Drive for the Cure 300

Ryan Reed advances in Xfinity playoffs after intense battle with Brendan Gaughan

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CONCORD, North Carolina — Brendan Gaughan could see his playoff stakes in his rear-view mirror and on the scoring pylon.

“I’m a driver that pays attention to things,” Gaughan said. “It’s not like it’s not sitting there in front of my face.”

Ryan Reed was one spot behind him on the track, but one spot ahead of Gaughan in the playoff standings.

Behind Reed was Brandon Jones, Gaughan’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing and his last, best chance to advance to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs. If Jones passed Reed, Gaughan was in.

Those were the stakes for the last 10 laps of Saturday’s rain-delayed race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I knew (Jones) wanted that spot as bad as I wanted him to not have the spot,” Reed said. “I know him and Brendan are friends. He wanted to give him that gift. But obviously, I raced my guts out. That’s probably the hardest five laps I’ve ever driven in a race car.”

But the gift never arrived.

When the checkered flag fell on the Drive for the Cure 300, Gaughan finished 11th and was eliminated. Reed placed 12th and advanced to the second round for the second time.

Almost 50 laps earlier, Reed thought his night was over.

After a long night of battling Gaughan, Reed’s No. 16 Ford was running 22nd after becoming extremely loose and falling through the field. Gaughan sat 14th.

“Our setup, we would go really free on the long run,” said Reed, who thought he had a top-12 car on short runs. “It’s kind of like a light switch, once we seemed like we got that right rear (tire) at a certain temperature it was just gone.”

Reed was saved by a caution, courtesy of oil left on the track by the No. 52 of Joey Gase with 40 laps to go.

“There’s our gift,” Reed told his team over the radio.

A two-time Daytona winner, the 24-year-old Reed believes playoff races come down to “one or two moments where you’ve got to lay it all out on the line.”

The moment that ensured Reed would advance to the Round of 8 came with 17 to go. Reed was chasing Gaughan in 12th when they both came upon William Byron, who was dropping through the field on older tires after staying out the previous caution.

Exiting Turn 2, Gaughan dove beneath Byron. He left just enough room for Reed to squeeze between them.

“That was my best shot, and I honestly thought I cleared them both,” Reed said. “(Gaughan) did a real gnarly slide job down into (Turn) 3 and he did a heck of a job driving that thing to keep him in front of me.”

But Gaughan couldn’t track down Elliott Sadler for 10th and Jones couldn’t get to Reed.

Gaughan joined Blake Koch, Jeremy Clements and Michael Annett in being eliminated from title contention.

“Would have loved to have a caution,” Gaughan said. “That would have been awesome to have a late-race restart on that one. I’d have paid money for that.”

A “relieved” Reed and the remaining playoff drivers kick off the Round of 8 on Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway.

“I’m going to enjoy this off week,” Reed said. “It’s kind of rude what they do honestly the way they schedule an off week. Because if you don’t advance, you’ve got a long time to think about it. So I’m glad I can think about going into Kansas and competing for a championship and having fun.”

Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney on front row of Xfinity race at Charlotte

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After Xfinity qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway was rained out, the field for the Drive for the Cure 300 has been set due to owner points. The race is scheduled to start at 3:01 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney will start on the front row.

Completing the top five are Erik Jones, Alex Bowman and Justin Allgaier (playoff driver).

Here is where the rest of the 12 playoff drivers will start.

William Byron – sixth

Elliott Sadler – seventh

Daniel Hemric – eighth

Brennan Poole – ninth

Ryan Reed – 11th

Cole Custer – 13th

Matt Tifft – 14th

Blake Koch – 15th

Brendan Gaughan – 16th

Michael Annett – 17th

Jeremy Clements – 23rd

Click here for the starting lineup.

Saturday’s schedule for NASCAR Cup, Xfinity at Charlotte

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Today marks the end of the first round of the Xfinity Series playoffs. The field of 12 championship contenders will be cut to eight after this afternoon’s Drive for The Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Joey Logano is the defending race winner; Ryan Blaney won the May race.

Here’s today’s schedule for both the Cup and Xfinity Series with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

11 – 11:50 a.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

12:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN)

1:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

1  – 1:50 p.m. Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

2:20 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3 p.m. – Drive for The Cure 300; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

Sam Hornish Jr. tops final Xfinity practice at Charlotte

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Sam Hornish Jr. led a Team Penske sweep of the top spots in the final Xfinity Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 300.

Driving the No. 12 Ford, Hornish posted a top speed of 182.420 mph. He was followed by Ryan Blaney at 181.647 mph in the No. 22 Ford.

The top five was completed by Joe Gibbs Racing with Matt Tifft (181.439), Daniel Suarez (181.403) and Erik Jones (180.874).

Justin Allgaier, who was fastest in the first practice session, was 12th quickest (179.898).

William Byron, who was sixth fastest, recorded the most laps at 35.

Alex Bowman, making his first Xfinity start of the year with Chip Ganassi Racing, was seventh fastest.

Click here for the practice report.

Weekend schedule for NASCAR Cup, Xfinity Series at Charlotte

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This weekend is more than just about racing. For most NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series drivers and teams, it’s also about home cooking, seeing family and friends and sleeping in their own beds.

That’s because both series are racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway and most NASCAR teams are located nearby.

For the Cup Series, Sunday’s Bank of America 500 marks the start of the second round of the playoffs, as the field of championship contenders has been cut from 16 to 12. Jimmie Johnson is the defending race winner; Austin Dillon won this year’s Coca-Cola 600.

For the Xfinity Series, the 12 drivers that began the playoffs will be cut to eight after Saturday’s race. Joey Logano is the defending race winner; Ryan Blaney won there in May.

Here’s the weekend’s schedule with TV and radio info.

(All times are Eastern)

Friday, October 6

11 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Cup garage open

12:30 – 9 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1:30 – 2:55 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

6 – 6:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

7:20 p.m. – Cup qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, Oct. 7

8 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

11 – 11:50 a.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

12:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN)

1:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

1:30 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

2:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3 p.m. – Drive for The Cure 300; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 8

8:30 a.m. – Cup garage opens

Noon – Driver/crew chief meeting

1:20 p.m. – Driver introductions

2 p.m. – Bank of America 500; 334 laps/501 miles (NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)