xfinity Series Spotlight: Jeremy Clements

Tifft, 21, had led six laps before the accident. He was searching for his first Xfinity win and the first for Joe Gibbs Racing at Road America.

“Obviously, no matter what it’s tough,” Tifft told NBC. “I wish we could have raced it out till the last lap. We were struggling on old tires. I don’t know if he had fresher tires there. He had a lot of speed there at the end. … It’s tough to come that close. But we’ll keep knocking on the door, it’s all we can do.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: James Davison

STAGE 2 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

MORE: Race results

MORE: Point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Michael Annett finished second for his career-best finish in the Xfinity Series in 186 starts. His previous best was third in July 2012 at Daytona and at Dover in Sept. 2012.  … Brendan Gaughan finished fifth for his second top five of the year … Casey Mears finished ninth in his first start at Road America … NBCSN analyst Parker Kligerman finished 10th.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Ryan Reed was involved in multiple accidents, going off course more than once and continuing on. He finished 35th … On the last lap of Stage 2, Ross Chastain turned Justin Marks, who collided with James Davison. Davison then made contact with and spun Austin Cindric when he came back on track in Turn 6. Davison’s day ended in the garage with a cracked radiator. He finished 37th … Daniel Hemric won Stage 2 but finished 15th after he was caught speeding during a Lap 28 pit stop.

NEXT: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 2 on NBCSN.

Xfinity qualifying at Road America canceled due to weather; Austin Cindric on pole

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NASCAR has canceled qualifying for the Johnsonville 180 at Road America due to the odd situation of there not being enough rain. The starting lineup for the Xfinity Series race will be set by owner points.

That gives Team Penske driver Austin Cindric the pole in his first start in the series. Joe Gibbs Racing’s James Davison will start second.

The field was going to be established by a single 25-minute session with teams using rain tires. The session was set to begin at 11:45 a.m. ET, but NASCAR went into a holding pattern waiting for rain to cover more of the track. It called off qualifying just before 12:30 p.m.

The starting top 10 for the race is Cindric, Davison, Elliott Sadler, Christopher Bell, Justin Marks, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Ben Kennedy, Scott Lagasse Jr. and Brennan Poole.

Coverage of the Johnsonville 180 begins at 2:30 p.m. on NBC.

Click here for the starting grid.