Stephen Leicht

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Kyle Busch wins Xfinity race in Phoenix

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Kyle Busch won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, claiming his 11th victory on the 1-mile track.

Busch led 116 of 200 laps, including the final 67, to score his second win in a row after he won last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing has won all three races since the season-opener at Daytona.

Busch beat Ryan Truex, who made his first start of the year in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet. It is Truex’s fourth career Xfinity top five and matched his career-best result (Dover, 2012).

The top five was completed by Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Austin Cindric.

Christopher Bell, who started from the pole and led 68 laps, was eliminated in a crash with 70 laps to go. Both he and Justin Allgaier suffered damage after a catastrophic engine failure on Stephen Leicht‘s car, which they were running behind, put fluid down on the track.

It is Bell’s first DNF of the season and the second consecutive race he’s been in an incident.

“Christopher was certainly going to give me a run for my money today,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “I hate that he got caught up in that mess. Obviously, it was going to be a really fun run to the end there.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Austin Cindric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christopher Bell

Click here for race results

Click here for driver points.

NOTABLE: Busch’s win gives him 198 wins across all three of NASCAR’s national series … Ryan Sieg continued his career-best start to the season with a 10th-place finish. He has three top 10s in the first four races … Noah Gragson finished 11th. He’s placed in the top 11 in all seven career Xfinity starts, tying the record held by Kurt Busch and Darrell Waltrip for most starts prior to finishing worse than 11th.

WHAT’S NEXT: Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway at 5 p.m. ET on March 16 on Fox Sports 1

 

Justin Haley fastest in final Xfinity practice in Las Vegas

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Justin Haley led a 1-2 sweep by Kaulig Racing of the top spots in Friday’s final Xfinity practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Haley posted a top speed of 180.307 mph around the 1.5-mile track. He was followed by Austin Dillon, who posted a speed of 178.194 mph in the No. 10 Chevrolet.

The top five was completed by Kyle Busch (177.977 mph), Christopher Bell (177.930) and Tyler Reddick (177.778).

Busch, who had the best 10-lap average at 176.792 mph, scrapped the outside wall in Turn 2 early in the 50-minute session but won’t have to go to a backup car.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

In a session that was heavily impacted by 23 cars incurring pre-practice inspection penalties, Justin Allgaier was fastest in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Allgaier covered the 1.5-mile track at a speed of 178.737 mph and was followed by Busch (178.642 mph), Reddick (178.642), Haley (178.625) and Cole Custer (178.536).

Sixth through 10th were Dillon (178.394), Bell (177.819), Austin Cindric (177.427), Noah Gragson (177.282) and Zane Smith (177.264 mph), who is making his Xfinity Series debut this weekend.

Those drivers penalized due to inspection issues and the amount of practice time they lost due to the penalty were:

Late to inspection (15 minutes): Jeremy Clements, Cole Custer, Mike Harmon, John Jackson

Two-time failures (15 minutes): Jeff Green, Garrett Smithley, Justin Haley, Tyler Reddick, Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Stephen Leicht, Chase Briscoe, Josh Williams, Vinnie Miller, Kyle Busch, Matt Mills, Timmy Hill

Late to inspection and two-time failures (30 minutes): Ryan Sieg, BJ McLeod, Ja Junior Avila, Cody Ware

Three-time failures (30 minutes): Joey Gase

Click here for the full practice speed list.

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Garrett Smithley, Stephen Leicht to compete for JD Motorsports in Xfinity

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JD Motorsports continues to fill out its driver lineup for the 2019 Xfinity season with announcements that Garrett Smithley and Stephen Leicht will compete for the team.

Smithley, 26, returns to drive for the team for the fourth consecutive year. He will pilot the No. 0 Chevrolet.

The Feb. 16 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway will be his 100th series start.

“I’ve been working hard this offseason to make my fourth year with JDM the best ever, I think it will be,” Smithley said in a press release. “I’m so blessed to be given the opportunity to race here by Johnny and all my sponsors. Daytona will be my 100th Xfinity start and all but two of those races have been at JDM. It’s an amazing race team and family, and I can’t wait to get this season going.”

Leicht, 32, is set to drive the No. 01 Chevrolet in his first full-time season since 2007 with Robert Yates Racing. That season he won his only NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway.

Daytona will also be his 100th series start.

“I’m super stoked about my opportunity to drive for Johnny Davis,” Leicht said in a press release. “He has competitive cars with smart people in his stable and I’m looking forward to seeing what the season brings.”

Jani-King will be an associate sponsor of Leicht this season.

“Stephen is a great talent to have in our arsenal this season at JD Motorsports,” owner Johnny Davis said in a press release. “With his experience spanning nearly ten years in the series, we are confident that he will be able to take care of his equipment, which as we all know is very important for family teams. I am genuinely looking forward to seeing how he can improve our operations this season with all the knowledge he brings to the team.”

The announcements for Smithley and Leicht follow the news that Ross Chastain will return to drive the No. 4 Chevrolet in 30 races, in addition to competing in three races for Kaulig Racing.

One Cup, six Xfinity teams docked practice time Friday

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chase Elliott is the only Cup driver who will be penalized practice time Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, while six Xfinity teams, including one title contender will miss practice time.

Elliott will miss 15 minutes for being late to inspection last weekend at Phoenix. Cup practice is from 1 – 2:20 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Xfinity title contender Christopher Bell will miss 30 minutes of opening practice for failing inspection three times last week at Phoenix. The cars of Josh Bilicki and Chase Briscoe also will miss 30 minutes for the same infraction.

David Starr will be docked 15 minutes of practice for being late to inspection last week at Phoenix. The cars of Vinnie Miller and Stephen Leicht will miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice.

Opening Xfinity practice is from 2:35 – 3:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Former Xfinity crew member arrested for punching, breaking team owner’s jaw

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Lawrence Hayden, a former Xfinity Series crew member, was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree assault Friday morning at Dover International Speedway after punching JP Motorsports owner Jerry Hataway and breaking his jaw.

The Dover Police Department was called to the track’s infield around 10:51 a.m. in response to the assault.

According to the DPD, Hayden, 33, and Hataway, 56, were in a “verbal argument over issues pertaining to Hayden’s employment with the team” when Hayden began punching Hataway and broke his jaw.

Lawrence Hayden (Dover Police Department)

Hataway was initially treated at the Fan Care Center in the track’s infield. He was then transferred to Bayhealth Kent General Hospital for more treatment. Hayden was arrested without incident.

Hayden, who resides in Concord, North Carolina, was released on $500 bail.

“Crew member Lawrence Hayden has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR following his arrest by the Dover Police Department,” a NASCAR spokesperson said in a statement provided to NBC Sports. “NASCAR will continue working with local law enforcement and will have no further comment at this time.”

JP Motorsports fields the cars of Josh Bilicki and Stephen Leicht.