Richard Childress Racing initiates safety changes for its pit crews after recent fires

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Richard Childress Racing is requiring all its over-the-wall pit crew members to wear fire-protective head socks and is looking at potential changes to both helmets and eyewear after pit fires at Richmond International Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway, the team confirmed to NASCAR Talk.

Two crew members from Brendan Gaughan’s Xfinity team were injured in a  pit fire April 24 at Richmond. Gas man Josh Wittman was hospitalized overnight before he was released. Rear tire changer Anthony O’Brien was released April 27 from a hospital. A member of Eric McClure’s pit crew, which had the stall next to Gaughan’s, was briefly hospitalized. Clifford Turner was treated for inhaling chemical sprayed on O’Brien after jumping on O’Brien to put the fire out.

A small fire broke out during one of Ryan Newman’s pit stops in last weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. No one was injured.

An RCR spokesperson emailed a statement to NASCAR Talk about the team’s plans for its pit crews.

“RCR has always preached safety with our crew members and after the Richmond pit road incident, we reviewed our internal policies and procedures to determine what further changes were warranted,’’ team spokesperson Tim Packman wrote in an email. “From that, we were able to make necessary changes to help prevent that from happening again as we had a mechanical failure on one of the gas cans at Richmond, which led to the large amount of fuel being spilled. This was not related to the No. 31 incident at Talladega.

“As of right now, we are requiring all over-the-wall crew members to wear full head socks. We are also looking at potential changes to both helmets and eyewear, but those discussions are ongoing. Some of the crew members were already using full helmets this past weekend.

“Safety of our crew members, drivers and all employees is of the highest priority for RCR.  We are currently working and will continue to work with both suppliers (e.g., Sparco, helmet makers, Mechanixwear, etc.) and NASCAR to discuss improvements for improved pit road safety.’’

NASCAR requires only the gas man wear a fire-protective head sock (along with uniform, shoes, full-face helmet, gloves, fueler apron and head sock or helmet skirt). NASCAR requires over-the-wall pit crew members to have a uniform, shoes and helmet. Gloves, a head sock or helmet skirt, underwear and socks are recommended.

 

Results, points after Xfinity race at Road America

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Christopher Bell outran the field in a two-lap shootout to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America.

He beat Austin Cindric, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson and Kaz Grala.

It is Bell’s sixth win of the year and his first career win on a road course.

Click here for race results.

Points

Tyler Reddick retains a 45-point lead over Bell.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (-135 points), Justin Allgaier (-162) and Cindric (-180).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Road America

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Christopher Bell won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America in a two-lap shootout to earn his sixth win of the season.

Bell beat Austin Cindric, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson and Kaz Grala to earn his first career win on a road course.

Bell led 10 of the race’s 45 laps. He started the race in 12th and was in position to win in the final stage thanks a debris caution caused by his teammate Brandon Jones with 14 laps to go. Bell had pit from second place right before the caution and was able to stay out when the rest of the field pit.

“I’m honestly in shock,” Bell told NBCSN. “I really butchered qualifying, tore the crap out of that left-front (tire). I felt like once we got in the race there I’d be able to drive by those guys. And they dropped the green flag and they’re driving by me. That wasn’t very much fun. Then I told (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) ‘I’m just really, really tight.’ We got those tires off and he said that left front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there whenever we got the fresh tires on. The strategy obviously worked out really good for us pitting there.”

The final restart was caused by Gray Gaulding spinning off course in Turn 1 with five laps to go.

Bell’s win snaps Cindric’s two-race win streak on road courses.

Matt DiBenedetto, who led the most laps with 18, had bounced back from going off track in the middle of the race and was second on the final lap before he spun in the final turn. He finished 27th.

“Just being stupid on my part,” DiBenedetto told NBCSN. “Was looking in my mirror and got too high and barely got up in the marbles and made the most rookie mistake of my life. It was dumb. Uncalled for. We had the fastest car on track and nothing to show for it. … I drove stupid. I’m pretty pissed off at myself. Nothing else. Won’t sleep all week. This isn’t exactly a good run when I’m trying to make my career.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: AJ Allmendinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

More: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tyler Reddick finished in the top five in all three road course races this year and is on a seven race top-five streak … Kaz Grala finished fifth in his last scheduled race of the year. It’s his third career top-five finish … Chase Briscoe (seventh) has finished in the top 10 in the last seven races .. Jeremy Clements (eighth) earned his third top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Justin Allgaier, the defending race winner, finished ninth after he locked his brakes up entering Turn 1 on the last lap of Stage 1 and became buried in the gravel … Cole Custer finished 10th after he went off course on the Stage 2 restart and suffered damage to his grille and had to make multiple pit stops for repairs.

WHAT’S NEXT: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway at 4 p.m. ET Aug. 31 on NBC

 

AJ Allmendinger wins pole for Road America Xfinity race

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AJ Allmendinger has claimed the pole for today’s Xfinity Series race at Road America (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The NASCAR on NBC analyst posted a top speed of 109.792 mph around the road course. It is his second career Xfinity pole, with both coming at Road America. He started from the pole in 2013 on his way to winning the race.

“I’m very satisfied, first of all,” Allmendinger told NBC Sports. “I feel like our chances (of winning) are better than the first two weeks and that’s what we’re trying to do here at Kaulig Racing. Of course you want to go out and win every race and I put all the pressure on my shoulders to go make it happen. … We know the Gibbs cars are going to be fast. (Austin) Cindric’s the man to beat. He’s got two in a row on these road courses.”

Allmendinger will be joined on the front row by Matt DiBenedetto (109.792 mph). Making his first Xfinity start since 2016, DiBenedetto is driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

The top five is complete by Austin Cindric, Cole Custer and Noah Gragson. Cindric is seeking to win his third straight road-course race and complete a sweep of this month’s road course events.

Christopher Bell locked up his brakes twice on his run and qualified 12th in the final round.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Today’s Xfinity race at Road America: Start time, lineup and more

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The Xfinity Series’ month of road-course racing comes to an end today as the series competes at Road America, the longest track on the NASCAR circuit.

Austin Cindric will seek to complete a sweep of the month’s three Xfinity Series races while Matt DiBenedetto hopes to grab his first career NASCAR win competing for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Here’s all the info you need ahead of today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:07 p.m. by former NASCAR driver and Wisconsin native Matt Kenseth. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 8 a.m. Qualifying (multi-car/two rounds) is at 11:40 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:135 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:30 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3 p.m. by Billy Mauldin of MRO. Milwaukee Deputy Fire Chief Chris Snyder will perform the National Anthem at 3:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 45 laps (182.16 miles) around the 4.048-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 10. Stage 2 ends on Lap 20.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green. The Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: Wunderground.com forecasts clear skies, a temperature of 70 degrees with no chance of precipitation at the race start time.

LAST TIME: Justin Allgaier won over Matt Tifft and Daniel Hemric.

TO THE REAR: Brandon Jones (backup car)

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.