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JTG Daugherty Racing enters new era with veteran Chris Buescher, rookie Ryan Preece

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Chris Buescher had an amusing observation about the nature of his existence Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I turn 26 and now I feel old,” Buescher said, addressing his new status as JTG Daugherty Racing’s veteran driver after a sponsor announcement by the team.

“(Team owner) Tad (Geschickter) made sure of it when he told all of y’all I was the veteran this season, so that is nice,” Buescher continued. “But I guess from that standpoint it is really nice to be able to have that relationship and be able to say that I’ve been in the same place and same car without a bunch of moving pieces for now the third year.”

Buescher ended the 2018 season as JTG’s youngest driver, trailing former teammate AJ Allmendinger by 10 years.

Two months later he’s still the youngest driver on team. But now he trails rookie teammate Ryan Preece by two years.

“It’s so funny, Chris is a veteran, he has been doing this for quite a while,” Preece said. “It’s taken me a little longer to get here, but Chris and I get along really well. He is a racer just like I am. He has had a different road than I have and I respect him coming to race with him.”

Buescher, the 2015 Xfinity champion, enters his fourth full-time Cup season. Before his time driving the No. 37 Chevrolet, he spent his rookie year competing for Front Row Motorsports where he won his first Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

Preece, 28, arrives in Cup after a successful gamble on himself in 2017 that delivered an expanded part-time Xfinity ride at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 and his second Xfinity win. Next month’s Daytona 500 will mark Preece’s first Cup start since 2015.

MORE: Ryan Preece is ready to ‘Turn the Page’

Preece, a Connecticut native who made a name for himself racing modifieds in the Northeast, said he would “absolutely not” trade his path to Cup for an easier one.

“I think I’m pretty biased when it comes to things like this, but I think the way I came up was the way … I mean it prepares you,” Preece said. “I’ve been working and learning race cars and then winning. Learning to be a winner. I wouldn’t want to come up any other way.”

Buescher, a Texas native and former Roush Fenway Racing development driver, expects “a good fit” with his new teammate.

Together, they’ll try to deliver JTG its second Cup win. The first came in 2014 when Allmendinger won at Watkins Glen.

They’ll also try to improve on 2018 season results of 22nd (Allmendinger) and 24th (Buescher).

“I don’t know if I’m a veteran to the point where I can sit there and try and give someone a whole lot of advice because I’m learning at the same time,” Buescher said. “But I feel like it will be good for us to be able to go through our debrief meetings or at the race track after practice, be able to get together and compare notes and be able to figure out how to get better. I think that is something that communication should be good and we have been able to start talking about the season beforehand and I feel like it’s going to be really good.”

Preece, who is known for working on and building his own modifieds, will have to get used to letting someone else work on his car most of the time.

“One of the guys told me the other day ‘You better get used to standing around’ because I was fidgeting next to him,'” Preece said. “I was like ‘Hey, do you want me to help you?’ and he is like ‘No man, I want you to get used to standing there.’ I told him I didn’t think I could do that. … I need to be hands-on.”

Preece will get to kick off JTG’s season when he takes part in the organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week.

“I’m very excited to get in the seat, but I’m a racer, I want to win, I want to be at that point where we are making gains,” Preece said. “Right now, that is our plan.”

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.


Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
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Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.