Noah Gragson

Harrison Burton, Paul Menard exchange words after trading hits

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LOUDON, N.H. – There’s a 20-year gap between Paul Menard and Harrison Burton and seemingly just as wide a gulf in how they viewed their incident Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Burton, 18, finished 29th in the Xfinity Series race after being wrecked by Menard, 38, with 45 laps remaining.

Parking his No. 18 Toyota after completing 169 of 200 laps, Burton waited for more than 20 minutes until the race ended and then strode purposefully from the entrance of the Xfinity garage to the pits and confronted Menard for a terse but civil conversation.

“I wanted to get across to him that I got wrecked for no reason,” said Burton, who competes full-time in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series and was making the third start of his Xfinity career and the first on a track at least a mile in length. “I barely touched him. There’s barely a mark on his door. I don’t know if he’s heard of NASCAR before, but this isn’t F1 where if you touch someone, there’s a 5-second penalty.

“I barely touched him, and I got wrecked. He says that I got into him on the restart. I’m on the apron, and he comes down across my nose and then gets mad about it. When he watches the film, I think he’ll see that. I think that we just worked our butts off and didn’t get the result we deserve. We’ll just come back and race harder and beat him next time.”

Menard said he was justified to tap Burton in the left rear and spin the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into the Turn 1 wall.

“He ran into me a couple of times,” said the driver of the No. 12 Ford for Team Penske. “So I voiced my displeasure. He’s a young kid. He’s got a long time in this sport. He’s got to figure that stuff out pretty early. As he races more in Xfinity, and especially if he gets to the Cup level, they don’t put up with that stuff. I felt it was my place to tell him that’s not cool.

“A lot of these kids are good clean racers. He kind of stood out from the crowd. He had a fast enough car he could have been clean. I hate tearing up race cars. I didn’t really want to tear up his race car, that’s for sure. But sometimes enough is enough.”

Menard singled out Chase Briscoe and Noah Gragson, both in their early to mid-20s, for having raced him cleaner than Burton.

“Some of these kids are really fun to race with, and some of them just don’t get it,” said Menard, a veteran of 14 seasons in the Cup series who was teamed with Burton’s father (and NASCAR on NBC analyst), Jeff, for three seasons at Richard Childress Racing. “So I think you have to cut that shit out at an early age.”

“Some of these kids have a lot of talent and don’t have to run into you to try to pass you. Harrison, I’ve never met the kid before. I know his dad really well. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jeff. Really good man. But the kid ran into me a couple of times, and that was enough of that.”

Though he had the chance to air his grievances, Burton was skeptical it would make any difference with how Menard would race him in the future.

“He doesn’t care,” Burton said. “He doesn’t care about anyone else but himself. But I’m going to just go out and beat him on the racetrack like I was going to today. I was driving away from him. I was gone.

“We were going to beat him on the racetrack, and that’s all you can do is just beat people on the racetrack and show them you’re going to outwork them. I’m fired up and ready to go for the next one.”

Xfinity practice report from New Hampshire

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Justin Haley had the fastest lap in the final Xfinity practice session Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Haley had a lap of 128.511 mph. He was followed by Christopher Bell (128.346 mph), Cole Custer (127.812), Ryan Truex (127.414) and Justin Allgaier (127.402).

Click here for final practice results

Allgaier had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 126.794 mph. He was followed by Noah Gragson (126.009 mph) and Tyler Reddick (125.965).

Camden Murphy, driving for Mike Harmon Racing, had his car smoke and he slapped the wall during the session.

Qualifying and the race will both be Saturday on NBCSN. The race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

FIRST PRACTICE

Christopher Bell posted the fastest lap in the first of two practices Friday for the Xfinity Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell led the way with a lap of 128.087 mph. He was followed by Cole Custer (127.376), Justin Allgaier (127.253), Harrison Burton (127.096) and Paul Menard (127.096).

Custer was limited to 20 minutes of practice. He was penalized the final 30 minutes of the session because his car failed inspection three times last weekend at Kentucky.

Click here for full results

Custer had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 126.378 mph. He was followed by Menard (126.004 mph) and Chase Briscoe (125.528).

There were no incidents in Friday’s session.

Final Xfinity practice will take place from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Austin Cindric wins pole for Xfinity race at Kentucky

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SPARTA, Ky. – Austin Cindric, whose crew chief was ejected by NASCAR on Thursday for a body modification to the team’s car, will start on the pole for Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

“This is an awesome start,” Cindric told NBCSN. “Starting from the right spot. Hopefully finish in the right spot.”

Cindric won his first pole of the season with a lap of 180.030 mph. Christopher Bell, who won this race last year, starts second after a lap of 179.623 mph.

They are followed by JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson (179.551 mph) and Justin Allgaier (179.342). Cole Custer starts fifth after a lap of 179.277 mph.

Click here for qualifying results

Also, the car chief for Custer’s team was ejected after Custer’s car failed inspection three times before qualifying.

NBCSN’s coverage of the Xfinity Series race begins at 7 p.m. ET. The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 84 degrees and no chance of rain.

 

Xfinity Series practice report from Kentucky

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Cole Custer was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session Thursday at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer posted a top speed of 180.210 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (179.934 mph), Tyler Reddick (179.294), Noah Gragson (178.938) and Brandon Jones (178.902).

Custer recorded the most laps in the session with 52 and had the best 10-lap average at 178.875 mph.

The session was slowed once for Chad Finchum making contact with the wall.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

Christopher Bell was fastest in the first practice session

Bell posted a top speed of 177.579 mph.

The top five was completed by John Hunter Nemechek (177.049 mph), Reddick (176.857), Custer (176.171) and Austin Cindric (175.970).

Cindric was in the top five after his crew chief, Brian Wilson, was ejected from the race weekend due to a L1 level penalty.

Michael Annett recorded the most laps in the session with 43. He was 11th on the speed chart.

Click here for the practice report.

The final practice session is scheduled for 6-6:50 p.m. ET.

 

Xfinity, Truck Series practice holds at Kentucky Speedway

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NASCAR announced eight practice holds for the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series today at Kentucky Speedway.

All the holds will be served at the end of each series’ final practice session.

Xfinity Series

15 minute holds

Joey Gase and Mike Harmon – out of garage late

Noah Gragson, Jeremy Clements and Jeff Green – failed inspection twice at Daytona

30 minute hold

Chad Finchum – failed inspection three times at Daytona

Gander Outdoors Truck Series

15 minute holds

Tyler Ankrum and Jeb Burton – failed inspection twice at Chicago