Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Xfinity Series’ 300 at Auto Club Speedway


Same story. Different series.

Just as in the Sprint Cup Series last week, Kevin Harvick became the first repeat winner in the Xfinity Series this season with his win in the 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

Harvick’s No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet finished 3.317 seconds ahead of Brendan Gaughan’s No. 62 Chevy, easily pulling away after the last restart on lap 122 of 150.

“I’m just a lucky guy to be piloting really fast cars,” Harvick told Fox Sports in victory lane. “Everything is clicking right now. You just have to keep riding the wave.”

That wave includes victories in the last two Sprint Cup events. Saturday’s win was the first in Xfinity at Auto Club Speedway for Harvick, who has 46 career victories in the series.

Harvick led four times for 100 laps, including the final 64 laps.

“Making laps around this place, knowing what seam does what, which patch does what and when to go low and when to go high, I feel like the more laps I can make, the better off I’m going to be for tomorrow,” said Harvick, who will start second in the Auto Club 400.

Harvick also won the Xfinity race last month at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“I had a lot of fun today, I couldn’t sit down for the Atlanta race,” said Dave Elenz, Harvick’s crew chief. “This one was fun for me.”

Gaughan’s runner-up finish for Richard Childress Racing was his best since winning at Kentucky Speedway last September.

“Anytime you’re in the top five in this series, you’re doing something right,” Gaughan said told Fox Sports. “I love the fact that I’m pissed off about being second. I love my restarts. Our restarts got us there. I don’t care if I finished fifth, I just wanted a shot at it. Because I know I’m pretty darn good on restarts.”

Gaughan has three top-10 finishes through the first five races of 2015 and is sixth in the points standings. Ty Dillon, who finished 14th, leads the points. Chris Buescher, who was fifth Saturday, trails by five points.

Rookie Erik Jones was third in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after starting from his first career pole.

Denny Hamlin led 33 of the first 37 laps in his No. 54 Toyota but fell a lap down after being penalized for speeding in the pits late in the race.

“We were kind of racing for nothing at that point,” Hamlin said. “I thought we were blowing up because the car was smoking so bad. I assumed we were blowing up, so I didn’t care about speeding. I sped on pit road and turns out that we got the grill cleaned off, and the car came back.”

The Xfinity Series will return April 10 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

1. Kevin Harvick (100 laps led)
2. Brendan Gaughan
3. Erik Jones (4 laps led)
4. Chase Elliott
5. Chris Buescher
6. Brian Scott
7. Kyle Larson
8. Brad Keselowski (1 lap led)
9. Regan Smith (4 laps led)
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Ryan Reed
12. Darrell Wallace Jr. (3 laps led)
13. Daniel Suarez
14. Ty Dillon
15. David Starr (2 laps led)
16. Cale Conley
17. Ross Chastain
18. Denny Hamlin (33 laps led)
19. Blake Koch
20. Ryan Sieg
21.  Landon Cassill
22. JJ Yeley
23. John Wes Townley
24. Jeremy Clements
25. Harrison Rhodes
26. Mike Bliss
27. Mario Gosselin
28. Jeffrey Earnhardt (3 laps led)
29. Peyton Sellers
30. Joey Gase
31. Derrike Cope
32. Stanton Barrett
33. Derek White
34. Eric McClure
35. Mike Harmon
36. Dakoda Armstrong
37. Sam Hornish Jr.
38. Austin Dillon
39. Carl Long
40. Jeff Green


Average speed: 147.723 MPH
Time of race: 2 Hrs., 1 min. and 51 seconds
Cautions: 3 for 12
Margin of victory: 3.317 seconds
Lead changes: 13 among 8 drivers

NASCAR weekend schedule for Circuit of the Americas


NASCAR’s three major series return to the road this weekend with races scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series races are Saturday, and the Cup Series is scheduled to race Sunday afternoon.

MORE: Drivers expect North Wilkesboro surface to be challenging

Joey Logano, winner of last Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, has led laps in both COTA races and will be among the favorites Sunday.

As the first road course of the year, COTA will begin a new approach by NASCAR to stage racing on road circuits. There will no longer be a caution to end stages, but points will be awarded for the finish order. In another change, the “choose” rule will be in effect on road courses.

A look at the weekend schedule:

Circuit of the Americas (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Thunderstorms in the morning, sun later in the day. High of 86. 80% chance of rain.

Saturday: Sunny. High of 83.

Sunday: Partly cloudy. Temperature of 81 degrees with a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race.

Friday, March 24

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 11:30 a.m. .- 6:30 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 1:30 – 8:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 2:05 – 2:55 p.m. — Cup practice (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 8 p.m. on FS1)
  • 4:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck practice (No live broadcast)
  • 5 – 6 p.m. — Truck qualifying (No live broadcast; tape-delayed version airing at 9 p.m. on FS1)
  • 6:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity practice (FS1)
  • 7 – 8 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (FS1)

Saturday, March 25

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 2 – 10:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (42 laps, 143 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 5 p.m. — Xfinity race (46 laps, 156 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, March 26

Garage open

  • 12:30 – 10 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 p.m. — Cup race (68 laps, 231.88 miles; Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)




North Wilkesboro’s worn surface will prove challenging to drivers


NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Three Cup drivers got their first chance to experience North Wilkesboro Speedway’s worn racing surface Tuesday and said tires will play a key role in the NASCAR All-Star Race there on May 21.

Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick took part in a Goodyear tire test Tuesday. That test was to continue Wednesday.

The verdict was unanimous about how important tire wear will be.

“This place has got a lot of character to it,” Reddick said. “Not a lot of grip and it’s pretty unforgiving. It’s a really fun place.”

Dillon said: “If you use up your tire too early, you’re going to really be in trouble. You really got to try to make those four tires live.”

Buescher said: “The surface here was so worn out already that we expect to be all over the place. The speeds are fairly slow just because of the amount of grip here. It’s hard to get wide open until you’re straight.”

Reddick noted the drop in speed over a short run during Tuesday’s test. That will mean a lot of off-throttle time.

“I think we were seeing a second-and-a-half falloff or so over even 50 laps and that was kind of surprising for me we didn’t have more falloff,” he said. “But, one little miscue, misstep into Turn 1 or Turn 3, you lose a second sliding up out of the groove and losing control of your car.”

“That’s with no traffic. Maybe with more traffic and everything, the falloff will be more, but certainly we’re out of control from I’d say Lap 10 on. You have to really take care of your car. … It’s really hard 30-40 laps into a run to even get wide open.”

Chris Buescher runs laps during a Goodyear tire test at North Wilkesboro Speedway, while Austin Dillon is on pit road. (Photo: Dustin Long)

One thing that stood out to Dillon was how the facility looks.

While the .625-mile racing surface remains the same since Cup last raced there in 1996, most everything else has changed.

In some cases, it is fresh red paint applied to structures but other work has been more extensive, including repaving the infield and pit road, adding lights for night racing, adding SAFER barriers, the construction of new suites in Turn 4 and new stands along the backstretch.

“It’s cool to see how much they’ve done to the track, the suites, the stands that they’re putting in,” Dillon said. “To me, the work that is going in here, we’re not just coming for one race. We’re coming here for a while. I’m excited about that.”

Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup race at COTA


Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, has attracted an entry list that includes talent beyond that of the tour regulars.

Jordan Taylor, who is substituting in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet for injured Chase Elliott, brings a resume that includes 31 IMSA class wins, two 24 Hours of Daytona overall wins and two IMSA wins at COTA.

MORE: NBC Driver Rankings: Christopher Bell is No. 1

Jenson Button won the Formula One championship in 2009 and has five F1 starts at COTA. He is scheduled to be a driver for the NASCAR entry in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kimi Raikkonen, entered by Trackhouse Racing as part of its Project 91 program, won the 2007 F1 championship and has eight F1 starts at the Austin track.

They will draw attention at COTA this weekend, along with these other drivers to watch:


Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 5th
  • Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Atlanta I)
  • Past at COTA: 19th and 14th in two career starts

Keselowski hasn’t been a star in road course racing, but his 2023 season has started well, and he figures to be in the mix at the front Sunday. He led the white-flag lap at Atlanta last Sunday before Joey Logano passed him for the win.

AJ Allmendinger

  • Points position: 17th
  • Best seasonal finish: 6th (Daytona 500)
  • Past at COTA: 5th and 33rd in two starts

The Dinger is a road course expert. Last year at COTA, he was involved in tight racing on the final lap with Ross Chastain and Alex Bowman before Chastain emerged with the victory.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Auto Club)
  • Past at COTA: Two straight top fours, including a win

Chastain lifted Trackhouse Racing’s profile by scoring his — and the team’s — first Cup victory at COTA last season. He’s not shy about participating in the last-lap bumping and thumping that often mark road course races.


Chris Buescher

  • Points position: 13th
  • Best seasonal finish: 4th (Daytona 500)
  • Past at COTA: 13th and 21st in two starts

Buescher has never led a lap at COTA and is coming off a 35th-place finish at Atlanta after being swept up in a Lap 190 crash. Although he has shown the power to run near the front this year, he has four consecutive finishes of 13th or worse.

Alex Bowman

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Las Vegas I)
  • Past at COTA: Two straight top 10s

Bowman’s four-race run of consistent excellence (finishes of fifth, eighth, third and ninth) ended at Atlanta as he came home 14th and failed to lead a lap. At COTA, he is one of only four drivers with top-10 finishes in both races.

William Byron

  • Points position: 28th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I)
  • Past at COTA: 11th and 12th in two starts

Involvement in an accident at Atlanta ended Byron’s two-race winning streak. He’ll be looking to lead a lap at COTA for the first time.



Three Reaume Brothers Racing team members suspended by NASCAR


Three members of the Reaume Brothers Racing No. 33 Craftsman Truck Series team have been suspended for three races by NASCAR after a piece of tungsten ballast came off their truck during last Saturday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The suspensions were announced Tuesday.

Crew chief Gregory Rayl and crew members Matthew Crossman and Travis Armstrong were suspended because of the safety violation. Mason Massey is the team’s driver.

MORE: Xfinity driver Josh Williams suspended for one race

In a tweet following the announcement of the penalty, the team said it will not file an appeal. “The ballast became dislodged only after the left side ballast container had significant contact with the racing surface,” according to the statement. “We would like to be clear that there was no negligence on the part of RBR personnel.”

NASCAR also announced Tuesday that Truck Series owner/driver Cory Roper, who had been suspended indefinitely for violating the substance abuse policy, has been reinstated.

The Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series are scheduled to race this weekend at Circuit of the Americas.