Our Motorsports finding early success in first Xfinity season

Brett Moffitt
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Why was 2020 the right time for Chris Our to start fielding a full-time Xfinity Series team?

“I don’t know when the right time was,” Our told NBC Sports with a laugh.

When the NASCAR season opened in February, the Xfinity Series arrived at Daytona International Speedway and with it was Our’s No. 02 Chevrolet.

MORE: A viewer’s guide to Monday night’s Xfinity race at Bristol

After dabbling in the Whelen Modified Series – including fielding entries for the late Mike Stefanik – and recording 14 ARCA Menards Series starts from 2016-19, Our set the team’s sights on the Xfinity Series.

The reason?

“You know, a lot of it is the payouts and the way the financial mechanism works,” said Our, a native of the Cape Cod region in Massachusetts, who operates a concrete and construction company.

“We have the ARCA series but there’s an expense there as far as the engines,” Our said. “It’s a lot of the same components as the Xfinity Series, but (ARCA) really doesn’t pay out much. …

“So it’s a big difference. I know there’s more tire bills, but the people don’t recognize the ARCA series like they do the Xfinity, so it’s definitely easier to bring better sponsors to you to help. That’s kind of one of the reasons we stepped up … there was no particular reason we started this year. It would just seem like it all worked.”

It’s worked in part due to aid from GMS Racing. Our bought five of his six cars after GMS shut down its Xfinity operation at the end of 2019.

“With GMS getting out of it, we started talking with them about some of the chassis and cars and it just seemed like it would work, right?” Our said. “Then we were able to pick up Joe (Williams) as the crew chief. We had a lot of the equipment (from the ARCA Series). We had the haulers, we had all the tools. We had all that, it was just the actual chassis and motors that changed.”

One of the most important pieces of the Our Motorsports – which has seven employees including its truck driver – was who would drive No. 02.

“We wanted experience to come out of the box at Daytona,” Our said.

Brett Moffitt has competed in Our Motorsports’ fist six Xfinity Series race. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

That experienced arrived in the form of Brett Moffitt, the GMS Racing driver who won the 2018 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship.

While competing full-time in Trucks, Moffitt has been in the No. 02 for the first six Xfinity races of the season, returning when the series did at Darlington after he recovered from fracturing both his legs in March.

“Honestly it’s been really good,” Moffitt said last week prior to his sixth-place finish at Charlotte, the team’s best finish. “I’ve been quoted in the past and I still own up to it today that I’m not going to drive cars just to drive them and say I’m in the Xfinity race. It has to be a team that I feel like can really go out and compete. And so far this year, Our Motorsports has proven that they can compete.”

Through six races Moffitt has finished outside the top 20 once, in the season opener at Daytona (24th) due to a late-race crash. He placed 11th at Darlington in his first race there since 2015.

“I feel like they’re doing a very, very good job at bringing me competitive race cars for the budget that they have,” Moffitt said. “It’s a lot of fun because we’re beating guys that we should not be beating and it’s motivation all race long to do that. …

“Eleventh place (at Darlington) doesn’t sound like a ton, but if you look at it on paper what Our Motorsports has versus what Joe Gibbs has and we beat two of their cars. It’s a pretty damn good day. So it’s a lot of fun for me and it’s just gaining experience at the end.”

Our hopes his young team can be a fixture “on top of that second tier” of teams. Using equipment from GMS – which finished 13th in the owner standings in 2019 – gives Our a goal of 13th or 14th. The team is currently 16th.

Moffitt won’t be in the No. 02 tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on FS1). While he’ll be in the car at Atlanta, Talladega and likely Miami, Our Motorsports will field 28-year-old modified driver Patrick Emerling in his first Xfinity start.

A native of Orchard Park, New York, Emerling is a two-time champion of the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series. He’s no stranger to Bristol, having won a 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race on the track. He’ll start 20th due to a random draw.

“My goal is to go out there and finish the race and not extend myself out of my comfort box,” Emerling told The Buffalo News. “I’m going to be doing a lot of learning. That’s the idea. This being my first Xfinity race, I just need to get laps in and learn more about the cars. I’ve been iRacing on the computer and watched videos. I am talking to people and doing everything I can to find out every little detail I can.”

Our said Emerling is approved by NASCAR to compete on a mile-and-a-quarter length tracks at the moment.

“With everything (related to the COVID-19 pandemic) going on, we didn’t know when (those races were) gonna happen, except we knew Bristol was going to happen right now,” Our said. “So we kind of talked a little bit and I gave him the opportunity to be able to get in the car for Bristol. And hopefully we do well, he has a good finish, you know, stays clean and then he can get approved to maybe go up to a mile-and-a-half (tracks) with NASCAR for later on.”

Of the Bristol race, which will be run without practice, Our said “I’ll be nervous about it, there’s no question. … I’d be nervous even if it was Brett.”

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Charlotte Roval

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Sunday provides a final chance for drivers to advance to the Round of 8 and keep their Cup championship hopes alive.

Talladega winner Chase Elliott is the only driver who has advanced to the next round. That leaves seven spots available going into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe holds the final transfer spot by a tiebreaker over Austin Cindric. At least for now.

William Byron is 11 points behind both drivers, but Hendrick Motorsports will appeal Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas on Thursday. Should Hendrick win and Byron get those points back, he would move into a transfer spot.

There’s just part of what to watch for in Sunday’s race.

Favorites to be No. 20

This season remains tied for the most different winners in series history at 19, but there are a few candidates who could become the 20th different winner this year on Sunday.

Among the favorites to do so:

Ryan Blaney, who came close to winning last week at Talladega, won the inaugural Cup race at the Roval in 2018.

Martin Truex Jr., who has four career Cup wins on road courses, still seeks his first victory of the season.

Michael McDowell, who is coming off a third-place finish at Talladega, has had a career-high 12 top-10 finishes this season, including top 10s in each of the last four road course events this year.

Will history repeat?

Last year, the four drivers eliminated after the Roval were Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and William Byron.

Harvick was eliminated in the first round this year, but Byron (-11 to the cutline) and Bell (-33) are in jeopardy of being eliminated in this round again. Bowman stated Tuesday that he will miss his second consecutive race because of continued concussion symptoms. He will be among the four eliminated from title contention.

Bowman missed last weekend’s race because of concussion-like symptoms suffered at Texas. A decision on if he’ll be able to race at the Roval will come later this week.

Will chaos continue?

Consider what some of the former Roval winners have endured on their way to the checkered flag:

In 2019, Chase Elliott drove into the Turn 1 wall on a restart while the leader. He recovered to win.

In 2020, Elliott overcame a loose wheel to win for the second year in a row.

In 2021, Kyle Larson won after his team changed batteries and put the alternator belt back on.

Could a similar fate be in store for this year’s winner? Or will they have a cleaner day?

Entry lists

Thirty-nine drivers are entered including IndyCar driver Conor Daly, former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and former 24 Hours of Daytona winner Joey Hand. JJ Yeley will drive the No. 51 for Cody Ware, who stated that he would skip this event because of his ankle injury at Texas the footwork needed on a road course.

Charlotte Roval Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.

Charlotte Roval Xfinity entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Oct. 8

Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 66 degrees. No chance of rain during the Xfinity race.

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Forecast: Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. No chance of rain during the race.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

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Hailie Deegan announced Tuesday that she will make her Xfinity Series debut Oct. 15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NBC and Peacock.

The 21-year-old Deegan is in her second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. She finished a career-high sixth in that series last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

She will drive the No. 07 car for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt.

 

 

Alex Bowman to miss Charlotte Roval race

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Alex Bowman announced Tuesday night on social media that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Bowman said on social media: “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”

This will be the second consecutive race he will have missed because of concussion-like symptoms after his crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 48 car this weekend for Bowman.

“Alex’s health is our first priority,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”

Bowman will be one of the four drivers eliminated from title contention Sunday.

Also Tuesday, Cody Ware announced that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Texas.

NASCAR Power Rankings: Chase Elliott leaps to the front

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A slick late-race move by Chase Elliott carried him to Victory Lane Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway — and back to the top of the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Elliott is the only driver with five victories this season. No one else in the playoffs has more than two (Tyler Reddick, eliminated from the championship hunt, has won three times).

Elliott, already qualified for the Round of 8 with his Talladega win, will be among the favorites in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Here’s how the rankings look approaching the end of the Round of 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Chase Elliott (No. 3 last week) — Elliott’s power move to win at Talladega was quite impressive and gave him four top-five finishes in the past 10 races. Clearly, he has re-established himself as the championship favorite.

2. Denny Hamlin (No. 1 last week) — Hamlin drops a spot despite a strong run (20 laps led and finishing fifth) at Talladega. Count him in the hunt for an elusive first championship.

3. Ryan Blaney (No. 8 last week) — Blaney simply will not go away despite continuing as the playoffs’ only winless driver (not including the Texas All-Star Race). He was victimized by Chase Elliott on Sunday at Talladega, finishing .046 seconds short of victory and a push into the next round.

4. Kyle Larson (No. 2 last week) — Superspeedway racing generally is not Larson’s strong point. He finished 18th Sunday despite leading eight laps and being in the front group much of the day.

5. Joey Logano (No. 4 last week) — Logano had an unusually poor performance at Talladega. He was involved in an early-race accident and struggled much of the rest of the day, finishing 27th.

MORE: Elliott celebrates, Logano laments

6. Ross Chastain (No. 7 last week) — Chastain tied Aric Almirola for most laps led (36) at Talladega and has been consistent as of late with three finishes of seventh or better in the past four races.

7. William Byron (No. 5 last week) — Byron’s worst news last week came off the track as he was penalized by NASCAR for dumping Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas. He finished 12th at Talladega.

8. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe is quietly making the case that he could make the Round of 8 and challenge for the title.

MORE: Winners and losers at Talladega

9. Daniel Suarez (unranked last week) — Suarez maneuvered through the Talladega draft with style and came home eighth. He has three top 10s in the past seven races.

10. Christopher Bell (No. 6 last week) — Bell had a rough day at Talladega and will be looking to Sunday’s race at the Roval for redemption.

Dropped out: Tyler Reddick (No. 10 last week).