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Joe Gibbs Racing announces 2019 crew chief realignment

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On Thursday, Joe Gibbs Racing announced a crew chief realignment for the 2019 season for four of its teams.

Chris Gabehart will take over for Mike Wheeler as Denny Hamlin‘s crew chief in the Cup Series. Wheeler and Hamlin parted ways following the season finale at Homestead. Gabehart spent the last three seasons as an Xfinity crew chief for JGR earning a total of nine wins during that time. Last year, he was the crew chief for the Xfinity No. 19 team of Brandon Jones.

Eric Phillips will also move from the Xfinity series to Cup as the car chief for Hamlin. He earned eight wins during three seasons as an Xfinity crew chief on the No. 18.

Jeff Meendering will fill the crew chief spot on the Xfinity No. 19 vacated by Gabehart and will be paired with Jones.

Meendering returns to JGR after two years with Stewart-Haas Racing and the No. 00 car.

Ben Beshore moves from his current role as engineer on Kyle Busch‘s car to fill the role of crew chief on the Xfinity No. 18. This team typically fields multiple drivers during the season.

“With such a short offseason it’s important to start work toward the 2019 season immediately and we are proud with the teams we have assembled now, both in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and in the Xfinity Series,” said owner Joe Gibbs in a press release. “With Chris Gabehart joining Adam Stevens, Chris Gayle, and Cole Pearn on the Cup side we believe we have the right leaders in place to benefit our entire organization.”

Former driver Mark McFarland will become team manager and crew chief for JGR’s K&N Pro series and ARCA car. In 31 starts in the Xfinity series, McFarland scored one top 10 at Talladega in 2006 while driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“In addition, we take a tremendous amount of pride in our accomplishments in the Xfinity Series and are excited to have Jeff Meendering and Ben Beshore join Jason Ratcliff to lead our efforts there, as well as bolster our developmental program in ARCA with the addition of Mark McFarland,” Gibbs said.

Xfinity practice report at Texas

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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.

Daniel Hemric wins Xfinity pole for today’s race at Dover

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DOVER, Del. – Daniel Hemric won the pole for today’s Xfinity race at Dover International Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN). It’s his third pole of the season.

Today’s race will eliminate four drivers from the Xfinity playoffs.

Hemric won the pole with a lap of 158.249 mph. He was followed by Christopher Bell (157.611 mph), Justin Allgaier (157.391), Spencer Gallagher (156.911) and Brandon Jones (156.685).

Ryan Truex and Ryan Reed, both drivers outside the cutline to advance to the next round, will have the worst starting spots of the 12 playoff drivers. Truex will start 19th. Reed will start 20th.

Click here for starting lineup


Today’s Xfinity race at Dover: Start time, lineup and more

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The Xfinity Series has its first elimination race of the season with four drivers facing the end of their playoff hopes. Austin Cindric, Ryan Truex, Ryan Reed and Brandon Jones enter the race below the cutoff line.

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Mike Cote, Bar Harbor President and CEO, will give the command to start engines at 3:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:14 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (200 miles) around the 1-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 8 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:15 p.m. Qualifying is at 12:05 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Nikki Briar will perform the anthem at 3:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: calls for cloudy skies with a high of 72 degrees and a 6 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Ryan Blaney beat 2017 playoff contender Justin Allgaier by nearly five seconds. Allgaier is playoff eligible again in 2018, but Cup regulars will not compete.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting lineup

Friday’s Xfinity practice report from Dover

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Final Practice

Under misty conditions, Justin Allgaier posted the fastest single lap of 153.446 mph in final practice. He also paced the field in the first session.

He beat Cole Custer (153.440 mph) by only .001 seconds.

John Hunter Nemechek (153.296), points leader Christopher Bell (153.191) and Austin Cindric (153.029) rounded out the top five.

Bell had the quickest 10-lap average with a speed of 152.037 mph.

Drivers under the cutoff line who need to find a little more speed are Brandon Jones (152.342) with the ninth fastest time, Ryan Truex (151.515) with the 14th fastest time and Ryan Reed (151.356) with the 16th fastest time. Reed was the slowest playoff eligible driver in this session.

Click here for complete results

First Practice

Justin Allgaier posted the fastest lap in the first practice session for the Bar Harbor 200 at Dover with a speed of 154.712 mph. He enters the Round 1 elimination race at Dover 11 points above the cutoff line.

Allgaier beat second-place Tyler Reddick (154.195) by .078 seconds.

Cole Custer (153.748), Daniel Hemric (153.597) and Christopher Bell (153.590) rounded out the top five.

Ryan Preece had the quickest 10-lap average of this session with a speed of 152.041 mph.

The four playoff drivers below the cutoff line are Brandon Jones (153.152) with the eighth fastest speed. Austin Cindric (153.126) was ninth, Ryan Truex (151.675) was 15th and Ryan Reed (151.350) was 16th.

Click here for complete results