William Byron

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.

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

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JR Motorsports teammates Elliott Sadler, William Byron and Justin Allgaier remained 1-2-3 in the Xfinity Series driver standings following Saturday’s Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Although he remains winless this season, Sadler still managed to pull closer to securing a playoff berth. He leads Byron by 87 points and Allgaier by 142 points.

Brennan Poole, who spun Sadler out during Saturday’s race, likely preventing a higher finish, is fourth (-182) and Daniel Hemric is fifth (-196).

Click here for the Xfinity Series point standings after Mid-Ohio.

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William Byron: ‘Crazy that everything started on a video game’

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There’s a helpful rule when it comes to viewing YouTube videos and preserving your sanity: Never read the comments. Nothing good can come from it.

There are exceptions to this rule.

A comment beneath a video posted six years ago is now a window into the story of the newest Cup driver at Hendrick Motorsports: William Byron.

Wednesday morning, minutes after it became official that the 19-year-old Bryon would succeed Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Chevrolet, Landon Cassill posted a revealing screenshot on Twitter.

It’s from a qualifying event Cassill hosted on iRacing, the racing simulator that is popular among many of today’s young drivers.

The top comment is from Byron.

While many drivers found their way into NASCAR via short-track racing or dirt racing, Byron’s first taste of competition came on the simulator. He’s only be racing in real life since the summer of 2012 in Legends cars.

During a teleconference Wednesday morning, Byron said he “didn’t even remember” posting the comment.

“That’s pretty cool to kind of see how far it’s come and see the support there,” Byron said. “I think I was asking how to go faster, so that’s usually what we ask about as race car drivers. It’s really neat. iRacing was the platform for me that I was able to start racing in and understand the cars and understand all the driving aspects. I think it’s kind of crazy that everything started on a video game, but I think it’s something that I really would promote to young kids coming up is to get involved. If you can’t get in a real race car, to get on iRacing and you can do it and you don’t have to, I guess, have all the contacts and everything to get in a real race car.”

Roush Fenway Racing development driver Ty Majeski, who made his Xfinity Series debut earlier this year, is the winningest driver in iRacing history and is sponsored by the company.

Byron, who has three Xfinity wins this season with JR Motorsports and was the Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year last season after winning seven races, has encountered other NASCAR drivers on the simulator often.

“There was one race with Travis Pastrana, that was pretty cool,” Byron said of the action sports star and former Xfinity driver. “He was racing in the Xfinity Series and he was just trying to actually learn, and I was kind of a fly on the wall and just racing against him and everything. Other than that I just raced against the community on there. You’d be surprised, there’s some really good race car drivers on there. Me and Kyle Larson were racing a few months back, so you never know who you’re going to see on there.”

You also never know when you’ll be racing a future face of the sport.

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Xfinity crew chiefs for William Byron, Dakoda Armstrong suspended for The Glen violations

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NASCAR issued two penalties Wednesday from last Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International:

* The No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, driven by William Byron, was assessed an L1 penalty for post-race violations of rear body inspection heights that were outside NASCAR-allowed tolerances.

Crew chief David Elenz was fined $10,000 and suspended for this weekend’s Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio.

Byron’s 10th-place finish was encumbered, and he was penalized 10 driver points, while JR Motorsports also was penalized 10 owner points.

Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports, issued the following statement:

“After communicating with NASCAR on the penalty incurred by the No. 9 team following last weekend’s race at Watkins Glen, we recognize and accept it. The team will move on to Mid-Ohio this weekend with engineer Brandon McSwain serving as interim crew chief for William Byron and the No. 9 Axalta team. Director of Competition Ryan Pemberton will help call the race from pit road on Saturday.”

* The No. 28 Toyota of Dakoda Armstrong was assessed a safety violation for weight affixed improperly.

Crew chief Stephen Lane and car chief Rick Markle have been suspended for the next three NASCAR Xfinity Series events, starting with Saturday’s race.

They will also miss races at Bristol (Aug. 18) and Road America (Aug. 27).

Armstrong was not penalized.

There were no penalties assessed to any teams in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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NASCAR America: How will William Byron fare in NASCAR Cup? (video)

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William Byron has made the climb up NASCAR’s ladder in near-record time.

On Tuesday, several media reports — including NASCAR Talk — said that Byron will replace Kasey Kahne in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet next season. While HMS has not confirmed the reports, it needs to fill Kahne’s soon-to-be-vacated seat.

And Byron, who is the type of young driver that comes along maybe once every decade or so, appears to be the likely replacement.

If that happens, HMS will have three drivers under 25 next season, with seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson being the eldest of the group at age 41. Alex Bowman is 24, Chase Elliott is 21 and Byron is just 19.

On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, analysts Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett both discussed whether Byron is ready to race in NASCAR Cup.