Elliott Sadler

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Cole Custer wins pole for Las Vegas Xfinity race

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Cole Custer will start on the on the pole for today’s Xfinity Series regular-season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Custer claimed his series-leading sixth pole of the year with a speed of 181.372 mph around the 1.5-mile track. His six poles match his total from last season.

Christopher Bell qualified second (181.372 mph). The top five is completed by Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler will start eighth in his final NASCAR start.

Driving for Morgan Shepherd, Landon Cassill qualified ninth. It is the best start for a Shepherd Racing Ventures car since Charlotte in October 1995 when Shepherd started ninth.

Noah Gragson will start 36th and Alex Labbe will start 37th after they spun in Turn 4 on their qualifying runs. Gragson slid onto pit road and barely managed to keep his car from hitting the pit wall.

Ja Junior Avila had his qualifying time disallowed after he did not have a window in place on his car. He will start last.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Elliott Sadler to end NASCAR career with late model scheme, crew chief

Kaulig Racing
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This is it for Elliott Sadler, seriously.

Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) will be the last time he competes in NASCAR and auto racing in general.

“One hundred percent sure this is the last time I’ll ever put a helmet on,” Sadler told NBC Sports. “It definitely has a different feel to it than what we had at Homestead.”

Last year, Sadler ended his full-time racing career at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a 14th-place finish.

However, the 17-time NASCAR winner knew a potential opportunity awaited for him to climb behind the wheel again on a limited basis with sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions.

“But this weekend I know this is the last time,” Sadler said.

His racing career will end with his second start in Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet following a start at Richmond Raceway in April (finished 12th). It will mark his 855th NASCAR start across all three national series.

“That’s a lot isn’t it?” Sadler says after a hearty laugh. “That’s too many. Look, I’m very fortunate. That’s a mind-boggling stat. 855 starts from a little, small-town boy in Emporia, Virginia. That’s a lot of time to strap on a helmet to go racing.”

Sadler, 44, will get to honor his Virginia roots in a way he’d hoped to in the Miami race 10 months ago.

Source: Kaulig Racing

His car will be made to look like the yellow and black No. 16 late model stock car he raced in the mid-90s before he made the jump to the NASCAR stage.

Sadler said Kaulig Racing “caught me off guard” when they surprised him with the scheme Monday.

“I begged my sponsors last year at Homestead to let me run that paint scheme. But it wasn’t meant to be. For (sponsor Nutrien Ag Solutions) to give up a paint scheme to let me do it means a lot,” Sadler says. “(It’s) a paint scheme that is very near and dear to my family. All of my dad’s gas stations and transport trucks and everything are painted the exact same way. So it’s a color that means a lot to us. For (team president) Chris (Rice) and (team owner) Matt (Kaulig) and those guys, everybody at Nutrien Ag Solutions to let us go out with that color. That’s pretty special.”

Adding to the nostalgia is who will be calling the shots for Sadler atop his pit box – Chris Rice.

Rice will return to a role he’s familiar with. He served as Sadler’s crew chief during Sadler’s late model days. Their relationship started in 1992 when Rice began working with Sadler’s brother, Hermie.

“Chris and I kind of pretty much started living together in 1994,” Sadler said. “Then in 1995, we got our breakout season, setting all kinds of records in the late model stock-car world in Southern Virginia. We got a special relationship. I think we helped each other a lot in getting our careers to where they are today. I think we have a lot to be thankful for and it’s pretty cool for it to come full circle to where we first started.”

Together, Sadler and Rice earned the South Boston Speedway track championship in 1995.

Rice was the one who revealed the scheme to Sadler.

Together, Sadler hopes they give the scheme a better send-off than it got the last time he drove it on a late model in 1996 at Martinsville Speedway.

“I think we were in a bad wreck in Martinsville,” Sadler said. “We blew a right-front tire.”

As for the race itself on Saturday, Sadler isn’t going to layover for the young guns who have been competing all season.

“I’m not going out there to play tiddlywinks,” said Sadler. “It’s still racing and I still have a very competitive nature and I want to go compete.”

When it’s all over, win or lose, Sadler will retreat to his retired life. No more sponsor plugs for this former driver.

Right?

“I don’t think that’s true,” said Sadler. “I’ve moved on to my next life, which involves a lot of sponsor plugs and corporate sponsor stuff.”

His new retired life includes leading a traveling baseball and softball organization.

“It’s still a lot to do,” said Sadler. “Maybe the last time having to do (a sponsor plug) with a racing uniform on.”

Preliminary entry lists for Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The NASCAR family is all in one location this weekend as all three national series trek back out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Cup Series begins its 10-race playoff as the Xfinity Series finally ends its regular season. The Gander Outdoors Truck Series concludes its first playoff round after two weeks off.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the race weekend.

Cup – South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

There are 39 entries for the race.

The three cars owned by Rick Ware Racing don’t have drivers attached to them.

Joe Nemechek is entered in Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 car.

Last time, Joey Logano won the spring race over Brad Keselowski. Keselowski won this race last year over Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity Series – Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 38 entries for the race, which is a full field.

No driver is attached to Rick Ware Racing’s No. 17 car.

Riley Herbst is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

Elliott Sadler is entered in his second race of the year in Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet.

Landon Cassill is entered in Morgan Shepherd‘s No. 89 Chevrolet.

Kyle Busch won the spring race at Las Vegas while Ross Chastain claimed the win in this race last year.

NASCAR rules mandate that drivers who have declared for Cup Series points cannot participate in the final races of the Xfinity season, which begins at Las Vegas.

Click here for the entry list.

Truck Series – World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

There are 36 trucks entered into the race. A full race field is 32 trucks.

Niece Motorsports will have three entries, with Ross Chastain in the No. 45, Angela Ruch in the No. 44 and Colin Garrett in the No. 38.

Tyler Dippel is back in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 02 Chevrolet after being suspended one race for a criminal charge in New York that was dropped two weeks ago.

Derek Kraus is entered in the No. 19 Toyota owned by Bill McAnally Racing. Kraus is the current points leader in the K&N Pro Series West.

Kyle Busch won the spring race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Grant Enfinger won this race last year.

Click here for the entry lists.

 

 

Bump and Run: Who will earn final playoff spots?

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Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson are fighting for the final two playoff spots (provided someone below them in the points doesn’t win any of the next three races). Which two do you think make the playoffs?

Nate Ryan: Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.

Dustin Long: Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson.

Daniel McFadin: Ryan Newman and Daniel Suarez. Of the four drivers they’re the only two who have produced consistent enough results.

Jerry Bonkowski: Daniel Suarez and Jimmie Johnson. Suarez has had a strong season but hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves. Making the playoffs will be a huge boost for him and his team. Ditto for Johnson. Sure, he hasn’t won in his last 82 starts, but he’s never missed the playoffs. That would be even more embarrassing than remaining winless for the rest of the season.

At this point, who would be your Championship Four in Cup for Miami?

Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr.

Dustin Long: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano

Daniel McFadin: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin

Jerry Bonkowski: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.

There are 36 charter teams. Sixteen make the Cup playoffs. That’s 44.4% of the charter teams making the playoffs. Are you OK with that? Or should there be a different number of teams make the playoffs?

Nate Ryan: I’d prefer that the field be limited to 12 drivers and the elimination sets changed to reach the Championship Four (how about eight drivers after Round 1 and six after Round 2?). While the “anybody who gets in can win the championship” argument is appreciated (and with Tony Stewart’s 2011 as a rallying cry), this season in particular seems to have accentuated that there are only so many teams truly worthy of running for a title. While Jimmie Johnson extending his playoff streak and Ryan Newman gritting out a berth are both nice storylines, they are the NASCAR equivalent of 16 seeds.

Dustin Long: It’s too many. But it’s on par with the Truck series where eight of the 19 drivers (42.1%) who have run in at least 80% of the races made the playoffs. And it’s on par with the Xfinity Series where 12 of the 28 drivers (42.9%) who have started at least 80% of the races will be in the playoffs. The 80% marker is used since one Truck driver, Tyler Ankrum, started 81.3% of the regular-season races, missing the first three because he was too young to race on those tracks, and made the playoffs.

Daniel McFadin: I’d be OK if there were only 14 drivers in the Cup playoffs. It would add more drama to the regular season and postseason. Playoff eliminations don’t have to include round numbers in each round. 

Jerry Bonkowski: I’d like to see the playoff structure changed to see the top-20 teams make the playoffs. Then, 10 teams would be eliminated after the fifth playoff race, five others would be eliminated after the penultimate race, leaving five teams/drivers to battle it out in a winner-take-all race in the season finale.

What is your most memorable Bristol memory?

Nate Ryan: As far as races covered there, my first taste of a night race in person – Jeff Gordon bumping Rusty Wallace aside for the win during a 2002 race filled with emotion (Ward Burton’s heel pads, Jimmie Johnson’s obscene gesture, Elliott Sadler’s finger-pointing) – would rank at the top, beating out Carl Edwards’ bump on Kyle Busch in August 2008, Jeff Gordon’s shove of Matt Kenseth in March 2006 and Kurt Busch’s win under duress in August 2003.

Dustin Long: The 1999 night race where Dale Earnhardt spun Terry Labonte but meant only to “rattle his cage” on the last lap. What is most memorable is that several minutes after the race ended, the track played the radio call of the final lap on the PA system and when it got to the point where Earnhardt spun Labonte, boos cascaded from the stands. The stands appeared to be more than half full even then, people not wanting to leave after seeing such a wild finish.

Daniel McFadin: My memory comes from the first time I covered a race at Bristol in 2017 and it doesn’t involve the race itself. While driving to the track, I rounded a corner and suddenly it was in front of me. It just doesn’t make sense that a facility like Bristol exists where it does. Having grown up for 20 years watching Bristol races, it was a surreal moment.

Jerry Bonkowski: The first time I attended the night race at Bristol in 2000 is a memory that will forever stay with me. It was a battle of the senses, sounds, smells and more. Honestly, when cars took the green flag to start the race, the first thing I immediately thought of as I watched the action from pit road was tens of thousands of angry hornets had been released, the sound was deafening and overpowering.

Tonight’s Xfinity race at Daytona: Start time, lineup and more

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and Cole Custer have combined to win the last nine Xfinity Series races heading into tonight’s event at Daytona International Speedway. Each has won three races during this stretch.

Will their dominance continue? Or will there be a new winner? Michael Annett scored his first series win in February at Daytona. Can he sweep Daytona?

Here’s all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: David Morgan, vice president of Circle K, will give the command to start engines at 7:23 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 7:35 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 1 p.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 3:25 p.m. Qualifying is at 3:45 p.m. Driver introductions are at 6:45 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7:16 p.m. by Sonny Gallman, pastor, Central Baptist Church, Daytona Beach. Kelly Parsons Kwiatek will perform the National Anthem at 7:17 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 100 laps (250 miles) around the 2.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 30. Stage 2 ends on Lap 60.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with NASCAR America. Countdown to Green airs at 7 p.m. The Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 7 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 84 degrees and a 17% chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won this race a year ago, finishing ahead of Elliott Sadler and Christopher Bell. Justin Haley was the first to cross the finish line but was penalized for passing below the double yellow lines. Michael Annett won in February, finishing ahead of Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones

STARTING LINEUP: Defending series champion Tyler Reddick will start on the pole. Click here for the starting lineup.