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Matt Kenseth feels comfortable with his future beyond this season

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RICHMOND, Va. — Former Cup champion Matt Kenseth won’t say that his driving career will end when he climbs from the car after the season finale at Homestead.

But he does say if he races again, it will be for one team only.

Kenseth’s tenure in the No. 6 car will end after this season by choice.

“We kind of knew ’19 was kind of a crapshoot, was kind of up in the air on what we wanted to do there,” Kenseth told NBC Sports before the drivers meeting Saturday at Richmond Raceway. “It’s been good for me. Time at home was really, really good. I’m really enjoying (wife) Katie and the kids and the ages they are and everything.

“There’s no way I could go full-time and do that at high level. I can’t do both at a high level. My priorities are just different than they were 15 years ago.”

Kenseth has four daughters age 9 and under.

Roush Fenway Racing announced Saturday that Ryan Newman will drive the No. 6 car next season.

Roush Fenway Racing brought Kenseth back in April to help the organization become more competitive. He has shared the No. 6 car with Trevor Bayne since May. Kenseth’s best finish in 10 races this season is 12th at Indianapolis. 

“I wish I could help more,” Kenseth told NBC Sports. “I feel like we have made a lot of improvements, actually and helped identify things and upgrade a lot of things. When I first talked to Jack, the plan was this year to come in and evaluate the car for these 15 or 16 races, evaluate the team, kind of see if I could help a little bit and we did all of that.”

Roush said Kenseth has played a key part in improving the team.

“We’ve been on a path of constant improvement,” Roush said. “We were improving and changing our cars in ways that had some benefit before Matt got involved, but Matt brought to us a sense of what was happening on all four corners of the car. He sat in the car initially and said it didn’t feel right, and he identified the issues he had with what was happening with the front of the car and the back of the car.

“There were questions that were on the list of things we were going to explore that we hadn’t prioritized that we prioritized at his suggestion. That’s manifested … in having extremely competitive cars at Bristol and Indy.”

So what’s next for Kenseth?

“I still hope to be a part of Roush Fenway Racing, where it all started,” said Kenseth, who raced full-time in Cup for Roush from 2000-12 and scored 24 of his 39 career Cup wins there.

“I think it’s cool to end it there. I’m looking forward to still being a part of the company. You never know what’s going to pop up. Maybe something will pop up where you need to run a few races and there’s some opportunities.”

Asked if he’s looking for a ride for next year, Kenseth said: “No. If I drove anything it would be for Jack.”

John Hunter Nemechek earns first Xfinity Series win

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John Hunter Nemechek bounced back from two pit stop miscues in the last 50 laps to earn his first Xfinity Series win Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

Nemechek, 21, led the final 30 laps. That was after he went from fifth to first on the final restart with 32 laps to go.

The son of former Cup driver Joe Nemechek earned the win in his 15th start.

Nemechek had to pass Daniel Hemric, who finished second after leading 128 laps.

“It means a lot, especially at Kansas,” Nemechek told NBC. “(In) 2004, I forget how old I was. But dad swept the weekend in the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series. It’s pretty special.”

The top five was completed by Elliott Sadler, Shane Lee and Tyler Reddick.

Nemechek pitted with Hemric with 50 laps to go and slid through his pit box. He left pit road three seconds behind Hemric.

When the final caution waved with 36 laps to go, Nemechek had to pit twice to tighten lug nuts.

“When that caution came I knew we had a chance,” Nemechek told NBC. “Luckily Daniel and I raced each other hard and clean all day. We got the track position and this thing was unreal to the end.”

When Nemechek took the checkered flag, he led Hemric by roughly five seconds. Hemric said he had a vibration over the last 15 laps.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: John Hunter Nemechek

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Elliott Sadler earned his best finish since the July Daytona race (second) … Shane Lee placed fourth for his career-best finish … Tyler Reddick earned his first top five of the playoffs … Ryan Sieg placed ninth for his second top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Playoff contenders Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell were all involved in an eight-car wreck on Lap 1. Only Custer finished the race (26th) … Brandon Jones was eliminated via a one-car incident on the ensuing restart … After being involved in the Lap 1 crash, Spencer Gallagher was eliminated in one-car incident on Lap 26 … After Bell and Jones, Ryan Preece completed the Joe Gibbs Racing trifecta. He was involved in an incident on the last lap of Stage 2 when he was turned from contact with Joey Gase. Preece finished 21st.

NOTABLE: John Hunter Nemechek is the third driver to earn his first Xfinity win of the season (Ross Chastain, Spencer Gallagher).

WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 3. on NBCSN.

Video: Xfinity playoff contenders out after Lap 1 crash at Kansas

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Three of the eight playoff contenders were eliminated in a crash on the first lap of Saturday’s Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway, which opens the Round of 8.

Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer were involved in a nine-car wreck as the field raced through Turn 2. Allgaier, Bell and Cindric were eliminated while Custer’s team was able to make repairs to his No. 00 Ford.

It began when Allgaier got loose and made contact with Bell.

“Just hate it for everybody that we took out on Lap 1. It’s uncalled for, ” Allgaier told NBC. “That one’s on me.”

Bell, who won this race last year, told NBC he “didn’t really see much of anything” as the wreck developed. “Just heartbroken. This is one of my favorite race tracks we go to. Especially after the run I had last year. This was the race I was really looking forward to when we started the year back in February.”

Allgaier earned his second DNF of the playoffs while Bell and Cindric earned their first.

“It was just a racing incident,” Cindric said. “You don’t really expect something that big to happen in front of you on the first lap. … It is unfortunate that it happened that early. Huge points implications on my end and the owners championship end. I have to put my head down the next couple weeks and figure it out.”

Non-playoff drivers Michael Annett, Ryan Truex, Spencer Gallagher and Chase Briscoe were also involved.

The race restarted on Lap 12. The field was immediately slowed by a one-car incident involving Brandon Jones on the backstretch.

Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Kansas

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Kurt Busch led the way in the final practice session for Sunday’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver posted a top speed of 186.226 mph.

The top five was completed by Erik Jones (186.104 mph), Aric Almirola (185.842), Kyle Busch (185.471) and Paul Menard (185.446).

MORE: Aric Almirola fastest in Saturday’s early practice

There were no incidents in the session.

Joey Logano, who was 12th fastest, recorded the most laps with 67.

Kyle Busch had the best 10-lap average at 183.094 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Daniel Hemric wins Xfinity pole at Kansas Speedway

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Daniel Hemric won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

Hemric claimed his fourth pole of the year with a top speed of 183.955 mph.

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (182.784 mph), Justin Allgaier (182.426), Austin Cindric (182.254) and Brandon Jones. (182.254).

The top 10 was rounded out by Tyler Reddick, Ryan Preece, Shane Lee, Matt Tifft and Cole Custer.

In Round 2 John Hunter Nemechek qualified 13th. He was followed by Ryan Truex, Michael Annett, Ryan Reed, Spencer Gallagher and Ty Majeski.

Round 1 had a lengthy red flag with 1:05 left in it for fluid on the track. That allowed Reed, Truex and John Nemechek’s cars to get through inspection and make a lap.

Click here for the starting lineup.