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Austin Dillon without crew chief for playoff opener

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Austin Dillon will start the Cup playoffs Sunday without crew chief Justin Alexander on his pit box, Parker Kligerman reported Sunday on NASCAR America.

Alexander is back home in North Carolina due to a family matter. He will be replaced by Danny Stockman.

Stockman is the crew chief for Daniel Hemric on Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 car in the Xfinity Series.

Dillon starts the South Point 400 in 18th. The race is set to begin at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

‘I’m just a watermelon farmer’: Ross Chastain earns first Xfinity win

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Ross Chastain held off Justin Allgaier and the field in a six-lap shootout to score his first career Xfinity Series win Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Chastain, in just his second race with Chip Ganassi Racing, led 180 of 200 laps and swept every stage. He had to survive three restarts in the last 20 laps to secure the win, which came in his 132nd series start at the age of 25.

It is Chastain’s first overall NASCAR win in 215 starts across all three national series.

“Thank you all so much,” Chastain told his team over the radio. “I can’t thank you all ever in my whole life enough.”

The top five was completed by Cole Custer, Christopher Bell and Elliott Sadler.

“Holy cow. I’m just a watermelon farmer from Florida,” Chastain told NBCSN on the start-finish line. “I’m not supposed to do that. Wow. … Man, that is a testament that anything in life is possible.”

In Victory Lane, Chastain kissed a watermelon in celebration.

Chastain usually competes for JD Motorsports. He made his CGR debut in the No. 42 two races ago at Darlington. In that race he started from the pole and led 90 laps before his chances at winning ended with a final stage incident with Kevin Harvick while battling for the lead.

Chastain has one more race scheduled with CGR next week at Richmond Raceway.

With his second-place finish, Allgaier secured the regular-season title and 15 bonus playoff points.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ross Chastain

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ross Chastain

MORE: Point standings, race results

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Justin Allgaier earned his fifth runner-up finish of the year … Elliott Sadler tied his best finish (fifth) since the July Daytona race … Ryan Preece bounced back from two incidents and a speeding penalty to place sixth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Michael Annett was eliminated in a Lap 6 crash that also involved Preece … Ryan Reed and Matt Tifft were eliminated in a crash on Lap 65Chase Briscoe was involved in a hard wreck with 19 laps to go when contact from Tyler Reddick sent him sliding into the inside wall on the backstretch. It resulted in his third DNF of the year and the 10th for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 60 Ford … Daniel Hemric, Shane Lee and Tyler Reddick wrecked out with 11 laps to go.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “No matter what happens, if I go back to the farm tomorrow … which I’m going to do one day after racing’s over, if I had to back tomorrow I’ll have no regrets, obviously.” – Ross Chastain to NBCSN.

NOTABLE: Four of the last 11 first-time winners were in the No. 42 with crew chief Mike Shiplett.

WHAT’S NEXT: Playoff opener in the Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 21 on NBCSN

Silly Season: Ryan Newman latest driver on the move

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Ryan Newman joined the list of drivers who will be on the move in 2019 when he announced Saturday on Twitter that he will not return to the No. 31 car at Richard Childress Racing.

Newman is in his fifth season with RCR. He finished second in the championship in 2012, his first season with the team. Newman made the playoffs three times at RCR. He did not make the playoffs this season.

Newman stated he was not ready to announce his future plans in Cup. Childress also was not ready to announce who will drive the No. 31 after this season.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2019

Bubba Wallace will remain with Richard Petty Motorsports through the 2020 season (announcement made July 28)

CUP RIDES NOT YET ANNOUNCED FOR 2019

No. 1: The Associated Press reported Sept. 10 that car owner Chip Ganassi had offered Jamie McMurray a contract to drive in the 2019 Daytona 500 only and then move into a management position. Ganassi was awaiting McMurray’s decision. The move means the No. 1 will be open for 2019.

No. 6: Car owner Jack Roush said Sept. 12 on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Trevor Bayne would not be back with Roush Fenway Racing after this season. Bayne, who has shared the No. 6 ride this season with Matt Kenseth, has driven in Cup for Roush since 2015.

No. 23: Front Row Motorsports purchased the BK Racing team in bankruptcy court in August. Front Row needs the team to run the rest of the season to maintain the charter. After this season, Front Row could run a third car, lease this charter or sell this charter.

No. 31: Ryan Newman announced Sept. 15 that he would not return to the No. 31 after this season. Car owner Richard Childress told NBC Sports: “We’ll announce who our driver is in the near future.”

No. 32: Go Fas Racing is looking for a driver after Matt DiBenedetto’s announcement Sept. 7 that he won’t return to the team after this season.

No. 41: Kurt Busch signed a one-year deal last December to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing. He said Aug. 31 at Darlington that he has two contract offers for 2019 but did not reveal what teams they were from. Busch said Sept. 7 he had no updates on his status.

No. 95: Kasey Kahne announced Aug. 16 that he would not return for another full-time season. Also, this team has told Richard Childress Racing it won’t be a part of its technical alliance next year. Car owner Bob Leavine said Aug. 5 that “in our talking to the manufacturers this year, Toyota has been head-and-shoulders above the rest so far.”

DRIVERS WITHOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR 2019

Trevor Bayne: 2011 Daytona 500 winner is looking for a ride after the Sept. 12 announcement he won’t return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2019. He told NBC Sports on Sept. 14 that he has been calling car owners looking for a ride and would look at any of NASCAR’s top three national series. 

Kurt Busch: 2004 champion’s contract expires after this season with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Matt DiBenedettoSaid he was betting on himself by leaving Go Fas Racing and looking to race elsewhere. While he would like a full-time ride, he would entertain a part-time ride in the Xfinity Series with a winning team, following what Ryan Preece has done.

Daniel Hemric: The Xfinity driver for Richard Childress Racing was asked Aug. 17 at Bristol about his future and he described it as: “Cloudy, very cloudy.” He said then he has not signed anything for the 2019 season, adding: “I’m trying to do everything I can on the race track to prove to somebody that would be willing to put me in a car and give me a shot.”

Jamie McMurray: Although he has not revealed his plans, car owner Chip Ganassi told the AP that he had offered McMurray a contract for only the 2019 Daytona 500 before McMurray would move into a management role.

Ryan Newman: He announced Sept. 15 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that he won’t be returning to Richard Childress Racing. He intends to remain in Cup for 2019 but has yet to reveal his destination.

Ryan Preece: Modified ace who has run a limited schedule in the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing and had great success has not announced his 2019 plans.

Daniel SuarezWith reports stating that Martin Truex Jr. will go to Joe Gibbs Racing and drive the No. 19, Suarez would be looking for a ride. He said Sept. 9 at Indianapolis that “I’m not really allowed” to talk about his situation and then added: “Everything happens for a reason. I think we are going to be in good shape.”

Martin Truex Jr.Reigning series champion has not announced a ride for 2019 with the Sept. 4 news that Furniture Row Racing is shutting down after this season.

XFINITY SERIES

OPEN RIDES FOR 2019

1: Elliott Sadler announced Aug. 15 that he will not run full-time in NASCAR after this season, creating an opening at JR Motorsports for 2019.

Cole Custer wins Las Vegas Xfinity pole

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Cole Custer will starts first in the Xfinity Series’ regular-season finale Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Custer qualified first for the DC Solar 300 with a speed of 179.295 mph. It is his series-leading fifth pole of the year.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is followed by Austin Cindric (177.866 mph), Elliott Sadler (177.825), Christopher Bell (177.708) and Ross Chastain (177.317).

With Custer and Cindric both 20, they make up the youngest front row for a Las Vegas Xfinity race.

Custer earned the pole after he took the green flag with roughly 40 seconds left in the first round after narrowly making it through inspection

“That was the craziest qualifying session I’ve ever been a part of,” Custer told NBCSN.

Five drivers – Daniel Hemric, Ryan Preece, Brandon Jones, Ryan Truex and Matt Tifft – did not make a qualifying attempt after they failed to get through inspection in time. They will start from the rear.

Jones’ car failed inspection three times. His car chief, Joey Elliott, was ejected from the event.

Tifft’s car failed four times. His car chief, Cam Strader, was ejected. Tifft will have to serve a pass-through penalty to star the race. It also will result in a 10-point penalty in driver and owner points.

Both drivers will serve a 30-minute practice hold next week at Richmond.

Garrett Smithley will go to a backup car after he suffered a hard wreck in Turn 4 with about five minutes left in the first round. He was able to exit the car.

Shane Lee qualified a career-best sixth. Ryan Sieg qualified a season-best 10th.

Click here for the results.

 

 

Today’s Xfinity race at Las Vegas: Start time, lineup and more

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The Xfinity regular season comes to an end today in the inaugural DC Solar 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Ryan Reed, Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric hold the final three playoff spots entering this race.

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Jeff Carpoff, president and CEO of DC Solar, will give the command to start engines at 5:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 5:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 10:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 3:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 4:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Victoria La Mala will perform the anthem at 5:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 5 p.m. Coverage begins with Countdown to Green at 4:30 p.m. on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 4:30 p.m. and can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have the PRN broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for sunny skies with a high of 100 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

QUALIFYING: Daniel Hemric, Ryan Preece, Brandon Jones, Ryan Truex and Matt Tifft will start from the rear after failing to pass inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won at this track in March. Christopher Bell was second and Justin Allgaier was third. 

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.