Christopher Bell continued his thus far perfect weekend Saturday, capturing the pole for this afternoon’s Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 Xfinity Series playoff race (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) at ISM Raceway near Phoenix.
Bell’s pole – his sixth of the season (a career high) – added to Friday’s accomplishments of being fastest in both Xfinity Series practice sessions. In addition, Bell is the defending winner of this race from last fall.
Now all that’s left to cap off the perfect weekend is to win this afternoon’s race.
Bell took today’s pole with a speed of 132.450 mph. Cole Custer will start alongside Bell on the front row after posting a qualifying speed of 132.100 mph. Bell and Custer were the only drivers to post speeds above 132 mph during the qualifying session.
Bell covered the 1.5-mile track at a speed of 181.165 mph. It was his fifth pole of the season and 11th of his Xfinity career.
Today’s race will be the 19th Xfinity race held at Kansas Speedway and Bell becomes the 15th different driver to earn an Xfinity pole there. Kansas Speedway is the closest NASCAR track to Bell’s Norman, Oklahoma home.
His car may carry the number 00, but Cole Custer was No. 1 Saturday, winning the final race of the first round of the Xfinity playoffs at Dover International Speedway, propelling him and seven other drivers into the Round of 8, which begins in two weeks at Kansas.
It was Custer’s seventh win of the season, tying him with Christopher Bell for most wins in the 2019 Xfinity Season. Custer led 31 laps in his 100th career start in the Xfinity Series. It was also the ninth career Xfinity Series win for the 21-year-old Custer.
“I’ve wanted to win here so bad for so long,” Custer told NBCSN. “I’ve been close a number of times. To win the gold Monster (trophy) is just unbelievable. … I think it’s every driver’s favorite race track. Everybody wants the Monster. It’s such a cool race track. … It’s definitely one you want to cross off the box.”
The eight drivers that move on to the second round of the playoffs are: Christopher Bell, Briscoe, Custer, Cindric, Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Gragson and Annett. The first seven drivers were locked into the playoffs either coming into the race or during the race, except for Annett, who had to race his way into the second round with a strong performance late in the race, holding off Haley and Nemechek and keeping both of them from advancing.
“I was trying to do my high school math out there and I think I needed to beat the 23 (Nemechek) by eight (points) in that last segment, so our strategy helped,” Annett told NBCSN. :I just wanted to hang tough and bring it home and that’s what these guys deserved. This is my best playoff run since we’ve started these playoffs so I’m looking forward to it as we have a lot of good tracks ahead of us.”
The four drivers that were eliminated from advancing in the playoffs were Brandon Jones, Nemechek, Sieg and Haley.
Even though he’s assured of moving on to Round 2, it was an uncharacteristically bad day for points leader Christopher Bell, who had to pit during Stage 1 to replace a carburetor, dropping him 14 laps behind the leaders. Bell returned to the race and finished 25th.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier
STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier (seventh stage win of season; second time he’s swept both stages in a race this season – also did it at Bristol in spring).
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Cole Custer is one of Xfinity’s so-called “Big 3” and showed why he is in that elite company Saturday. He may not have had the best car, but great pit strategy and staying out of trouble brought home the win and put him in second place in the reset points heading into Round 2 of the playoffs. … And don’t overlook Chase Briscoe’s rally from last for unapproved adjustments after a misfire in qualifying to first before finishing fifth. He led a race-high 71 laps before the misfire returned late in the event.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brandon Jones’ hopes to advance to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs lasted just two turns before he was involved in a first lap wreck with Harrison Burton that left Jones’ car unable to be repaired. “I always try to find the positives with this kind of stuff, obviously none today,” Jones, who finished 37th, told NBSCN. … Jeremy Clements’ motor blew up on Lap 10, ending his day (finished 36th).
NOTABLE:Brandon Brown‘s 11th-place finish was his best finish since placing sixth at Daytona in July. Saturday’s finish marked the second time he’s placed better than 12th this year.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway kicks off the Round of 8 second round of the Xfinity playoffs on Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
After all the waiting it’s almost time for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN).
The fifth year of NASCAR’s official Throwback Weekend celebrates the 1990-94 era of the sport but there are paint schemes from various eras that we’ll be seen competing on the track “Too Tough to Tame.”
Here’s your guide to the retro paint schemes that have been announced so far for this weekend, including schemes for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
Landon Cassill, No. 00 Chevrolet – The StarCom Racing car will honor Sterling Marlin with his early 2000s “Silver Bullet” scheme.
Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet – The Chip Ganassi Racing driver’s car will be made to look like his personal 1969 Chevy Camaro.
Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford – The Team Penske driver will race Rusty Wallace’s 1996 Cup Series scheme.
Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet – Dillon will boast a paint scheme that was driven by his grandfather and team owner Richard Childress in the late 1970s.
Ryan Newman, No. 6 Ford – With Oscar Mayer taking the place of Valvoline, Newman’s car will take its cue from the scheme Mark Martin raced in 1993, when he earned Roush Fenway Racing’s first Southern 500 victory.
Daniel Hemric, No. 8 Chevrolet – Hemric will drive a car inspired by the design of CAT equipment and the logo used on them from its launch in 1925 until 1931.
Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet – Elliott will boast the scheme his father, Bill Elliott, claimed his first Cup pole with in 1981 at Darlington.
Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota – Hamlin’s car will evoke Darrell Waltrip’s Western Auto paint scheme from the 1990s.
Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford – The Team Penske driver will have a scheme inspired by Michael Waltrip’s Pennzoil car from 1991-95.
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota – Busch will pilot a Snickers-sponsored car based on Bobby Hillin Jr.s 1990 No. 8 Snickers scheme.
Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Toyota – The Joe Gibbs Racing driver will throwback to himself with the Bass Pro Shops paint scheme he drove during his 2004 Xfinity Series championship campaign. That year he drove for Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s Chance 2 Motorsports.
Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota – To mark his 100th Cup Series start, Jones will boast a scheme based on his rookie late model car.
Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford – Wood Brothers Racing will pay tribute to late team founder Glen Wood with the paint scheme Wood drove himself in 1957, including in his only appearance as a driver at Darlington.
Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford – The Team Penske driver will have the Pennzoil paint scheme Kevin Harvick used to win the 2007 Daytona 500.
William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet – Byron will drive one of Cole Trickle’s paint schemes from the 1990 Tom Cruise movie “Days of Thunder.”
Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Ford – GoFas Racing’s car will be based on Dale Jarrett’s 1990-91 Nestle Crunch sponsored Xfinity car.
Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford – The Front Row Motorsports driver will have a paint scheme that pays homage to the career of long-time owner and driver Jimmy Means, who was once partnered with FRM owner Bob Jenkins.
Matt Tifft, No. 36 Ford – The rookie driver will pay tribute to his father. The car is based on a Dirt Late Model car his father owned, which was driven by David Hilliker.
David Ragan, No. 38 Ford – The Front Row Motorsports driver will drive a scheme inspired by David Pearson’s 1969 championship car.
We got the @shrinershosp Ford Mustang colors dialed in perfect for this weekends @TooToughToTame race. Car will look great when it hits the track on Friday!!
Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet – Larson’s car will resemble Ricky Craven’s Kodiak scheme from his Cup Series Rookie of the Year season in 1995.
Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet – Wallace’s car will be a tribute to the late Adam Petty and his 1998 ARCA win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ryan Preece, No. 47 Chevrolet – Preece will have a tribute to modified racing legend Ron Bouchard. The scheme is based on the No. 47 Majik Market/Hawaiian Punch car Bouchard drove at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in 1984.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet – Johnson will throwback to his off-road racing days with a scheme from 1995.
BJ McLeod, No. 51 Chevrolet – The car is inspired by one that Burt Reynolds’ character raced in the movie “Stroker Ace.”
In 1953 Bill Blair won at Daytona when they raced on the beach and HWY A1A. This design is to honor Bill Blair, and all the early racing pioneers, who helped shape what is now known as NASCAR, and also to the role High Point, NC played in the early years of stock car racing. pic.twitter.com/YDd7YAPEyN
Garrett Smithley, No. 54 Chevrolet – The Rick Ware Racing car will pay tribute to Lennie Pond’s 1976 ride.
Reed Sorenson, No. 77 Chevrolet – The Spire Motorsports car will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Motor Racing Network and the 11 radio affiliates that have broadcast NASCAR races since its inception in 1970.
Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet – Bowman’s Axalta-sponsored car is inspired by Tim Richmond‘s Folger’s Coffee scheme from 1986-87.
Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Toyota – The Leavine Family Racing car will be a tribute to the GTO Celicas that won the IMSA GTU title in 1987.
Stewart-Haas Racing – In celebration of co-owner Tony Stewart’s election to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, three SHR drivers will have paint schemes based on the cars Stewart raced to his three Cup Series titles. Aric Almirola‘s No. 10 Ford will be based on Stewart’s 2002 car, Daniel Suarez‘s No. 41 Ford will be based on the 2005 season and Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Ford will look like the car Stewart drove to his 2011 title.
Cole Custer, No. 00 Ford – The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will have a throwback to Buckshot Jones’ 1997 Xfinity Series car.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet – Earnhardt will pilot the scheme his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., drove in his first Cup start in the 1975 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Justin Haley, No. 11 Chevrolet – Kaulig Racing will boast Jeff Burton’s 1994 rookie Cup paint scheme with matching sponsorship from brake parts company Raybestos. It also serves as a tribute to team owner Matt Kaulig’s father and team chief financial officer, Bob Kaulig, who served as a vice president of Raybestos from 1985-2008.
Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Ford
Stephen Leicht, No. 15 Chevrolet – The JD Motorsports driver’s scheme is based on Ken Scrader’s mid-1990s Budweiser car.
Denny Hamlin, No. 18 Toyota – Hamlin will have a scheme based on Bill Elliott’s No. 11 Budweiser car.
Brandon Jones, No. 19 Toyota – The Joe Gibbs Racing driver will have Bubby Baker’s “Gray Ghost” paint scheme.
Austin Cindric, No. 22 Ford – The Team Penske driver will race the paint scheme Roger Penske had for his one and only NASCAR win as a driver.