Vinnie Miller

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity playoff opener at Richmond

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Christopher Bell put together a convincing win Friday night at Richmond Raceway to open the Xfinity Series playoffs.

Bell led 238 of 250 laps – a career high – and swept each stage to earn his seventh victory of the year, matching his total from 2018.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has now won three of the last four races at Richmond and six of the last 11 short track races.

The top five was made up of pole-sitter Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe.

“That one was pretty special,” Bell told NBCSN. “Going 92 laps straight there is really difficult, man. We were sliding all around. I felt like if I could get to traffic I was going to be in good shape. Because my car could really move around good. I could run up, I could run down. (Cole Custer) was keeping pressure on us pretty good, but this Rheem Supra was too good.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christopher Bell

More: race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Harrison Burton was the highest finishing non-playoff driver in sixth … Austin Cindric earned his first top five in the last four races. He finished second in both Richmond races this year … In his 300th career Xfinity start, Justin Allgaier finished fourth after he had to start from the rear for changing a tire … Chase Briscoe earned his first top five in the last five races.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Mike Marlar wasn’t able to complete the first lap of his first Xfinity start. He was involved in an incident and finished last … Vinnie Miller had a mechanical failure with 25 laps left in the first stage. He finished 35th … Tyler Matthews finished 33rd after he wrecked in Stage 1 … Playoff driver Justin Haley had a pit road penalty and finished 17th … John Hunter Nemechek finished 15th after he spun while trying to intentionally spin Joe Graf Jr. right before the race’s conclusion. It was retaliation for a bump-and-run by Graf earlier in the lap.

NOTABLE: Christopher Bell has a win percentage of 22%, third all-time in the Xfinity Series.

WHAT’S NEXT: Drive for the Cure 200 on the Charlotte Roval at 3:30 p.m. ET Sept. 28 on NBCSN

 

Xfinity Series practice report from Mid-Ohio

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Jack Hawksworth, who will make his NASCAR and Xfinity Series debut this weekend, was fastest in Friday’s eventful final practice session at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course.

Driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota, Hawksworth posted a top speed of 95.204 mph around the round course.

He was followed by Austin Cindric (94.953 mph), Christopher Bell (94.948), Chase Briscoe (94.755) and Justin Allgaier (94.624).

Jeremy Clements was sixth fastest (94.600).

Hawksworth briefly went off course with 46 minutes left in the session. Shortly after that Regan Smith went off course and was briefly stuck in sand before he drove away. Smith told NBCSN there was a problem in his brake system.

Patrick Gallagher then went off track momentarily with 30 minutes left in the session. With 24 minutes left, Will Rodgers caused a lengthy red flag after he plowed into and got stuck in the sand, losing his splitter in the process.

Gray Gaulding ran out of fuel and stalled on the track with three minutes left, bringing out the red flag.

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Justin Haley was fastest with a top speed of 95.201 mph around the road course. He made 17 laps in the session and recorded his fast lap in the final minute.

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (94.707 mph), Cole Custer (94.555), Austin Cindric (94.503) and Regan Smith (94.489). Smith is making his first start of the year in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Jack Hawksworth, who is making his first career NASCAR start in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota, was 13th on the speed chart.

The session was stopped three times. The first was very early after Michael Annett slid off track and got stuck in sand. The second stoppage was after Vinnie Miller dropped a hose on the track. The last red flag was at the end of the session for Will Rodgers’ car going off track and experiencing a electrical fire.

The final practice session is scheduled for 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the practice report.

Cup, Xfinity practice holds for Michigan, Mid-Ohio

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Here are the practices holds this weekend for the Cup and Xfinity Series.

Cup at Michigan International Speedway

Will be served during the last 15 minutes during today’s practice session.

15 minutes: Clint Bowyer (Late out of the garage before qualifying)

Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio

All penalties will be served at the end of first practice (1:35 – 2:25 p.m ET today on the NBC Sports App)

15 minutes: Tyler Reddick, Vinnie Miller, Justin Allgaier, Chad Finchum, Tommy Joe Martins, Brandon Brown (late to inspection)

15 minutes: Jack Hawksworth (team failed inspection twice)

30 minutes: Joey Gase (late to inspection and failed inspection twice)

Kyle Busch wins pole for Xfinity race at Watkins Glen

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Kyle Busch has won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Busch, who was fastest both practice sessions Friday, posted a top speed of 124.054 mph.

It is Busch’s first pole in five Xfinity starts this year.

The top five is completed by Austin Cindric (122.896 mph), Ryan Blaney (122.311), Christopher Bell (121.975) and Tyler Reddick (121.662).

Chase Briscoe, who won last week at Iowa, qualified sixth for his first career start on the road course.

The top 10 is rounded out by NASCAR on NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger, Ryan Preece, Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones.

The first round was red flagged after only 1 minute and 17 seconds when Vinnie Miller wrecked during his warm-up lap. It resulted in a lengthy cleanup period.

Click here for qualifying results.

Cole Custer dominates for fourth Xfinity win of season

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JOLIET, Illinois – Cole Custer had one of the most dominant performances of his career, leading 151 of 200 laps to win Saturday’s Camping World 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Having previously won this season at Fontana, Richmond and Pocono, Custer joins Christopher Bell as the only two drivers to earn four NASCAR Xfinity Series victories apiece thus far this season.

Awesome car, I don’t know how it could have been any better,” Custer told crew chief Mike Shiplett over the team radio after grabbing the checkered flag.

The 21-year-old Custer held off a strong challenge in the closing laps from pole sitter Joey Logano – making his first Xfinity start of the year – and Bell to earn the sixth win of his Xfinity Series career (in 86 starts).

“This is a great track, I’ve wanted to win here for a long time,” Custer said. “You can see we’ve been getting better and better over the year. … It means a lot.”

Bell, who finished third, was disqualified about an hour after the checkered flag fell when his car was found to be too low in post-race inspection. He becomes the second driver to be disqualified in a NASCAR race in the last 13 days (Ross Chastain was DQ’d after winning the Trucks race at Iowa on June 16, also for the front end of his truck being too low).

Before Bell’s disqualification, Custer was asked about beating his two top challengers in the series, Bell and Tyler Reddick. “The three of us are racing for wins every weekend,” Custer said. “I think we will continue to get better throughout this summer stretch and have something to look out for.”

Logano finished second, followed by Michael Annett, Brandon Jones and Austin Cidric. Sixth through 10th were Noah Gragson (highest-finishing rookie), Justin Haley, Ross Chastain, Reddick and Riley Herbst.

Race results: Click here

Xfinity standings: Click here

Logano paid Custer a big compliment, saying, “He did good. It’s funny when you come down to the next level down and see the next up-and-coming talent, he’s ready for it (NASCAR Cup), I can say that much.”

BJ McLeod hit the wall on Lap 173, bringing out the caution, leading several drivers to pit for tires and a final tank of gas. On the ensuing restart on Lap 179, Custer dove to the bottom of the track and easily went from fourth to first and set sail the remainder of the way for the victory.

Several drivers were penalized prior to the race and dropped to the back of the field for the green flag: The No. 98 (Chase Briscoe) and No. 78 (Vinnie Miller) for unapproved adjustments, the No. 28 (Shane Lee) for an engine change, the No. 17 (Josh Bilicki) for a driver change (the team had not listed a driver name on the original entry list), the No. 38 (Jeff Green) for missing the driver/crew chief meeting and the No. 42 (Chad Finchum) for crew chief (Brian Keselowski) missing the driver/crew chief meeting.

Stage 1 winner: Cole Custer (6th stage win of season)

Stage 2 winner: Joey Logano

Who had a good race: Cole Custer put on a driving clinic with his performance. He went high when he needed to and also dropped low, essentially using virtually every inch of the track he needed. While so much has been said about Christopher Bell this season, if Saturday’s performance is a good indicator, keep your eyes on Custer as a potential Xfinity champion.

Who had a bad race: Illinois native Justin Allgaier had a rough day. He had a solo spin on Lap 11 while running third, was forced into the wall on Lap 116 after Jeffrey Earnhardt got loose and washed up the racetrack in front of Allgaier, and then hit the wall hard on Lap 129. He immediately took his car to the garage, his day over. “Just bummed to be here,” Allgaier told NBCSN after being checked at the infield care center. “It was a rough day … a very disappointing day.”

Notable: Joey Logano drove like he’s been competing all season in the Xfinity Series, even though this was his first start of the season in NASCAR’s junior league. Logano started from the pole and had the second-best car on track, but didn’t have quite enough to overtake Custer.

Next race: Circle K Firecracker 250; Friday July 5 at 7:30 p.m. ET; Daytona International Speedway (NBCSN, Motor Racing Network/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

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