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Ryan Reed ready to enjoy benefits of having teammates again

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — Ryan Reed will have a trio of wingmen this season in the Xfinity Series after going two-thirds of last season without a teammate.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver was teammates with Darrell Wallace Jr. until Roush ran out of sponsorship money for the No. 6 Ford following the June race at Pocono, the 12th race of the year.

Reed’s reinforcements this season are Austin Cindric, Ty Majeski and Chase Briscoe. The three drivers will split time in the No. 60 Ford during the 33-race season.

Reed, who was eliminated from the playoffs last year after the first round looks forward to the benefits of having another Roush car in the field again.

“Just having a second car is helpful,” Reed said Tuesday during the NASCAR Media Tour. “You’ve seen it with organizations that have one-car programs and they have success, but for the most part, I think, it’s gonna be helpful just to have the second car.”

Briscoe and Cindric come to Roush after spending 2017 with Brad Keselowski Racing in the Camping World Truck Series. They each won one race while Briscoe was voted most popular driver and Rookie of the Year.

Cindric made one Xfinity start last season with Team Penske at Road America, where he started from the pole and finished 16th.

Majeski, a Roush development driver, made three starts in both Iowa races and the season finale at Miami. His best finish was 10th in Miami.

“I think having three fairly inexperienced drivers – at least in Xfinity cars – that will be different,” said Reed, who has two wins in his first four Xfinity seasons. “But I also think it will be good because Ty has had some NASCAR experience with Roush, but Chase and Austin come from different organizations, so it will be cool to see their mindset and be able to pull from their previous experience, and also Austin is going to be splitting time with Penske as well, so that will be really good information and a really good comparison as we go.”

The team will be led by long-time Roush crew chief Mike Kelley.

Kelly has 12 Xfinity wins since 2006. Eight of those came with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. from 2011-12.

“He kind of helped build that Xfinity program back when we had five or six Xfinity cars back in the day before I got there,” Stenhouse said Tuesday. “I think the confidence that he has as a crew chief in this sport and what he’s done carries over to the drivers as well. When he was working on our Cup cars, I felt like he was making sure he did everything he could to make sure that we had the most downforce last year every time we hit the race track and I had confidence in that.

“I think he’ll do that same thing for the three rookie drivers he has and I feel like out of any of the crew chiefs I’ve worked for, for a rookie I feel like he’s the one to do the job. He believes in all of them and if they can get things going and organize as quick as possible that they’ll be competing for some wins before it’s over with.”

 

On Tuesday, Roush announced the full driver schedule for the No. 60 Ford.

Cindric will be in the car for nine races, beginning with the Feb. 17 opener at Daytona. Cindric was chosen for the race from a drawing between the three drivers’ names last week.

Cindric’s races: Daytona I, Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Auto Club, Michigan, Daytona II, New Hampshire, Watkins Glen and Darlington.

Majeski and Briscoe will each get 12 starts.

Majeski’s races: Bristol I, Talladega, Dover I, Charlotte I, Iowa I, Kentucky, Road America, Las Vegas II, Richmond II, Charlotte II, Texas II and Phoenix II.

Briscoe’s races: Atlanta, Texas I, Richmond I, Pocono, Chicago, Iowa II, Mid-Ohio, Bristol II, Indianapolis, Dover II, Kansas II, Miami.

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NASCAR revamps Rookie of the Year points system in national series

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NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.

The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.

A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.

A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.

“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”

Erik Jones was Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series last year. William Byron won the honor in the Xfinity Series and Chase Briscoe won it in the Camping World Truck Series.

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Social Roundup: Snow hits NASCAR country

@Christian_Racin (via @bakerracing37)
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A week ago Charlotte Motor Speedway announced an open test for the Camping World Truck Series today.

It was quickly postponed to Jan. 24.

The cause? The first snowstorm of the year in North Carolina.

That means it’s time for obligatory shots of a snow-covered race track and team shops.

Before we get started, Cole Pearn, the Canadian crew chief for Martin Truex Jr,. thinks all the excitement over a little snow is adorable.

First up is a bird’s-eye view of Charlotte Motor Speedway. After that, teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Team Penske tweeted proof there’s no such thing as a snow day in NASCAR. Also, Daniel Suarez and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each got into a bit of a jam while driving.

A post shared by Shaun Johnson (@shaunjohn44) on

 

How we celebrate a snow day!! #burnemdown

A post shared by Kevin Harvick (@kevinharvick) on

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Christopher Bell wins Thursday night’s A main at Chili Bowl Nationals

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Reigning Camping World Truck Series champion Christopher Bell won the A main Thursday night to advance to Saturday night’s feature event and continue his bid to win back-to-back Chili Bowl National titles.

Shane Golobic finished second and Chase Johnson placed third. Each also advanced to Saturday night’s feature. Tanner Thorson finished 11th. He drives for a partnership of Richard Childress Racing and Dooling Hayward Motorsports. C.J. Leary, driving a car owned by Cup driver Alex Bowman, finished 18th in the 24-car field.

Among those Bell will be racing for the Chili Bowl National title Saturday will be Kyle Larson and Rico Abreu, who each won their qualifying events earlier this week.

Racing continues Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Among those scheduled to compete are Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chase Briscoe.

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NASCAR Trucks champ Christopher Bell celebrates 23rd birthday with 10th Midget win in 13 starts

Photo courtesy Christopher Bell official Twitter page
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A month after capturing the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship, Christopher Bell celebrated his 23rd birthday Saturday night by winning the third annual “Junior Knepper 55” USAC Midget Special in Du Quoin, Illinois.

Bell passed fellow Toyota driver Chad Boat with four laps remaining to win the event on the indoor, one-sixth-mile dirt oval.

It was the final race of the year for Bell – and what a year it has been.

It started with his first triumph in January’s Chili Bowl in Tulsa and continued with the Truck championship on Nov. 16. Then, less than a week later, there was a win in the Turkey Night Grand Prix on Thanksgiving night at California’s Ventura Raceway, which along with the Chili Bowl are the two biggest races in midget car racing.

And after starting his overall racing season with a win in Tulsa, Bell bookended checkered flags at the front and back end of the year with his win in Du Quoin.

The 2013 USAC National Midget champ qualified third for Saturday’s race. He moved into second when Boat took the lead from pole sitter Trey Marcham on Lap 18.

A final caution came out on Lap 50. On the ensuing restart, Bell took the lead on Lap 52 and would hold off fellow NASCAR driver Chase Briscoe by .295 of a second for the win, followed by Shane Golobic, Boat and Justin Grant in fifth.

It was Bell’s 10th win in 13 Midget starts this season, a 77 percent winning percentage and the most wins he’s ever earned in a season (his previous best was seven wins in the 2013 and 2014 seasons).

“To be able to win the last race of the year like that is pretty cool,” the Norman, Oklahoma native said in a media release. “Going to NASCAR has made me a better racecar driver just because it’s taught me things I didn’t learn here on the dirt.

“That’s something I’ve been able to find that when you run these really long races, you learn that you don’t have to lead lap five. You don’t have to lead lap 10. You only have to lead the last lap. That’s something I’ve really tried to apply in midget racing and it seems to have worked.”

Also, Camping World Truck star Matt Crafton made his first career Midget start, advancing to the B Main where he finished 13th, not high enough to advance to the night’s big feature.

There will be little rest for Bell and others: he will attempt to defend his Chili Bowl championship in just over three weeks – January 9-13 at the Tulsa Expo Center.

And just over a month after that, Bell will embark upon his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.