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NASCAR to make changes to qualifying after Friday’s ‘mockery’

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FONTANA, Calif. — NASCAR plans to make changes to qualifying within the next two weeks after all 12 Cup drivers failed to complete a lap before time expired in the final round, making what one series executive said was “a mockery out of the qualifying.”

Scott Miller, senior vice president of competition, expressed his disappointment with what happened Friday at Auto Club Speedway.

“I saw obviously what our fans don’t want, obviously, having the last 12 cars wait until they couldn’t get a time posted on the board and kind of making a mockery out of the qualifying is not what we expect for our fans,” Miller said. “It’s a little bit on us that we hoped things would go better than that. It’s an exciting show when they’re out there on the race track but obviously we have a little work to do on our part to get a little bit better format so things like that can’t happen.

“We certainly want to provide our fans with what they deserve and we and the teams didn’t do a very good job of that today, so we’re really disappointed.”

The issue Friday was that no driver wanted to be first on track. No one wanted to be second. Or third. They all wanted to be last on the track to get the best draft from the rest of the field. But drivers waited too long and no one made it to the start/finish line before time expired to run a lap. Austin Dillon, who was fastest in the second round, won the pole since results reverted to the last completed round of qualifying.

“Don’t hate the player,” Kyle Busch said. “Hate the game.”

And fans did, according to Clint Bowyer.

“We just got booed,” Bowyer said. “It’s disappointing. It’s disappointing for everybody involved. I don’t know. I saw this coming three weeks ago. I think we all did. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to be reactive to it instead of proactive. We’ll get through.

“It’s just a learning process. The whole package is a learning process. Everybody knows that going in. Everybody has been patient with it. I’m a little bit out of patience with Fridays.”

Asked if this would mean the end of group qualifying — particularly at tracks where drafting is key — Miller said:

“I think we will definitely make some tweaks to it, not quite sure what. … We really don’t want to go back to single-car qualifying. There may not be another way. We want to exhaust every possibility before we do that because that’s not as fun, not as intriguing of a show as the group situation.”

The series heads to Martinsville Speedway next weekend. Drafting is not an issue there, giving NASCAR more time to devise a solution. The series then goes Texas Motor Speedway and changes will likely be made by then.

But what to do?

Miller didn’t say. Drivers weren’t sure after the bizarre final round.

“Do you draft up until the final session and then we can go one by one?” Denny Hamlin said. “I don’t know. I don’t know if that is the answer or not.”

Saturday schedule for Xfinity, Truck Series

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The Xfinity Series competes at Road America today while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series begins its weekend in Canada.

wunderground.com forecasts sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees at the start of the Xfinity race.

The forecast for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is for sunny skies, a high of 71 degrees and a 10% chance of rain.

Here’s the day’s full schedule with TV and radio info.

Saturday, Aug. 24

Road America

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

11:40 a.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/two rounds (NBC Sports App live, NBCSN to air it at 1:30 p.m.)

1:35 p.m. – Driver-crew chief meeting

2:30 p.m. – Driver introductions

3 p.m. – CTECH Manufacturing 180; 45 laps/182.16 miles (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Truck garage open

9:35 – 10:25 a.m. ET – Truck practice (No TV)

11:35 – 12:55 p.m. – Final Truck practice (No TV)

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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