Xfinity practice report at New Hampshire

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FINAL PRACTICE

Ryan Truex jumped to the top of the speed chart in the final minute of practice for the Lake Region 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His fastest lap was 128.898 mph.

He beat Brad Keselowski (128.415 mph) by .111 seconds.

Christopher Bell‘s third fastest lap of 128.023 mph was .091 seconds slower than Keselowski and .202 seconds slower than Truex.

Justin Allgaier (128.014) and Austin Dillon (127.958) rounded out the top five.

Bell had the quickest 10 lap average at 127.356 mph.

Click here for the complete final practice report.

FIRST PRACTICE

Cup regular Keselowski topped the practice chart in the first practice session for the Lake Region 200. His fastest lap was 128.040 mph.

Cole Custer was second in that session with speed of 127.619, which was .098 seconds slower than Keselowski.

Ryan Preece, who finished second in this race last year, landed third on the chart with a lap of 127.491.

Nemechek (127.419 mph) and Matt Tifft (127.321) rounded out the top five.

The only other Cup regular in the field, Dillon (126.412) posted the 15th fastest lap.

Austin Cindric spun with 32 minutes remaining and did significant damage to the No. 60 Ford. He was seventh on the speed chart at the time with a lap of 126.892 mph. The team elected to make repairs instead of rolling out a backup car.

Click here for complete first practice results.

Top three Xfinity drivers separated by three points entering New Hampshire

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Things have gotten pretty tight at the top of the food chain in the Xfinity Series.

Following last weekend’s race at Kentucky Speedway, the point standings are not led by just one driver.

Through 17 races, the standings are led by both Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric, who are tied with 608 points.

To add to an already close situation, they have Cole Custer breathing down their necks is only three points behind them heading into Saturday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

How did this situation arise considering none of the drivers have claimed a win this year?

Consistency. It’s disappeared for Sadler while Hemric and Custer have used it to catch the JR Motorsports driver.

Following the June 2 race at Pocono Raceway, Sadler had a 62-point lead over second in the standings. His lead slipped away over the next five races thanks to finishing 12th or worst three times.

He placed 30th at Michigan, 28th at Iowa and 12th at Kentucky.

That was after entering Michigan with top-10 finishes in the first 12 races of the season.

In the five races since Pocono, Hemric hasn’t finished worse than eighth and has three top-three finishes. Custer has four top fives and a DNF (wreck, Daytona).

Compared to this point last year, Sadler has more top fives (10 to seven in 2017), the same number of top 10s (14) and his average finish is 7.9 compared to 8.8.

Sadler, is mired in a 56 race winless streak that began in October 2016. And this season he’s been the best finishing Xfinity regular just once and the best finishing JR Motorsports driver only seven times.

Hemric and Custer are each in their second full-time seasons in Xfinity and have shown significant improvement over this same point in their rookie campaigns.

Through 17 races, Hemric has two poles (one in 2017), nine top fives (two in 2017), 13 top 10s (six in 2017) and no DNFs (three in 2017).

Custer has four poles (none in 2017), seven top fives (two in 2017), 13 top 10s (seven in 2017) and two DNFs (three in 2017).

Over the last eight races Hemric and Custer are tied for the most top fives with six. In that stretch, Hemric leads the series in top 10s (eight), average finish (4.13) and race points earned (311).

The point standings would be even narrower if not for two penalties dealt out by NASCAR this season to two of the three Xfinity regulars who have won races.

Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier enter New Hampshire in fourth (-17 points) and fifth (-39).

Bell lost 10 points after the Charlotte race for a post-race heights violation.

Allgaier was dealt a 25-point penalty following his win at Dover for a post-race inspection violation.

The two drivers would be in the same spot in the standings without the penalties.

Among Sadler, Hemric and Custer, it may be Custer who is the favorite to leave New Hampshire with points lead.

Custer is the only one of the trio with any success at the 1-mile track.

He’s won there in the K&N Pro Series East (2013) and in the Camping World Truck Series (2014).

He placed ninth in his first Xfinity start there last year.

“I think we’ve had really good cars in the past at short tracks and I think it’s more natural to me than a mile-and-a-half,” Custer said in a media release. “It’s probably like that for most guys. We just grew up running short tracks and didn’t have to deal with aero as much. We took a lot of good notes from New Hampshire last year that we’ll build on.”

Meanwhile, in 14 career starts at New Hampshire, Sadler has only led 26 laps and he hasn’t finished better than sixth since he returned to full-time Xfinity competition in 2011.

“We’re bringing the car we ran in Richmond, which is one of my favorites,” Sadler said in a media release. “We know it’s fast and is capable of a top-three finish. The end of the regular season isn’t too far away, so we’ve got to stick to our strategy, earn stage points and ultimately get ourselves and our partners a win.”

Sadler led 30 laps and finished third at Richmond.

Hemric placed 12th in his first Xfinity start in Loudon last year. In two Truck Series starts, he placed sixth and 28th (DNF).

“New Hampshire is always a place I look forward going to each year, especially how our company is on the short tracks right now,” Hemric said in a media release. “I feel like I know what I want in terms of speed when I get to a place like New Hampshire, it’s just a matter of getting our race car where we want it. I feel good headed to New Hampshire this weekend.”

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Christopher Bell wins Kentucky Xfinity race after starting from rear

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Christopher Bell led the final 17 laps to win Friday’s Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway after starting from the rear of the field.

It is Bell’s second win of his rookie year.

Bell passed Justin Allgaier to take the lead with 17 to go and held off Daniel Hemric all the way to the checkered flag.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had to start in 40th after changing the tires on his No. 20 Toyota following a spin in qualifying.

“That was pretty special, man,” Bell told NBCSN. “I keep making mistakes and I’ve been feeling really bad for my team. Joe Gibbs Racing has been working really hard to build really fast race cars and I made another mistake there in qualifying, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get back on this repave. … It was just really working really good on the bottom of (Turns) 3 and 4 there. Hats off to Daniel, I know he’s been trying really hard to get a NASCAR win here for a long time.”

The top five was completed by Kyle Busch, Cole Custer and Allgaier.

The win is the third of Bell’s career and gives him 10 top 10s through 17 races.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: John Hunter Nemechek

MORE: race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: John Hunter Nemechek managed to finish seventh after he lost power during a caution in the final stage, resulting in a battery change that put him a lap down … Tyler Reddick finished sixth, rebounding from two consecutive DNFs … Ryan Reed placed eighth for his second top 10 in nine races.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Blake Jones was spun by Josh Williams on Lap 100 for the first caution for an incident. Jones finished 25th … On the following restart, Brandon Jones spun on the backstretch and hit the inside wall. He finished 36th … Ty Majeski placed 27th after spinning through the infield grass on Lap 132.

NOTABLE: Elliott Sadler finished 12th. He started the season with 12 consecutive top 10s. He has finished outside the top 10 in three of the last five races. He is now tied with Daniel Hemric for the points lead with 608 points.

WHAT’S NEXT: Lakes Region 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 4 p.m. ET on July 21 on NBCSN.

Cole Custer wins pole for Kentucky Xfinity race

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Cole Custer will start first in tonight’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

He qualified on the pole, his fourth of the year, with a top speed of 181.458 mph.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is followed by Justin Allgaier (181.038 mph), Kyle Busch (181.026), Austin Cindric (180.880) and Daniel Hemric (180.578).

“It’s just getting the little things right, honestly,” Custer told NBCSN. “I was pretty down on myself yesterday when we were 15th in practice. We just made some adjustments and made good changes. I tried to look at some Dartfish for how Kyle (Busch) gets through Turn 3 and 4 and that helped me a lot.”

Christopher Bell finished the final round in 12th after he spun exiting Turn 4 while preparing to start his qualifying run.

Ryan Truex will start 13th and Paul Menard starts 14th.

Click here for the qualifying results.

 

Tonight’s Xfinity race at Kentucky: Start time, lineup and more

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The last time the Xfinity Series raced at Kentucky Speedway, Tyler Reddick won to earn his first career series victory. Could the same thing happen in tonight’s Alsco 300? Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones are among those hoping that is the case.

Here’s all the info for tonight’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Larry Bailey, Chairman, Bowling Green Area Convention Visitors Bureau, will give the command to start engines at 8:17 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:25 p.m.

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

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

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at noon. Qualifying is at 5:05 p.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 6:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 7:45 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: County music recording artist Andy Velo will perform the anthem at 8:11 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 8 p.m. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for sunny skies with a high of 86 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Tyler Reddick won by 14.5 seconds in September, finishing ahead of Brennan Poole and Justin Allgaier. Kyle Busch won at Kentucky last July, finishing ahead of Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is at 5:05 p.m.