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Riley Herbst to compete part-time in Xfinity for Joe Gibbs Racing

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Riley Herbst will compete part-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series and the ARCA Racing Series this season, the team announced Wednesday.

Herbst, who turns 20 on Feb. 24, will be sponsored by Monster Energy in both series along with Advance Auto Parts and ORCA Coolers.

JGR had previously been sponsored by NOS Energy.

The Las Vegas native made his Xfinity debut in the June 2018 race at Iowa Speedway and finished sixth.

Herbst will make his first of eight Xfinity starts this season on April 12 at Richmond.

He will split time in the No. 18 Toyota with Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

The team will be led by crew chief Ben Beshore, who previously served as a race engineer for JGR’s Cup program.

In ARCA, Herbst will share the No. 18 Toyota with Ty Gibbs, grandson of JGR owner Joe Gibbs. Herbst will make seven starts and Ty Gibbs will make 12 starts.

“To be a part of JGR the last few years has been a great opportunity for me and I’m excited to compete in both the Xfinity and ARCA series this year,” said Herbst in a press release. “The new Toyota Supra’s are pretty sweet and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one and take it around the track.

“We’ve got goals set for this year and it would be cool to get my first win this season and take the new Supra to victory lane. 2019 is going to be a fun year and I’m ready to get it started at Daytona in a few weeks.”

Herbst will be among the drivers taking part in this week’s two-day organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Richard Petty’s grandson, Thad Moffitt, to make Daytona debut in ARCA season opener

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Thad Moffitt, the 18-year-old grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, will make his Daytona International Speedway debut in the ARCA Racing Series season-opening race on February 9.

Moffitt, who has eight previous ARCA starts over the last two seasons, will compete in the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire. He’ll pilot the No. 46 Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet in a car prepared by Empire Racing Group (ERG).

Thad Moffitt

Moffitt’s first start at Daytona will also mark the 40th anniversary of uncle and NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty’s ARCA debut at Daytona (his first stock car race start), which ended with a victory.

“This is Daytona, and it means so much to my family,” Moffitt said in a media release. “Testing last year just gave me that desire to race here. I know what Uncle Kyle did in his first ARCA start here – he won the race.

“It would be amazing to accomplish that same feat 40 years later. We had a good test session and I have more experience in the draft, too. I’m ready to go and look forward to that green flag coming down.”

Moffitt recently took part in an ARCA test at Daytona in preparation for his first start at the legendary track where his grandfather earned 10 wins in 74 career starts, including capturing the Daytona 500 seven times. Moffitt also went through last year’s preseason ARCA test at Daytona, but was too young to compete in the race.

“Growing up, I went to Daytona every February and July,” Moffitt said. “I loved watching the ’43’ race and watching Uncle Kyle. It’s cool to finally have my turn. Daytona is a big part of our family history. It started with my great grandfather, Lee, and has been passed down. It feels like a rite of passage to race at Daytona. I’m ready to start our race season in February.”

Moffitt’s best ARCA finish to date has been 10th at Toledo last season. He will make select starts in the No. 46 through the course of the series’ 20-race season.

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ARCA changes overtime rules for Daytona, Talladega races

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The ARCA Racing Series announced Tuesday it will implement changes to its overtime rules for races held at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Gone are unlimited attempts at two-lap green-white-checkered finishes when the white flag had not been displayed and unlimited “green and white together” attempts if the white flag had been displayed and the caution flag was necessary prior to the checkered.

In their place will be one attempt at a one-lap finish when the green and white flag are displayed together.

Once the green and white flag are displayed, the next flag – either a caution flag or checkered flag – ends the race. All means will be used to determine the running order at the time of a caution.

Overtime procedures will stay in place at the series’ 18 remaining races.

The moves come after last year’s race at Daytona stretched 12 laps beyond the scheduled 80-lap distance due to cautions.

“We feel it’s more fair to the teams and to the fans to finish the race closer to the advertised distance,” said Grayling Call, Senior Director of Competition for ARCA, in a press release. “Teams work on their fuel strategy throughout these races and when you have several overtime finish attempts it throws that strategy off for everyone. You could have cars running out of fuel on a restart that causes another crash.”

The ARCA season begins Feb. 9 with the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona.

GMS Racing to field Sam Mayer in K&N, ARCA Series

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GMS Racing will expand into the K&N Pro Series East and West and the ARCA Racing Series next year, the team announced Wednesday.

The team will field 15-year-old Sam Mayer in each series where he will drive the No. 21.

Mayer is also scheduled to make four starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series with the first set for August at Bristol Motor Speedway after he turns 16 in June.

The native of Franklin, Wisconsin, joins GMS Racing with seven K&N starts and three ARCA starts in his career.

“GMS Racing has had tons of success over the past couple years, especially this past year,” Mayer said in a press release. “Knowing that a great team is behind me going into next season gives me a lot of confidence that we will have success, too.”

He earned two top fives in his six K&N East starts.

Mayer made his ARCA debut at Iowa Speedway and finished 10th and later placed seventh at Lucas Oil Raceway.

He will make his debut in the K&N East season opener at Smyrna Speedway on Feb. 10.

“We are excited to add K&N, as well as ARCA to our organization in 2019,” said team president Mike Beam in a press release. “Mayer is very talented at such a young age, and I see a big future for him in motorsports. I’m glad that he chose us to pursue his career in racing. Our goal has always been to build championship caliber teams no matter what series we participate in. With Mayer behind the wheel and Mardy Lindley leading the team, I do not doubt in my mind they will be successful in 2019.”

2018-19 NASCAR Next Class revealed

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On Tuesday, NASCAR announced the members of its latest NASCAR Next class program.

The program, which only includes people between the ages of 15 and 25, highlights notable upcoming drivers in the auto racing ranks.

Previous members include Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott, Gray Gaulding, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez, and Darrell Wallace Jr.

“NASCAR Next highlights emerging talent who have shown the talent and intangibles it takes to achieve success at the highest levels or our sport,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president & chief marketing officer, in a press release. “Alumni of the program are currently making their marks across NASCAR’s three national series and we believe members of this year’s class have potential to do the same.”

The 2018-19 class has nine members and includes four returning drivers from last year, including, Zane Smith, Riley Herbst and Chase Purdy.

The other is Hailie Deegan, the 16-year-old driver who Kevin Harvick said has the “most potential” in the K&N Pro Series West.

The class has five K&N Pro Series drivers, three ARCA Racing Series drivers and one Camping World Truck Series driver.

Here’s the nine drivers who were selected to the class.

Anthony Alfredo (@anthonyfalfredo), NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – Driving full-time this year for MDM Motorsports in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Alfredo is also a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The 19-year-old Ridgefield, Connecticut, native recently competed in various late model divisions across the country, driving for JR Motorsports.

Hailie Deegan (@HailieDeegan), NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – The 16-year-old Temecula, California, native returns to Next for a second year, driving for Bill McAnally Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. The daughter of FMX legend and Monster Energy athlete Brian Deegan, Hailie was the 2016 Modified Kart champion in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series and was named the Lucas Oil Off Road Driver of the Year.

Riley Herbst (@rileyherbst), ARCA Racing Series – Returning to Next for a second year, Herbst is running full-time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the ARCA Racing Series, where he won Rookie of the Year honors a year ago. The 19-year-old Las Vegas native captured his first big-track win last June at Pocono, along with six top fives and 10 top 10s.

Derek Kraus (@derek9kraus), NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – The reigning NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Rookie of the Year, Kraus claimed his first win and a pole award, along with nine top fives and 10 top 10s in 2017. Driving full-time for Bill McAnally Racing, the 16-year-old Stratford, Wisconsin, native has already captured a fourth-place finish at New Smyrna and a win at Kern County this year.

Chase Purdy (@chasepurdy12), ARCA Racing Series – Purdy returns to Next for a second year after capturing NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. The 18-year-old from Meridian, Mississippi, finished fourth in the standings last year, tallying five top fives and eight top 10s. This year, Purdy is racing full-time in the ARCA Racing Series for MDM Motorsports.

Will Rodgers (@willrodgers65), NASCAR K&N Pro Series – The 23-year-old Maui, Hawaii, native made two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts in 2017 and won them both. Starting on the pole at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma, he finished runner-up to Kevin Harvick. Running all 14 races out west, Rodgers notched nine top fives and 12 top 10s, finishing fifth overall.

Zane Smith (@zanesmith41), ARCA Racing Series – Back for a second year in Next, Smith, 18, from Huntington Beach, California, has captured his first two career ARCA victories early in 2018 (Nashville and Talladega). Smith finished ninth in the ARCA standings a year ago, posting two poles, seven top fives and 11 top 10s. In his initial foray in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Smith ran twice in the East, posting top-10 and top-five finishes, and once in the West, scoring another top-five showing.

Tanner Thorson (@Tanner_Thorson), NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – A former USAC Midget Champion, the 22-year-old Thorson brings his dirt racing experience to Next as he prepares to run various Touring Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races throughout the year. The Minden, Nevada, native also ran two ARCA races in 2017, claiming a top-10 finish in just his second series appearance.

Ryan Vargas (@The_Rhino23), NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – Hailing from La Mirada, California, Vargas is competing full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for REV Racing. The 17-year-old finished third overall in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for California in 2017, racking up two wins, 15 top fives and 23 top 10s. Vargas is also a 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity class member.