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NASCAR keeps group qualifying for 2019 Cup season despite new rules

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR announced Monday afternoon that group qualifying will remain in place at least to start the 2019 Cup season.

With a new rules package limiting horsepower, reducing speeds and increasing the importance of the draft, there was speculation that NASCAR might consider a single-car qualifying format like it does at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, two tracks where drafting is a major determinant.

Vice president of competition Scott Miller said NASCAR wants to keep qualifying entertaining and “we don’t believe single-car qualifying is going to get that done.”

Miller said NASCAR isn’t anticipating the draft to have a major impact on qualifying. “If you look at what’s happened on track with cars, I don’t think a 30-car draft will be quicker than two to three cars,” Miller said. “We don’t know yet, and competitors don’t know, if they trim the car out for lowest drag, is that faster than a three-car draft? There are lots of things to learn.”

Daytona and Talladega will remain a single-car qualifying format, but it’s possible other tracks could change. “We’ll adjust as necessary,” Miller said. “We won’t stick our heads in the sand.”

There will be some minor time modifications. The first session of group qualifying will be shortened by 5 minutes to 10 and there will be 5 minutes between sessions instead of 7 minutes. Miller said the windows were tightened to let broadcasters have a tighter program.

Other announcements Monday from NASCAR in a meeting with the news media at its R&D Center:

–The 2021 season is projected as the on-track rollout for the Gen 7 car. A new engine likely would follow after that, possibly in the ’22 season. John Probst, vice president for innovation and development, said the new car likely will have a composite body (which the Xfinity Series switched to over the past few seasons).

–After working as general manager of the truck series last season, Ben Kennedy will become the managing director of racing operations and international development and work on major projects across all three national series.

–The Daytona 500 will be the last race for longtime race director David Hoots, whose role in the NASCAR tower will be filled by Tim Berman and Jusan Hamilton.

–The Triple Truck Challenge, a three-race program at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Gateway Motorsports Park, will offer truck drivers an opportunity to win $500,000 in bonus money.

–NASCAR is adding series-specific officials to its national series next year. There will be 12 in Cup, 10 in Xfinity and eight in truck.

Dustin Long contributed to this story

Report: Justin Allgaier returning to JR Motorsports in 2020

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Justin Allgaier confirmed to Catchfence.com Friday that he will remain with JR Motorsports in 2020.

It will be Allgaier’s fifth season in the Xfinity Series with JRM.

“I will be back next year. Same deal,” Allgaier told Catchfence.com “Everything is good. We’re doing the same thing next that we are doing right now.”

Allgaier, 33, is fourth is the point standings entering this weekend’s race at Road America (3 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN).

Allgaier is the only driver in the top six in points without a win this year.

 

Xfinity Series practice report from Road America

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Christopher Bell was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice Friday at Road America.

Bell posted a top speed of 108.562 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by Matt DiBenedetto (108.106 mph), AJ Allmendinger (108.091), Justin Haley (107.927) and Cole Custer (107.895).

Chase Briscoe recorded the most laps in the session with 19.

The session was stopped with about 50 minutes left for a hard crash by Brandon Jones exiting Turn 11. Jones will go to a backup car for Saturday’s race.

Just before Jones’ wreck, the left-rear truck arm mount broke on Jeremy Clements‘ No. 51 Chevrolet and his car stalled on the track.

The red flag was brought out for the second time when Preston Pardus’ No. 43 Chevrolet stalled on the track. His car then stalled a second time in the final minute of the session.

The session had a third red flag when Josh Williams‘ car stalled on the track.

Click here for the practice report.

First Practice

Bell was fastest, posting a top speed of 108.559 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by defending race winner Justin Allgaier (108.530 mph), Cindric (108.346), DiBenedetto (108.139) and Allmendinger (107.967).

Chase Briscoe recorded the most laps with 14.

The session was stopped once for debris with 35 minutes left in the session.

Minor incidents in the session included Noah Gragson briefly going off course and a spin by Dexter Bean.

Click here for the practice report.

Updated entry lists for Xfinity, Truck Series this weekend

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While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Ryan Vargas is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet for his second start of the year.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1)

There are only 29 Trucks listed for the entry list. A full field would be 32 trucks.

Alex Tagliani is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota for his first start of the year.

Dylan Lupton is entered in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

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Friday schedule for Xfinity Series at Road America

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series hits the track today with two practices at Road America in preparation for Saturday’s race.

The wunderground.com forecast for Friday calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 69 degrees and a 10% chance of rain during the day.

Here is today’s schedule at Road America:

(All times are Eastern)

10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1:35 – 2:25 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3:35 – 4:55 – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)