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William Byron focuses on Xfinity ride; not replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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William Byron says he’s focused on his rookie season in the Xfinity Series.

That’s fine, but others wonder if he’ll take over the No. 88 car when Dale Earnhardt Jr. retires at the end of this Cup season.

Hendrick Motorsports officials have not stated who they would consider for that ride.

Byron said Friday that he wants to race Cup at some point — what young Xfintiy driver doesn’t? — but he has more pressing concerns.

“Every one of us wants to race in the Cup series,’’ Byron said at Richmond International Raceway. “That’s the ultimate goal. I’d be ready for anything I think.

“Right now it’s just focusing on what I can do at (JR Motorsports) and see what we can do the rest of the year and hopefully compete for a championship.’’

The 19-year-old, who has a driver development contract with Hendrick Motorsports, has rocketed up NASCAR’s ranks since he started racing a Legends car in 2012.

Byron won the K&N Pro Series East title in 2015, won a rookie record seven Camping World Truck races in 2016 and led Kyle Busch Motorsports to the owners title. He has two top-five finishes in seven Xfinity starts this season as a rookie.

While there are different tactics to bringing drivers to Cup, Kyle Larson and Joey Logano are among those who moved quickly to Cup.

Larson ran four Truck races and a full Xfinity season before moving to Cup for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2014.

Logano ran one Truck race and 19 Xfinity races before his rookie Cup season in 2009.

While Logano endured struggles, he said Friday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that moving up to Cup quickly can be a good thing.

“I think the only way you get better is racing people better than you,’’ Logano said on the show. “So when you put yourself in a very challenging position, you’re going to get better. Right? If you don’t get beat up too bad that you lose all your confidence and you get thrown out of the sport too quick.

“If you lose the opportunity of driving a Cup car because you got into it too green, you weren’t ready for it. That would be a downfall. Everything else is good because you’re going to make the mistakes and mistakes are a good thing as long as you learn from them.’’

Elliott Sadler, a teammate to Byron at JR Motorsports, praised the young driver’s ability Friday.

“He’s got it,’’ Sadler said. “He’s a guy that is going to go Cup and understands it. I think once he understands these tracks and these races and setting your car up for the longevity of them and making adjustments and stuff like that, once he gets all that down, he’s going to win a bunch of races, not only in Xfinity but also in the Cup Series.

“I’m not sure what his future holds, but my job as a teammate, with the experience, is to try to prepare him and help him as much as I can because the better he runs, the better for all of us at the entire company.’’

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Tonight’s Cup race at Bristol: EARLIER start time, lineup and more

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NASCAR has moved up the start of Saturday night’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway by an hour because of inclement weather.

Here is the key info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Johnny Morris, Bill Dance and Dale Hall will give the command to start engines at 6:40 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 6:46 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 500 laps (266.5 miles) around the 0.533-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 125. Stage 2 ends on Lap 250.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 10 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 4:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 5:50 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: The Motor Racing Outreach children’s choir will perform the anthem at 6:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 5 p.m. with NASCAR America and Countdown to Green starting at 6 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 6 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for scattered thunderstorms with a high of 79 degrees and a 48 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Kyle Busch snatched the lead from pole-sitter Erik Jones and led the final 56 laps for the win.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Results, stats, points after Xfinity Bristol race

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Kyle Larson led 202 of 310 laps and swept every stage on his way to winning the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He was followed by Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer and Joey Logano.

Larson’s win is his fourth in six Xfinity starts this season.

Click here for full Xfinity results.

Click here for the points standings.

Kyle Larson wins Bristol Xfinity race in overtime

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Kyle Larson held off Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier in an overtime finish Friday night to win the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Larson led 202 of 310 laps and swept both stages on the way to his fourth Xfinity win of the season and 12th of his career.

The top five was completed by Cole Custer and Joey Logano.

The win was Larson’s first at Bristol in 18 Cup and Xfinity starts (including six top-five finishes in his previous eight Xfinity races at the track). Larson has won in four of his six starts this year (and didn’t finish the other two).

Larson dominated after pole-sitter Kyle Busch wrecked from first after leading the first 69 laps.

“It feels really good, I just wish Kyle Busch wouldn’t have had his troubles so I could have raced him,” Larson told NBCSN. “It still feels really good to win a race here at Bristol finally. I’ve been close so many times. This is my best track by far, this and Homestead.”

The overtime finish was set up by a Daniel Hemric wreck with two laps to go in the original 300-lap distance.

“We had that yellow there coming to two to go, I was like, ‘Man, again. Again I’m going to lose one here late,” Larson said. “We were able to get an average restart and get the win.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Justin Allgaier earned his career-best 10th consecutive top 10 … Cole Custer placed fourth for his best Bristol finish in four starts … Michael Annett placed seventh for his first top 10 of the season …  JA Junior Avila placed 20th in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kyle Busch was having a good night until he tagged the wall around Lap 66 while leading. On Lap 70, he lost a tire and got into the wall, causing enough damage to end his night. He finished 36th … Spencer Boyd and Vinnie Miller wrecked to bring out the second caution on Lap 105. Miller caused another caution on Lap 160 … Chase Briscoe was eliminated when he spun and hit the inside wall on Lap 142. He placed 34th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’d love to race him on dirt. I ain’t done much of that. ” – Kyle Larson on Christopher Bell

WHAT’S NEXT: Johnsonville 180 at Road America at 3:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 25 on NBCSN.

Starting lineup for Cup Bristol night race

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Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night’s Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway (6:46 p.m. ET).

Larson starts from the pole position for the third time this year.

Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top five.

Click here for the starting lineup.