Tyler Reddick

Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

Xfinity practice report from Atlanta

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John Hunter Nemechek had the fastest lap in Friday’s final practice session Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with a lap of 178.516 mph. Christopher Bell was next with a lap of 177.164 mph and led Cole Custer (176.887 mph), Ty Dillon (176.319) and Brandon Jones (175.950).

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for final practice report

Practice Session 1

Christopher Bell posted the fastest lap in the first of two Xfinity practice sessions .

Bell posted a lap of 178.447 mph. He was followed by Joey Logano (177.323 mph), Cole Custer (175.933), Ryan Reed (175.688) and Kevin Harvick (175.487). Daytona winner Tyler Reddick (175.388) was sixth on the speed chart.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for practice 1 report

Bump & Run: Daytona 500 takeaways, tattoos

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What is your biggest takeaway from Daytona Speedweeks?

Nate Ryan: The emergence of Bubba Wallace as a budding star. His resonance became decidedly noticeable after the runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and subsequent emotional news conference. Results now become critical (and much more daunting away from plate tracks).

Dustin Long: The relative acceptance from the competitors about blocking even though it was a factor in many of the crashes during Speedweeks. What once was a rallying cry to stop now is viewed with a shoulder shrug by drivers because that’s how things are done on plate tracks. Blocking seems to bother fans more than drivers.

Daniel McFadin: When was the last time a second-place finisher overshadowed the winner of the Daytona 500? Whether it’s local or national media, Darrell Wallace Jr. seems to be getting just as much or more attention than Austin Dillon. Also, whether it was a result of the rules package, physics or luck, we went through every NASCAR event in Speedweeks without a car or truck flipping or getting airborne.

Jerry Bonkowski: I agree with my colleagues about Bubba Wallace. I’ve long thought he was a star in the making, dating back to his days driving a Truck for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Sunday was his day to shine and that he did. Along with several of his young peers like good friend Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and more, Wallace could play a key role in NASCAR’s youth movement. One other thing: I loved the new Chevy Camaro. 

After the Xfinity race went to a fifth overtime attempt to finish, should NASCAR consider limitations on how many overtimes it allows? If so, what should that limit be?

Nate Ryan: No. The Rubicon has been crossed. The only change now is eliminating green-white-checkered finishes, which will never happen.

Dustin Long: No change is needed.

Daniel McFadin: If you’d asked me in the moment Saturday evening, I would have given an emphatic yes right before the final attempt. Then Tyler Reddick and Elliott Sadler somehow delivered the closest finish in national NASCAR series history. If you’re going to put a limit on it, maybe make it five in honor of that finish. Until then, do you want you can to have the race finish under green.

Jerry Bonkowski: No. Keep racing until the race finishes under the checkered flag.

What are you most interested in seeing this weekend with the series at Atlanta Motor Speedway?

Nate Ryan: Which teams and manufacturers are running well at the first 1.5-mile track of the season, though this won’t be as accurate of a barometer as Las Vegas.

Dustin Long: Pit road. There will be more pit stops and each time teams will change four tires. At Daytona, many changes were no tire or two tires. We’ll start to see who has it figured out the best on pit road this weekend.

Daniel McFadin: How the Chevrolet teams on the Cup side perform with the new Camaro in its first race at an intermediate track, specifically with the teams of Jimmie Johnson – who has tied his career mark for races without a win at 24 – and Darrell Wallace Jr. There’s a lot to be excited about surrounding Wallace, but everyone should be prepared for temper their expectations. In Aric Almirola‘s six starts for Richard Petty Motorsports at Atlanta, he finished better than 11th once (ninth, 2014). 

Jerry Bonkowski: The biggest thing for me is to see how guys like Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace and others who did so well at Daytona wind up doing at Atlanta. Totally different type of race track, no restrictor plates, more strategy and more of the race in the driver’s hands (and feet). The last thing I want to see is guys who did well at Daytona not do so well at Atlanta.

Austin Dillon got a tattoo to celebrate his Daytona 500 win. What would it take for you to get a tattoo?

Nate Ryan: An ungodly sum of money and full jurisdiction over its placement and size. (P.S. I drove by a tattoo laser removal billboard off I-4 on my drive to Daytona every day the past two weeks. So if any of the No. 3 team members change their minds about the “permanent” ink, there’s hope.)

Dustin Long: Not happening. Next question.

Daniel McFadin: It would take the Dallas Cowboys winning consecutive Super Bowls and someone reminding me about this article for me to give that serious consideration.

Jerry Bonkowski: My kids talked me into getting a temporary henna tattoo at DisneyWorld once. It was a barbed wire on my right arm. Let’s just say this: it looks good on Pamela Anderson, but me, meh, not so much. Like Dustin said, “not happening” any day, any way.

Nationwide Children’s Hospital to sponsor Tyler Reddick in multiple races

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JR Motorsports announced a new sponsor for driver Tyler Reddick beginning this weekend in the Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Reddick, who won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, will be sponsored by Nationwide Children’s Hospital for five races this season.

The hospital, located in Columbus, Ohio, is one of America’s largest pediatric healthcare and research centers delivering care for more than 1.4 million patients each year.

Nationwide is a long-time supporter of owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The branding space on Reddick’s No. 9 Chevrolet on Saturday was made possible through the support of one of JRM’s partners, which made a donation to Nationwide Children’s in memory of one of its founders, Carolyn Brown.

“Our relationship and commitment to Nationwide Children’s Hospital goes much deeper than this partnership,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports, in a press release. “The work they do is invaluable, and we are honored to partner alongside them and be continued advocates of their mission. Theirs is a cause that all of us at JR Motorsports, and our partners, are firmly supportive of.”

Reddick, a two-time winner in the Xfinity Series, is in his first year with JR Motorsports.

“I know how important Nationwide Children’s Hospital is to Dale and Amy (Earnhardt), Kelley and everyone at JR Motorsports,” said Reddick in a press release. “I’m proud to be supporting their cause and it’s been eye-opening to learn about the tremendous work they do for children and their families across the country. I’m looking forward to visiting the hospital and meeting their Patient Champions.”

Saturday’s Rinnai 250 begins at 2 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. back at Daytona but enjoying life not in the car

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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start the engines and then watch the Daytona 500 field drive off without him today for the first time since 1999.

No longer a Cup driver, Earnhardt will give the command as grand marshal to begin the season’s biggest race. Earnhardt admits this week has felt different, even liberating in a sense.

“It’s actually been really nice to not have to worry about performance or living up to expectations or your own or someone else’s,’’ Earnhardt said. “It’s been great to get all that off my shoulders.’’

That made Saturday’s 1-2 finish in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports (Tyler Reddick nipping Elliott Sadler) even more enjoyable for Earnhardt, who has said at this point he’s scheduled to run one Xfinity race this season. 

“This is the first race we’ve won on a Saturday I have not had to worry about Sunday,’’ Earnhardt said after the Xfinity race. “I walked around every day of my life with a thousand pounds on my shoulders — what was going to happen, how was I going to run — and I think every driver does that. Now that that’s off my shoulders and I don’t have to worry about that anymore, everything in my life is so much more enjoyable.

“Racing, I loved driving cars on Sunday, but it made everything else sit in the backseat, and it made — everything else was nowhere near as enjoyable as it could have been or should have been maybe because of the pressure I put on myself for Sunday.  But all that out of the way, man, life is — I’m living, I’m loving, I’m having a good time.’’

Earnhardt is keeping busy. He’s about finished filming a renovation of a home in Key West for a show later this year. He’ll leave Monday for South Korea to be a part of NBC Sports’ Olympic broadcast. He has his Xfinity teams and a baby on the way in the spring. And he’ll be a part of NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage.

Earnhardt says he doesn’t know what he’ll be doing for the Olympic broadcast but he’s looking forward to whatever it is.

“I’m a little nervous,’’ Earnhardt said. “But I know that they won’t set me up to fail. They want to have good TV and they’re not going to put me in a position where I won’t be able to somehow help deliver that.

“We’re going to have some fun, and whatever that is, I’ll find out in the very last minute, and the rest of it should be great. I’m going to have a chance to see some of the best athletes in the world do what they do best, and that’ll be an experience that I’ll never forget. So I’m looking forward to that.’’

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Race results, point standings after Xfinity Series opener at Daytona

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Tyler Reddick began his tenure with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series by coming out on top in the closest finish in national NASCAR series history.

Reddick beat Elliott Sadler by 0.000 to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. It is his second career win.

The top five was completed by Ryan Reed, Kaz Grala and Garrett Smithley.

Click here for the race results.

With his win, the 22-year-old driver leaves Daytona with a nine-point lead over Sadler.

Completing the top five in the standings are Spencer Gallagher (-11), Ryan Truex (-15) and Reed (-16).

Click here for the point standings.