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Xfinity teams prepare for fourth and final road course race with Charlotte Roval

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The first three Xfinity Series races on road courses this year have been a case of the usual suspects when it comes to who finishes up front.

The races at Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio and Road America each saw 1-2 finishes by Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell, with Cindric winning at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio while Bell claimed his first road course victory at Road America.

Even if Bell’s Watkins Glen finish is only a result of AJ Allmendinger‘s disqualification, he could still be bragging about top three finishes in all three races.

Bell and Cindric take their hot streaks to the final road course event of the year this weekend with the second annual race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN).

Cindric and Bell are part of a trio of drivers – including Tyler Reddick – who have finished in the top five in all three road course races. Four other drivers – Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer – have finished in the top 10 all three races.

Here’s a look at each driver as they enter the second race of the playoffs, with many of them making their second start on the Roval.

Christopher Bell – Seven wins in 2019, finished top two in eight of the last 11 races. Finished top five in the last four road course races including a fifth-place finish at the Roval last year. Has won five of the 22 total Xfinity playoff races that have been held since they began in 2016.

Austin Cindric – Top-five finishes in five of the last eight races, including his road course wins. Finished second at Richmond. Won the pole and finished third at the Roval last year after he spun while leading.

Tyler Reddick – Twenty top-five finishes in 2019 and five wins (regular season champion). Finished ninth at the Roval last year, starting a four-race streak of top-10 finishes on road courses. Struggled throughout the playoff opener at Richmond before finishing 10th.

Justin Allgaier – Top-10 finishes in the last 11 races (second longest streak of his career). Finished 15th on the Roval last year after getting caught up in a wreck. It was his only finish outside the top 10 in the last seven road course races.

“There were a lot of unknowns going into the Roval race last year,” Allgaier said in a press release. “Even though it wasn’t a great race for us because we were caught up in an incident, it was still a great race for the fans. The only question mark for anybody was the back straightaway chicane and the track has done a fantastic job of listening to the drivers and making adjustments to it and I’m excited to get back there and try it out.”

Noah Gragson – Top-10 finishes in 15 of the last 17 races. Finished top 10 in all three road course starts. Making first Roval start.

Cole Custer – Six wins in 2019 and top-10 finishes in the last five races. Finished top 10 in the last eight road course races, including finishing seventh on the Roval last year.

Chase Briscoe – The defending winner of the Roval race. The win was his first career Xfinity victory. Briscoe has top-10 finishes in 10 of the last 11 races of 2019.

While Briscoe won this race last year, the circumstances of Saturday’s race will be very different for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

“We weren’t running for points in 2018, so we were able to use a different strategy than everyone else by short-pitting,” Briscoe said in a media release. “That lined us up perfectly for the middle portion of the race and ultimately the end. (Crew Chief) Richard Boswell had a great strategy and we were able to stick to it.

“The new configuration of the backstretch is going to throw people off at the beginning of the weekend, because we are used to the fast portion where we would throw the car around but now you have to really slow the car down, which can cause wheel-hopping if you aren’t careful. I think if we can get through that and have a clean race, we will be contending for the win and a repeat performance from last year.”

These seven playoff drivers aren’t the only ones to watch out for.

Allmendinger, a NBC Sports analyst, will make his fifth and final start of the year for Kaulig Racing in the No. 10 Chevrolet.

He’ll have competed in all four road course races. He led 24 laps at WGI and finished second before his disqualification. He finished third at Mid-Ohio. He then started from the pole and led 10 laps at Road America before a late incident relegated him to a 24th-place finish.

He competed in the inaugural Cup race on the Roval, starting second before finishing seventh.

“Every race this year, Kaulig Racing and the No. 10 team have stepped up their game,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “We’ve taken every learning opportunity and capitalized on it. This weekend, we’ll have an even bigger challenge with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval being a newer track for all of us.”

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter

Silly Season Scorecard: Front Row Motorsports adds John Hunter Nemechek

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Front Row Motorsports filled one of the last major vacancies in the NASCAR Cup Series when it announced Thursday John Hunter Nemechek will compete for the team full-time in the No. 38 Ford.

With the announcement also came the news the team is retracting to two cars after fielding three in 2019.

As a rookie, Nemechek will have Michael McDowell as a teammate.

Here’s how the rest of NASCAR’s Silly Season has played out so far.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 00: Quin Houff will race for Star Com Racing full-time. Announced Nov. 27.

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 15: Brennan Poole will make his Cup debut and will drive for Premium Motorsports full-time. Announced Dec 11.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 32: Corey LaJoie will return for a second straight full season with Go Fas Racing and the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year.

No. 37: Ryan Preece moves over from the No. 47 to the No. 37. He will have a new crew chief, Trent Owens, who has been crew chief on the No. 37 for the past three seasons.

No. 38: John Hunter Nemechek replaces the now retired David Ragan for Front Row Motorsports. Announced Dec. 12.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 47: JTG Daugherty Racing announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. On Dec. 2, the team announced Stenhouse will drive the No. 47, with Brian Pattie serving as his crew chief.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

 

YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

 

ANNOUNCED PLANS IN OTHER NASCAR SERIES

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Will field a part-time car in the No. 21, which will be shared by Myatt Snider and Anthony Alfredo.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

 

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Halmar Friesen Racing — Stewart Friesen will return for a third full-time season in the No. 52 Truck. The team will also switch from Chevrolet to Toyota Trucks in 2020.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

Niece Motorsports: Ty Majeski will drive the No. 45 truck full-time, taking the place of Ross Chastain. Announced Dec. 10.

DGR-Crosley: Has not made any driver announcements, but will switch from Toyota to Ford. Announced Dec. 11.

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