Elliott Sadler remains atop the Xfinity Series point standings following Saturday night’s American Ethanol e15 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Sadler finished eighth in what was his 800th career NASCAR start across all three major series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.
JR Motorsports drivers own the top three spots in the standings: Sadler holds a 25-point lead over teammate Justin Allgaier and a 57-point edge on another teammate and Saturday’s race winner, William Byron, who is third in the Xfinity standings.
Daniel Hemric is fourth, 146 points behind Sadler, while Ryan Reed is 155 points behind in fifth place.
Click here for Xfinity points report.
MORE: Race results from Saturday night’s American Ethanol e15 250 at Iowa
MORE: William Byron takes first Xfinity win at Iowa, avenges close loss at Michigan
Christopher Bell will start from the pole in tonight’s American Ethanol e15 250 at Iowa Speedway. It marks Bell’s first NASCAR Xfinity Series pole in only his second career start in the series.
Bell, who is currently ranked second in the Camping World Truck Series, covered the .875-mile oval with a best lap of 133.305 mph. Kyle Benjamin was a close second (133.294), followed by defending winner Sam Hornish Jr. (133.260), Elliott Sadler (132.990) and Justin Allgaier (132.89).
Sixth through 10th were William Byron (132.520), Dakoda Armstrong (132.286), Brennan Poole (132.186), Matt Tifft (132.059) and Ty Majewski (131.998).
A total of 40 cars made qualifying runs.
Click here for the full qualifying results.
A Joe Gibbs Racing executive addressed the penalty to Denny Hamlin’s winning Xfinity Series car, saying the team would “make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Crew chief Chris Gabehart was suspended two races and fined $25,000, and the team was docked 25 points because the No. 20 Toyota’s splitter didn’t meet a minimum thickness in its shape after Hamlin’s last-lap victory over William Byron at Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR ruled the win as encumbered, meaning it can’t count toward earning playoff points for the owner’s championship in Xfinity.
JGR senior vice president of racing operations Jimmy Makar said on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s The Morning Drive that the splitter wasn’t manipulated during the race weekend at Michigan.
“The rules on the Xfinity side say your splitter has to be perfectly flat,” Makar said. “There was some shape on the splitter that didn’t quite meet the rules the way it was supposed to be. It was an unfortunate thing that happened. We were a little off what we were supposed to be. We have to look back at that and how it happened and why and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Makar confirmed the team won’t appeal the penalty.
“The rules are pretty clear,” he said. “It’s something where we were wrong with what we had there. We’ll take our penalty and move forward.”
Makar also addressed the team’s other significant news in the Xfinity news this week, installing Dave Rogers as its technical director. Rogers had been on a personal leave since March from his previous role as the No. 19 crew chief for Daniel Suarez in the Cup Series.
“We are shy on technical expertise in Xfinity and the burden is on the Cup side, so this was an opportunity to put Dave in as the technical director position on the Xfinity side,” Makar said. “It helps bring the Cup side and Xfinity side closer together.
“The way the cars are built and getting that in the Xfinity cars and also teaching younger guys the things they need to know and directions they need to be going. As we develop younger engineers and crew chiefs, this helps them to be more prepared if and when they make their step up on the Cup side.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series visits the bucolic hills of Michigan for today’s Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
Here’s what you need to know for today’s race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be given at 1:37 p.m. by John Crist. Green flag is set to wave at 1:46 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 125 laps (250 miles) around the 2-mile banked oval oval track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 30. Stage 2 ends on Lap 60.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity Garage opens at 6:30 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 11:45 a.m. Driver introductions are at 1:05 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: Lisa Bascom will perform the Canadian anthem at 1:28 p.m., followed by Bascom performing the U.S. anthem at 1:31 p.m.
TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race with its coverage beginning at 1 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s broadcast on radio and at mrn.com begins at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.
FORECAST: wunderground.com predicts a high temperature of 82 degrees at 1:45 p.m. with a 20 percent chance of rain, increasing to nearly 30 percent by 3 p.m.
LAST TIME: Daniel Suarez led just four laps, including the last two, which was enough for him to win this race last year.
STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup
Brad Keselowski topped the speed charts for Friday’s second and final Xfinity Series practice for Saturday’s Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway.
The NASCAR Cup regular and Michigan native made it around his home track with a best lap of 193.149 mph. Just a tick behind was Elliott Sadler (193.086 mph).
Third- through fifth-fastest were Brandon Jones (191.108), Ryan Sieg (190.713) and Denny Hamlin (189.763).
Sixth- through 10th-fastest were Matt Tifft (189.608 mph), Kyle Busch (189.534), Paul Menard (189.061), Daniel Hemric (188.788) and Ryan Reed (188.768).
A total of 39 drivers took laps in the session.
Click here for a full field rundown of Friday’s second and final Xfinity practice.