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How Sprint Cup stars fared in their first 100 starts

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Probably the only person more relieved than Kyle Larson after his win Sunday at Michigan was team owner Chip Ganassi.

“I remember when I got into this business, James Finch told me it took a hundred races before these guys could figure it out,” Ganassi said. “Thank God we beat the triple digit by one.”

Larson, who earned his first Sprint Cup win, was seven days away from making his 100th career start in NASCAR’s premier series.

The 24-year-old driver made his first foray into the series on Oct. 12, 2013 in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Driving the No. 51 for HScott Motorsports, Larson finished 37th after engine failure on Lap 247.

Larson has 15 top fives, 35 tops 10s, 350 laps led and one pole (Pocono, Aug. 2014). He also has 13 DNFs. Larson’s win gives him an average finish of 16.5 heading into his 100th start, Sunday’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

“We’ve been close a few times throughout my Sprint Cup career,” said Larson, who finished second four times before his triumph. “To finally put it all together and get a win, it’s awesome. Glad to get it before my hundredth start next week.”

Here’s a look at how some of Larson’s young peers and a few NASCAR legends fared in their first 100 starts.

Austin Dillon

Career starts: 109

First start: 2011 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway (Finished 26th, two laps down)

100th start: 2016 FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (Started and finished eighth)

Stats in first 100 starts: two poles, five top fives, 16 tops 10s, 52 laps led and five DNFs

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Career starts: 136

First start: 2011 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Finished 11th)

100th start: 2015 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (Finished 21st, four laps down)

Stats in first 100 starts: one pole, three top fives, nine top 10s, 36 laps led and six DNFs

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 11: Kyle Busch, driver of the #5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet, drives during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Centurion Boats at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 11, 2007 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kyle Busch made his 100th Sprint Cup start in 2007 at Watkins Glen International. Busch still drove for Hendrick Motorsports. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kyle Busch

Career starts: 414

First start: 2004 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Finished 40th, crash)

100th start: 2007 Centurion Boats at Watkins Glen International (Finished seventh)

Stats in first 100 starts: Four wins, two poles, 24 tops fives, 43 top 10s,  1,107 laps led and 15 DNFs

Brad Keselowski

Career starts: 257

First start: 2008 Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (Finished 19th, two laps down)

100th start: 2012 Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Started and finished 15th)

Stats in first 100 starts: Six wins, two poles, 14 top fives, 25 tops 10s, 598 laps led and eight DNFs

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Career starts: 595

First start: 1999 Coca-Cola 600 (Finished 16th, three laps down)

100th start: 20o2 Mountain Dew 500 (Finished 16th)

Stats in first 100 starts: Six wins, five poles, 18 top fives, 30 top 10s, 1,919 laps led and 15 DNFs

FONTANA, CA - SEPTEMBER 4: Jimmie Johnson driving the #48 Lowes Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Pop Secret 500 on September 4, 2004 at California Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images).
Jimmie Johnson made his 100th Sprint Cup Series start on Sept. 4, 2004 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images).

Jimmie Johnson

Career start: 531

First start: 2001 UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte (Finished 39th, crash)

100th start: 2004 Pop Secret at Auto Club Speedway (Finished 14th)

Stats in first 100 starts: 10 wins, seven poles, 35 top 10s, 57 top 10s,  2, 481 laps led and 12 DNFs

Tony Stewart

Career starts: 606

First start: 1999 Daytona 500 (Finished 28th, 19 laps down)

100th start: 2001 Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway (Finished seventh)

Stats in first 100 starts: 12 wins, four poles, 38 top fives, 64 top 10s,  2, 795 laps led and 10 DNFs

Brad Keselowski wins Xfinity pole at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. — Brad Keselowski will start first in today’s Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway after claiming his first pole since November 2016 at Texas.

The Team Penske driver posted a top speed of 184.382 mph. It’s his 21st career pole and the first pole for Keselowski and Penske at the track.

Keselowski will be joined on the front row by Cole Custer. It his Custer’s third front row start this season.

The top five is completed by Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick and Brandon Jones.

It’s Reddick’s best qualifying effort of the season.

Kaz Grala, making the first series start for Fury Race Cars, qualified 16th. Though he competed in the first 10 races of the season with JGL Racing, FRC does not have any owner points and would have missed the race if qualifying had been rained out.

In his fifth start of the year, Timmy Hill will start 24th after advancing to the second round for the first time this season.

Ryan Reed did not make a qualifying attempt after his No. 16 Ford did not get through inspection in time. He will start from the rear.

The cars of Chad Finchum, Mike Harmon and Morgan Shepherd failed to qualify.

The Alsco 300 is set to begin at 1:13 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for qualifying results.

JGL Racing owner James Whitener diagnosed with liver failure

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CONCORD, N.C. – JGL Racing owner James Whitener was diagnosed with liver failure in January and is going on a transplant list to receive a new one, he confirmed in a statement to NBC Sports.

Whitener, 54, formed JGL Racing in 2014. Based in Denver, North Carolina, the team fields the No. 28 Ford driven by Dylan Lupton.

The team had fielded the No. 24 for Kaz Grala until earlier this month when Grala was let go.

Grala said Whitener’s medical costs played a part in the decision to shutter the team. The team originally stated the decision was due to lack of sponsorship.

“I found out kind of before the Dover race that things were looking a little bit shakey, unfortunately,” Grala said. “(Whitener) has some medical issues unfortunately. He didn’t really want to spend the money to continue running, which is understandable.”

Below is Whitener’s statement.

“What Kaz said is true that I have health issues. In fact, in January I found out that my liver is failing and I’m going on the transplant list for a new liver. It was not a decision to stop the No. 24 team with everyone just finding out after Dover – that was not the case at all. It had been discussed among the team really since Las Vegas. I really wish Kaz the best and hope I was instrumental in helping him start his Xfinity career. I watched him in the trucks last year and thought he would do well in our cars. All of my guys at JGL have helped me build this team and accomplish what we have up to this point and I thank all of them for their hard work and dedication in building both the No. 24 and No. 28 teams.”

“Since I couldn’t continue building both teams this year and helping young drivers as I have done in the past, I decided to give Kaz the three Roush cars along with parts and pieces to give him the opportunity to keep running and building on his career. Myself and everyone at JGL Racing wish him the best. Fury Racing has hired most of the employees from the 24 team that ran the first 10 races, so hopefully they can continue Kaz’s success with their program.  I would like to thank Kaz Grala and Dylan Lupton for being a part of the JGL Racing program.”

Through nine starts this season, Lupton is 29th in the point standings. His best finish is 17th at Texas Motor Speedway. Since 2014, JGL Racing has six top fives and 12 top 10s. Its best result is third in the July 2017 race at Daytona.

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

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Ten races into the Xfinity season there have been 10 different winners. Will the streak continue today at Charlotte Motor Speedway?

The record for the most different winners to start a season in the Xfinity Series is 13 in 1988.

Here are all the details for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Dhani Jones, retired NFL player, author and host of CNBC’s Adventure Capitalists, will give the command to start engines at 1:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1:13 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 6:30 a.m. Qualifying is at 10:10 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 12:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: The USO Show Troupe will perform the anthem at 1:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race beginning at 1 p.m. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 12:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 84 degrees and 75 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Ryan Blaney won this race a year ago. Kevin Harvick was second. Austin Dillon was third. Alex Bowman won at Charlotte in October. Sam Hornish Jr. was second. Blaney was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Ryan Blaney to appear on NBC’s Taken tonight

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Ryan Blaney will guest star on the NBC show “Taken” at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

When a dangerous weapons dealer smuggles his wares into New York City, Bryan (Clive Standen) teams up with an FBI agent (Blaney) in a race to stop the weapons dealer before he reaches the safety of international waters.

“When I first read the script I didn’t know what to expect,” Blaney said. “But I was excited when I read it and then when we actually started to do the chase scene, it was really cool being behind the wheel of the car and working with Clive, who was in the passenger seat. To see his passion for all of this, and how much of a cool guy he is, he’s definitely a great actor and great to talk to as well. It’s been nice getting to know him.”

Blaney also said he appreciated what happened behind the scenes.

“Being out in the freezing weather in Toronto has been a humbling experience for sure,” he said. “I always like to see how other professions work, and honestly, the film and TV industry reminds me of the racing side, because a lot of people just see the finished product – they just see us going on the track, or they just see what’s on TV and they don’t realize how much work goes into making it. There’s a lot more work behind the scenes and it definitely opens your eyes as to how much work goes into just one scene, let alone a full episode.”