Joey Logano won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Driving Team Penske’s No. 12 car, Logano posted a speed of 192.768 mph in the final round to earn his second pole of the year and the 33rd of his Xfinity career.
“It’s going to be so crazy, anytime you have a repave you don’t know how the track is going to react,” Logano told Fox Sports. “Obviously the groove right now is pretty narrow, as it widens out it will get better. It will be interesting the first few laps. Starting towards the front is probably the safest play to be.”
Last year, William Byron took the Camping World Truck Series and made it his own with a record seven victories as a rookie before a blown engine eliminated him from the playoffs before the championship round.
Now, the 19-year-old is a rookie again, this time in the Xfinity Series.
He hasn’t had the cannonball entry he had a year ago, but Byron is proving his worth, entering the sixth race of the year at Texas Motor Speedway second in the points standings behind JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler.
The hightlight of his season so far was winning the pole at Phoenix Raceway.
This Q&A has been edited and condensed
NBC Sports: What was your first ‘Welcome to the Xfinity Series’ moment?
Byron: Probably at Daytona, the intensity there at the end of the race and really throughout the race. Then Atlanta, some of the restarts. I don’t know, really racing around guys like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski. It’s been really interesting to learn from them and see what they do better, see how they maximize their cars. That’s been the biggest challenge — restarts and just being as aggressive as those guys. It’s been good overall so far. Just continue to learn from those guys. Hopefully, we can improve a few spots and be in contention to win.
NBC Sports: Can you give a specific example of learning something in a race?
Byron: Yeah, probably pushing guys on restarts and getting through the gears and everything. The things that look easy when you’re just watching it, then you get out there with those guys, and they really do a good job of all that stuff, maximizing it. Maybe just the restarts, the intensity of that. How to pick the right lanes, how to keep the guy in front of you moving forward so you can move forward. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned. (Fontana) was a lesson there and was kind able to lead for a little bit (one lap) … That’s encouraging to know I can get up there and compete. Hopefully, we can continue to translate that into laps led and that’s going to make for wins.
NBC Sports: The last time we talked like this, we discussed how busy your schedule was with the inclusion of school. How busy is your week now compared to last year in the Truck series?
Byron: There’s a lot more personal things, or not personal, sponsor things and team-related things that are important during the week to make sure you stay on top with our race schedules. There’s a lot more it takes to run well and just continue to build on what you guys have been doing each week. I’d say spending a lot more time at the shop. Been in meetings at the shop each week, sponsor appearances during the week. Last week, even though it was an off week, Monday I had a team meeting. Tuesday, I went up to Axalta in Philadelphia, and Wednesday we were working at the shop all day working on the race seats.
Thursday, we went to Texas with Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), and Friday we were working on the seats as well. It’s always kind of something. I think that’s the difference. Still doing the school work as well, which is definitely a challenge. As long as you make sure to maximize the time that you have … it usually works out OK. Just want to be rested and ready to go when you get to the race track.
NBC Sports: Which teammates have you bonded with the most?
Byron: Probably Elliott Sadler. Justin Allgaier has been a really big help too. Just the age difference between all of us has been really good to see and grow from because we’re all at different stages in our careers, and it’s good to see what each other has to say. I think they’ve been leaning on me for some of the qualifying stuff, and I’ve been leaning on them for race stuff, and they’ve been really fast in races. We’re 1-2-3 in points, which is great. I think it’s great that we’re right there as a team. Hopefully we can continue to build and get there to where we can compete with some of the Cup guys and win races.
NBC Sports: How would you grade yourself through the first five races of the year?
Byron: I’d say we’re probably an A or so. I think we’ve had some different situations that haven’t gone great. We’ve had some bad luck. We had a radio issue at Atlanta and then at Vegas we got put four-wide on the last lap. We were going to get a top 10, probably eighth or ninth and got taken back to 14th. I think probably an A or A -. I think we can continue to get better to where we can get our cars better or whatever. We’re getting there.
NBC Sports: What was your first street car?
Byron: First street car was I think a stick shift Chevy Silverado. I was still trying to learn how to shift … It was a six shift Chevy. I drove that for a few years.
NBC Sports: Have you ever named a car, whether it be a street or race car?
Byron: No, I really haven’t. I’m not too into that part of doing things. I think that’s kind of silly. I guess I kind of stick to just driving them. I found that driving whatever race car it is is good, and you never want to have one special one because you might not get to drive that one that week. I think you kind of keep them equal.
NBC Sports: What was your favorite diecast growing up?
Byron: Really either Jimmie (Johnson) or Jeff (Gordon). I had kind of all the Hendrick cars, I know that sounds funny, but I had even the 25 car and the 5 car. It’s kind of neat to have all that. Overall, I collected a bunch of different diecast. I had Carl Edwards and a lot of different guys.
NBC Sports: You’re racing at Bristol in a few weeks. If you were competing in the Cup night race there, what would be your introduction song?
Byron: Oh man. I’d say probably “Radioactive” or something like that. Something upbeat to get me going for the race.
Kyle Larson hasn’t been able to win in the NASCAR Cup Series of late, with three consecutive runner-ups and four second-place showings in the last five races (dating to the last race of the 2016 season).
But Larson knows how to win in the Xfinity Series, that’s for sure. The California native earned his sixth career junior league win — and his second at Auto Club Speedway in his home state — in Saturday’s Service King 300.
Kyle Larson held off a late surge by Joey Logano to win Saturday’s Service King 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Logano and Larson jousted for the lead over the last 20 laps, but it wasn’t until a final restart with four laps to go that allowed Larson to gain an advantage and remain ahead of Logano the rest of the way to the checkered flag.
Larson won by 0.127 seconds over Logano to earn his sixth career triumph in the Xfinity Series, including the second at Fontana in his home state.
“The racing there at the end with Joey was awesome,” Larson said on Fox Sports 1. “We just had a couple lap fresher tires than he did and was able to chase him down. I was trying to be patient.
“… It was a heck of a race. I honestly didn’t think we’d be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice, fought the balance a lot throughout the race, and then finally the last two runs we hit it.”
Despite finishing second, Logano was exceptional and overcame several bits of adversity, including a pit road speeding penalty.
Then on Lap 96 Logano was leading and suffered a major pit malfunction. A jack broke before crew members were able to put left-side tires on, leaving the car on the ground.
NASCAR officials allowed Logano’s team to use a second jack, helping the team finally lift the left side of the car. Logano returned to the track in 26th but quickly worked his way back to the lead with 32 laps left.
Unofficially, Logano gained more than 60 positions on the racetrack from start to finish.
Larson now goes for a second consecutive win, starting from the pole in the weekend’s main event: Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Cup race at the 2-mile oval about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.
“I’m happy, this is our second win here in California, and I hope we can do it again tomorrow,” Logano told FS1.
Winner of first stage (laps 1-35): Kyle Busch
Winner of second stage (laps 36-70): Kyle Busch
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Six-time Fontana Xfinity winner Kyle Busch struggled at times, but like Logano, kept finding – and fighting – his way back to the front, finishing third. … Rookie William Byron finished fifth, giving him back-to-back top-five Xfinity finishes (he was fourth at Phoenix last week).
WHO HAD A BAD RACE:Paul Menard was running fourth on Lap 94 when he was pushed into the wall by Erik Jones. Menard’s car caught fire, but he escaped unharmed. Menard finished 36th. … A small fire also started when Cole Custer wrecked on Lap 106. He was OK and finished 35th.
NOTABLE: Logano led the most laps (70) in the 150-lap event. Kyle Busch led 55 laps and Larson 21. … The No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was ruled to have an improperly installed lug nut during post-race inspection. Also, the cars of Larson, Logano and Kyle Busch were taken back to the NASCAR R&D Center for routine inspection.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We’ll start from the pole and hopefully be right here tomorrow.” – Race winner Kyle Larson, who has four runner-up finishes in his past five Cup starts (dating to last season), including the past three races.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity Series is off next weekend (the Camping World Truck Series returns from hiatus). Both the Trucks and the Cup Series will compete at Martinsville Speedway. The Xfinity Series returns with the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway.