A.J. Allmendinger

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Xfinity teams prepare for fourth and final road course race with Charlotte Roval

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The first three Xfinity Series races on road courses this year have been a case of the usual suspects when it comes to who finishes up front.

The races at Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio and Road America each saw 1-2 finishes by Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell, with Cindric winning at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio while Bell claimed his first road course victory at Road America.

Even if Bell’s Watkins Glen finish is only a result of AJ Allmendinger‘s disqualification, he could still be bragging about top three finishes in all three races.

Bell and Cindric take their hot streaks to the final road course event of the year this weekend with the second annual race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN).

Cindric and Bell are part of a trio of drivers – including Tyler Reddick – who have finished in the top five in all three road course races. Four other drivers – Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer – have finished in the top 10 all three races.

Here’s a look at each driver as they enter the second race of the playoffs, with many of them making their second start on the Roval.

Christopher Bell – Seven wins in 2019, finished top two in eight of the last 11 races. Finished top five in the last four road course races including a fifth-place finish at the Roval last year. Has won five of the 22 total Xfinity playoff races that have been held since they began in 2016.

Austin Cindric – Top-five finishes in five of the last eight races, including his road course wins. Finished second at Richmond. Won the pole and finished third at the Roval last year after he spun while leading.

Tyler Reddick – Twenty top-five finishes in 2019 and five wins (regular season champion). Finished ninth at the Roval last year, starting a four-race streak of top-10 finishes on road courses. Struggled throughout the playoff opener at Richmond before finishing 10th.

Justin Allgaier – Top-10 finishes in the last 11 races (second longest streak of his career). Finished 15th on the Roval last year after getting caught up in a wreck. It was his only finish outside the top 10 in the last seven road course races.

“There were a lot of unknowns going into the Roval race last year,” Allgaier said in a press release. “Even though it wasn’t a great race for us because we were caught up in an incident, it was still a great race for the fans. The only question mark for anybody was the back straightaway chicane and the track has done a fantastic job of listening to the drivers and making adjustments to it and I’m excited to get back there and try it out.”

Noah Gragson – Top-10 finishes in 15 of the last 17 races. Finished top 10 in all three road course starts. Making first Roval start.

Cole Custer – Six wins in 2019 and top-10 finishes in the last five races. Finished top 10 in the last eight road course races, including finishing seventh on the Roval last year.

Chase Briscoe – The defending winner of the Roval race. The win was his first career Xfinity victory. Briscoe has top-10 finishes in 10 of the last 11 races of 2019.

While Briscoe won this race last year, the circumstances of Saturday’s race will be very different for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

“We weren’t running for points in 2018, so we were able to use a different strategy than everyone else by short-pitting,” Briscoe said in a media release. “That lined us up perfectly for the middle portion of the race and ultimately the end. (Crew Chief) Richard Boswell had a great strategy and we were able to stick to it.

“The new configuration of the backstretch is going to throw people off at the beginning of the weekend, because we are used to the fast portion where we would throw the car around but now you have to really slow the car down, which can cause wheel-hopping if you aren’t careful. I think if we can get through that and have a clean race, we will be contending for the win and a repeat performance from last year.”

These seven playoff drivers aren’t the only ones to watch out for.

Allmendinger, a NBC Sports analyst, will make his fifth and final start of the year for Kaulig Racing in the No. 10 Chevrolet.

He’ll have competed in all four road course races. He led 24 laps at WGI and finished second before his disqualification. He finished third at Mid-Ohio. He then started from the pole and led 10 laps at Road America before a late incident relegated him to a 24th-place finish.

He competed in the inaugural Cup race on the Roval, starting second before finishing seventh.

“Every race this year, Kaulig Racing and the No. 10 team have stepped up their game,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “We’ve taken every learning opportunity and capitalized on it. This weekend, we’ll have an even bigger challenge with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval being a newer track for all of us.”

NASCAR America 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Recapping Hamlin’s Bristol win

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs on NBCSN at a special time, from 6-7 p.m. ET, and will recap Denny Hamlin’s win at Bristol.

Steve Letarte will be joined by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and A.J. Allmendinger to discuss Hamlin’s win and other storylines.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here for the special start time at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Xfinity Series practice report at Watkins Glen

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Kyle Busch was fastest in both Xfinity Series practices Friday at Watkins Glen International.

Busch followed up his field-leading first practice effort with a 121.862 mph effort in the second and final practice in preparation for Saturday’s Zippo 200 at The Glen.

Busch was followed in the final session by Justin Haley (121.374 mph), Austin Cindric (121.280 mph), NASCAR on NBC analyst and former Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger (121.207 mph), and Ryan Blaney (120.752 mph). Blaney was second-fastest to Busch in the first practice, while Allmendinger was third-fastest in the opening practice.

Sixth through 10th in the final practice were Christopher Bell (120.520 mph), Jeremy Clements (120.155 mph), Justin Allgaier (120.113), Noah Gragson (120.087) and Tyler Reddick (119.962).

There were no major incidents in the second practice. A total of 31 cars took to the track during the session.

Cole Custer, who destroyed his primary car in a single-car incident in the first practice session, finally emerged in a backup car with about 15 minutes remaining in the final practice. Custer managed to finish the session 12th in speed (119.814 mph).

Click here for the second practice speed chart.

FIRST PRACTICE

NASCAR Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney and former Cup driver A.J. Allmendinger were fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practices Friday afternoon at Watkins Glen International.

Busch covered the twisting road course at a top speed of 121.259 mph. Blaney was second-fastest at 120.804 mph, followed by Allmendinger, now a NASCAR on NBC analyst, who was third at 120.272 mph.

Austin Cindric was fourth (120.155 mph), followed by Tyler Reddick (120.026), Christopher Bell (119.938), Cole Custer (119.918), Justin Haley (119.843), Josh Bilicki (119.545) and Justin Allgaier (119.401).

Cole Custer’s car suffered extensive front-end and left side damage, forcing his team to go to a backup car. Photo: Dustin Long, NBC Sports.

There was one significant incident of note in the first practice when Custer got loose and wrecked hard.

Custer’s team immediately began transitioning to use a backup car for the final Xfinity practice session, but it’s uncertain how many laps they’ll be able to get in, given that the session is coming up shortly and runs from 2:05 – 3:25 p.m. ET.

Saturday marks the Zippo 200 at The Glen Xfinity Series race, which will air live on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.

Click here for the first practice speed chart.

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NASCAR America Motorsports Special, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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The biggest weekend in motorsports also means one of the biggest editions of the year for NASCAR America as well, with today’s expanded 90-minute Motorsports Special from 3:30 to 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

We’ll go in-depth about Sunday’s doubleheader, IndyCar’s Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600, its longest race of the season.

Today’s Motorsports Special will feature host Krista Voda along with A.J. Allmendinger, Steve Letarte and the man who will drive the pace car for the Indy 500 and NASCAR On NBC analyst, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

If you can’t catch either of today’s shows on TV, watch online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Could Kyle Larson’s top speed in practice lead to first career Cup win?

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Now in his third full-time season as a Sprint Cup driver, Kyle Larson still is looking for his first career Cup win.

Atlanta Motor Speedway would be an appropriate place to get it — Chip Ganassi Racing announced in August 2013 news conference at the track that Larson would move to Sprint Cup the following season.

Larson might have gotten off to a great start toward accomplishing a career breakthrough with Friday’s lone Sprint Cup practice at 1.5-mile oval. He had the fastest lap of all drivers at 192.902 mph, more than a 1 mph over the second-fastest driver, 2014 Atlanta winner Kasey Kahne (191.807 mph).

A.J. Allmendinger was third fastest (190.975), followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (190.646) and Austin Dillon (190.404). Brother Ty Dillon, who is filling in for the injured Tony Stewart, he recorded the 25th fastest speed (188.334 mph).

Sprint Cup qualifying will occur later this afternoon at 5:45 p.m. ET. There will be two more Cup practices on Saturday prior to the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races.

Here’s how Friday’s lone practice session played out:

Sprint Cup practice Friday feb 26