Ryan Preece wins Xfinity Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa in overtime finish

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The biggest gamble of Ryan Preece‘s career paid off.

The 26-year-old fended off teammate Kyle Benjamin in a two-lap overtime finish to win the U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, claiming his first career Xfinity Series win.

A modified star in the Northeast, Preece’s victory came in the second of a two-race deal with Joe Gibbs Racing. After running the entire series last year with a lower-budget team, Preece used his sponsorship money for the two races with JGR this year.

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“I don’t even know what to say, ” an emotional Preece told NBC before thanking all those who made his two-race stint in the No. 20 possible. “I’m so lost for words right now. I don’t even know what to say. This is what emotion is, I can tell you that. I thought this race would never end, that’s for sure. But man, nothing’s going to beat today.”

Preece took the lead for good on a Lap 177 restart. He had to fend off his challengers on two late restarts, the final one caused by a spin from JGR teammate Matt Tifft with four laps to go.

Benjamin who was in his fourth scheduled Xfinity race with JGR, could only pull even with Preece on the restarts before Preece’s car pulled cleared.

“I think our car was better on the long run there,” Benjamin told NBC. “I didn’t want to see the caution. … I was real surprised at the fire-off speed we had.”

Following Preece were Benjamin, Brian Scott, Brennan Poole and Cole Custer.

Preece, who never finished better than 10th in his 36 Xfinity races before this season, finished in the top two of both of his races with JGR – he placed second at New Hampshire two weeks ago. On Saturday, Preece led a race-high 141 laps

Scott, who retired from full-time NASCAR racing after last year, was making his first start of the year in the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing. He challenged for the lead on the next-to-last restart, hoping for his first career win in 209 starts.

“I came out with one goal and that was to win and gave it a good shot,” Scott told NBC. “We weren’t very good in the second segment, but we made a big adjustment at the end of Segment 2. From then on, I knew if we could battle back from the loss of track position and it came down to a long run that we had a shot. The restarts at the end were not what I wanted to see I thought, but it ended up working to our advantage. It was fun. It was fun to be back out there. Congrats to Ryan Preece.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Prece

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: J.J. Yeley finished sixth in the first race since the passing of TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith earlier in the week. It is Yeley’s first top-10 finish of the season and his first since October 2016 at Kansas Speedway … Daniel Hemric bounced back from an unscheduled pit stop in Stage 1 to finish seventh … Blake Koch placed eighth for his first top 10 since Bristol in April. It’s his second of the year.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY:  Justin Allgaier led 106 laps but was the only leader to stay out during the first round of pits stops in the final stage. Without a timely caution, Allgaier was forced to pit for fuel under green just a few laps before a caution. He finished 20th, two laps down … Michael Annett had an ignition box problem during pit stop following the end of Stage 2 and finished 33rd … Rookie Spencer Gallagher brought out the second caution due to an accident on Lap 171 when he lost a tire and hit the Turn 4 wall. He finished 37th … In his second start of the year, Sam Hornish Jr. lost a tire and crashed exiting Turn 4 on Lap 231, he finished 34th.

NOTABLE: Four different drivers have won in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing this year: Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Preece.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “What I’m going to take away from this is I did it. I proved it to myself and this is awesome,” winner Ryan Preece.

WHAT’S NEXT: Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International at 2 p.m. ET on Aug. 5 on NBCSN.

 

Check back for more…

Goodyear tire info for Richmond race weekend

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If Goodyear tires at Richmond Raceway look familiar this weekend, there’s a good reason.

Teams competing in Friday’s Xfinity and Saturday’s Cup races will have the same Goodyear tire compounds as they raced upon in the spring at the 3/4-mile bullring in April.

Richmond is simply one of the more high-wear tracks on the NASCAR circuit,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, said in a media release. “What we’ve seen this year with this higher downforce package, with the cars more ‘in the track’ and with less lateral slip, wear is down a bit compared to 2018.

Saying that, tires are still very important at Richmond. The tread compounds we bring do a good job rubbering in the track, creating multiple racing grooves throughout the race.”

As a result, tire management is a significant element for this weekend’s races, “meaning a good amount of passing throughout the field as a run progresses,” according to the Goodyear media release. “Richmond has traditionally lined up with a couple other tracks of similar length – New Hampshire and Phoenix – but its ‘racy’ configuration requires more stagger (difference in height between the shorter left-side tire and the taller right-side tire) be built into the tire set-up.”

NOTES: This is the only track at which Cup or Xfinity teams will run either of these two Goodyear tire codes. … As on most NASCAR ovals one mile or less in length, teams will not run liners in their tires at Richmond.

Here is the information for this weekend’s tires at Richmond:

Tire: Goodyear Eagle Intermediate Radials

Set limits: Cup: Three sets for practice, one set for qualifying and 10 sets for the race (nine race sets plus one set transferred from qualifying or practice); Xfinity: Six sets for the event

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4874; Right-side — D-4876

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,214 mm (87.17 in.); Right-side — 2,244 mm (88.35 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 12 psi; Left Rear – 12 psi; Right Front — 30 psi; Right Rear — 27 psi

Daniel Hemric not returning to Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 car next year

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Daniel Hemric will not return to drive Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 Chevrolet in 2020, the team announced Tuesday. The team said in a statement it had exercised its option and would release Hemric following this season.

Hemric is in his rookie Cup season and has been with RCR for three years. He competed for the team in the Xfinity Series from 2017-18 before moving to Cup. Hemric has competed in five full-time seasons across Cup, Xfinity and the Truck Series and has yet to visit victory lane.

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Through 27 races this year, Hemric has two top-10 finishes – a fifth at Talladega and a seventh at Pocono in July – and an average finish of 22.7.

The move by RCR to release Hemric creates a potential open seat for RCR’s Xfinity series driver Tyler Reddick, who is the defending Xfinity champion. Owner Richard Childress said in July the only way he could keep Reddick was if he moved Reddick up to Cup.

Reddick has five wins this season, including last Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Reddick enters the postseason as the regular-season champion. The postseason begins Friday at Richmond Raceway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Statements from RCR and Hemric are below.

Joey Gase joins Garrett Smithley to defend self from Kyle Busch criticism

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Joey Gase on Tuesday joined Garrett Smithley to basically tell Kyle Busch to double-check his facts before pointing fingers.

Busch criticized Smithley and Gase for their driving – having made contact with Smithley and was impeded by Gase – late in Sunday’s Cup playoff opener at Las Vegas, leaving Busch with an eventual 19th-place finish.

Busch said in an interview on NBCSN: “We’re the top echelon of motorsports, and we’ve got guys that have never won Late Model races running on the racetrack. It’s pathetic, they don’t know where to go. What else do you do?”

Gase stood up for himself in an extended tweet Tuesday.

Here’s a transcript of that post:

Well someone implied (Sunday) night that I have never won a late model race before. As you can see in the pics below I have won a few in my day and just wanted to share my story a little bit and thank the people who have helped me get to where I am today.

My dad raced before I did at the local short track level and that’s how I fell in love with racing. When I was 4 years old my dad got me my first yard kart and would turn hundreds of laps on the driveway everyday. When I turned 14 my dad retired from racing and I started to race his old open wheel modified and won that year up in Oktoberfest in Lacrosse, WI which anyone in the Midwest knows how big of a weekend that is.

When I was 16 I was the youngest ever to win the track championship in the Late Model division at Hawkeye Downs Speedway racing against some of the best in the Midwest like Johnny Spaw, Tim Plummer, Griffen McGrath, Doughly Fleck, Brad Osborn and the list goes on and this is when my career took off.

This was only made possible because a family friend believed in me and bought my first two late models and the motors to go with it. Our crew consisted of my dad, my uncle, grandpa, and I. My parents were not rich, my dad worked in a coal power plant for 20 plus years and my mom was a hair stylist. It took the effort of my whole family and a lot of people who believed in me to get to where I am today and I can’t thank them enough.

We have accomplished a lot of cool things over the years, my top memories being winning my first race back after my mom’s passing, finishing fifth with Jimmy Means Racing at Talladega after almost missing the race and making my first start in the Daytona 500 and being the highest finishing rookie (23rd).

I have to give HUGE thanks to Jimmy Means for giving me a big chance and making it possible for myself to get established in NASCAR with nearly no funding when we first started and Carl Long for picking me back up after my big sponsor from last year did not stand by their commitments and letting me know in the middle of December.

We have to work for every sponsor we get and I am proud to say I have 30 different sponsors this year and would not be here without them. Also have to thank all of my fans for always standing by me.”

Gase’s tweet follows Smithley’s rebuke of Busch late Monday afternoon, giving his side of the contact with the former Cup champ.

On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Steve Letarte, Kyle Petty and Nate Ryan discussed if Busch was wrong in his criticism.

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Preliminary entry lists for Richmond Raceway

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The NASCAR playoffs continue this weekend at Richmond Raceway for two of the national series.

The Cup Series holds the second race of its opening round while the Xfinity Series kicks off its postseason.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race.

Cup – Federated Auto Parts 400 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 38 entries for the race.

Quin Houff is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 Chevrolet.

Austin Theriault is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 Chevrolet.

Garrett Smithley is entered in RWR’s No. 52 Ford and Spencer Boyd is in the team’s No. 53 Chevrolet.

Martin Truex Jr. won the spring race at Richmond over Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer. Kyle Busch won this race last year over Kevin Harvick and Truex.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Go Bowing 250 (7:30 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN)

There are 38 entries for the race.

Harrison Burton is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota for the fourth time this season.

Zane Smith is entered in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Hermie Sadler is entered in Ryan Sieg Racing’s No. 38 Chevrolet. It will be his first Xfinity start since this race in 2016.

Joe Graf Jr. is entered in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

There is no driver attached to Rick Ware Racing’s No. 17 Chevrolet.

Cole Custer won at Richmond in the spring over Austin Cindric and Justin Allgaier. Christopher Bell won this race last year over Ross Chastain and Daniel Hemric.

Click here for the entry list.

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