Erik Jones paces Cup field in Phoenix practice

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Erik Jones had the fastest lap in Friday’s lone Cup practice at ISM Raceway.

Jones led the way with a lap of 137.862  mph. He was followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch (137.825 mph), Chase Elliott (137.815), Brad Keselowski (137.762) and Kyle Larson (137.673).

Other playoff drivers: Kevin Harvick was 10th with a lap of 137.200  mph, Kurt Busch was 11th at 137.164 mph, Aric Almirola was 12th with a lap of 137.096 mph, Joey Logano was 17th at 136.633 mph, Clint Bowyer was 19th at 136.545 mph and Martin Truex Jr. was 20th at 136.488 mph.

Ty Dillon ran the most laps at 17. No driver ran 10 consecutive laps in the session.

Cody Ware crashed in practice. He was uninjured.

Cup qualifying will take place at 7 p.m. ET today on NBCSN.

Click here for Cup practice report

Preliminary entry lists for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks at Phoenix

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NASCAR’s top three national series head to Phoenix this weekend to set the championship field for each series:

Cup – Can-Am 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-eight cars are on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s race.

DJ Kennington is listed in the No. 7 car for Premium Motorsports.

Obaika Racing announced Wednesday morning that Tanner Berryhill will drive the No. 97 and make his Cup debut. The Cup entry list had not been updated by Wednesday morning to include that.

Cody Ware will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing.

Carl Long‘s No. 66 team has withdrawn.

Click here for Cup entry list

Xfinity – Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC)

There are 40 cars entered for this event.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

Truck – Lucas Oil 150 (8:30 p.m., ET Friday on FS1)

There are 31 entries for this race. Derek Kraus, a 17-year-old who finished fourth in the K&N West Series standings, will make his Truck debut this weekend.

Click here for Truck entry list

Justin Allgaier wins Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio

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Justin Allgaier passed Austin Cindric with four laps remaining in the Xfinity race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and held the advantage to win his third race of the season. This is the most wins in a season for Allgaier.

Allgaier survived an off track incident on lap 25 and a spin on lap 59 on his way to victory lane.

Custer and Allgaier provided the fireworks on lap 59.

“It was a frustrating day, to say the least,” Custer said in a press release. “Our Haas Automation Mustang was really good. I thought we were a second-place car. We probably could’ve kept up with the 22 (Austin Cindric). I have to apologize to Justin (Allgaier). It worked out for him, but I hit him in the wrong spot there and spun him around. That’s my fault and I’ll apologize. We’ll just move on to Bristol. I want to win. That’s what we want to do. It’s frustrating when things don’t go your way. I thought we were doing everything right, we just need everything to fall into place.”

After losing the lead to Allgaier, Cindric held off a battle from Daniel Hemric, who was also on fresher tires. Hemric finished third.

Matt Tifft and Ryan Truex rounded out the top five.

In only his third road course race in the Xfinity Series, Christopher Bell was well on his way to score his first top five on this track type until he was spun by Elliott Sadler on a lap-65 restart while racing for second. Bell fell to 28th and pitted during the next caution with eight laps remaining . He took four fresh tires and was able to climb back to 11th. Last week, Bell finished ninth at Watkin Glen.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Austin Cindric (first stage win of 2018)

MORE: Complete Results
MORE: Points Standings

HOW JUSTIN ALLGAIER WON: After winning Stage 1, Allgaier was mired in traffic. On the restart, he attempted to go four-wide and ran off track, costing him track position. That allowed him to pit off-sequence with the leaders and with 20-lap fresher tires, he drove through the field and was able to get to Cindric’s back bumper with five laps remaining.

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Cindric failed to win, but he scored a career-best finish of second. His previous best was a fourth at Pocono in June. … After finishing 18th last week at Watkins Glen, Truex scored his first road course top 10 in his third start. … Alex Labbe in ninth scored his career best finish in his 24th race. … Spencer Gallagher started 20th and finished eighth for the greatest advancement in the field.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Dylan Murcott’s debut in the Xfinity series did not last long. Locking up his tires on lap 1, he drove off track and into the tire barrier. … Brandon Jones faded to eighth from his third-place starting position and spun in Turn 2. Another off course excursion on lap 34 contributed to a 23rd-place finish. … Chase Briscoe spun when the pack stacked up in front of him. He was tagged by Kaz Grala into the spin and lost his back bumper on lap 33 after contact with Cody Ware. … Tyler Reddick cut a tire after contact from behind from Matt Tifft on lap 60 and destroyed his right rear quarter panel. … With nine laps remaining, Katherine Legge lost an engine and retired. … Ross Chastain (16th) and Joey Gase (24th) got into a last lap incident. After the race, Gase told NBC’s Parker Kligerman that he could make it difficult for Chastain to make the playoffs.

NOTABLE: Strategy trumped raw speed on Saturday. Cindric led four times for 59 laps and was not passed for the lead under green until the closing minutes. Allgaier was forced into an alternate strategy by a series of incidents, including an off track excursion on lap 25 while battling for a top 15 position. Contact with Cole Custer on lap 59 while battling for fifth cost both multiple positions and encouraged Allgaier to pit on lap 62 while Cindric stayed out. Allgaier led eight laps.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That call there at the end is what did it. Austin (Cindric) had the best car today and I thought we gave it away there. We were on the outside and got pushed off the race track, but was able to come back.” – Justin Allgaier in victory lane on NBCSN

WHAT’S NEXT: Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 17 on NBCSN

Cup driver Cody Ware out indefinitely with back issues

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Cup Series driver Cody Ware announced on Facebook Wednesday that he will be out indefinitely due to lower-back problems that forced him to exit the last two races early.

A MRI revealed that the 21-year-old Ware, who drives the No. 51 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing, is suffering from “some compression and discs issues,” he said in a post on his Facebook page.

Frontstretch.com first reported the story.

The No. 51 team was entered into this weekend’s race at Michigan. A team spokesperson said they will not race at Michigan, but will be at Sonoma Raceway next weekend.

Ware said he exited the Dover race two weeks ago after 283 laps due to “serious back issues.

“It wasn’t typical pain and I was concerned with how it was affecting my driving,” Ware said. “We decided to try to fix my seat at Pocono and continue on.”

But Ware’s back pain continued and he was forced to exit the Pocono 400 after completing just 35 of 160 laps.

The Pocono race was Ware’s third start of the year. He made his Cup debut at Atlanta, where he finished last due to a steering issue.

Ware has also made two Camping World Truck Series starts this season in the No. 50 Chevrolet owned by Mark Beaver. He finished 22nd at Kansas and 18th at Dover.

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Cody Ware to make Cup debut at Atlanta

Photo courtesy of Rick Ware Racing
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Cody Ware will make his NASCAR Cup debut this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, driving the No. 51 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing.

The 21-year-old son of Rick Ware has competed in 12 Xfinity and five Camping World Truck races in his career.

“I’m very honored to have this opportunity to make my Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Atlanta,” Cody Ware said in a statement from the team. “I’ve been very blessed throughout my racing career to compete in so many different series, but the chance to race in the Cup Series is something I’ve lived for since I started racing.”

“It is such an awesome deal, getting to go race in the Cup series with my dad. We share a passion in the sport, and I cannot wait to compete together at the highest level of motorsport in the country with my family.”

The team failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Timmy Hill as the driver.

Thirty-nine cars are on the preliminary entry list for Atlanta, meaning Cody Ware will be in the field even though his team does not have a charter.

Click here for Atlanta entry list