Daniel Suarez wins Xfinity race at Dover

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DOVER, Del. — Daniel Suarez scored his second career NASCAR Xfinity victory Sunday morning at Dover International Speedway, sending him into the next round of the Chase.

“We had a ton of speed,” said Suarez, who led 123 of the 200 laps. “This is one of those races that you would feel bad to lose the race.”

Suarez and Elliott Sadler, who won last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, are the only drivers who are guaranteed a spot in the next round. The 12-driver field will be trimmed to eight on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points report

Ty Dillon finished second. Justin Allgaier placed third. Ryan Blaney, driving for Joey Logano, was fourth. Alex Bowman completed the top five.

Suarez’s previous win in the series was at Michigan in June. Sunday’s win marked his sixth consecutive top-10 finish.

HOW DANIEL SUAREZ WON: He had the dominant car. It helped that teammate Erik Jones struggled, and Ty Dillon started at the rear because of an unapproved adjustment.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Alex Bowman made his seventh series start and his fifth-place finish gives him a top 10 in each race he’s run this year. … Corey LaJoie finished a career-high sixth. His previous best was 10th at Bristol in August in his most recent start before Sunday. … JJ Yeley finished eighth for his second top-10 finish of the season. … Brendan Gaughan’s ninth-place finish marked his career-high 15th top 10 in a season.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Jones struggled with his car’s handling and pitted under green on Lap 99, fearing he was abusing the right-front tire. That stop put him out of sequence and forced him to pit on Lap 192 for two seconds of fuel. He finished 16th. … Brennan Poole was penalized for speeding on pit road and finished 15th. … Blake Koch led when the caution came out on Lap 139 during a pit cycle. He ran out of fuel and had to pit before pit road was open. His car wouldn’t refire immediately, and he lost a lap. He finished 14th. 

NOTABLE: This is the fourth consecutive Dover race won by an Xfinity regular. … Drew Herring, driving in place of Kyle Busch, was in the garage until one minute before the command to start engines. They were making a fix on pit road to the rear windshield when it cracked, and it had to be replaced. … NASCAR announced after the race that Ryan Ellis, whose crash brought out the caution on Lap 62, was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Ellis later tweeted: “Hey guys, all good. Thanks for the messages. Didn’t feel right after I got out of the car & have had past concussions, so wanted to check.’’

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Just kind of an embarrassing day,’’ Erik Jones said after placing 16th.

NEXT: The series races at 8 p.m. Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway on NBCSN.

Cup starting lineup at New Hampshire has Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch on front row

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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Rivals Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch will share the front row for Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Keselowski won his 15th career pole – and first since August 2017 – on Friday. He will have Busch start next to him.

MORE: Cup starting lineup

The rivals have had numerous run-ins throughout the their career.

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend at Kentucky, qualified third and is followed by Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney.

Three drivers will start at the rear: Denny Hamlin (backup), Alex Bowman (backup) and Ryan Newman (backup).

Brad Keselowski wins Cup pole at New Hampshire

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Brad Keselowski scored his first Cup pole since 2017, taking the top spot Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski topped the field with a lap of 136.384 mph. This is Keselowski’s 15th career Cup pole and first since Michigan in August 2017, a span of 68 races.

Keselowski’s run denied Toyota its first pole of the season. Keselowski will be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch (136.311 mph).

MORE: Cup qualifying results

Kurt Busch, who won last weekend at Kentucky, will start third after a lap of 136.238 mph. Erik Jones qualified fourth with a lap of 136.189 mph.

Jones’ performance is part of a promising week for him. He stated Friday that he is “close” to signing an extension with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jones’ contract expires after this season.

Ryan Blaney completed the top five with a lap of 136.116 mph. Martin Truex Jr. qualified sixth at 136.082 mph, and Matt DiBenedetto qualified a career-best seventh at 135.990 mph. DiBenedetto’s previous best Cup start was ninth in this year’s Daytona 500.

Alex Bowman had a driveshaft failure on his qualifying run and did not complete a lap. He will start at the rear of the field.

“Just a big boom going down the front straightaway and smoke and oil everywhere,” Bowman told NBCSN.

Bowman will go to a backup car.

Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman also will start at the rear of the field because they both went to backup cars after separate incidents late in Friday’s only Cup practice session.

Andy Seuss (qualified 35th) and Austin Theriault (36th) both will be making their Cup debut Sunday.

Daniel Hemric qualified 19th. HIs car failed inspection twice before qualifying and a crew member was ejected.

 

Erik Jones ‘close’ to re-signing after meeting with Joe Gibbs this week

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LOUDON, N.H. – After meeting with team owner Joe Gibbs this week, Erik Jones believes he finally is “close” to signing an extension with the team after a few months of negotiations.

“We’ve had some good meetings, positive meetings, so we’re moving in the right direction,” Jones said during Friday afternoon’s qualifying session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I’d love to get it done here soon. We’ve had good meetings between my guys and JGR. I’ve had good meetings with Coach talking about it and moving forward. I know I keep saying it, but I feel like we’re pretty close to getting it done.”

The uncertainty for the 2020 season seemingly has been no distraction in 2019 for Jones, who believes he is close to ending a yearlong winless streak. He has notched six top 10s in the past nine races to move into the 16th and final provisional spot for the playoffs with seven races remaining in the regular season.

The Byron, Michigan, native said he told Gibbs “I want to get (the extension) done. We both want to get it done and move forward and stop worrying about it and stop focusing on it, but we’re close. Hopefully here soon.”

An extension for Jones would mean JGR has a full lineup of four drivers signed for 2020 and shift the focus to what is next for Xfinity driver Christopher Bell, who is under contract to JGR next season.

“I think you know as much as I do,” Bell said Friday morning when asked about what series he will race next year. “Actually, you probably know a little bit more than I do. Ultimately, it’s not up to me. I can’t make the decisions, so I’m just along for the ride.”

Bell indicated his desire to move to Cup last season, and a Leavine Family Racing Toyota could be an option if JGR wants to farm him out for 2020 in NASCAR’s premier series.

“I learned early on in my career that a race car driver is only as good as the equipment,” Bell said. “I definitely want to make sure that I’m in equipment that can win.”

Jeffrey Earnhardt releases his remaining races for 2019

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Jeffrey Earnhardt announced his schedule for the rest of the season Friday.

He is scheduled to run six Xfinity races and one Cup race the rest of this season.

His Xfinity races will be Mid-Ohio (Aug. 10), Bristol (Aug. 16), Road America (Aug. 24), Darlington (Aug. 31), ISM Raceway (Nov. 9) and Miami (Nov. 16). He’ll drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity car at Mid-Ohio, Road America, ISM Raceway and Miami. He’ll drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing car at Bristol and Darlington.

He’ll also drive the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing Cup car at Talladega on Oct. 13.