Ryan Reed

Cole Custer wins first Xfinity race; William Byron claims series championship

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Cole Custer dominated to win Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, earning his first Xfinity Series victory, as William Byron finished third to clinch his first Xfinity championship.

Byron, 19, clinched the championship and the Rookie of the Year award by finishing ahead of teammates Elliott Sadler (eighth) and Justin Allgaier (12th).

Byron passed Sadler for good with six laps to go after the drivers battled closely for the top spot among the Championship 4 contenders for much of the last 50 laps.

“I don’t think I breathed for the last 20 laps, that was incredible,” Byron told NBCSN. “(Sadler) raced me clean. We raced hard for it. I can’t believe this. I just got to thank God for giving me this platform to perform. I can’t believe this. I’m tired.”

Sadler’s chances of getting back by his teammate were ruined when he made contact with the left rear of Ryan Preece soon after he had been passed by Byron. The contact got Preece sideways and caused Sadler to get into the wall.

Damage from the impact cut a tire on Sadler’s No. 1 Chevrolet. After the race, Sadler got into a confrontation with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver on pit road. Sadler finished runner-up in the championship standings for the fourth time in his career.

Byron’s title is the first championship for JR Motorsports since Chase Elliott‘s in 2014.

Daniel Hemric‘s chances at a title disappeared on Lap 61 when he visited pit road for a battery problem. The Richard Childress Racing driver returned to the track 12 laps later. Until he was passed by Byron on Lap 54, he was the highest running championship driver. Hemric finished 34th.

Custer’s victory comes in his 38th series start. The win is also the first Xfinity victory for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The 19-year-old driver led 182 of the 200 laps, a series-high at the track.

“I haven’t done that in a while,” Custer told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “We definitely had something to prove this weekend. We were so close to making (the Championship 4) last weekend. … Our Haas Automation Ford was unreal. We really wanted to have a good showing on Ford Championship weekend, even though we weren’t in it.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Sam Hornish Jr. finished second for his third top five in six starts this season … Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick finished fourth in his last start with Chip Ganassi Racing … Ryan Preece finished fifth in his fourth start of the year. He placed in the top five in all four races … Ty Majeski finished 10th in his third start of the year for Roush Fenway Racing. It’s his first top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: A day after winning the Truck Series title, Christopher Bell finished 36th after losing his engine on Lap 78 … Ryan Reed finished 20th after being issued a penalty on the initial start of the race.

NOTABLE: Sam Hornish Jr.’s runner-up finish helped Team Penske clinch the owner’s championship … William Byron finished his rookie season tied with Erik Jones (2016) for the second most wins by a rookie with four.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “To be honest with you, if there’s a person you don’t want to cost a championship to it’s Elliott Sadler.” – Ryan Preece

Xfinity Championship 4 field set by Phoenix race

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AVONDALE, Arizona – JR Motorsports teammates William Byron, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier will be joined by Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric in the championship race next weekend in Miami.

All four secured spots Saturday at Phoenix. They make for an all-Chevrolet final.

All four will enter Miami with the same number of points. The driver who finishes the highest among the four will win the championship.

Matt Tifft, Cole Custer, Ryan Reed and Brennan Poole were eliminated from contention.

Click here for points report

Erik Jones wins pole for Xfinity playoff race at Phoenix

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Erik Jones will start from the pole in the Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Jones won his 15th career pole with a speed of 133.929 mph around the 1-mile track. It is his third pole of the year.

The starting top five is Jones, William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt Tifft and Alex Bowman.

Byron, Custer and Tifft are among the eight remaining playoff drivers.

Where the rest of the playoff drivers will start:

7th – Daniel Hemric

10th – Justin Allgaier

13th – Elliott Sadler

14th – Brennan Poole

20th – Ryan Reed

Click here for qualifying results.

William Byron is fastest in final Xfinity practice at Phoenix

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William Byron was fastest in Friday afternoon’s second and final NASCAR Xfinity Series practice session at Phoenix Raceway.

Byron covered the 1-mile oval at 131.661 mph, followed by fellow Xfinity playoff contender Justin Allgaier (131.085 mph).

Christopher Bell (130.961) was third, followed by Alex Bowman (130.914) and Erik Jones (130.881).

Other Xfinity playoff contenders and where they finished in practice were: Cole Custer (7th, 130.776 mph), Daniel Hemric (9th, 130.558), points leader Elliott Sadler (10th, 130.553), Brennan Poole (11th, 130.425), Matt Tifft (14th, 130.213) and Ryan Reed (21st, 129.464).

Click here for the full practice speed chart.

Ryan Blaney is fastest in first of two Xfinity practices at Phoenix

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NASCAR Cup playoff contender Ryan Blaney got in a little extra track time Friday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway, being fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions.

Blaney, who is still in contention for advancing to next week’s NASCAR Cup championship race, had a top speed (131.368 mph) of the 37 drivers that took to the track.

Three of the eight still-eligible Xfinity playoff contenders were next – Justin Allgaier was second (131.157 mph), followed by Matt Tifft (131.138), William Byron (131.100) – followed by Spencer Gallagher (131.066).

As for the other five playoff contenders, Cole Custer was seventh (130.952 mph), Daniel Hemric was 11th (130.473), Brennan Poole (130.359) was 13th, Elliott Sadler was 14th (130.336) and Ryan Reed was 20th (129.520).

There will be one more Xfinity practice session this afternoon from 4:30 to 5:25 p.m. ET. Catch all the action on NBCSN.

Click here for the full practice grid.