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How much does starting position matter at Sonoma?

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Do you need to qualify on the pole, the front row or the even the top five to better your chances of winning a NASCAR race?

On a typical race weekend one would think that’s the case. Through 15 races this season, the winner has started in the top five eight times. Only four winners started 10th or worse.

But this isn’t a typical race weekend as the Cup Series heads to Sonoma Raceway for its first road course race of the season.

The series has held 29 races at the road course since 1989. In those 29 races, the winner started from the pole five times (17.2 percent).

That makes it the most prolific starting position at the track in terms of wins.

But a winner hasn’t come from the pole since 2004 when Jeff Gordon did it for a track-best third time.

The driver starting second has won three times, the last occurring in 2010 with Jimmie Johnson. Since that race, only one Sonoma winner – Carl Edwards (fourth) in 2014 – has started in the top five.

In the 13 races since Gordon last won from the pole, the race winner started in the top five three times.

The last three races saw the winner start 11th (Kyle Busch), 10th (Tony Stewart) and 12th (Kevin Harvick).

In contrast, the 14 races from 1992-2005 saw every race winner came from inside the top 10 and 11 from the top five.

What’s changed? Road course racing became much more aggressive with the transition to double fire restarts in 2009. The introduction of stage racing last year added another wrinkle to a type of racing that already saw aggressive pit strategy.

But Sonoma isn’t too kind to drivers starting in the back half of the field.

The deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 32nd, when Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2007. Only one other time has the winner come from outside the top 15, when Kyle Busch started 30th and won in 2008.

Results, Xfinity point standings after New Hampshire

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Christopher Bell triumphed over Brad Keselowski to win Saturday’s Xfinity race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and claim his third win of the season.

The top five was rounded out by Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Tifft.

Click here for race results.

Points

Despite Christopher Bell claiming a stage win and the race victory, Daniel Hemric left the “Magic Mile” with the points leads.

Hemric has a six-point lead over Bell and a seven-point lead over Elliott Sadler, who had led the standings following 15 of the first 17 races of the season.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (-13 points) and Justin Allgaier (-48).

Click here for the full standings.

Christopher Bell wins New Hampshire Xfinity race

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Christopher Bell held off Brad Keselowski and Ryan Preece over the final 18 laps to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell took the lead from Keselowski on the final restart with 18 laps to go. Bell was on four fresh tires while Keselowski was on two.

Keselowski hounded the rear bumper of Bell’s No. 20 Toyota for the last five laps but was unable to make a pass attempt.

“Man, the better tires, they didn’t hurt us, that’s for sure, ” Bell told NBCSN. “It worked out for us, we were able to take four tires (on the last pit stop). It was a big deal.”

It is Bell’s third win of the season and second in a row. He led 93 of 200 laps around the 1-mile track.

The top five was completed by John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Tifft.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell earned his third stage win of the year.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

More: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Keselowski led 72 laps and came in second after he had to start from the rear for being late to the driver-crew chief meeting … Matt Tifft earned his second top five of the season … Ryan Preece has finished in the top five in three of five starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ross Chastain finished 26th after wrecking by himself on Lap 80 … Ryan Truex was spun by Ryan Reed with six laps to go in Stage 2. The incident also involved Justin Allgaier. Truex finished 13th and Allgaier placed seventh … A wreck involving Chad Finchum and Garrett Smithley caused a caution with 23 laps to go … Austin Cindric wrecked coming to the checkered flag. He finished 17th.

NOTABLE: There was a 7 minutes and 30 second red flag period to fix sand barrels knocked over by Jeremy Clements at the start of pit road with 34 laps to go … After contending up front for much of the race, Daniel Hemric placed 11th, ending a career-best streak of eight straight top 10s.

WHAT’S NEXT: U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on July 28 on NBCSN

Bid of $1.8 million submitted for BK Racing

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A bid of $1.8 million has been made for BK Racing, the trustee operating the team stated in court documents.

Trustee Matthew Smith stated in federal court documents that the $1.8 million bid is a stalking horse bid. That means that the bid sets the lowest price the team can be sold.

Should the stalking horse bid be the winning bid, $350,000 of the price will go to payment of priority wage claims.

The bid is from MRB LLC.

ESPN.com reported that Mike Beam, president of GMS Racing, has made the bid on the team. Beam told ESPN.com that if he becomes the owner of the team, it would be an affiliate of GMS Racing, which has previously considered moving to Cup.

Court documents state: “The Trustee believes that the Stalking Horse Bid will compel potential purchasers to come forward and otherwise generate additional interest in the Race Team Assets reasonably likely to facilitate an effective competitive sale of such assets.”

Smith stated in court documents that he has communicated with more than 25 separate parties interested in acquiring the team’s assets.

Court documents state that any qualified bidder must propose a bid at least $300,000 more than the original bid of $1.8 million.

A sale is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. ET on Aug. 20. A court hearing is set for Aug. 21 for the approval of the sale. The winner has three days after the court order approving the sale to complete the purchase.

A hearing is set for Tuesday on approving those sale procedures.

Also, in another court filing, Smith stated that he’s agreed to sell team assists to Obaika Racing for $265,000. Smith said in court documents the assets were valued at $382,000.

Among the items listed in the offer is a tractor trailer transporter, seven bare chassis and 12 other chassis in various forms of construction. Also on the list are two crash carts, pit road tool box and pit suite, pit tool cart and two golf carts.

BK Racing owner Ron Devine put the team in chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 15 in an effort to retain his team. Union Bank & Trust claims that it is owed $9.475 million. Smith was approved as the trustee on March 28, relieving Devine of his owner duties. Others claiming to be owed money include the Internal Revenue Service.

Blake Jones is driving BK Racing’s No. 23 car this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This will be Jones’ first Cup start. He qualified last in the 37-car field.

Xfinity pole-sitter Brad Keselowski to start race at rear after penalty

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LOUDON, N.H. – Xfinity pole-sitter Brad Keselowski will start at the rear of the field for today’s race (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN) after he was late to the drivers meeting.

Cup practice was to have ended at 1:25 p.m. ET but was extended to 1:30 p.m. ET because of incidents during the session. The Xfinity drivers meeting was scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Section 10.3.2.f of the Xfinity Rule book states:

“Any driver(s) that is not present to answer the second roll call at the driver/crew chief meeting may be penalized by starting the Race with a “Tail of the Field” penalty.”

Keselowski arrived about 80 seconds after second call for him. BJ McLeod, who also was participating in Cup practice, was late to the meeting as well.

Austin Dillon and Ross Chastain both made it to the meeting in time despite taking part in Cup practice.