Josh Bilicki

Cole Custer dominates for fourth Xfinity win of season

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JOLIET, Illinois – Cole Custer had one of the most dominant performances of his career, leading 151 of 200 laps to win Saturday’s Camping World 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Having previously won this season at Fontana, Richmond and Pocono, Custer joins Christopher Bell as the only two drivers to earn four NASCAR Xfinity Series victories apiece thus far this season.

Awesome car, I don’t know how it could have been any better,” Custer told crew chief Mike Shiplett over the team radio after grabbing the checkered flag.

The 21-year-old Custer held off a strong challenge in the closing laps from pole sitter Joey Logano – making his first Xfinity start of the year – and Bell to earn the sixth win of his Xfinity Series career (in 86 starts).

“This is a great track, I’ve wanted to win here for a long time,” Custer said. “You can see we’ve been getting better and better over the year. … It means a lot.”

Bell, who finished third, was disqualified about an hour after the checkered flag fell when his car was found to be too low in post-race inspection. He becomes the second driver to be disqualified in a NASCAR race in the last 13 days (Ross Chastain was DQ’d after winning the Trucks race at Iowa on June 16, also for the front end of his truck being too low).

Before Bell’s disqualification, Custer was asked about beating his two top challengers in the series, Bell and Tyler Reddick. “The three of us are racing for wins every weekend,” Custer said. “I think we will continue to get better throughout this summer stretch and have something to look out for.”

Logano finished second, followed by Michael Annett, Brandon Jones and Austin Cidric. Sixth through 10th were Noah Gragson (highest-finishing rookie), Justin Haley, Ross Chastain, Reddick and Riley Herbst.

Race results: Click here

Xfinity standings: Click here

Logano paid Custer a big compliment, saying, “He did good. It’s funny when you come down to the next level down and see the next up-and-coming talent, he’s ready for it (NASCAR Cup), I can say that much.”

BJ McLeod hit the wall on Lap 173, bringing out the caution, leading several drivers to pit for tires and a final tank of gas. On the ensuing restart on Lap 179, Custer dove to the bottom of the track and easily went from fourth to first and set sail the remainder of the way for the victory.

Several drivers were penalized prior to the race and dropped to the back of the field for the green flag: The No. 98 (Chase Briscoe) and No. 78 (Vinnie Miller) for unapproved adjustments, the No. 28 (Shane Lee) for an engine change, the No. 17 (Josh Bilicki) for a driver change (the team had not listed a driver name on the original entry list), the No. 38 (Jeff Green) for missing the driver/crew chief meeting and the No. 42 (Chad Finchum) for crew chief (Brian Keselowski) missing the driver/crew chief meeting.

Stage 1 winner: Cole Custer (6th stage win of season)

Stage 2 winner: Joey Logano

Who had a good race: Cole Custer put on a driving clinic with his performance. He went high when he needed to and also dropped low, essentially using virtually every inch of the track he needed. While so much has been said about Christopher Bell this season, if Saturday’s performance is a good indicator, keep your eyes on Custer as a potential Xfinity champion.

Who had a bad race: Illinois native Justin Allgaier had a rough day. He had a solo spin on Lap 11 while running third, was forced into the wall on Lap 116 after Jeffrey Earnhardt got loose and washed up the racetrack in front of Allgaier, and then hit the wall hard on Lap 129. He immediately took his car to the garage, his day over. “Just bummed to be here,” Allgaier told NBCSN after being checked at the infield care center. “It was a rough day … a very disappointing day.”

Notable: Joey Logano drove like he’s been competing all season in the Xfinity Series, even though this was his first start of the season in NASCAR’s junior league. Logano started from the pole and had the second-best car on track, but didn’t have quite enough to overtake Custer.

Next race: Circle K Firecracker 250; Friday July 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET; Daytona International Speedway (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Preliminary entry lists for Cup and Xfinity at Michigan, Trucks at Texas

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This weekend’s NASCAR racing will be split between two fast but different racetracks.

The Cup and Xfinity Series will be at the 2-mile high-speed oval at Michigan International Speedway, while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will be at the speedy 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway as part of the IndyCar weekend there.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for this weekend’s two races:

Cup – FireKeepers Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-six cars are entered.

Garrett Smithley will make his fourth Cup start of the season, but his first in the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet (his other three starts came for Spire Motorsports).

Kyle Weatherman will be in the No. 51 Petty Ware Racing Ford.

Josh Bilicki will drive for Rick Ware Racing in the No. 52 Ford.

Clint Bowyer won this race last year, while Kevin Harvick won the mid-summer August race.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

 

Xfinity – LTi Printing 250 (1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

A total of 39 cars are entered for this race.

Paul Menard is the only Cup regular who is entered in this race, driving the No. 12 Team Penske Ford.

There is no driver or crew chief listed yet for the No. 17 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Austin Dillon won this race last year.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

 

Trucks – Speedycash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway (8:30 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

There are 33 Trucks entered in this race.

Veteran Cup driver Greg Biffle will come out of retirement to drive the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

After switching his points eligibility to the Truck Series, Ross Chastain will drive Neice Motorsports’ No. 38 Chevy, replacing TJ Bell Jr.

Johnny Sauter won this race last year.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Entry lists for NASCAR at Kansas

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With Mother’s Day on Sunday, NASCAR goes back under the lights this weekend at Kansas Speedway for both the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on Friday night and the Cup Series race on Saturday evening.

The Xfinity Series is off this weekend and does not return to action until May 25 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race:

Cup – Digital Ally 400 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

There will be a 40-car field in Saturday’s main event of the weekend.

Tyler Reddick will make his second career Cup start for Richard Childress Racing. Reddick’s previous Cup start was in this year’s season-opening Daytona 500, where he started 39th and finished 27th.

Jeb Burton will make his third Cup start of the season for Rick Ware Racing, driving the No. 51 Chevy. 

Kevin Harvick won this race last year, leading 79 of 267 laps and beating Martin Truex Jr. Chase Elliott won last fall’s playoff race, beating Kyle Busch.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Trucks – Digital Ally 250 (8:30 p.m. ET Friday on Fox Sports 1)

There are 27 Trucks entered for this race. 

Josh Bilicki will make his series debut driving the No. 34 Chevrolet for Reaume Brothers Racing.

The No. 30 of Brennan Poole has been withdrawn from the race due to a lack of sponsorship.

Noah Gragson won this race last year, beating Kyle Busch by 1.558 seconds. Stewart Friesen finished third.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Josh Bilicki to compete full-time in Xfinity Series for Ryan Sieg Racing

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Josh Bilicki has joined Ryan Sieg Racing to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series this season.

Bilicki will drive the No. 38 Chevrolet and be sponsored by Dr. Squatch Soap Co. for the Feb. 16 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Bilicki has 38 Xfinity starts since 2016 but has never competed in every race in a season. He competed in 29 of 33 races last year.

“I’m very thankful to R.S.S. Racing for this opportunity,” Bilicki said in a press release. “Last year was a learning year for me, especially seeing and driving fifteen of the tracks for the first time. I feel comfortable at every track now, and R.S.S. has cars and equipment capable of finishing upfront, which excites me. I’ve been around the team a handful of times and I think that this is a natural fit. I’m equally just as excited to be bringing a brand-new partner into NASCAR, Dr. Squatch Soap Co.! One hundred percent of the company’s products are made right here in the United States, and I feel that’s a very important stat for the NASCAR community.”

Bilicki joins a driver roster that includes Ryan Sieg and 2000 Xfinity champion Jeff Green.

One Cup, six Xfinity teams docked practice time Friday

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chase Elliott is the only Cup driver who will be penalized practice time Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while six Xfinity teams, including one title contender will miss practice time.

Elliott will miss 15 minutes for being late to inspection last weekend at Phoenix. Cup practice is from 1 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Xfinity title contender Christopher Bell will miss 30 minutes of opening practice for failing inspection three times last week at Phoenix. The cars of Josh Bilicki and Chase Briscoe also will miss 30 minutes for the same infraction.

David Starr will be docked 15 minutes of practice for being late to inspection last week at Phoenix. The cars of Vinnie Miller and Stephen Leicht will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice.

Opening Xfinity practice is from 2:35 – 3:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.