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Preliminary entry lists for Xfinity, Truck Series at Daytona

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The Xfinity Series kicks off its 2017 season Saturday at Daytona International Speedway with the Powershares QQQ 300.

There are 44 cars on the preliminary entry list. A full field is 40 cars.

NASCAR Cup Series drivers in the field include defending Xfinity champion Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola and Kasey Kahne.

Spencer Gallagher and Cole Custer will make their debuts as full-time drivers in the Xfinity Series.

Two cars do not have drivers attach to them yet.

Last year’s race was won by Chase Elliott in a narrow finish over Joey Logano, who led the most laps. Almirola won the July Xfinity race at Daytona after he was judged to be ahead of Justin Allgaier when the caution came out on the last lap.

Click here for the full entry list.

The Camping World Truck Series begins its 2017 campaign with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 on Friday night.

There are 39 trucks on the initial entry list. A full field is 32 trucks.

Johnny Sauter, the defending series champion, won last year’s race after taking the lead from Ryan Truex on the last lap.

There are no NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered. Spencer Gallagher, now a full-time Xfinity driver, is entered along with Joe Nemechek. The father of John Hunter Nemechek hasn’t made a Truck start since June 2015 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Click here for the full entry list.

 

Brett Moffitt returns to Red Horse Racing for first two Truck races of season

Red Horse Racing
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Brett Moffitt will drive a second entry for Red Horse Racing in the first two races of the Camping World Truck Series this season.

Moffitt, the 2015 Cup Series Rookie of the Year, will drive the No. 7 truck for the team at Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Timothy Peters returns to the No. 17 truck.

The 24-year-old driver competed in six races last year for Red Horse Racing in the place of Matt Tifft. The Iowa-native earned his first national NASCAR win in August at Michigan International Speedway when he passed Peters coming to the checkered flag.

The No. 7 team will be led by crew chief Butch Hylton, who has eight wins in both the Xfinity and Truck Series.

The Truck season begins on Feb. 24 with the Next Era Energy Resources 250 at Daytona.

Xfinity Series Spotlight: Darrell Wallace Jr.

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Darrell Wallace Jr. caught a break at the right time.

Starting in go-karts around 2002, Wallace had a fast racing progression. From karts to Bandoleros and Legend cars, Wallace was competing in Late Models by 2009. And up until that point, Wallace was doing so with the financial backing of his parents, Darrell Wallace Sr. and Desiree.

“We had a small business that was able to get us to 2009,” Wallace told NBC Sports, “and we were able to get that far. They spent a quarter of a million dollars in 2008, so that was a lot for them.”

Wallace ended up signing a development deal with Joe Gibbs Racing. He made his way into the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with the Drive for Diversity program. Wallace won six races between 2010-12 and earned 2010 Rookie of the Year honors.

In 2012, Wallace went full-time in the Camping World Truck Series under the tutelage of Gibbs driver, Kyle Busch. After two full seasons and five wins, Wallace again made a move. This time, it was to the Xfinity Series, where he now competes for Roush Fenway Racing. Although he has yet to break into victory lane, Wallace is championship eligible after advancing into the second round of the inaugural Xfinity Chase.

As for the journey, Wallace admits, “Kind of the right spot at the right time.”

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed

NBC Sports: On your website, it says your interest in racing was by chance, what does that mean?

Wallace: I started racing when I was nine, but my dad bought a Harley Davidson and he wanted to trick it out and make it look good and the guy who did that, Chris Rogers, he had a bike shop. He raced out of the back of his shop, so we became good friends, and he invited us out to one of his races. We were sitting in the stands, and my dad was like, ‘Hey, you want to try it?’ So it was just one of those going out to watch and ended up buying a go-kart.

NBC Sports: How important was signing with Joe Gibbs Racing, in addition to participating in the Drive for Diversity program?

Wallace: The way it worked out was 2008 had a really good year; 2009 is when we signed on with JGR, and they gave us a little financial backing with the Late Model stuff, but that ended up being our worst year in Late Models. I don’t know why. We ran about half a season there and called it quits so then we were trying to figure out what’s the next step. JGR had their (K&N Pro Series) East program going on at the time, but they had Max Gresham and Brett Moffitt driving. So they didn’t really have anything, but they looked into the Drive for Diversity deal for us. We did some research and saw that Andy Santerre was running the whole deal, and we’re like, ‘Well, hell yeah, we’ll go over there and run that.’ It was kind of a blessing that we did because those two great years with the Drive for Diversity program really helped my career launch.

NBC Sports: Do you have a racing story you like to tell or one that stands out?

Wallace: Got a lot of good stories; got a lot of bad ones, too. I ran over my dad when we were go-kart racing. We were at Concord Speedway, and Chris (Rogers) and my dad were out there, and I leveled my dad at like 45 miles per hour. I thought I killed him and he comes hobbling up and says, ‘All right, let’s keep going.’ So that one’s probably the scariest one I’ve had. The best one is probably Dover. The first Dover (September 2010) I was scared. Driving into the corners like, ‘Heck no.’ Had motor problems, and we were in a Rookie of the Year battle with Cole Whitt. He blew a right front tire Lap 27; I blew a right front tire Lap 37. So we locked up the Rookie of the Year title.

Going back (in September 2011) I’m like, ‘Here we go with this place again’ and that’s when my mom lost her uncle. We took my name off the door, and I just put a piece of tape down and wrote his name on there. It was pretty special because we went out and won both practices, sat on the pole (by) two-tenths and won the race. So I think that was a pretty special weekend. That’s one of my favorite stories.

NBC Sports: Take me back to the Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega when you had that really bad accident in 2013, is that the most scared you’ve been behind the wheel?

Wallace: Yeah, I think so. When I hit for some reason there was a flash of like an actual car going down the highway, which I don’t know why that crossed (my mind), but it was like, ‘Holy crap.’ I had no brakes and was sliding towards I think it was Jeb Burton’s pit stall. Kyle (Busch) come down into me; hit the wall head-on, and I went back down heading straight for their pit box and closed my eyes and come to stop. Didn’t hit the wall. Then my spotter was like, ‘Put it in reverse, we still gotta finish,’ so I threw it in reverse not having brakes, so I’m gassing on it and John Wes (Townley) beats me by inches and then I don’t know how I stopped. I don’t know if I hit the wall or if it just kind of come to a stop. But that one was pretty scary.

NBC Sports: How did your love of instruments start and did you teach yourself how to play the drums?

Wallace: Mom says I was banging on pots and pans since I was two, so I had an itch for it. In middle school, you could try out for band when you got to seventh grade and you had to write down three things you wanted to play. Drums were my top one and think I put like saxophone and trumpet. Well, I didn’t get chosen for the drums but it ended up working out. The first year it was more of both Snare (Drum) and then when you have a Bass Drum, the one that sits on a stand and put your arm on it and just hit it with a mallet.

I took over that role in eighth grade, and everybody knew that was MY spot. But growing up, I got into the heavy metal stuff in about seventh grade and it took me listening to stuff and shutting out the words. Yeah, you don’t know what they’re saying unless you pull up the lyrics and read along, but it’s easy for me to listen to the drums and be like, ‘Oh, it’s kind of cool how he’s doing footwork.’ Now I’ve got my own little kit just trying to get better, and it’s fun to do.

NBC Sports: Have you always been very outgoing and open to sharing things on social media?

Wallace: Yeah, but (Ryan Blaney) is not. That’s more of me pushing him, ‘Hey, this is going out Twitter.’ Like that video of Chase (Elliott) I posted after the Georgia – Tennessee football game I said, ‘Hey bud, just so you know this is going on Twitter.’ That stuff, I’ve always been post it and get it in trouble later instead of worry about the consequences right away. But I’ve always been like that and the crazy stuff we’ve done, I think all you guys have seen it.

NBC Sports: Is there anything in particular you like to shoot when doing photography? 

Wallace: Really anything; a lot of time-lapse stuff. It’s always fun looking at the clouds and see what they’re doing because every three to four seconds it changes shapes. I haven’t picked up my camera in a while but I’m always looking at buying new equipment, and I don’t even use it. It’s weird and not smart decisions but it’s still fun to look at how to be better and how to take better pictures. We did a photo shoot recently for the Coca-Cola racing team, and people will think, ‘Oh, you just like to look at yourself’ and I’m like, no it’s really cool how you get these kind of shots. So I can sit there at a photo shoot and be there for hours trying to figure out what in the hell they are doing. I got to do stuff with NASCAR at the racetrack, like shoot the All-Star Race a couple of years ago. Shot the Xfinity race (at Charlotte) a few years ago as well.

NBC Sports: How is Darrell Wallace afraid of the dark?

Wallace: When you grow up and watch scary movies non-stop. I’ve had a love for scary movies but they scare the hell out of me …

NBC Sports: So do you keep the lights on all the time?

Wallace: No, I have a process that I need to film to share with you guys. So in my house, the living room has big high ceilings and it has a ceiling fan, but it doesn’t have a light. You have to use two lamps and then my stairs are right beside me; so I’ll get up and turn on my stairway light then go turn off my lamps. Walk up the steps, turn on my hall light, turn off my stair light; walk to my bedroom, look behind me, turn off my hallway light, close my door and go to bed. It’s a process. I don’t trust looking in the dark because your eyes start fixing to the dark and you start seeing stuff.

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Upon Further Review: Did Michigan win prove virtue of patience?

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Winning not only meant a celebration for Kyle Larson but the end of a discussion.

For more than three months after his clean driving was not enough to beat Matt Kenseth at Dover, Larson endured questions and people second-guessing his motives, suggesting it would have been worthwhile to punt Kenseth to win and earn a Chase spot.

“We don’t have to talk about that anymore,’’ Larson said after his win Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

He doesn’t, but his victory still raises an issue. Did Larson’s victory reaffirm that good things come to those who wait? Or did it show how tough it is to win a Sprint Cup race and that sometimes it is better to grab what one can?

This is about more than winning a race. It’s the chance to win a championship. Even with the team’s struggles at the beginning of the season, Larson could be crowned series champion in less than 12 weeks.

With a championship comes prestige and the possibility of enticing more sponsorship. That could help elevate Chip Ganassi Racing, which ended a 99-race winless drought Sunday, and make the two-car organization more competitive. That also could provide additional money for those working there and make additional jobs available, enhancing the team’s resources.

That’s why the debate on if Larson should have knocked Kenseth out of the lead — and taken the chance of wrecking him — at Dover to win. No driver or team operates in a vacuum.

NASCAR is physical sport. Chairman Brian France has said so. Of course, with all things there’s a limit. Still, the question that Larson raced Kenseth clean rubbed some critics wrong.

“Everybody said, Why didn’t you hit him, why didn’t you do this or that?’’ car owner Chip Ganassi said. “That’s Kyle.

“I think it’s important to understand that these guys are not robots. We want to cookie cutter them into saying, he’s this, this driver is this, this team is that, this team is that. Really, they’re all different. They’re all different personalities. I couldn’t be more proud of how he’s developed over the last couple of years in Cup.’’

Many expect Larson’s win at Michigan to be the first of many. Did his win carry a message to all drivers that there can be a reward for patience? Or is that being too naive?

OH WOE IS THEM 

In a 36-race season, problems are going to occur. Nobody is going to be perfect for every lap, every pit stop and every moment of a race.

But it is almost becoming a regular thing to see what else can happen to Martin Truex Jr. and his team, which fell inches short of winning the Daytona 500. In some cases, bad luck has befallen the team. In other cases, it has been mistakes that will need to be avoided when the playoffs begin next month.

In 19 of the 24 points races thus far this season, the team has had some sort of issue, ranging from incidents on pit road to those on the track. The team has shown when it is mistake-free, no one is going to beat them — as was the case in the Coca-Cola 600 when Truex led 392 of 400 laps.

Sunday’s race at Michigan was not clean. The left rear tire was not set when the jack dropped. The incident damaged the left rear quarter panel and created issues the rest of the race, resulting in a 20th-place finish.

That hasn’t been the only time this season that a pit stop has not gone well for the Furniture Row Racing team. Other instances include:

Pocono (Aug. 1) — Lug nut knocked off inner valve stem on pit stop while leading, caused a flat tire and contact with the wall. He finished 38th.

Kentucky (July 9) — Truex was penalized for passing the leader on pit road as he headed to his pit stall. Truex finished 10th. NASCAR later updated its rules to provide more clarity on the issue.

Pocono (June 6) — Contact with Matt DiBenedetto after Truex, who entered pit road 12th, exited his stall. Later in the race, a lug nut landed behind the wheel and sheared off the tire’s inner valve stem, causing the tire to blow after Truex was back on track. He finished 19th.

Kansas (May 7) — Had to pit from the lead because of a loose wheel. The culprit was a broken head bolt off the brake that got caught behind the right front wheel. He finished 14th.

Richmond (April 24) — Had to pit a second time after a lug nut got jammed and caused the right rear wheel to become loose. He was eighth before the sequence. He finished ninth.

Bristol (April 17) — Twice had to pit a second time because of loose wheels. He finished 14th.

Martinsville (April 3) — After running in the top 10, a loose wheel and a speeding penalty on pit road late in the race hurt his result. He finished 18th.

Las Vegas (March 6) — Loose wheel while running seventh forced Truex back to pit road. He finished 11th

Atlanta (Feb. 28) — On two separate pit stops, right front tire got hung up when being put on, costing him a total of 10 spots. He finished seventh

FIRST-TIME FUN

For the first time in NASCAR history, the winners in each of the sport’s top three national divisions scored their first series win on the same weekend.

Brett Moffitt, driving in place of Matt Tifft as he recovers from recent brain surgery, won Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan for Red Horse Racing. It was Moffitt’s first NASCAR win since 2012 when he competed in the K&N Pro Series East. Moffitt was the rookie of the year last season in the Sprint Cup Series.

Michael McDowell, whose background is in road racing, won Saturday’s Xfinity race at Road America for Richard Childress Racing. It was McDowell’s first national series victory in 298 career starts across the Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series.

Kyle Larson, who has four career Xfinity and two career Truck series wins, scored his first Cup victory Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

PIT STOPS

— In the three points races that used the proposed 2017 rules package, Brad Keselowski had an average finish of 2.7.

Joey Logano’s 10th-place finish marked his eighth consecutive top 10 at Michigan, the longest active streak.

— In the six races that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has missed, the No. 88 car has finished an average of 20.2. Jeff Gordon will drive the car this weekend in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Jamie McMurray scored his third consecutive eighth-place finish Sunday.

Carl Edwards finished seventh, marking the first time in the last six races he’s been the highest-finishing Toyota.

— Kyle Larson’s win marked the seventh consecutive Sprint Cup race with a different winner, the longest streak of the season.

Tyler Reddick fastest in final Truck Series practice at Michigan

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Tyler Reddick was fastest in the final practice session at Michigan International Speedway on Friday with a lap of 185.735 mph.

Reddick was followed by Brett Moffitt (185.577 mph), Johnny Sauter (185.395 mph), Daniel Hemric (185.285 mph), and Rico Abreu (185.204 mph).

Ben Rhodes was 12th fastest in the session at 184.615 mph but suffered an engine issue in his No. 41 Toyota. The ThorSport team spent the second half of practice changing the motor ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.

Here are the speeds from final practice:

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