Chris Cockrum

Noah Gragson wins Xfinity opener at Daytona for first series victory

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Noah Gragson won Saturday’s Xfinity Series opener at Daytona, taking the victory in a three-lap shootout that ended under caution and claiming his first career Xfinity Series win.

The victory comes in his 37th career start.

Gragson, 21, led 15 laps and beat Harrison Burton, Timmy Hill, Brandon Jones and Chase Briscoe.

It is JR Motorsports’ third straight win in the season-opening race at Daytona and its fifth win in the last seven.

Gragson is the seventh Xfinity driver to earn his first win at Daytona.

The Las Vegas native took his time getting to victory lane.

His lengthy celebration on the frontstretch saw him: fan a flame on the track caused by his burnout, climb the catchfence with his crew, execute an impressive Bo Duke hood slide across his car, try multiple times to toss a water bottle into the stands before he finally planted the checkered flag atop his car before driving to victory lane.

“I’m so thankful for this opportunity,” Gragson told FS1. “Man, I’m speechless right now, I didn’t think this would come. … I spent a lot of time with (team owner) Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. this week, talking for about two hours. Wanted to be a better speedway race. He told me ‘go have fun, wreckers or checkers, you got to manage you gaps, be there at the end and just go lead the damn the thing.’ That’s what we did.”

Later in the media center, Gragson said “Without that talk I don’t think I’d be sitting here.”

Gragson had to bounce back from a Lap 32 speeding penalty. It’s the fifth time in the last seven Daytona races that the winner rebounded from an in-race penalty.

The race ended under caution due to a large wreck on the backstretch on the final lap.

The finish was setup by a wreck on a restart with seven laps to go.

It collected Jeb Burton, Austin Cindric, Ryan Sieg, Brett Moffitt and others. It began after Briscoe took the lead and he moved up to  block Gragson as they neared Turn 3. Burton, running behind Gragson, checked up and was turned by Cindric. He bounced off Jones before turning back into the wall, causing a chain reaction.

The wreck resulted in a seven minute and 50 second red flag.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Jeb Burton led a 1-2-3-4 sweep by JR Motorsports to end the first stage.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier won the stage under caution following a wreck by Riley Herbst, pole-sitter Myatt Snider and Chris Cockrum on the last lap.

More: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Harrison Burton earned his best finish in 10 Xfinity starts and his second top five … Timmy Hill earned his best finish and his first top five in 185 career Xfinity starts. It came hours after his MBM Motorsports team received a L2 level penalty for an improper body modification, which included a six-race suspension for his crew chief.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Caesar Bacarella finished 29th after he spun on his own exiting Turn 4 on the first lap of the race … Jeremy Clements finished 28th after the hood on his No. 51 car tore apart on Lap 19 and caused a debris caution … Defending race winner Michael Annett got loose and spun on Lap 38 and collected Austin Hill and rookie Joe Graf Jr in a wreck. Annett was later in the last-lap crash … Justin Allgaier finished 30th after he was involved in a wreck with Josh Bilicki and Clements with 13 laps to go.

NOTABLE: The top three lap leaders of the race – Jeb Burton (26 laps), Justin Allgaier (23) and Myatt Snider (22) all were eliminated in crashes.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You know, don’t expect I’ll ever (go to victory lane at Daytona) again as a driver, so I’ll take these whenever they’re coming, right.  If I can get in here as an owner or part of any kind of success like this, it’s a great feeling.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr. to FS1 after Gragson’s win.

WHAT’S NEXT: Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 3:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 22 on FS1.

Check back for more.

Entry lists for Cup, Xfinity at Daytona

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Get ready for lots of fireworks this 4th of July weekend – both on and off the race track at Daytona International Speedway.

This race marks the first time the 2.5-mile track hosts a Cup race without restrictor plates since 1988, utilizing instead the tapered spacer – which we’ve already seen used once this year at Talladega Superspeedway.

Both the Cup and Xfinity Series will be in action at Daytona. The Truck Series is off until July 11 at Kentucky Speedway.

Here are the updated entry lists for this weekend’s races:

Cup – Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC)

There is a full 40-car field of cars and drivers entered for this race.

For the second time this season, Garrett Smithley is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet.

Quin Houff will drive the No. 15 for Premium Motorsports.

Ross Chastain will be in the No. 27 for Premium Motorsports.

B.J. McLeod makes his ninth start of the season for Petty Ware Racing in the No. 51 Ford

J.J. Yeley makes his third start of the season for Rick Ware Racing in the No. 52 Ford.

Joey Gase makes his first start of the season for Rick Ware Racing in the No. 53 Chevrolet.

Brendan Gaughan makes his third start of the season for Beard Racing in the No. 62 Chevrolet.

Justin Haley is back in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet.

And Parker Kligerman makes his eighth start of the season in the No. 96 Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing.

Last year, Erik Jones earned his first career Cup win in this race. Martin Truex Jr. was second and A.J. Allmendinger finished third.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – Circle K Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN)

There are 42 cars entered. Four cars will not make the race.

Sheldon Creed makes his third Xfinity start of the season and the first for JR Motorsports in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger makes his first Xfinity start of the season in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Joe Nemecheck makes his second Xfinity start of the season in the No. 13 Motorsports Business Management Toyota.

Riley Herbst makes his fifth start of 2019 in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Joe Graf Jr. makes his second start of 2019 in the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Chris Cockrum makes his third start for ACG Motorsports in the No. 25 Chevrolet.

Shane Lee makes his third start for H2 Motorsports in the No. 28 Toyota.

Austin Hill makes his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 61 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota.

Jeffrey Earnhardt is on the entry list with the No. 81 XCI Racing Toyota but stated on Twitter that the team would not be competing this weekend. 

A spokesperson for True Speed Communications, which had done PR for XCI Racing, said they had no additional info and that its agreement with the team was only through Chicagoland.

Caesar Bacarella makes his third start of 2019 in the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet.

Cody Ware makes his second Xfinity start of the season in the No. 99 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Toyota.

Kyle Larson won this race last year, followed by Elliott Sadler and Christopher Bell.

Click here for the entry list.

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Entry lists for NASCAR at Talladega

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This weekend will mark the first time Talladega Superspeedway will hold a NASCAR Cup race without restrictor plates in more than 30 years.

Instead of restrictor plates, NASCAR requires Cup teams to use tapered spacers to limit the engine’s horsepower. 

Both the Cup and Xfinity Series will be in action this weekend at the 2.66-mile track. The Truck Series does not race again until May 3 at Dover International Speedway.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race:

Cup – GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox)

There will be a full 40-car field in Sunday’s main event.

Cody Ware will once again be back in the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Stanton Barrett will make only his second Cup start since 2008 in the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. He finished last in the 2018 Cup playoff race on the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Justin Haley will make his NASCAR Cup debut in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will be in the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Inc. (XCI) Racing Toyota. It will be the first Cup race for XCI.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman will be in the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota.

Joey Logano won this race last year, leading 70 of 188 laps and beating Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott. Aric Almirola won last fall’s playoff race at Talladega, beating Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Xfinity – Money Lion 300 (1 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

There are 37 cars entered.

B.J. McLeod will be in the No. 15 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports.

Brett Moffitt will make his third career Xfinity start – and first since 2017. He’ll be in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Chris Cockrum will make his second Xfinity start of the season in the No. 17 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will make his fourth Xfinity start of the season – and his third for Joe Gibbs Racing – in the No. 18 Toyota.

Max Tullman will make his fifth career Xfinity start – and second of the season – in the No. 42 Motorsports Business Management Toyota.

Brandon Brown returns to the No. 86 Brandonbilt Motorsports after competing for RSS Racing at Richmond.

Canadian driver Alex Labbe will make his third start of the Xfinity season in the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet.

There is no driver listed yet in the No. 99 B.J. McLeod Racing Toyota.

Spencer Gallagher won this race last year, leading just one lap. Brandon Jones was second and Justin Allgaier was third.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

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Two multi-car wrecks involving 30 cars bring out red flags early in Xfinity race at Daytona

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Saturday’s Xfinity Series season-opening Powershares QQQ 300 has been red-flagged twice in less than the first 30 laps.

The first red flag was the result of a major wreck that involved 18 cars. The pack was on Lap 23 of the scheduled 120-lap event when several drivers made contact, setting off a chain reaction crash.

Among those involved in the wreck were Cole Custer, Garrett Smithley, Austin Dillon, Michael Annett, Ray Black Jr., Jeff Green, William Byron, Blake Koch, J.J. Yeley, Ryan Reed, Brad Keselowski, Spencer Gallagher, Ryan Sieg, Tyler Reddick, Anthony Kumpen, Benny Gordon, Scott Lagasse Jr., Jeremy Clements, Clint King and Aric Almirola.

The first red flag lasted 18 minutes, 20 seconds.

The race went back to green flag racing on Lap 28 when yet another multi-car wreck – this time 12 cars – took place one lap later on the back straightaway, bringing out the red flag once again.

The second wreck occurred one lap before the scheduled end of the first of two stages in the race.

Drivers involved in the second wreck included Darrell Wallace Jr., Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Erik Jones, Chris Cockrum, Harrison Rhodes, Brandon Hightower, Matt Tifft, Blake Koch and Ryan Reed.

The second red flag lasted 27 minutes, 51 seconds.

When the racing resumed following the second wreck, of the 40 cars that began the race, only Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon, Ross Chastain, Dakoda Armstrong, Brennan Poole, Joey Gase, Brendan Gaughan, Kasey Kahne, Mario Gosselin and David Starr had not been involved in wrecks.

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Dillon brothers claim front row in qualifying for Xfinity race at Talladega

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Brothers Austin and Ty Dillon made it a family affair during Xfinity Series qualifying Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Austin earned his first career Xfinity pole at the 2.66-mile track, while younger brother Ty will start the Winn Dixie 300 race later Saturday afternoon alongside his sibling.

Austin’s speed was 180.540 mph, while Ty’s was 179.892 mph. It’s also Austin Dillon’s third Xfinity Series pole of the season, having also taken the green flag first at Daytona (finished 4th) and Las Vegas (won).

It was an outstanding qualifying session for Richard Childress Racing, which not only put the two Dillon brothers on the front row, but fellow RCR drivers Brian Scott (179.538 mph) and Brendan Gaughan (178.600 mph) also had strong runs, qualifying third and seventh, respectively.

“ECR engines obviously 1-2-3 right there, it says a lot about us,” Austin Dillon said.

Here’s how Saturday’s Xfinity Series qualifying played out:

1 Austin Dillon … 180.540 mph

2 Ty Dillon … 179.892

3 Brian Scott … 179.538

4 Erik Jones … 179.316

5 Boris Said … 179.312

6 Daniel Suarez … 179.054

7 Brendan Gaughan … 178.600

8 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 178.587

9 Ryan Reed … 178.587

10 Elliott Sadler … 178.384

11 Regan Smith … 178.357

12 Chris Buescher … 177.999

13 Dakoda Armstrong … 178.311

14 Chase Elliott … 178.085

15 Aric Almirola … 177.897

16 Joey Logano … 177.761

17 Kasey Kahne … 177.669

18 David Starr … 177.511

19 Jeffrey Earnhardt … 177.471

20 Brennan Poole … 177.445

21 John Wes Townley … 177.258

22 Kenny Wallace … 176.907

23 Mike Bliss … 176.666

24 Blake Koch … 176.659

25 Benny Gordon … 176.601

26 Cale Conley … 176.578

27 JJ Yeley … 176.438

28 Derek White … 176.104

29 Ryan Sieg … 176.084

30 Jeff Green … 175.832

31 Chad Boat … 175.581

32 Mark Thompson … 175.401

33 Mario Gosselin … 175.275

34 Eric McClure … Owner Points

35 Landon Cassill … Owner Points

36 Harrison Rhodes … Owner Points

37 Jeremy Clements … Owner Points

38 Ross Chastain … Owner Points

39 Joey Gase … Owner Points

40 Peyton Sellers … Owner Points

DID NOT QUALIFY: Chris Cockrum, Mike Harmon, Bobby Gerhart, Derrike Cope, Carlos Contreras

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