Brennan Poole

Points leader Elliott Sadler clinches Xfinity playoff spot after finishing third at Bristol

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Even though he hasn’t won this year, Elliott Sadler earned himself a spot in the Xfinity Series playoffs Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sadler is the fourth driver to qualify for the playoffs. He joins Ryan Reed, William Byron and Justin Allgaier, who clinched spots through race wins.

The JR Motorsports driver and the series points leader finished third in the Food City 300 for his ninth top five of the year.

“Man, we had a great car,” Sadler told NBCSN. “I hit the wall with like 50 to go. Then I threw my water bottle out and it got in the jack man’s way, messed us up. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Sadler has led the Xfinity Series point standings for the last 10 races and following 20 of the 22 races this year.

Following Sadler in the top five is William Byron (-110), Allgaier (-136), Brennan Poole (-186) and Daniel Hemric (-206).

Brendan Gaughan is on the playoff bubble. He is 43 points above the cutoff line. Ross Chastain is 13th on the playoff grid.

Click here for the point standings.

Numerous wrecks fill final segment of Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio (videos)

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Drivers got pretty aggressive in the final 35 laps of Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Challenge NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And with aggressiveness usually comes wrecks, and that was certainly the case here.

First, as almost a warm-up of things to come, five drivers were involved in a wreck on Lap 53, when Brennan Poole spun out Blake Koch and collected Spencer Gallagher, Jeremy Clements and Regan Smith.

Then on Lap 59, Justin Marks and Regan Smith tangled, with Ryan Reed being unable to avoid Marks, virtually wiping out the front end on Reed’s Ford.

Then, almost as if the previous wrecks built up to a crescendo, the biggest wreck of the race occurred with just six laps to go. The wreck involved 10 drivers and brought out a red flag.

It was a wild day, indeed.

 

Sam Hornish Jr. dominates Mid-Ohio Xfinity race to earn first career road course win

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In a race that saw a number of wrecks in the final stage, Sam Hornish avoided all the mayhem and was not to be denied, capturing Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Challenge NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Driving the No. 22 Ford Fusion for Team Penske, Hornish dominated, leading four times for 61 laps — including the final 14 — in the 75-lap event to earn his first career win at Mid-Ohio, which he considers his home track.

It was Hornish’s fifth career Xfinity Series win and his first on a road course. He has three previous runner-up finishes on road courses, including his second-place showing last year at Mid-Ohio.

MORE: Hornish wins, full results from Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio

MORE: Sadler, Byron, Allgaier remain 1-2-3 in Xfinity driver standings after Mid-Ohio

Finishing second through fifth were Daniel Hemric, Matt Tifft, James Davison and Andy Lally.

Sixth through 10th were Elliott Sadler, Brendan Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Justin Marks and Dakoda Armstrong.

Hornish won from the pole and had a car that was the class of the field. He was especially strong on restarts and took more of a defensive approach late in the race when there were several multi-car wrecks.

Two wrecks in the final stage stood out: a five-car crash involving Blake Koch, Ryan Reed, Spencer Gallagher and Jeremy Clements, and then a incident that involved 10 cars on Lap 69 that brought out the second red flag of the race.

STAGE WINNERS: Blake Koch (Stage 1), Hornish (Stage 2)

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Hornish was the star of the day, but the rest of the top-five all earned Xfinity career-best finishes: Hemric (2nd), Tifft (3rd), Australian driver Davison (4th in his second career Xfinity event) and sports car racing veteran Andy Lally (5th).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Matt Bell had a specatular crash on Lap 16, slamming into the Turn 1 tire barrier and then landing on top of it, resulting in a 13 1/2 minute red flag period to make repairs to the barrier and adjacent fence.

NOTABLE: Cole Custer wrecked his primary car in qualifying and had to go to a backup car. He had to be towed to the garage after just one lap to fix a fluid leak, but was able to return, running 54 laps and finishing 35th.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “With the luck we had in our first two races of the year (finished 37th and 34th, both at Iowa), I was wondering how today was going to turn out, but we had an almost flawless day.” – Race winner Sam Hornish Jr.

WHAT’S NEXT: Food City 300; Friday, August 18; 7:30 p.m. ET; Bristol Motor Speedway (on NBCSN).

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

Sam Hornish Jr. feels right at home, takes Xfinity pole at Mid-Ohio

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Given that he’s an Ohio resident and has made countless trips to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as both a driver and a fan, it’s not surprising Sam Hornish Jr. felt right at home in Saturday’s Xfinity Series qualifying there.

Hornish was fastest of the 40 drivers in the field to earn the pole for this afternoon’s Mid-Ohio Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Hornish covered the course at a top speed of 96.863 mph. Elliott Sadler was second at 95.779 mph, followed by Blake Koch (95.574), Ryan Reed (95.439) and Matt Tifft (95.232).

Sixth through 10th were Daniel Hemric (95.188), Ben Kennedy (95.037), Justin Allgaier (94.997), Cole Custer (96.760) and Brennan Poole (92.535).

There was one significant incident in the closing laps when Cole Custer wrecked at the end of his qualifying lap. His Ford suffered significant front end damage, and will likely have to go to a backup car for this afternoon’s race.

Click here for the full qualifying grid.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

What Xfinity Series drivers said after the U.S. Cellular 250 (video)

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Ryan Preece claimed victory in his second Xfinity race of the year and the 38th of his career.

He is the third Xfinity driver to earn his first-career win at Iowa Speedway. He is the ninth driver in series history to get his first-career pole and first-career win in the same race.

Here’s what the other top finishers had to say about the U.S. Cellular 250.

Kyle Benjamin– Finished second

Benjamin earned his first top five and top-10 finishes of his career in his fourth start of the year. His previous best was 16th at Pocono.

“I just needed more laps,” Benjamin told NBC. “I think our car was better on the long run there. I didn’t want to see the caution. … I was real surprised at the fire-off speed we had.  able to get beside (Ryan Preece) there at the end. But most importantly I learned a lot today. … There’s a lot I can carry throughout the year.”

Brian Scott – Finished third 

Brian Scott retired from full-time NASCAR competition after the 2016 season and made his first start of the year for Richard Childress Racing. It was his first Xfinity start since the 2015 finale.

“We weren’t very good in the first segment,” Scott told NBC. “We weren’t very good in the second segment but we made a big adjustment at the end of Segment 2. From then on I knew if we could battle back from the loss of track position and it came down to a long run that we had a shot. The restarts at the end (were) not what I wanted to see I thought but it ended up working to our advantage. It was fun. It was fun to be back out there. Congrats to Ryan Preece.’’

Brennan Poole – Finished fourth

Poole earned his first top five of the season. His previous best finish was seventh twice (Daytona II, Indianapolis).

“I felt like we had a shot at the win there at the end,” Poole told NBC. “I spun the tires a little bit on that last restart and I couldn’t quite roll up to (Ryan Preece) enough to try to make a move to make anything happen.  I was just behind a little it.”

Cole Custer – Finished fifth

Custer earned his fourth top five and his second in as many races.

“We definitely made huge gains on it since the last time we were here,” Custer told NBC. “Our short-track program definitely hasn’t been our strong suit, but we brought something completely different and it paid off. I was really proud of that.