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Updated entry lists for NASCAR at Richmond Raceway

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NASCAR holds its second Virginia race weekend of the year when it heads to Richmond Raceway this weekend for a round of night racing.

Cup and Xfinity Series teams will be in action at the .750-mile short track.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race:

Cup – Toyota Owners 400 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox)

There are 37 car entered for the race.

Jeb Burton is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51 car. It will be his second start for the team this season.

Bayley Currey is entered in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 52 car.

Quin Houff will make his third start for Spire Motorsports in the No. 77.

Kyle Busch won this race last year, leading 32 laps and beating Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin. Busch also won last fall’s playoff race, beating Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the updated entry lists.

Xfinity – ToyotaCare 250 (7 p.m. ET on Friday on Fox Sports 1)

There are 40 cars entered. Two cars will not make the race.

Elliott Sadler will make his first of two scheduled starts driving Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet.

Tyler Matthews will make his series debut in the No. 15 for JD Motorsports.

Colin Garrett will make his series debut in the No. 66 for MBM Motorsports.

Riley Herbst will make his season debut in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kaz Grala is set for his second start of the year for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 21.

Zane Smith is set for his third start in JR Motorsports’ No. 8.

Brandon Brown is entered in RSS Racing’s No. 93 car for the first time. He’s competed for his family-owned Brandonbilt Motorsports in the first seven races.

Mason Diaz will make his season debut in Brandonbilt Motorsports’ No. 86 car.

Click here for the updated entry list.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Christopher Bell will start first in today’s Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

He won the pole with a top speed of 191.320 mph in qualifying. It is his eight Xfinity pole and his second this year.

He will be joined on the front row by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones (190.968 mph).

The top five is completed by Tyler Reddick, Justin Allgaier and Kyle Busch.

Jeb Burton, who is making his first start of the year in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet, qualified sixth.

Kaz Grala, who is making his first start of the year in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet, will start 12th.

After an extended track drying time due to rain this morning, the qualifying session was reduced to two rounds. The first round was 10 minutes and the final round was five minutes.

Michael Annett, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson, Jeremy Clements and Ross Chastain were the first six drivers who failed to advance out of the first round.

Garrett Smithley spun on the frontstretch in the first round and did not complete a lap.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Xfinity Series practice report from Texas Motor Speedway

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Kyle Busch was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, posting a top speed of 187.813 mph.

He was followed by Brad Keselowski (186.884 mph).

The top five was completed by Tyler Reddick (186.884), Justin Allgaier (186.683) and Noah Gragson (186.239).

Kaz Grala, who is making his first start of the season this weekend, recorded the most laps with 51. He was eighth on the speed chart.

Reddick had the best 10-lap average at 185.244 mph.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

Reddick was fastest in the first practice session.

Reddick posted a top speed of 187.357 mph to best Busch (187.045 mph).

In third was Reddick’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Grala (186.831).

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (186.361) and Michael Annett (186.220).

Jeffrey Earnhardt spun early in the session in Turns 1-2 and barely avoided contact with the outside wall. He was 16th on the speed chart.

Click here for the practice report.

Ryan Sieg having ‘a lot more fun’ during career-best start to Xfinity season

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Ryan Sieg was “mad.”

While running eighth in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a Brandon Jones crash with two laps to go left Sieg thinking the worst going into overtime.

“I thought we were going to finish eighth and now we have to restart over again,” Sieg told NBC Sports.

The reaction by the 32-year-old from Tucker, Georgia, was likely instinctive. In five previous full-time years on the Xfinity circuit, Sieg has never had an average finish better than 17.8 and had only nine top 10s in 169 starts.

Things have changed in 2019.

In overtime, Sieg avoided a four-car wreck among the leaders coming to the white flag. On the last overtime attempt, he restarted fifth and lost one spot before the checkered flag.

It was his second top 10 to start the season on top of placing 11th a week before at Atlanta. It also was his best finish on a 1.5-mile track.

That leaves Sieg with a career-best position of eighth in the point standings. His previous best through three races was ninth in 2016.

Sieg said his Las Vegas experience was the most fun he’s ever had in a race.

“It was definitely wild,” Sieg said.

Ryan Sieg during Speedweeks in Daytona. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

New and Improved

Sieg is used to wild racing.

But the wild he’s experiencing at the front this year is different than previous seasons.

“You’d get side-by-side with a couple of drivers and just kind of cringe ’cause you were worried about them holding their line,” Sieg said. “This year I’ve been racing with the 9 (rookie Noah Gragson), the 11 (rookie Justin Haley), the 22 (Austin Cindric), pretty much all of them, the JR Motorsports cars. You’re passing them and you’re racing them and they’re racing you clean.

“It’s given me a better feeling racing side-by-side with people you can trust, so that’s definitely a positive compared to other years where I think you had some drivers who were in equipment that was a little bit better than they were.”

Now Sieg can say he’s in equipment worthy of his own talents.

Last year, Sieg ended the season 16th in the standings. It tied his career-worst result and was his lowest mark in four seasons.

One culprit was age. Not for him, but the cars he was driving.

“Our cars last year were I think 4 to 5 years old,” Sieg said. “When you’re running cars that are four and five (years) off what the Cup (affiliated) cars are, you can’t beat it. That’s (on top) of being down on horsepower a little bit, down on engineering, down on everything. … I would say the Cup teams in Xfinity were two to three generations ahead of what we had. It makes a big difference.”

Now Sieg is piloting essentially brand new cars bought from Richard Childress Racing.

“‘Cowboy’ (nickname for competition director Kevin Starland), whose been with us for a while, said they’re the best cars we’ve ever had,” Sieg said.

He qualified for the season-opener at Daytona in eighth and stayed in the top 10 most of the day before he finished third.

It was his fourth career top five and his third at Daytona.

“Racing in the top 10 all day you realize it’s a different level of a car and a program,” Sieg said. “When you go out every weekend, 33 races and you have a car you know is going to be off the pace of other drivers it wears on you. It gets tiring, it gets old. You get frustrated with it. You almost just get stuck in that same mold of, ‘OK, that guy’s faster than me, that guys faster than me.’ It gets frustrating but now it’s a lot more fun.”

Crew chief Shane Wilson worked with Brendan Gaughan from 2014-17. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

More with less

Another addition for Sieg’s team is at crew chief.

After Starland served in the position for much of last season, Sieg decided to hire Shane Wilson about two weeks before the team headed to Daytona.

Wilson, a winner of 17 Xfinity races since 2006, worked at RCR from 2014-17 with Brendan Gaughan. In 2018, he was paired with rookie Kaz Grala at JGL Racing and then the very quickly formed Fury Race Cars.

He’s now part of an effort that includes seven full-time employees in addition to the “weekend warriors” Sieg says help them out at the track.

“I don’t want to slight anyone we’ve worked with in the past, but I’ll say Shane is definitely very smart and comes to the race weekend with a plan,” Sieg said. “A big difference is on Fridays we’re not trying to set a fast lap. … We’re really working on the balance on the longer run. A lot of that is how your car is set up. You can go out and cut a fast lap in practice, but 10 laps into the race don’t do you a whole lot of good.”

What Sieg and his team are capable of this week could say a lot about the gains they’ve made.

The series heads to the flat, 1-mile ISM Raceway outside Phoenix, a place Sieg has never finished better than 14th (twice). Last year he earned finishes of 25th and 19th.

“For sure, our flat track results, Phoenix and New Hampshire and some of those other tracks have really been our biggest weakness,” Sieg said. “I’ve never really been to that track with a car I felt has been under me. The goal again is to have a good car for the longer run. It can go green there. … I’m definitely more excited to go there this year than any other year in the past.”

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Kaz Grala joins Richard Childress Racing part-time in Xfinity Series

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Kaz Grala will race part-time for Richard Childress Racing this season in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Thursday.

Grala, 20, will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet in select races, beginning with the March 30 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It is scheduled to be Grala’s first start since the 2018 finale in Miami.

Grala made 22 starts last year, 10 with JGL Racing and then 12 with his family owned Fury Race Cars after he lost his ride with JGL due to a lack of financial support from team owner James Whitener, who was experiencing health problems. Grala earned two top fives and five top 10s.

“This is definitely the biggest opportunity I’ve had in my career,” Grala said in a press release. “Running for a powerhouse team like RCR is a dream come true, and one I plan on making the most of. With only a limited number of races to make an impression, I’m ready to get to work and lay it all on the line.”

Grala has one NASCAR win, in the 2017 Gander Outdoors Truck Series opener at Daytona.

The native of Boston, Massachusetts, will have Tyler Reddick as a teammate in the races he competes in.

“I’m looking forward to having Kaz Grala join RCR this year,” Richard Childress said in the press release. “Kaz is a talented young driver who has proven he can win in any type of racing. I think he’ll be up to speed and contending for multiple wins for us out on the track in no time.”

Grala’s sponsor and crew chief will be announced at a later date.