HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2016 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Justin Allagier paces first Xfinity practice at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier paced the field in the first Xfinity Series practice Friday at Daytona International Speedway.

Allgaier went 193.890 mph. He was followed by Brad Keselowski (193.840 mph), Tyler Reddick (193.611), rookie William Byron (193.536) and rookie Spencer Gallagher (193.428).

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for Xfinity practice results

 

Byron, Custer, Gallagher wrap up two-day Xfinity test at Atlanta

Cole Custer was one of three Xfinity Series rookies that took part in a two-day test at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Photo courtesy Atlanta Motor Speedway
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A two-day test that featured three promising young drivers who will be racing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the first time this season, ended Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

William Byron, Cole Custer and Spencer Gallagher, who all jumped to the Xfinity Series after previously having competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, welcomed the opportunity to learn about one of the sport’s most well-known race tracks.

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William Byron (Photo Getty Images)

Byron, who won seven races in a Truck last season and was named the series’ rookie of the year, is now in the JR Motorsports fold.

“It’s great to know they’ve had that history and I know they bring good race cars to the racetrack,” said Byron, who will drive the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports. “Every time that you know you’re going to sit in something that’s going to be successful, that definitely makes it exciting.”

As for the new racing format being brought to NASCAR this year, featuring three stages to a race, Byron is looking forward to it.

“I think it’s going to be new for all of us, but I think it’s going to make it more exciting,” Byron said. “There’s going to be more on the line early in the race, so you definitely have to push yourself to get those segment wins and try to get some bonus points.”

Cole Custer
Cole Custer (Getty Images)

Custer, meanwhile, will highlight Stewart-Haas Racing’s first foray into the Xfinity Series. While there likely will be a learning curve for both Custer and his team, he’s confident that things will fall into place quickly.

“I think we have some really great people and a lot of great resources with Ford and at Stewart-Haas, so I think we’re going to have some awesome cars and we’re going to see what happens,” Custer said.

With three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart as team co-owner, along with former Cup champs Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, as well as Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick, Custer has a strong group of drivers to learn from.

“They’ve kind of volunteered,” said Custer, who will drive the No. 00 Ford Mustang. “Kevin has tried to help me a little bit. He’s definitely one of the greatest ones to ask because he’s run so many Xfinity races. He’s also been awesome in the Cup series. He’s obviously one I really want to talk to.”

Spencer Gallagher
Spencer Gallagher (Getty Images)

Gallagher, who will drive the No. 23 Chevrolet Camaro for GMS Racing, will have fond memories of his previous tenure in the Truck series.

“I’m certainly going to miss running around in the Camping World Truck Series,” he said. “But being able to get into these Xfinity cars and show the series what GMS Racing has to offer is a real opportunity and privilege for me. I cherish that and look forward to it.”

While he’ll be at Daytona for the Xfinity Series season opener on Feb. 25, Gallagher values the two days he had at Atlanta because it will be more like the other tracks he’ll be racing on for most of the season.

“Plate racing is really its own gig,” Gallagher said. “The first time you come to Atlanta, to an intermediate track, one of the styles you’re going to be running the rest of the year, that’s where you see a lot of people’s programs are really shaken out.”

The Xfinity Series races at Atlanta on Saturday, March 4 in the Rinnai 250, part of a doubleheader that day that also includes the Active Pest Control Camping World Truck Series. The Folds of Honor Quick Trip 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Series race takes place on Sunday, March 5.

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With new point system, drivers may avoid William Byron’s 2016 fate in Truck Series

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 24:  (EDITOR'S NOTE: This image has been processed using digital filters.) NASCAR Xfinity Series driver William Byron poses for a photo during the NASCAR 2017 Media Tour at the Charlotte Convention Center on January 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Last November at Phoenix International Raceway, William Byron was 12 laps away from clinching a spot in the Camping World Truck Series’ championship race.

Then those chances literally blew up in front of him with an engine failure.

Byron, who set a rookie record with seven Truck wins, hopes the new points format announced on Monday will mean he and future drivers in similar positions are less likely suffer similar consequences.

“I think it was an unfortunate situation last year,” Byron said Tuesday on the NASCAR Media Tour. “We can’t really look back at that. But I think if we do have a good season this year and we have something bad happen coming into in the second round of the (playoff), it feels a lot more comforting that we could get through to Homestead with our previous success throughout the year and stuff like that.”

MORE: Nate Ryan: The Chase is dead in name only

MORE: Xfinity drivers react to new point system

With the enhanced points system, bonus points carry through the first three rounds of the playoffs.

The winner of the first two race stages of each regular-season race would receive one bonus playoff point to be added to his/her reset total before the playoffs begin. The race winner will receive five bonus playoff points to be added to their reset total.

Those bonus points also can be earned in the playoff races. As a result, a Truck Series driver who wins the playoff opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway would receive five points that would count to his/her overall total. Byron won last year at New Hampshire but did not finish better than fifth until the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I’m just glad the sport is trying to innovate themselves and do things that will help a situation like that last year,” said Byron, who enters his rookie Xfinity Series season with JR Motorsports. “To try and avoid that happening, I guess again, is a good thing for our team to know that if we do have a parts failure we can advanced past it and still have our championship hopes alive.”

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Xfinity drivers respond to NASCAR’s new point system

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 16:  Brennan Poole, driver of the #48 DC Solar Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive for Safety 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16, 2016 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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CHARLOTTE – While what was known as the Chase format was slow to arrive to the Xfinity Series, its replacement is being introduced to all three of NASCAR’s national series this season.

The three full-time Xfinity drivers present at the NASCAR Media Tour on Tuesday shared their thoughts on a format that awards points over the course of three segments, with the first two giving points to top-10 finishers. Those points will accumulate all the way through the second round of the playoff.

Here’s what Xfinity drivers had to say about the new points format.

Brennan Poole – No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing

“I think it’s cool. I think it gives an opportunity to a lot of drivers like myself to gain some bonus points. You win one of those stages, (those) points stay with you through the (playoff) so you can kind of give yourself a little more of a cushion when the playoff starts. I’m pretty excited about that. I think it’s great the way they’re doing it, where they’re just throwing the caution. I think for me, one of things I was concerned about was that it would be a break and we would stop, kind of how we did the Dash 4 Cash races … I think it’s going to change strategy, I think crew chiefs are going to have some headaches in the beginning. What’s going to happen when the caution comes out in the middle of one of  these stages?

Cole Custer – No. 00 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing

“We’ll see. I think we’re still trying to figure out if it’s going to affect our strategy or not. You’re definitely going to be trying to race harder for those bonus points and everything. I think that’s going to be interesting. And there’s going to be a lot more to talk about it in the race and I think it’s going to be a good thing for the sport.”

William Byron – No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports

“I think it’s going to be similar to (the Camping World Truck Series) but at least there’s something of a reward when that caution comes out (to end a segment). I think that’s going to be good if we qualify well … start on the pole and lead a segment to get a few bonus points … If you have a crash late in the race or something like that you still get to benefit from the race say if you dominated a race and you lose a race with five to go or on a green-white-checkered. You still get something.

2016 Season in Review: William Byron

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 11: William Byron, driver of the #9 Liberty University Toyota, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 11, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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William Byron

CREW CHIEF: Ryan Fugle

TEAMKyle Busch Motorsports

POINTS: 5th

WINS: 7

LAPS LED: 727

Top 5s: 11

TOP 10s: 16

POLES: 3 (Loudon, Phoenix and Homestead)

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Byron won a rookie record seven races, breaking Kurt Busch‘s record from 2000 … Despite being eliminated from the Chase after the second round, Byron won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway … Led more than 100 laps in three races (Iowa, Loudon and Phoenix).

WHAT WENT WRONG: A blown engine with 12 laps left at Phoenix while leading cost Byron the race win and eliminated him from Chase contention … Recorded three DNFs (Homestead, Chicagoland and Atlanta).

WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2016: Byron makes the jump to the Xfinity Series to race full-time for JR Motorsports.