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.

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.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity pole at Texas Motor Speedway

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Christopher Bell qualified first for today’s Xfinity Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (4:46 p.m. ET on NBCSN) with a speed of 189.321 mph.

It is Bell’s fifth pole of the year and the sixth of his career.

“(With) the repave, the way the tires don’t fall off here, I think qualifying means quite a bit about how fast your race car is,” Bell told NBC Sports. “Yesterday in practice I didn’t feel like we were hands down the favorite. This thing’s really fast right now.”

The top five is completed by Shane Lee, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Justin Allgaier.

Matt Tifft made contact with the wall on his first run in Round 2. He jumped into the top 12 on his second run with one minute left in the round, knocking Elliott Sadler to 13th. Sadler was the only playoff driver to not make the final round.

Ross Chastain also made contact with the wall exiting Turn 2. He qualified 23rd.

Ty Majeski got loose, spun and backed into the Turn 2 outside wall five minutes into Round 1. 

Click here for the starting lineup.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Texas

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All three series will be back in action this week as NASCAR makes its final push to the Miami finale.

Drivers have two more opportunities to win and become part of the championship battle in all three series.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race.

Cup – AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

There are 41 entries for the race, so one car will go home.

Joey Gase is entered in the No. 51.

Kyle Weatherman is in the No. 99.

Parker Kligerman will attempt to make his fourth start of the season in the Gaunt Brothers No. 96.

Trevor Bayne will make his final appearance of the season in the No. 6.

David Starr will drive the No. 97 car Obaika Racing announced Wednesday.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC)

There are 40 entries for the race.

Drivers who score Cup points are not permitted to compete in playoff races.

John Hunter Nemechek will drive the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Austin Cindric is entered in Team Penske’s No. 22.

Quin Houff will make his third Xfinity start in JD Motorsports’ No. 15. He finished 14th in this car at Kansas.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – JAG Metals 350 (8:30 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

There are 35 entries for the race.

John Hunter Nemechek will do double duty in the NEMCO No. 8 in addition to the CGR Xfinity entry.

Ross Chastain is entered in all three series, racing the No. 15 Premium Motorsports car in Cup, the JD Motorsports No. 4 in Xfinity and the No. 38 Niece Motorsports entry in Truck.

Click here for the entry list.

 

Long: Kansas a warning sign for Martin Truex Jr.?

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KANSAS CITY, Kansas — The voice did little to mask the frustration, confusion and level of desperation.

For much of the season, Martin Truex Jr. has been in control, and at times dominant, winning four races and finishing in the top five in 17 of the first 31 starts entering last weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.

But little went right for Truex on Sunday.

That the team finished fifth — in the odd stat category, all 18 of Truex’s top-10 finishes this year have been top fives — was a testament to its ability to persevere but the question is if that will be enough in this round? It helps that he has plenty of playoff points but that almost wasn’t enough to keep his title hopes alive beyond Kansas.

The issues they had with the car Saturday in practice weren’t resolved in the race. That proved frustrating for Truex and the team.

At the completion of the first stage on Lap 80, Truex radioed crew chief Cole Pearn: “I don’t know what to do. Maybe I just need to tighten this thing up and run the wall.”

Pearn responded: “We’re not making any ground with what we’re doing.”

About 25 laps later, Pearn asked Truex what he needed to run better near the wall. Truex said: “Everything. It does the same thing on the bottom. Won’t turn.”

Twice in the first 120 laps, Pearn brought Truex in early to start a wave of green-flag pit stops. Pearn did that with the hope that having fresh tires sooner would help the No. 78 leapfrog a few cars. The gain proved minimal.

On Lap 140, Truex, running 11th, told Pearn: “I’m so bad in traffic. It’s ridiculous.”

On Lap 165, Pearn told Truex, who was running sixth, that the points were tight and that “you’ve got to race as hard as you can.”

Truex said: “Doing all I can right now.”

He did enough to advance.

We had to dig deep,” Truex said afterward. “A lot of pressure and a bad situation and we were able to come out looking good. That being said, we’ve had a lot of headwind that we’ve had to battle through the playoffs, we haven’t had much go our way.

“We had a few races like that this year, we had a few like that last year. Seems like this year they’ve been a little bit more frequent but again we finished fifth. You can’t complain too much. At the end of the day, we’re still searching a little bit at certain race tracks.”

One of the things that Truex can take away is how strong his pit crew was Sunday. Twice he gained four spots on pit road. The second time came after the end of the second stage and allowed Truex to restart sixth.

Even with his struggles, that track position was critical. He never ran worse than seventh in the final 100 laps and finished high enough to advance to third round and continue his quest for back-to-back Cup titles.


Don’t expect to see another Roval on the schedule at this point. Marcus Smith, chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports Inc. and creator of the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway, said after the event there that he was not looking at having another Roval at any of SMI’s other tracks.

“I feel like this is unique to Charlotte, and we’ve got other speedways out there that produce their own unique action,” Smith said.

International Speedway Corp., which owns 12 tracks that host Cup races, also does not have any plans at this point of turning one of its oval races into a Roval event.

Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer of ISC, praised Smith for the Roval.

“I think Marcus Smith did an amazing job of taking his idea from start to finish … to get to the point that he did,” Kennedy said this past weekend at Kansas Speedway. “I think the fan reaction was amazing. I think it’s created a lot of hype and attention to the sport and I really applaud him and his team’s efforts. I think everybody is paying attention.”


John Hunter Nemecheck’s victory in Saturday’s Xfinity race was celebrated throughout pit road among title contenders.

Nemechek was not eligible for the playoffs since he didn’t run the full season. His victory takes away an automatic spot to the championship finale in Miami and means at least two of the four contenders will advance via points.

“It was big because that keeps us all in play where it doesn’t give anybody an advantage for Homestead where you can work on your stuff (early) for that particular race,” Elliott Sadler told NBC Sports after the race.

A first-lap crash triggered by playoff contender Justin Allgaier took him out along with title contenders Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric. The incident also damaged playoff contender Cole Custer’s car. 

The Xfinity Series is off this weekend. Teams are back in action Nov. 3 at Texas Motor Speedway.


NASCAR is expected to issue its penalty report Wednesday. Daniel Hemric‘s Xfinity car was found to be too low in post-race inspection. The likely L1 penalty will cost Hemric 10 points. If so, that will drop him out of the lead. He currently leads Elliott Sadler by nine points.

Should Hemric lose 10 points, it will put the top six drivers within 18 points.


NASCAR examined why the hood flew off Ross Chastain‘s Xfinity car during Saturday’s race. The car suffered front-end damage in an earlier incident.

NASCAR also planned to review this week why a caution was not called when Chastain’s hood flew off near Turn 3. It was run over and broken into smaller pieces.