Christopher Bell wins at Phoenix to clinch spot in Xfinity title race

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Facing a must-win situation, Christopher Bell did just that, winning Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Miami.

Bell entered the race 34 points out from the final transfer spot. He started 38th after his No. 20 Toyota did not get through inspection in time to qualify.

The rookie marched through the field and took the lead for good on Lap 108 when he passed John Hunter Nemechek.

Bell led 94 laps and beat Daniel Hemric, Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric and Ryan Preece.

It is Bell’s seventh win of the season, a rookie record.

“I’ll be honest after (DNFs at) Kansas and Texas I kind of just accepted we wouldn’t be able to get there,” Bell told NBC. “Just came over here with a ‘Let’s have fun attitude.’ … We didn’t really make our way up front that fast. I kind of got stalled out once I got into the top 15. I knew this thing was really fast because yesterday in practice it was really good. That clean air just meant so much. My pit crew did an amazing job … We’re going to (Miami), baby.”

Justin Allgaier, who won five races this season, was eliminated from title contention. He placed 24th, one laps down after he lost his brakes with about 20 laps to go.

Elliott Sadler, who will not compete full-time after the end of the season, was also eliminated.

Austin Cindric and Matt Tifft were the other drivers eliminated.

The Championship 4 will be Cole Custer, Bell, Hemric and Tyler Reddick

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Daniel Hemric earned his fifth runner-up finish without a Xfinity win … Matt Tifft placed third, his best result since he finished second at Road America … Austin Cindric earned his third top five in the last five races.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Akinori Ogata extended the series’ streak of incidents on Lap 1 to three races when he wrecked in Turn 3. He finished 33rd … After winning the first two stages, Justin Allgaier placed 24th, one lap down. He suffered damage from contact with John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 145. He then lost his brakes with about 20 laps to go, but finished the race.

NOTABLE: Chevrolet clinched its 19th manufacturer championship in the series at the start of the race … Christopher Bell’s seven wins are the most by a non-Cup driver in Xfinity since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won seven times in 1998.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ”Disappointment. At the end of the day we did everything right this year. We had a great season. Today we did everything right at the beginning part of the race. That was probably the most frustrating part. We led a lot of laps. We won both stages. All things considered it was going to be a great day. Ultimately at the end, getting ourselves in that bad position, getting caught up in that little of a crash and losing brakes. At that point it was survival, gain as many points as we can gain.” – Justin Allgaier after he was eliminated for title contention.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 17 on NBCSN

 

John Hunter Nemechek wins Xfinity pole at Phoenix; Christopher Bell to start from rear

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John Hunter Nemechek won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series playoff race at ISM Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC) with a top speed of 133.482 mph.

It is Nemechek’s first Xfinity Series pole.

“It feels good,” Nemechek told NBCSN. “We came here with the mindset to try and qualify on the pole. … We unloaded not really good yesterday so we only got to do one mock (qualifying) run and it wasn’t that great.”

The pole comes a day after Chip Ganassi Racing announced Ross Chastain will drive its No. 42 Xfinity car full-time next season.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (playoffs), Austin Cindric (playoffs), Justin Allgaier (playoffs) and Ryan Preece.

Playoff drivers Elliott Sadler (sixth), Daniel Hemric (eighth) and Matt Tifft (10th) also qualified within in the top 12.

Tyler Reddick (14th) was the only playoff driver who made a qualifying attempt to not advance to final round.

Playoff contender Christopher Bell did not make a qualifying attempt in Round 1 after his No. 20 Toyota did not make it through inspection in time to make a lap. Bell’s car failed inspection three times, resulting in the ejection of car chief Chris Sherwood.

Bell enters the elimination race 34 points out of the final transfer spot and in essentially a must-win situation to advance to Miami.

“Well the good thing is (Miami) doesn’t decide on where we start, it decides on where we finish,” Bell told NBCSN. “We got 200 laps, which is an eternity, especially from what I grew up doing in sprint car racing. Got a bunch of pit stops in there and a fast car to make it up. We’ll be fine.”

Bell said the car is the same one he took to Victory Lane in both Richmond races this season.

“This is probably the fastest car we’ve brought to the race track all year-long compared to the field,” Bell said.

Ty Majeski and Josh Bilicki also did not make attempts. Majeski’s car also failed inspection three times.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Phoenix, Championship 4 set

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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Brett Moffitt took advantage of a late-race restart to win his fifth race of the season and lock into the Championship 4 at Miami.

Moffitt restarted third with four laps remaining as fellow playoff contenders Noah Gragson and Grant Enfinger started on the front row.

Enfinger raced Gragson hard and as the two pushed up the track, that made room for Moffitt to grab the lead.

Gragson held on to finish second.

“On that restart, I spun the tires a little bit in the restart zone and then in (Turns) 1 and 2 I got run up the racetrack.” Gragson told Fox Sports 1 after the race. “I guess I was three-wide. We were beating and banging. That’s what you got to do. I dish it, so I sure as hell got to take it. I respect the 98 for what he did. He’s going for the win; I’m going for the win. But most importantly we’re going to be racing for a championship next week at Homestead.”

Harrison Burton was third, Enfinger fourth and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.

Friesen appeared to have a shot at the victory until he was caught speeding during a pit stop at the end of Stage 2.

With his fourth-place finish, Enfinger was eliminated from the playoffs.

Playoff contender Johnny Sauter, who was already locked into the championship finale, finished seventh.

Matt Crafton finished 11th and failed to advance to the Championship 4.

The race was red flagged on Lap 131 when playoff contender Justin Haley oiled down the track with a blown engine. He was running fifth at the time, but retired in 28th. Haley was already locked into the Championship 4 with his win last week at Texas.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt

STAGE 2 WINNER: Harrison Burton

MORE: Click here for complete results
MORE: Click here for complete points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Derek Kraus finished eighth in his Truck debut. … Christian Eckes scored his third top 10 in his fourth career Truck start; he finished ninth. … In his second career start, Tyler Ankrum survived a spin on Lap 17 and climbed to sixth at the checkers. … Sheldon Creed qualified 16th and advanced to 10th for his first Truck top 10 in six starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: John Hunter Nemechek gambled on two tires when the field pitted at the end of Stage 2; he spun with 23 laps to go while trying to hold Enfinger at bay and finished 29th. … Todd Gilliland was involved in an accident with Ankrum on Lap 17 and was never able to rebound; Gilliland finished 17th.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “Sorry guys. All we had. Don’t know what else to tell you,” Enfinger said to his team over the radio after the checkered flag waved.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ford EcoBoost 200 at 8 p.m. ET on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Fox Sports 1.

Xfinity practice report from Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – John Hunter Nemechek had the fastest lap in Friday’s final Xfinity practice at ISM Raceway.

Nemechek had a lap of 133.072 mph. He was followed by Christopher Bell (132.402 mph), Austin Cindric (131.858), Ryan Preece (131.752) and Matt Tifft (131.685).

First practice

Christopher Bell was the fastest in the first two Xfinity practice sessions Friday at ISM Raceway.

Bell had a lap of 132.304 mph. He was followed by Ryan Preece (132.110 mph), Cole Custer (131.699), Matt Tifft (131.690) and Daniel Hemric 131.670.

Click here for practice report

The final Xfinity practice session will be from 4:35 – 5:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Chip Ganassi Racing signs Ross Chastain to drive No. 42 Xfinity car in 2019

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Ross Chastain will drive its No. 42 Xfinity car in 2019. DC Solar will be the sponsor.

“Make no mistake about it, I think everybody on the team has agreed to put him in the car because we think he can win races and championships,” car owner Chip Ganassi said Friday at ISM Raceway.

Chastain drove three races for the No. 42 team this season in the Xfinity Series. He won the pole and challenged for the win at Darlington before an incident with Kevin Harvick and then won at Las Vegas in the Ganassi car.

“It’s unreal, honestly,” Chastain of his full-time Xfinity ride in 2019.

Chastain has driven for JD Motorsports in the series since 2015.

“What Johnny Davis has done for me is incredible,” Chastain said.

Chastain also said that he plans to run in Cup next year for Premium Motorsports.

Asked if Ganassi plans to run a second Xfinity car for his Cup drivers next year, he said. he’d like to run John Hunter Nemechek in a second car. Nemechek has driven 16 races this season for the team. He is in the car this weekend and is scheduled to drive the car next weekend in Miami.