NASCAR America: Tight battle highlights Xfinity series

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With last week’s Xfinity Series victory at Mid-Ohio, Justin Allgaier scored his third win of the season and closed to within one victory of Christopher Bell.

Their domination of victory lane has obscured a very tight points race, however.

“I think what we’re seeing is a very competitive Xfinity series,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “I know Justin Allgaier and Christopher Bell have really separated themselves in the win column, but Elliott Sadler, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer are really competitive week in and week out.

“I’m just expecting that 21 car of Daniel Hemric at some point to really break out and go up there and challenge the 7 and 20 cars for wins later in the year.”

While Bell and Allgaier have accumulated the most playoff bonus points, there is a five-man battle for the series lead that is currently separated by 20 points.

“Look at the races they’ve run and look at how balanced the points are,” Kyle Petty said. “We just came from the (touch screen) and we’re talking about (the Cup) guys 50 or 60 in or a 120 points out. … These guys are within 15 or 20 points from first back to fifth.”

For more, watch the video above.

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Austin Cindric Wins Xfinity pole at Mid Ohio

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Austin Cindric won the pole for the Xfinity race in the Team Penske No. 22 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio with a speed of 96.386 mph. He also led the first round with a speed of 96.804 mph.

This is Cindric’s second career pole. His first came at Iowa Speedway in June. He finished 11th in that race.

Cindric beat Elliott Sadler (95.792 mph) by more than half a second (.523).

Brandon Jones (95.740), Cole Custer (95.596) and Matt Tifft (95.549) rounded out the top five.

Points leader Christopher Bell (95.176) qualified 10th.

Making her NASCAR debut, Katherine Legge (92.235) qualified 22nd.

Click here for complete results

Results, points after Xfinity race at Watkins Glen

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Joey Logano led 31 of 82 laps, including the final eight laps, on his way to winning the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

He beat AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Aric Almirola to earn his third Watkins Glen win in four years.

Christopher Bell placed ninth, ending his three-race win streak. It’s his first finish this year between sixth and 10th.

Click here for results.

Points

Bell has a 22-point lead over Cole Custer.

Daniel Hemric is third (-23 points), Elliott Sadler is fourth (-26) and Allgaier is fifth (-37).

Click here for the full standings.

Cole Custer, Jeremy Clements reveal Darlington Xfinity throwback schemes

Photo: Stewart-Haas Racing
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Cole Custer and Stewart-Haas Racing will honor A.J. Foyt with a special throwback scheme for the Sept. 1 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Custer’s car will pay tribute to the car Foyt drove and flipped in 1965 at Riverside International Raceway. With his brakes failing, Foyt had no way to stop. To avoid hitting Junior Johnson’s car, Foyt drove off the track and down an embankment, flipping several times. Foyt was knocked unconscious and declared dead by the first medic on the scene. Parnelli Jones, who had fallen out of the race, saw Foyt move and removed mud from Foyt’s mouth to allow him to breathe.

Two months later, Foyt won the pole at Phoenix for the USAC Champ Car Series. He won the won that year for the Indianapolis 500 and then won the NASCAR race at Daytona in July.

Just like Custer, Foyt ran a No. 00 car in that Riverside race.

“I said after that wreck that I’d never run a number that reads the same way when it’s upside down. I only ran it a couple times, but after Riverside, that was it,” Foyt said in a statement from SHR. “Cole seems to have had a lot more luck in the No. 00 than me, or at least more starts where all four wheels stayed on the ground. But I do appreciate the tribute. I remember all my racecars, and I remember that No. 00 Ford being fast before the crash.”

Said car owner Tony Stewart in a statement from the team: “A.J. is my hero, and a great friend who I’ve known for a long time. It didn’t matter what it was, but if it had four wheels and went fast, A.J. would drive it. NASCAR stock cars, USAC stock cars, sprints and midgets, Indy cars, IMSA sports cars – A.J. won in all of them. We both kind of came up through the racing ranks in the same way. He just did it in a different era.

“I think it’s pretty cool that Cole is paying tribute to A.J. with this throwback paint scheme at Darlington. It obviously has some history behind it, and it’s probably the best example of how tough and resilient A.J. is.”

Also Wednesday, Jeremy Clements‘ throwback scheme was revealed for the Darlington Xfinity race.

His’ Xfinity car will pay tribute to 1960 Cup champion Rex White, who was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2013.

Top three Xfinity drivers separated by three points entering New Hampshire

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Things have gotten pretty tight at the top of the food chain in the Xfinity Series.

Following last weekend’s race at Kentucky Speedway, the point standings are not led by just one driver.

Through 17 races, the standings are led by both Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric, who are tied with 608 points.

To add to an already close situation, they have Cole Custer breathing down their necks is only three points behind them heading into Saturday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

How did this situation arise considering none of the drivers have claimed a win this year?

Consistency. It’s disappeared for Sadler while Hemric and Custer have used it to catch the JR Motorsports driver.

Following the June 2 race at Pocono Raceway, Sadler had a 62-point lead over second in the standings. His lead slipped away over the next five races thanks to finishing 12th or worst three times.

He placed 30th at Michigan, 28th at Iowa and 12th at Kentucky.

That was after entering Michigan with top-10 finishes in the first 12 races of the season.

In the five races since Pocono, Hemric hasn’t finished worse than eighth and has three top-three finishes. Custer has four top fives and a DNF (wreck, Daytona).

Compared to this point last year, Sadler has more top fives (10 to seven in 2017), the same number of top 10s (14) and his average finish is 7.9 compared to 8.8.

Sadler, is mired in a 56 race winless streak that began in October 2016. And this season he’s been the best finishing Xfinity regular just once and the best finishing JR Motorsports driver only seven times.

Hemric and Custer are each in their second full-time seasons in Xfinity and have shown significant improvement over this same point in their rookie campaigns.

Through 17 races, Hemric has two poles (one in 2017), nine top fives (two in 2017), 13 top 10s (six in 2017) and no DNFs (three in 2017).

Custer has four poles (none in 2017), seven top fives (two in 2017), 13 top 10s (seven in 2017) and two DNFs (three in 2017).

Over the last eight races Hemric and Custer are tied for the most top fives with six. In that stretch, Hemric leads the series in top 10s (eight), average finish (4.13) and race points earned (311).

The point standings would be even narrower if not for two penalties dealt out by NASCAR this season to two of the three Xfinity regulars who have won races.

Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier enter New Hampshire in fourth (-17 points) and fifth (-39).

Bell lost 10 points after the Charlotte race for a post-race heights violation.

Allgaier was dealt a 25-point penalty following his win at Dover for a post-race inspection violation.

The two drivers would be in the same spot in the standings without the penalties.

Among Sadler, Hemric and Custer, it may be Custer who is the favorite to leave New Hampshire with points lead.

Custer is the only one of the trio with any success at the 1-mile track.

He’s won there in the K&N Pro Series East (2013) and in the Camping World Truck Series (2014).

He placed ninth in his first Xfinity start there last year.

“I think we’ve had really good cars in the past at short tracks and I think it’s more natural to me than a mile-and-a-half,” Custer said in a media release. “It’s probably like that for most guys. We just grew up running short tracks and didn’t have to deal with aero as much. We took a lot of good notes from New Hampshire last year that we’ll build on.”

Meanwhile, in 14 career starts at New Hampshire, Sadler has only led 26 laps and he hasn’t finished better than sixth since he returned to full-time Xfinity competition in 2011.

“We’re bringing the car we ran in Richmond, which is one of my favorites,” Sadler said in a media release. “We know it’s fast and is capable of a top-three finish. The end of the regular season isn’t too far away, so we’ve got to stick to our strategy, earn stage points and ultimately get ourselves and our partners a win.”

Sadler led 30 laps and finished third at Richmond.

Hemric placed 12th in his first Xfinity start in Loudon last year. In two Truck Series starts, he placed sixth and 28th (DNF).

“New Hampshire is always a place I look forward going to each year, especially how our company is on the short tracks right now,” Hemric said in a media release. “I feel like I know what I want in terms of speed when I get to a place like New Hampshire, it’s just a matter of getting our race car where we want it. I feel good headed to New Hampshire this weekend.”

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