Joe Nemechek

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Xfinity set to reach new track winner mark for first time in 22 years

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Unless Joe Nemechek, who hasn’t won a NASCAR Xfinity race since 2004, wins Saturday’s Xfinity event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on FS1), the series will accomplish something that hasn’t been done since Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s first championship season in the series

A non-Nemechek winner will become the fifth driver to earn their first victory at a track in the opening five races of the season.

They’ll have Brandon Jones to thank.

When Jones passed Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go on his way to a win at Phoenix Raceway last weekend, he kept Busch from claiming his 12th series victory on the 1-mile track.

While it was Jones’ second career Xfinity win, it was his first at Phoenix.

Jones followed Noah Gragson‘s first career win to open the year at Daytona, Chase Briscoe‘s first win at Las Vegas and Harrison Burton‘s first career victory at Auto Club Speedway.

Now here’s where we make you feel old.

The Xfinity Series has not seen a new track winner in each of the first five races of a season since 1998. That year, the first 10 races of the year featured new track winners, including the first career wins of Earnhardt and Matt Kenseth.

The streak is primarily a sign of the times. The trio of Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell, who won 34 of 99 Xfinity races over the previous three seasons, have moved to the Cup Series.

It’s also a result of NASCAR limiting drivers who earn points in the Cup Series to five Xfinity starts a year.

Busch isn’t scheduled to make another Xfinity start until May 23 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with six races between starts. Brad Keselowski also competed in Phoenix, but a Team Penske spokesperson said the team hasn’t solidified the remaining schedule for its No. 12 car.

The streak could continue next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

None of the current full-time Xfinity drivers have won there. Even though Earnhardt is slated to compete in the March 21 race, he hasn’t won there in five career starts.

What’s the next track the Xfinity Series will visit where one of its full-time drivers has already won?

The May 2 race at Dover International Speedway. Justin Allgaier won the spring 2018 race there.

Brandon Jones passes Kyle Busch to take Xfinity win at Phoenix

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Brandon Jones passed Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go and held on to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway.

It was Jones’ second career win in 141 Xfinity starts. His previous win came last October at Kansas.

Busch started from the pole and sought his 12th career Xfinity win at Phoenix. It appeared that he was headed toward that goal, leading a race-high 78 laps, but trailed off in the final 20 laps.

Not only did Jones pass him for the lead, last week’s winner at Fontana, Harrison Burton, also got past Busch and finished runner-up Saturday.

Still, it was some consolation that each of the top three drivers were Toyota drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Brad Keselowski finished fourth, followed by Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Riley Herbst.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Noah Gragson

RESULTS

DRIVER STANDINGS

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Harrison Burton is on a roll. After winning last week at Fontana, he roared back for a runner-up finish in Saturday’s race. He has scored a top-five finish in each of the season’s first four races. Burton also is atop the Xfinity driver standings after Saturday’s race.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Joe Nemechek had a scary moment with 72 laps to go when his brakes went out, causing Nemechek to hit the wall and sustain moderate damage to the right side of his car. Nemechek finished 32nd. … NASCAR met with Dillon Bassett, Brandon Brown and their crew chiefs for an altercation on pit road after the race. Bassett went to Brown’s car and reached into the car on pit road. The two had made contact on Lap 137 of the 200-lap race.

NOTABLE: This was the 500th win on the NASCAR national level for Toyota.

WHAT’S NEXT: EchoPark 250, Saturday March 14 at 4 p.m. ET, at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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Practice holds for Cup, Xfinity teams at Las Vegas

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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UPDATED with inspection issues in Cup Friday …

Six Cup and 12 Xfinity teams will miss practice Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for inspection issues last week at Daytona.

NASCAR announced Friday that the Cup teams of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones and Christopher Bell will each have 15-minute holds in practice because those teams used bondo to change the manufacturer’s shape of the fender.

Earlier, t he Cup, the teams of Hamlin and Brennan Poole each will miss 15 minutes of opening practice for failing inspection twice at Daytona.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes four Truck teams for inspection issues at Las Vegas

In Xfinity, the teams of Daytona winner Noah Gragson, Matt Mills, David Starr, Robby Lyons II, Joe Nemechek, Vinnie Miller, Josh Williams, Mason Massey and the No. 74 car of Mike Harmon Racing each will miss 15 minutes of practice for being late to inspection at Daytona.

The Xfinity cars of Justin Haley and Joey Gase each will miss 15 minutes of practice for failing inspection twice.

The Xfinity car of Stephen Leicht will miss 30 minutes of practice for being late and failing inspection twice.

Xfinity practice is from 2:35 – 3:55 p.m. ET Friday. Opening Cup practice is from 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. ET Friday.

Riley Herbst wins pole for Truck Series opener at Daytona

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Riley Herbst will start first in tonight’s Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Herbst, driving Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota, qualified on the pole with a top speed of 181.657 mph.

It is Herbst’s first career pole and comes in his eighth Truck Series start. He will compete full-time in the Xfinity Series this year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

The top five is completed by Brett Moffitt, Christian Eckes, Ross Chastain and Johnny Sauter.

Austin Hill, the defending winner of this race, qualified 15th. Matt Crafton, the defending series champion, will start 10th.

Drivers who failed to make the race: Norm Benning, John Hunter Nemechek, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ray Ciccarelli, Clay Greenfield, Joe Nemechek and Todd Peck.

Tonight’s race is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Truck Series practice report from Daytona

Zane Smith. Photo: Getty Images
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The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series held two practice sessions Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for Friday night’s season-opening NextEra Energy 250.

FINAL PRACTICE

Johnny Sauter was fastest in the second and final practice session.

Sauter, whose truck stopped on the track during the first session, roared back to pace the field in the second session with a speed of 193.278 mph.

Defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton was second fastest (193.228 mph), followed by last year’s Daytona winner, Austin Hill, at 192.645 mph.

Derek Kraus was fourth fastest (191.959 mph), followed by Christian Eckes (191.885). Sixth through 10th were Brett Moffitt (191.853 mph), Ross Chastain (191.750), Stewart Friesen (191.559), Raphael Lessard (191.522) and Riley Herbst (191.416).

A total of 38 trucks took to the track during the second session, part of 40 entries for Friday’s race. However, only 32 will make the race day field following Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, which starts at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Two incidents occurred in the session. Josh Reaume may have suffered an apparent motor issue and took his truck to the garage, while the fastest driver in the first session, Zane Smith, lost power and coasted to a stop coming off Turn 4.

Friday night’s race will start shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.

Final Truck practice results

FIRST PRACTICE

Zane Smith was fastest in the first practice session, covering the 2.5-mile speedway at a top speed of 193.175 mph.

Riley Herbst was second (193.017 mph), followed by Ty Majeski (193.009 mph), Joe Nemechek (192.823 mph) and his son, John Hunter Nemechek (192.468 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Korbin Forrister (190.210), Gus Dean (189.629), Tyler Ankrum (189.597), Brett Moffitt (189.593) and Sheldon Creed (189.561).

The session was stopped three times by a red flag. It was first displayed due to an issue with Clay Greenfield. The second time was for Johnny Sauter stalling on the track because of an electrical issue. Angela Ruch stalled on pit road to bring out the third red flag.

Truck practice No. 1 results

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