Erik Jones dominates to win Xfinity race at Texas again, Sadler now No. 1 in points

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NASCAR Cup regular Erik Jones showed the eight remaining NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders how it’s done, winning Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones won his second consecutive Xfinity race (and third in his career) at TMS, dominating throughout the night, starting from the pole and leading 142 of the race’s 200 laps, including winning Stage 1 and Stage 2. Jones, who also won April’s Xfinity race at TMS, has made six career Xfinity starts there. Including his three wins, he has an average finish there of 2.2.

“It’s sure been a good place for me, just been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to,” Jones told NBCSN. “First time I came here in a Truck, I never thought I’d like the place. But since then, it’s just kind of clicked for me.”

Jones led most of the race, but gave up the lead when he and most of the other drivers pitted for fuel on Lap 185, 15 laps from the finish.

Jones then worked his way back up to the front, regaining the advantage on Lap 192 when Ty Dillon was forced to pit for fuel. From that point on, it was a drag race to the finish between Jones and Ryan Blaney, with Jones reaching the start-finish line first. It was Jones’ third Xfinity win in 17 starts this season.

Blaney finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Cole Custer. Sadler moves into first place in the Xfinity standings.

This was the second of three races in the Round of 8 semifinal round. With Jones’ win tonight and Christopher Bell’s win at Kansas, that means at least three of the four finalists for the championship race at Miami in two weeks will qualify on points.

MORE: Results from Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity race at Texas

MORE: Xfinity standings: Elliott Sadler now No. 1, takes big step closer to first title

STAGE WINNERS: Erik Jones (Stage 1), Erik Jones (Stage 2)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: With a fourth-place finish, Elliott Sadler moves into first place in the standings. Sadler leads William Byron by five points, Justin Allgaier by nine and Brennan Poole by 24. … Cole Custer bounced back from a cut tire early and also rallied from one lap down to finish fifth and helped improve himself in the standings. He was eighth coming into tonight’s race. He leaves Texas in sixth, 13 points shy of the cutoff line heading to Phoenix. … Matt Tifft is five points below the cutoff line, followed by Custer, Daniel Hemric (-18) and Ryan Reed (-33).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Reed had a disappointing 23rd-place finish. Given that he’s 33 points below the cutoff line and 62 points behind Sadler, Reed is in a must-win situation at Phoenix if he hopes to make the championship race in Miami. … Brandon Jones suffered a hard hit on the restart on Lap 61.

NOTABLE: NASCAR met with Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan because of a post-race scuffle that involved them.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We came to Texas with a plan and tried to do some stuff for Homestead. … I’m just living the dream. I had so much fun tonight. All in all, it was a great night for us.” – Elliott Sadler, who takes over the Xfinity points lead.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ticket Galaxy 200; Saturday, Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m. ET; Phoenix Raceway.

Denny Hamlin offers advice on how to deal with critics on social media

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Denny Hamlin, who has been fined by NASCAR for comments on Twitter, and was vocal toward critics after this year’s Daytona 500, says he’s found peace on how to deal with those on social media who don’t agree with him.

“I’ve been very good this year about not replying to mean people, and you all should do the same,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

“I’m making a (request) right now to every driver, every team owner, every NASCAR executive and every media member, stop replying to people who make nonsense comments. They have 16 followers. Don’t give them your 100,000. Do not give them your 100,000 as their stage. No one will ever see their comment, just brush it by, talk about the positives and I’m not a positive person.”

Asked how does one ignore such divisive comments, Hamlin said: “You just scroll by it. Forget it. That person doesn’t exit. They’re an admirer that has lost their way.’’

Hamlin has been better at doing so since the Daytona 500. He faced negative reaction on social media to the contact he and Bubba Wallace had at the end of the Daytona 500.

They engaged in a brief shouting match in the garage area after Hamlin learned that Wallace had taken a dig at him on national TV about a recent comment about drivers using Adderall.

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Clint Bowyer leads opening Cup practice at Sonoma

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Clint Bowyer was the fastest in the first of two Cup practices Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Bowyer, the winner of the most recent Cup race two weeks ago at Michigan, posted a lap of 93.590 mph. He was followed by Ryan Blaney (93.546 mph), Joey Logano (93.172), Jamie McMurray (93.049) and Daniel Suarez (92.746).

Sixth was Jimmie Johnson (92.661). He was followed by Michael McDowell (92.650), Martin Truex Jr. (92.614), AJ Allmendinger (92.596) and Ryan Newman (92.595).

Click here for full practice report

Final Cup practice will be from 5:40 – 6:55 p.m. ET. Qualifying will take place Saturday.

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Kyle Larson: ‘I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing’

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Kyle Larson‘s comment on Twitter earlier this week that he would like to run full-time in the World of Outlaws sprint car series “before I’m 40” might have riled some fans, but Larson says it was not meant as anything bad toward NASCAR.

“I don’t know, I think maybe some people aren’t quite as open-minded, maybe,” the 26-year-old Larson said Friday at Sonoma Raceway. “It’s like they read it as if I said in two years from now I wanted to do it. I mean 15 years from now that would put me 20 years in Cup. So, that is a long time. 

“I think Jeff Gordon spent about that much time in the sport (Gordon raced in Cup 23 full-time seasons), but I don’t know, maybe I don’t do the best job in the world of talking about how much I love NASCAR as much as I do sprint cars, but I do. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t love NASCAR racing.

“I enjoy sprint cars, and I feel like I talk about sprint cars a lot just to open people’s eyes to that style of racing because it’s a great form or racing and so is NASCAR. So, I don’t know, I just want fans to be fans of motorsports not just NASCAR and not just sprint cars. I would like to see everybody just enjoy all of racing and I think that is what I do. Maybe I don’t do a good job at it sometimes, but you know, I enjoy racing all types of vehicles. Most fans get it, but some fans aren’t quite open-minded enough.”

It was on the official World of Outlaws podcast in December where Larson expressed his desire to eventually transition to the World of Outlaws.

“NASCAR is where I wanted to make it, but I would have been perfectly fine if I didn’t make it either,” Larson said on that podcast in the offseason. “I’d probably be on the Outlaw (sprint car) tour probably right now, racing and loving life … I would say racing on the World of Outlaws tour full-time is my main goal.”

Larson just finished running five nights of Ohio Sprint Speedweek. He won two of those nights. Rain postponed a sixth event before the feature that Larson was to have run. Larson said he has the dirt track race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his schedule. Indianapolis is building a quarter-mile dirt track inside Turn 3 to run during the NASCAR weekend there in September.

Larson is in his fifth full Cup season. He has five career series wins. Although winless this season, Larson has finished runner-up three times (Auto Club Speedway, Bristol and Pocono).

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Four Cup cars to be docked practice time at Sonoma

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Four cars will miss time in today’s opening practice at Sonoma Raceway for violations, NASCAR announced Friday.

David Ragan will miss 30 minutes for failing inspection before the race at Michigan three times.

Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne each will be docked 15 minutes for failing inspection twice before the Michigan race.

Today’s opening Cup practice goes from 2:40 – 3:55 p.m. ET.

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