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NASCAR America: Who can challenge the Xfinity Series’ Big 3?

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Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer have clearly staked out their territory in the Xfinity Series this season with three wins each.

But who are the drivers that can challenge the trio in the coming summer months?

Parker Kligerman and AJ Allmendinger discussed it on NASCAR America’s The Motorsports Hour.

Allmendinger believes veteran Justin Allgaier, who won at Iowa Speedway last year, is a threat.

“He’s been there, he’s done it for so long,” Allmendinger said. “He’s so consistent. You know at times he’s going to put himself in position to win races. … He’s the easy answer. But I look at guys like Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and John Hunter Nemechek. They’re young drivers, brand new to teams … In the second half of this regular season, will they be able to step up?”

Meanwhile, Kligerman championed Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe.

“He’s the teammate of one the Big 3 in Cole Custer,” Kligerman said. “I just think he’s doing everything he needs to be learning, riding hot on the heels of Cole Custer, he’s right there (sixth) in points. He’s had some good runs, he won in the Truck Series, he won on the Roval last year in the Xfinity Series and I just think he’s due.”

Watch the above video for more.

 

Bump & Run: Will winning ways of JGR, Team Penske continue?

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Where you do see the best chance for a team other than Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske to win this month? Will it be this weekend at Michigan? Sonoma? Chicagoland Speedway? Or will JGR and Team Penske combine to win all those races?

Nate Ryan: This year’s two powerhouses won’t sweep the rest of June. It’s been three years since Gibbs or Penske won at Michigan, so Sunday’s race presents opportunity. Given the strength of the road course aces (Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski) across both teams, Sonoma seems unlikely. Hendrick Motorsports’ resurgence on 1.5-mile tracks makes Chicagoland Speedway a good bet for that team.

Dustin Long: Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske sweep June.

Daniel McFadin: I see Michigan as the best site for another team to win, likely a Chevrolet in Chase Elliott (who has never finished outside the top 10 there) or three-time winner Kyle Larson if he can have a clean race. Though, I think Alex Bowman could steal one.

Jerry Bonkowski: I would lean toward either Michigan or Sonoma. Chicago, being a 1.5-mile track, plays right into the wheelhouse for both JGR and Penske. Michigan is wide and should afford an opportunity to win for guys like Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. or any of the Hendrick drivers. Sonoma is pretty much a wide-open affair that might favor someone like Kevin Harvick or another Stewart-Haas driver.

Who is the next Cup driver to score their first win of the season?

Nate Ryan: Even despite the execution problems by team and driver, it’s still only a matter of time for Kevin Harvick, perhaps as soon as Michigan.

Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick but it may not come until next month at New Hampshire.

Daniel McFadin: Erik Jones has been quietly consistent lately. Except for falling victim to a cut tire in the Coke 600, he’s finished sixth or better in three of the last four races with two finishes of third. He has one top 10 at each at the tracks remaining in June, with a best finish of third at Michigan.

Jerry Bonkowski: He’s looooonnnngggg overdue: Kevin Harvick is the next in line to take the checkered flag and lock himself into the playoffs. Also keep an eye on Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch.

Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer have combined to win the past five Xfinity races. Will they make it six in a row at Michigan this weekend or will you take the field?

Nate Ryan: Take the Xfinity Series’ Big Three.

Dustin Long: The win streak continues for the Xfinity Series’ Big Three.

Daniel McFadin: I’m going to take the field. There’s too much talent in the front half of the Xfinity garage this year for their stranglehold to last every week. Also, with defending race winner Austin Dillon not entered in the race, only four drivers who finished in the top 10 last year will be back: Custer (finished third), Paul Menard (finished fifth), Reddick (finished seventh) and Justin Allgaier (finished ninth).

Jerry Bonkowski: The odds appear to be in favor of that trio of drivers. But if Bell, Reddick or Custer don’t win, keep an eye out for either Chase Briscoe or Justin Allgaier. They’re overdue.

Cole Custer wins Pocono Xfinity race with last-lap pass

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Cole Custer passed Tyler Reddick for the lead on the last corner of the last lap to win Saturday’s Xfinity race in overtime at Pocono Raceway.

Reddick passed Custer on the overtime restart and Custer chased him down. Reddick’s car drifted up the track on the final corner of the last lap, giving Custer the chance to get by.

“It was pretty unbelievable,” Custer said after his third win of the season. “Tyler gave me a real run for my money there. I have no idea how he made it stick on that restart on the bottom passing me but he did. He was unbelievable on the brakes at the end. I was just able to kind of force a mistake a little bit trying to pack air on him.”

Reddick, who started in the rear because of a transmission change, finished second.

“I just love giving away races on the last lap to Cole Custer,” Reddick said on the radio to his team.

MORE: Click here for race results

MORE: Click here for points report

Custer who started on the pole, led four times for 58 laps. Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Chase Briscoe finished third. Ryan Preece was fourth. Christopher Bell finished fifth.

The race went to overtime when Justin Allgaier spun while running seventh in Turn 1 off a restart with three laps to go.

Stage 1 winner: Cole Custer

Stage 2 winner: Justin Allgaier

Who had a bad race: Brandon Jones wrecked on the sixth lap, ending his day. He finished last in the 38-car field. … Chad Finchum was involved in a multi-car crash on Lap 11 and finished 37th, the fifth consecutive race he’s placed 30th or worse.

Who had a good race: Runner-up Tyler Reddick scored his ninth consecutive top-five finish. Brandon Brown finished 13th to tie his career-best finish.

Next: June 8 at Michigan International Speedway

Pocono Xfinity practice report

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Cole Custer had the fastest lap in Friday’s final Xfinity practice at Pocono Raceway.

Custer had a lap of 169.383 mph. He was followed by Tyler Reddick (169.065 mph), Christopher Bell (168.259), Austin Dillon (167.713) and Michael Annett (167.485).

Matt Mills spun in Turn 1 and slid across the track before hitting the inside wall. FS1 reported he would go to a backup car.

Click here for practice report

Qualifying and the Xfinity race will be Saturday.

 

First practice

Tyler Reddick posted the fastest lap in the first of two Xfinity practice sessions Friday at Pocono Raceway.

Reddick posted a lap of 168.577 mph

He was followed by Cole Custer (167.348 mph), Christopher Bell (167.075), Austin Cindric (166.494) and Justin Allgaier (166.476). Austin Dillon, driving a second car for Kaulig Racing, was seventh on the speed chart with a top lap of 166.254 mph.

Chase Briscoe, who was 12th on the speed chart with a top lap of 165.368 mph, ran the most laps in the session with 23.

John Hunter Nemechek hit the wall in the session and went to a backup car.

Click here for practice report

Final Xfinity practice will be from 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET.

 

As weather heats up, Justin Allgaier feels ‘like myself’ on track

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Two weeks ago defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick sounded a warning.

“Definitely, as we get into the summer stretch you can’t forget about Justin Allgaier,” Reddick told NBC Sports. “Trying to forget about him is exactly when we’re going to get in trouble and that’s when he’s going to pop his head back into the race and make himself known.”

Reddick almost ate his words last weekend on a hot and humid day at Charlotte Motor Speedway when he had to fend off a charge from Allgaier over the final 14 laps.

Allgaier emerged from a field that had been picked apart as many drivers – Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Brandon Jones – fell out of contention or the race due to contact with the wall and the resulting cut tires.

Allgaier couldn’t catch Reddick, but he earned his fifth top five of the season, all of which have been in the top three. He enters this weekend’s race at Pocono with consecutive runner-up finishes.

This current stretch was preceded by one where the JR Motorsports driver failed to finish better than ninth over five races, including at Bristol where he led 138 laps and fell out with a right front hub failure.

“You know what’s disappointing is we had way more speed at the beginning of the year and we didn’t have the finishes to show for it,” Allgaier said after Saturday’s race. “Now I don’t feel like we’re quite as fast, but we’ve got the finishes to show for it.

“This team has got a great effort, a lot of instinctual effort. I think that’s what’s saving us right now. We got a really solid crew. These summer months when it’s hot and slick like this, that’s when I feel like myself, personally, but also JR Motorsports excels. So I’m looking forward to the summer.”

Allgaier and the rest of the Xfinity Series won’t have to experience the heat they did in Charlotte this weekend at Pocono. The high Saturday is forecast at 75 degrees by wunderground.com.

Allgaier will try to improve his record at Pocono. In three Xfinity starts, he has two DNFs for wrecks and a second-place finish in 2017 after he led 13 laps.

He does have an ARCA win at the “Tricky Triangle” in 2008.

“I love racing at Pocono,” Allgaier said in a media release. “(Crew chief) Jason Burdett and our No. 7 Klondike team have done a really good job there in the past. I really like racing at tracks that are unique and aren’t necessarily your standard shape. You really have to think through all three corners. To be good in Turn 1, you’re going to struggle a little in Turn 2 and Turn 3 and vice versa. Figuring which corner you’re willing to give up a little bit of speed in order to gain the speed on the other corners is so important. I’m excited for this race. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Should Allgaier break through on the Pennsylvania track, it would be just his second win in 55 Xfinity starts on tracks 2 miles or larger. The first came last year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (which inspired the design of Turn 2 at Pocono).

An Allgaier win would also be just the second for JRM in 2019.

It hasn’t found victory lane since Michael Annett won the season-opener in Daytona.