chase briscoe

Xfinity Series playoff standings entering first round

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The Xfinity Series playoffs begin this weekend with a 12-driver field set to compete for the championship.

The playoffs start Saturday night with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric start the postseason tied after they each earned 50 playoff points during the regular season.

More: Las Vegas entry lists

The last four drivers in the standings are Ryan Sieg (2,002 points), Michael Annett (2,002), Riley Herbst (2,001) and Brandon Brown (2,000).

Here are the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.

 

Justin Allgaier wins Saturday’s Dover Xfinity race

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Justin Allgaier won Saturday’s Dover Xfinity race to claim his first victory of 2020 and end a 20-race winless streak.

Allgaier dominated, leading 120 of 200 laps, including the final 50 laps around the 1-mile track.

More: Race results, point standings

The JR Motorsports driver defeated Austin Cindric, who was trying to win for the sixth time in seven races.

“These last 18 to 24 months have been crazy,” Allgaier told NBCSN. “Just proud of these guys and the no give of attitude they’ve got. … What a day. What a race car. We were off a little bit in the beginning and (crew chief) Jason (Burdett) did a great job of getting us where we need to be at.”

For Allgaier, it is the sixth consecutive Dover race he’s finished third or better.

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton.

The top-15 finishers will be inverted for Sunday’s Xfinity race. Brett Moffitt will start first and Brandon Brown will start second.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Austin Cindric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Cindric has finished in the top two in the last seven races … Ross Chastain earned his eighth top five of the year and his best career finish at Dover in 11 starts … Jeb Burton placed seventh for his third top 10 of the year in six starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Chase Briscoe finished 10th after he spun and hit the inside wall on the backstretch with 14 laps left in Stage 2 … Brandon Jones finished 16th after he spun while running in fifth with 37 laps to go.

NOTABLE: Kyle Weatherman finished 25th. His team, Mike Harmon Racing, was at the track after it had a truck, trailer and race car stolen last weekend.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “The 22 car (Austin Cindric) looked like a normal race car today and not a superhero car.” – Ross Chastain.

WHAT’S NEXT: Dover Race No. 2, 1 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN

Tony Stewart: ‘It’s time to get Kyle (Larson) back in the sport’

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Tony Stewart said Wednesday he feels “it’s time to get Kyle (Larson) back in sport” following Larson’s indefinite suspension by NASCAR.

Stewart made the comment in an interview Wednesday with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track.”

Larson was suspended by NASCAR and fired by Chip Ganassi Racing in April after he used a racial slur in an iRacing event. Larson discussed what he’s done in the four months since in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“I made a mistake and I’m paying for it and I accept that,” Larson told the AP. “NASCAR is where I always wanted to be and I do believe I proved I can compete at the Cup level. I’d like to get back there and we’ll see if there’s a way. All I can do is continue to improve myself and let my actions show who I truly am.”

NASCAR confirmed Wednesday that Larson has inquired about reinstatement but not made a formal request.

Larson must make the request to be reinstated.

With Clint Bowyer in a contract year as driver of Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 14 Ford, Stewart was asked by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio whether Larson was an option for the ride.

“I feel like it’s time to get Kyle back in the sport,” Stewart said. “I think he’s paid his dues. I think he served his penalty as far as society is concerned. I think it’s time for NASCAR to let the kid have an opportunity to get back to where he belongs and that’s behind (the wheel) of a stock car.

“I think (Xfinity Series driver) Chase (Briscoe) has done such a great job with us. We have four great drivers in Cup cars now. We got Chase in an Xfinity car and definitely feel like that he’s getting himself into a position to where he’s going to be a Cup car very soon as well. We’ve got a full stable right now and I like the group of guys we’ve got, it’s just a matter of making sure we give them everything they need to get the job done.”

Since his departure from the sport, Larson has dominated the dirt racing circuit. He’s the first driver to win seven straight races in Stewart’s sprint car series.

Stewart also was asked about a report by Sports Business Journal that NASCAR team owners are advocating for a “significant number” of one-day shows for the Cup Series in 2021 due to financial concerns related to the pandemic.

Stewart said he’s “not opposed to it.”

“I definitely understand from the owner’s standpoint and I think it’s saving a lot of these smaller teams, it’s keeping them in business being able to just show up and run the race,” he said. “I think the results on track have been pretty good with it. When I found out (about the strategy of one-day events amid the pandemic), business wise I 1,000% agreed and understood. … I feel like the sport’s in a good spot right now. I definitely see why a lot of the owners want to go that direction. … I think what people don’t realize, even though we’re getting all these races in, the sponsorships that we have on these cars is not paying the bills like it was.

“The sponsors can’t activate at the race track, they can’t entertain their clients and customers at the track like they used to. So literally when you see the sponsors on the side of the car, we’re literally getting pennies on the dollar from these sponsors because a lot of these sponsors have had to cut back because of the pandemic as well.

“So everybody’s having to take, we’ll call it a haircut. Everybody’s having to take a little bit off. We can’t blame the sponsors for it, it’s just part of the pandemic. We’re all working with our sponsors, we’re all doing what we have to to take care of them. But from a business side we have to take care of ourselves too. I think NASCAR’s done a good job of doing these one-day shows.”

Stewart said one-day shows are not “the easiest thing for us to do” but financially, with teams not having to pay for three days of hotel costs, “it’s a very good thing for a lot of the teams to be able to just show up and race.”

Said Stewart: “Even when this pandemic stops and the fans are allowed to come back to the race track, it’s not going to fix the problems in the fallout from this pandemic for the owners and teams. It could take a couple of years before this gets back to normal 100%.”

Chicanes and rain: Xfinity drivers brace for Daytona road course

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Polesitter Austin Cindric has at least one concern about today’s Xfinity Series race on the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

“I hope I don’t just drive straight through NASCAR (Turn) 4 onto the front straightaway,” Cindric said this week.  “Hopefully I remember there’s a chicane there.”

There’s only a handful of NASCAR drivers who enter this weekend’s races on the Daytona road course with any past experience on the track that hosts sports car races, including the Rolex 24. None of them, including Xfinity Series drivers Cindric, AJ Allmendinger and Chase Briscoe, have competed on the layout that will debut today.

The track will have a second chicane, located between oval Turn 4 and the entrance to pit road. The turn will see drivers go onto the traditional apron before returning to the oval track.

The chicane was put in place to slow cars as they navigate Turn 1 into the infield portion of the course.

“Overall, I do think it eliminates a better passing zone in (Turn) 1,” Cindric said. “Obviously, we did it for speed purposes and whatever purpose NASCAR needed to feel comfortable with going to this track without practice, but I really do feel like it adds the front straightaway more as an acceleration zone, instead of a straightaway. You usually get a lot of drafting opportunities down through NASCAR (Turns) 3 and 4 onto the front straightaway, high-speed braking zone into Turn 1, you have more options to pass there and that’s probably the most legitimate passing zone.

“I don’t see the bus stop (on the backstretch) or the new chicane being much of a passing zone, so I think that makes the infield important as far as racing. At the same point, I feel like that’s an easy place to get into the back of somebody and not even try to, especially in our cars, so it’s gonna be dicey.”

Allmendinger, who won the 2012 Rolex 24 and has competed in that event 14 times, said from his experience in a simulator, the chicane is “a little bit more narrow” then the one found on the fronstretch of the Charlotte Roval.

“Trying to make an outbraking move, if you’re behind the car, looks like at least preliminary it might be a little bit more difficult,” Allmendinger said. “But it also seems like it’s really easy to lock up and get in too deep. … I think it’s gonna allow a lot of opportunities for small mistakes. It’s just like everybody else, go out there and learn it as we drop the green.”

Well, what if it’s raining?

On Saturday, wunderground.com forecasts that the chance of rain is between 44-54% from 3 – 5 p.m. ET.

That means the 14-turn, 3.61-mile track could be covered in rain most of the day.

That’s fine with Briscoe, who posted on Reddit last weekend that he wanted to race in a “monsoon” during the race at Road America.

“I thought the rain was super fun at Road America,” Briscoe said this week. “That was the first time I’d ever done it and it reminded me, truthfully, of a lot of the Eldora truck race just how you had to kind of drive it. So I thought it was really fun, first off, and I feel like Daytona would probably be the hardest place to run in the rain just because I don’t really know what the banking would do. A lot of the transitions are from the bank down to the flat, so there will be a ton of puddles there and what-not, so I don’t really know what to expect, but I would love to run the whole race in the rain.”

Briscoe’s main concern with a rain-filled race today is visibility.

“I was blown away at how little visibility there was (at Road America),” Briscoe said. “Down the back straightaway there was a car probably three or four car lengths in front of me and I couldn’t even see his brake lights. Visibility is really hard.”

At Daytona, Briscoe said the “rooster,” or the spray of water a car creates, “is only going to be worse because we’re going so much faster and that just typically makes it worse, so we’ll see but it was definitely hard to see at Road America for sure.”

But Briscoe isn’t scared of racing in the rain.

‘We’re going slower in the rain than we are anywhere else, so I don’t think danger is really an issue,” Briscoe said. “It makes you (stay) on your toes, but it’s no different to me if we’re in the pack at Daytona or Talladega. To me, that’s way scarier than running in the rain with limited visibility.”

One person thinks it would be a “shame” if today’s race were run in the rain.

That’s Earl Bamber, the IMSA driver and three-time podium finisher in the Rolex 24, who will make his Xfinity Series debut  with Richard Childress Racing.

“I’ve got a lot of experience in the rain, even recently we drove in the wet in a couple of practice sessions at Daytona,” Bamber said Thursday. “I know where the puddles are. I know where the line is and stuff like that. I think from that point of view it’ll be a good advantage if it rains. Hopefully, we don’t need to get them out to be honest with you. It would be a shame if it was a wet race.

“It would be really cool to go be able to do a dry one in one of these cars, that would be awesome.”

Austin Cindric wins at Road America

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Austin Cindric outran AJ Allmendinger in a two-lap dash to claim the win Saturday in the Xfinity Series race at Road America.

The Team Penske driver captured his fourth Xfinity Series win in the last five races, leading 19 of 45 laps around the road course.

Cindric is the 11th different winner in 11 Xfinity races at Road America. He’s won three of the last six road course races.

The top five was completed by Chase Briscoe, Kaz Grala and Andy Lally, who made his first Xfinity start since 2018.

More: Click here for race results and points

The final shootout was set up by a wreck on a restart with four laps left in the race. The wreck occurred between Turns 1 and 2 and included Justin Allgaier, Myatt Snider, Jeremy Clements and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

The race was stopped for 1 hour and 33 minutes for a weather delay near the end of the first stage.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Haley won the stage in a one-lap shootout.

STAGE 2 WINNER: AJ Allmendinger won under caution.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kaz Grala earned his fourth top five in 29 Xfinity start … Preston Pardus finished eighth. He has two top 10s in four career starts.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE:  Daniel Hemric finished 35th after his engine expired on Lap 7 … Jesse Little finished 33rd after he got stuck in a Turn 2 sand trap with four laps left in the second stage. Safety officials were unable to remove his car in time to finish the stage under green.

WHAT’S NEXT: Race on the Daytona road course, 3 p.m. ET Aug. 15 on NBCSN.