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.
NASCAR Xfinity teams will use the drafting package that debuted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July also at Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway next season, the sanctioning body announced Wednesday.
William Byron won at Indy in July. That race featured an event-record 16 leads changes in 100 laps. The previous record for lead changes in that race was nine.
NASCAR equipped cars with aero ducts, a different spoiler (64 3/4 inches wide and 6 inches tall) and a 7/8-inch restrictor plate for that Indianapolis race. All of those items also will be used at Michigan and Pocono next year.
Some drivers liked the package at Indianapolis, but Kyle Busch did not, expressing his dissatisfaction after his two-year winning streak in that event ended with a 12th-place finish.
“They wanted to slow down the fastest guy here so the rest of the field could keep up and they did,’’ Busch said after the July race.
Ryan Reed, who finished sixth at Indy, had a different viewpoint.
“I think anytime you make the cars … slower, they’re easier to drive,’’ he said. “When they’re easier to drive, you’re able to put them in more difficult positions and come out the other end OK and you’re going to have a little more confidence. I think you’ve got to find a balance because at this level a high-rate of speed is what help defines the sport.
“You don’t want us to go down and run 140 miles an hour and wide open every track, otherwise who wants to watch that? Just find a balance. I think that this may be a step in the right direction. It seems like the racing was better.’’
and on Facebook
After one race in the second round of the Xfinity Series playoffs, Cole Custer and Daniel Hemric are the two drivers who took the biggest hit in the playoff standings.
While the JR Motorsports’ drivers of Justin Allgaier, William Byron and Elliott Sadler remain comfortably in the top three, Hemric and Custer each dropped three spots following Saturday’s race at Kansas Speedway.
Custer dropped from fifth to eighth after he finished 19th, two laps down following having to pit for a tire in the final 10 laps.
It was his worst finish since placing 14th at Richmond in September. He is eight points back from the final transfer spot.
Hemric is seventh in the standings after he finished 18th, a lap down after being penalized for pitting outside his box. It dropped him down from fourth.
It was Hemric’s first finish outside the top 10 since he finished 18th at Darlington.
All four drivers outside the top four – including Matt Tifft and Ryan Reed – are within 10 points of the final transfer spot, but they won’t get the chance to improve their position until Nov. 4 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Here’s the full playoff grid.
Justin Allgaier and two of his JR Motorsports teammates lead the Xfinity playoff standings after the first second round race, the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.
Allgaier holds a two-point lead over William Byron and a 11-point lead over Elliott Sadler after finishing fifth in the race.
The top five is completed by Brennan Poole (-28) and Matt Tifft (-33).
Only four of the remaining eight drivers will advance to the championship race.
Click here for the point standings.
Tyler Reddick claimed his first career Xfinity Series pole Saturday at Kansas Speedway, winning the top spot with a speed of 181.117 mph.
Rounding out the top five are Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Austin Dillon
William Byron was the highest qualifying playoff driver in sixth, but he will start from the year because of unapproved adjustments.
Reddick’s pole comes in his 17th Xfinity start. It also continues an impressive stretch for Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet. Both Reddick and Alex Bowman earned their first Xfinity wins in the last three races. Reddick won at Kentucky Speedway. Bowman won at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago.
“This cooler weather might be helping us,” Reddick told NBCSN. “We were really tight yesterday. I think that’s going to help us in the race.”
The pole also comes the week after one of his grandmothers, Carolyn Joyce Brown, passed away. Her name is on the roof of his car.
“The last two weeks have been rough,” Reddick said. “She was battling health for a long time and just finally lost the battle. She watched every single race and ever lap on track. She was there watching it at the race track or at home. Hopefully we can do something special for her. This will be the first race she hasn’t been here to see.”
Here is where the playoff drivers qualified:
William Byron – sixth
Cole Custer – seventh
Matt Tifft – eighth
Brennan Poole – ninth
Daniel Hemric – 10th
Elliott Sadler – 11th
Justin Allgaier – 13th
Ryan Reed – 15th
Click here for the qualifying results.