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Silly Season: Handful of unannounced rides in Cup, Xfinity for 2019

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It’s now December and there’s not a NASCAR race in sight until February.

But there’s still some announcements waiting to be made for teams and drivers in preparation for 2019.

Here’s a look at unannounced changes in Cup and Xfinity through two weeks of the offseason.

CUP RIDES NOT YET ANNOUNCED FOR 2019

No. 32: Go Fas Racing is looking for a driver after Matt DiBenedetto announced Sept. 7 that he would not return to the team after this season.

No. 77: Spire Sports + Entertainment purchased Furniture Row Racing’s charter and will go racing in 2019. The group will use the car number 77. A driver has yet to be announced (announcement made Dec. 4).

XFINITY RIDES NOT YET ANNOUNCED FOR 2019

JR Motorsports: Team still has one open car. It has not been announced if Noah Gragson will drive the No. 9 or No. 1.

No. 23: GMS Racing hasn’t announced a replacement for Spencer Gallagher, who retired from competition after this season (announcement made Oct. 19).

RCR: Hasn’t announced which car Tyler Reddick will drive. Both the No. 21 and No. 2 are open.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2019

No. 1: Kurt Busch joins Chip Ganassi Racing for 2019 and brings along sponsor Monster Energy (announcement made Dec. 4)

No. 6: Ryan Newman joins Roush Fenway Racing for next season (announcement made Sept. 22).

No. 13: Ty Dillon said he will remain at Germain Racing for the 2019 season (announcement made Sept. 24)

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn move to Joe Gibbs Racing from the defunct Furniture Row Racing team (announcement made Nov. 7)

No. 31: Daniel Hemric replaces Ryan Newman at Richard Childress Racing for 2019 (announcement made Sept. 28).

No. 36: Matt Tifft joins Front Row Motorsports in a third car for the 2019 season (announcement made Nov. 27).

No. 43: Bubba Wallace will remain with Richard Petty Motorsports through the 2020 season (announcement made July 28).

No. 47: Ryan Preece replaces AJ Allmendinger at JTG Daugherty Racing beginning next season (announcement made Sept. 28).

No. 95: Matt DiBenedetto moves to Leavine Family Racing for 2019. Leavine Family Racing also switches to Toyota beginning next year (announcement made Oct. 10)

No. 97: Tanner Berryhill will compete full-time for Obaika Racing (announcement made Dec. 3)

CUP DRIVERS WITHOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR 2019

AJ Allmendinger: He told NBC Sports on Nov. 17 that he didn’t have any races for 2019 lined up at the time.

Trevor Bayne: 2011 Daytona 500 winner is looking for a ride after the Sept. 12 announcement that he won’t return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2019. He told NBC Sports on Sept. 14 that he has been calling car owners looking for a ride and would look at any of NASCAR’s top three national series. 

Jamie McMurrayHas yet to announce what he’ll do in 2019 but it won’t be a full-time ride in the No. 1 car at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Daniel Suarez: With Martin Truex Jr. taking over the No. 19 in 2019, Suarez is looking for a ride. He said Sept. 21 that “we’re talking to a lot of people.” Suarez is the favorite for the No. 41 ride.

XFINITY DRIVERS WITHOUT ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR 2019

John Hunter NemechekRan limited schedule in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 this year. Ross Chastain will drive it full-time next year.

Ryan Truex: Was replaced at Kaulig Racing by Justin Haley.

Ryan ReedLost ride at Roush Fenway Racing after sponsor Lilly announced it was leaving the team (announcement made Oct. 15).

CREW CHIEF CHANGES

No. 3: Danny Stockman replaces Justin Alexander as Austin Dillon‘s crew chief in 2019 (move confirmed Nov. 26)

No. 11: Mike Wheeler will not return as Denny Hamlin‘s crew chief for 2019 (announcement made Nov. 16). No replacement has yet been announced.

No. 24: Chad Knaus replaces Darian Grubb as William Byron‘s crew chief in 2019 (announcement made Oct. 10)

No. 48: Kevin Meendering replaces Chad Knaus as Jimmie Johnson‘s crew chief in 2019 (announcement made Oct. 10)

No. 95: Mike Wheeler joins the team and replaces Jon Leonard, who moved back to Richard Childress Racing to be an engineer on Austin Dillon’s team.

XFINITY SERIES

ANNOUNCED CHANGES FOR 2019

No. 1: Noah Gragson replaces Elliott Sadler at JR Motorsports for 2019 season (announcement made Sept. 25).

No. 4: Blake Koch will take over this ride with JD Motorsports in 2019 (announcement made Dec. 4).

No. 11: Justin Haley replaces Ryan Truex at Kaulig Racing after two season in the Truck Series (announcement made Dec. 1).

No. 18: Jeffrey Earnhardt will compete in nine races for Joe Gibbs Racing (announcement made Nov. 10).

No. 22: Austin Cindric will drive full-time for Team Penske (announcement made Nov. 8).

No. 42: Chip Ganassi Racing signs Ross Chastain to drive the No. 42 full-time for 2019 (announcement made Nov. 9).

No. 98: Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to drive the team’s second Xfinity car and be a teammate to Cole Custer (announcement made Nov. 27).

RCR: Both Matt Tifft and Daniel Hemric will move up to Cup. Tyler Reddick moves from JR Motorsports to RCR for the 2019 season. Reddick’s car number, sponsor and crew chief will be announced later (announcement made Oct. 31).

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race in Texas with last-lap pass

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Cole Custer won Saturday’s Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway with a last-lap pass of Tyler Reddick.

Custer, who snapped a 30-race winless streak, passed Reddick on the backstretch after their cars banged doors.

It is Custer’s second Xfinity Series win. Custer had to rebound from a penalty for a crew member going over the pit wall too soon on Lap 127.

“I can’t believe it,” Custer told NBCSN at the start-finish line. “We just did all we could. I drove it in deeper than I have all weekend into (Turn) 1 trying to get on (Reddick’s) bumper. It worked out.”

Reddick, who placed second, admitted to making a “mistake” on the last lap as they exited Turn 2, which allowed Custer to get a run on him.

“I’m not mad at all with what happened there,” Reddick told NBCSN. “I think a lot of him. He’s a great driver.”

The win locks Custer into the championship four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the site of his first series win.

“We haven’t won all year and we’ve been so close,” Custer said. “We kept going and this is the perfect time to (win).”

The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Daniel Hemric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Points, race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Austin Cindric earned his fifth career top five after he started from the rear in a backup car and suffered damage to his right-front bumper on the first lap … John Hunter Nemechek bounced back from a Lap 1 spin to finish fourth … Justin Allgaier earned his first top five at Texas in 17 starts.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Christopher Bell, who started from the pole, earned his second consecutive DNF after he was spun by Austin Cindric and wrecked on Lap 134 … Ryan Truex wrecked on Lap 126 and finished 33rd … Brandon Jones managed to place sixth and Michael Annett finished 16th after they made contact and spun on a Lap 97 restart. Jones later got loose and wrecked teammate Ryan Preece on Lap 139. Preece placed 31st.

NOTABLE: The race saw a track record 13 cautions … Cole Custer has finished in the top five in all four of his Xfinity starts at Texas.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 1: “The 2 (Matt Tifft) drove into the back of me off of (Turn 2) and that put me in the middle and put the 3 (Shane Lee) underneath me. He just lost it underneath me and took me out. Nothing the 3 could do. The 2 is the one that put me in that situation. It’s all good. We work really good together. It’s just a frustrating day. You’re bound to have days where we run into each but never happy about it when it happens.” – Daniel Hemric to NBC Sports and NASCAR.com on the incident with his two teammates on Lap 194.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 2: “The good thing is we ran together the whole race and both of our cars had speed. I think both we’re both frustrated at the end because we felt like it played out to where we got to the back of the pack and we were both trying to make our way back up. Honestly, I don’t think I ever touched (Hemric). I think the air got him free. I had momentum behind, so once he got sideways, I just tried to duck out to make sure he didn’t get turned and I had a clear path too. He was frustrated that he got put in that situation but he understood that I had to go. If I would have gave, somebody would have done the same to me and put me in the same spot. It’s so narrow coming off of (Turn) 2. We’ll be find. We’ll talk it out.” – Matt Tifft to NBC Sports

WHAT’S NEXT: Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 at ISM Raceway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 10 on NBCSN.

Xfinity practice report at Texas

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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Ryan Truex swept Friday with the fastest lap (187.780 mph) in final practice on the heels of his fastest lap in the first session.

He beat Brandon Jones (187.689) by .014 seconds.

Shane Lee (187.676), Cole Custer (187.474) and Christopher Bell (187.454) rounded out the top five.

Josh Bilicki, Joey Gase and David Starr hit the wall in separate incidents. Bilicki does not have a backup available, but reported that he was looking for a car to borrow.

Elliott Sadler had the quickest 10-lap average at 186.190 mph.

Fellow playoff contenders Justin Allgaier (185.862) and Daniel Hemric (185.622) lined up behind him.

Click here for the practice report.

First Practice

Ryan Truex posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session for the Xfinity race at Texas with a speed of 187.162 mph.

He beat Daniel Hemric (186.832 mph) by .051 seconds.

Elliott Sadler (186.580), Cole Custer (186.387) and Matt Tifft (186.130) rounded out the top five.

Ryan Reed, Morgan Shepherd and Austin Cindric all hit the wall in separate incidents during the session. Reed and Cindric will go to backup cars. Shepherd does not have a backup available.

Brandon Brown (177.024) and Quin Houff (171.124) were the only drivers who made at least 10 consecutive laps.

Click here for the practice report.

One Cup team, nine Xfinity teams docked practice time Friday at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Kyle Weatherman‘s Cup car will be penalized 15 minutes of practice and nine Xfinity teams will lose 15 minutes Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Weatherman will miss practice time for being late to post-qualifying/pre-race inspection last weekend at Martinsville.

Cup practice is from 2 – 2:55 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

In the Xfinity Series, the cars of BJ McLeod, Ryan Truex, Ryan Reed, John Hunter Nemechek, Josh Bilicki, Jeremy Clements, Bayley Currey, Bobby Earnhardt and Vinnie Miller will be docked 15 minutes.

The cars of McLeod, Bilicki, Currey, Earnhardt and Miller were penalized for being out of the garage late. The cars of Truex, Reed, Nemechek and Clements were penalized for failing inspection twice at Kansas.

The first Xfinity practice is from 3:05 – 3:50 p.m. ET today on the NBC Sports App.

Video: Xfinity playoff contenders out after Lap 1 crash at Kansas

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Three of the eight playoff contenders were eliminated in a crash on the first lap of Saturday’s Xfinity race at Kansas Speedway, which opens the Round of 8.

Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Cole Custer were involved in a nine-car wreck as the field raced through Turn 2. Allgaier, Bell and Cindric were eliminated while Custer’s team was able to make repairs to his No. 00 Ford.

It began when Allgaier got loose and made contact with Bell.

“Just hate it for everybody that we took out on Lap 1. It’s uncalled for, ” Allgaier told NBC. “That one’s on me.”

Bell, who won this race last year, told NBC he “didn’t really see much of anything” as the wreck developed. “Just heartbroken. This is one of my favorite race tracks we go to. Especially after the run I had last year. This was the race I was really looking forward to when we started the year back in February.”

Allgaier earned his second DNF of the playoffs while Bell and Cindric earned their first.

“It was just a racing incident,” Cindric said. “You don’t really expect something that big to happen in front of you on the first lap. … It is unfortunate that it happened that early. Huge points implications on my end and the owners championship end. I have to put my head down the next couple weeks and figure it out.”

Non-playoff drivers Michael Annett, Ryan Truex, Spencer Gallagher and Chase Briscoe were also involved.

The race restarted on Lap 12. The field was immediately slowed by a one-car incident involving Brandon Jones on the backstretch.