Ross Chastain

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Six Xfinity teams will lose practice time Friday at Chicagoland Speedway

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JOLIET, Illinois – Seven Xfinity teams will be docked 15 minutes of practice Friday at Chicagoland Speedway for inspection issues last weekend at Richmond Raceway.

The teams of Ross Chastain, JJ Yeley, Spencer Gallagher and Josh Bilicki will miss 15 minutes because they were late for inspection at Richmond.

The teams of Erik Jones and Mike Harmon will miss 15 minutes because they failed template inspection twice before qualifying at Richmond.

Xfinity teams practice Friday from 2-2:55 p.m. ET on NBCSN and 4 – 4:50 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports app and online.

 

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.

Denny Hamlin earns fifth Xfinity Series win at Darlington with last-lap pass

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Denny Hamlin won the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 with a last-lap pass of Joey Logano in Turn 4 in an overtime finish.

Logano had passed Hamlin going into Turn 3 before Hamlin went back beneath Logano through Turn 4.

It is Hamlin’s fifth Xfinity Series win at Darlington Raceway. All five have come from the pole.

“Just a really good restart, got through Turns 1 and 2 really good,” Hamlin told NBCSN at the start-finish line. “Great run by the 22 (Logano) getting back to me on the last lap. I think that was a throwback to Dale Earnhardt there in (Turns) 3 and 4.”

Hamlin led 33 laps. He took the lead on the overtime finish, pulling ahead of Logano.

“We definitely didn’t have the best handling car the beginning of the race,” Hamlin told NBCSN in victory lane. “We got it better there at the end. I actually was hating it that that caution came out because I thought I could run down (Harvick). We made it a little more exciting.”

The victory is the second of the year for Hamlin and the 17th of his Xfinity career. The race went 148 laps, one more than scheduled.

Kevin Harvick had been leading in the closing laps until Dakoda Armstrong spun with 10 laps to go in the original distance. That set up pit stops where Harvick lost the lead to Logano, who led a race-high 58 laps.

The overtime finish was set up by a crash involving Elliott Sadler on the ensuing restart.

“It would have been more fun if the caution didn’t come out, that would have been more fun for me,” Logano told NBCSN. “Denny had a great restart, went through the gearbox and motored me down into Turn 1 and had position on me. … (On the last lap) was able to get underneath him off of Turn 2. He knew my play. I knew what his play was going to be as soon as the spotter yelled ‘clear.’ I thought ‘that’s way too early in the corner to be clear.’ ”

Completing the top five were Harvick, Erik Jones and William Byron.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Harvick led 54 laps before losing the lead during pit stops following Armstrong’s caution. His finish is his best at Darlington in 15 starts … Byron finished fifth in his first Darlington start after bouncing back from having to pit a second time under yellow on Lap 94 for a loose lug nut … Brandon Brown finished 20th in his first Darlington start after running in the top 15 for much of the race … Jeremy Clements finished 21st in the first race since wining at Road America.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Matt Tifft spun and crashed into the inside wall as the field completed Lap 1 after he made contact with Ross Chastain. He finished last with his second DNF of the season … Spencer Gallagher spun on Lap 99 after being tapped from behind by Ben Kennedy. He finished 34th … Elliott Sadler, the defending race winner, was in the top five all day until he hit the outside wall on the frontstretch with five to go in the original distance after being turned by Erik Jones. It resulted in his third DNF of the year. He finished 33rd.

NOTABLE: Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric and Brennan Poole all clinched a spot in the playoffs on point. … Hamlin’s five wins breaks a tie with Jeff Burton and Harry Gant for second most at Darlington. Mark Martin has eight.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I was six, seven, eight car lengths ahead and that’s when you pray for no caution and then you see in the mirror there’s just smoke and everything. I’m like, ‘Please, don’t hit that hard.’” – Joey Logano on the caution the set of the overtime finish.

WHAT’S NEXT: Virginia 529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 8 on NBCSN.

Denny Hamlin wins pole for Xfinity Series race at Darlington

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Denny Hamlin will start from his fifth pole in the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 in a car sponsored by Sport Clips.

Driving the No. 18 Toyota, Hamlin posted a top speed of 172.209 mph around Darlington Raceway. It is his first Xfinity Series pole since the 2015 edition of the Darlington race.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has four Darlington wins. All came from the pole.

“The Sport Clips Toyota has been fast all weekend,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “We’ll see what happens in the race. You never know. We got beat last year (by Elliott Sadler). Can’t take anything for granted.”

The starting top five for the race will be Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Ty Dillon.

Sadler will start seventh.

Justin Allgaier will start 13th, followed by Matt Tifft, Ben Kennedy, Ross Chastain and Ryan Reed.

Last week’s winner, Jeremy Clements, will start 25th followed by Ryan Sieg in 26th. Richard Childress Racing’s Brandon Jones qualified 27th after hitting the wall out of Turn 2.

Reed Sorenson failed to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.