Jeffrey Earnhardt

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Jeffrey Earnhardt earns first NASCAR top five in stubborn fashion

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CONCORD, N.C. – Jeffrey Earnhardt had a very stubborn Saturday.

His stubbornness led to a third-place finish in the Xfinity Series’ Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, his first national NASCAR series top-five finish in 157 tries.

It came after the Joe Gibbs Racing driver bounced back from a spin on Lap 142 when he made contact with the wall.

“Luckily those guys busted their butts, got it back bent out, raced hard and got back on the lead lap and gave it all we had there at the end,” Earnhardt said. “I literally drove my guts out there at the end, that’s all I had left in the tank.”

But Earnhardt’s stubborn driving wasn’t just for himself or his team. His extra effort came as a tribute to the man whose image graced his No. 18 Toyota: Mooresville police K9 Officer Jordan Sheldon.

Sheldon was shot and killed during a routine traffic stop on May 4. Earnhardt, a native of Mooresville, North Carolina, is sponsored by iK9, a company that provides K9 units to law enforcement agencies.

“Having officer Sheldon on the car meant a lot to me,” Earnhardt said. “I wanted to make him proud. I wasn’t about to lay down on the job. Hopefully, he’s up there smiling down on us about our run. I know we didn’t win it but came home third and I wouldn’t have thought we had third-place car at the of practice on Thursday.”

The grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, Jeffrey’s career accomplishment came in his 71st Xfinity start. Saturday’s race was his fifth this season for JGR.

“My goal is to come out here and win races,” Earnhardt said. “It’s a dream come true. I’m having the time of my life this year. Luckily I get to stay in the car for two weeks in a row, that makes a big difference. It sucks shaking the cobwebs off. … I think we might be able to put an even better run together once we get (to Pocono).”

Any celebration by the driver and his team after the race was delayed when Earnhardt was taken to the infield care center after he experienced dizziness upon exiting his car.

“I’m stubborn, so I didn’t want to come in here,” Earnhardt said after leaving the care center. “But I figured it’s best to come in here and let them look at me, make sure I get cooled off and everything’s good. It was hot. It was a rough one out there.”

How did the 29-year-old plan to celebrate his stubbornness on the track paying off?

“I ordered some crawfish,” Earnhardt said. “So I’m going to go home and have a big ‘ole crawfish broil.”

 

Tyler Reddick wins Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. —  Tyler Reddick won Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, earning his second Xfinity Series win of the season.

Reddick led the final 16 laps after he took advantage of Cole Custer spinning his tires on a restart.

Reddick beat Justin Allgaier, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Noah Gragson and Justin Haley.

The Richard Childress Racing driver led 110 of 200 laps on the way to his fifth career Xfinity win. The victory follows his Talladega win last month.

Reddick’s win came in a race that saw a slew of drivers make contact with the wall and cut tires. It contributed to seven non-stage break cautions.

“This is a place I didn’t feel good about, I’m not going to lie,” Reddick said. “I was really worried, Charlotte is kind of been the point in my season where things past Charlotte haven’t really gone good. It’s really nice to come into Charlotte, practice good, come into the race, run good and come away with a win. Hopefully that means the next couple (Pocono and Michigan) are going to keeping rolling this way.”

Reddick, the defending series champion, has finished in the top four in the last eight races. He said this stretch is “absolutely” the best of his entire racing career.

“I can’t think of a stretch like this since I was younger than 10 years old racing Outlaw Karts in California when my dad put every ounce of sweat, blood and tears into my go-karts and we’d just go out and win a lot of races all the time on box stock,” Reddick said. “Definitely haven’t been that consistent ever.”

Earnhardt earned his first top-five finish in his 71st Xfinity start. It’s also his first top five in national NASCAR competition.

He was taken to the infield medical center after experiencing dizziness on pit road.

Haley earned his first career top five and gave Kaulig Racing its third overall top five.

Pole-sitter Christopher Bell finished 31st after he made contact with the wall and cut down his right front tire with two laps to go in Stage 2. He attempted to finish out the stage, but the tire shredded and caused significant damage to his car. It’s his second DNF of the season.

Bell’s teammate, Brandon Jones, also got into the wall and cut a tire within a lap of Bell. Jones opted to pit immediately and was able to continue and finished ninth.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Christopher Bell

STAGE 2 WINNER: Tyler Reddick

Click here for race results

Click here for the point standings.

WHAT’S NEXT: Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway at 1 p.m. ET on June 1 on FS1

 

Gallery: Coca-Cola 600 patriotic paint schemes

Photos by Daniel McFadin
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With Memorial Day weekend here, many NASCAR teams will be racing patriotic paint schemes in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at the unique schemes that will compete in NASCAR’s longest race.

All photos by Daniel McFadin.

Landon Cassill – No. 00 Chevrolet

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford

Ryan Newman – No. 6 Ford

Aric Almirola – No. 10 Ford

Ty Dillon – No. 13 Chevrolet

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Ford

Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. – No. 19 Toyota

 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

William Byron – No. 24 Chevrolet

Corey LaJoie – No. 32 Ford

 

Michael McDowell – No. 34 Ford

Matt Tifft – No. 36 Ford

David Ragan – No. 36 Ford

Ryan Preece – No. 47 Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet

Cody Ware – No. 51 Ford

Bayley Currey – No. 52 Ford

BJ McLeod – No. 53 Chevrolet

Alex Bowman – No. 88 Chevrolet

Xfinity Series

Michael Annett – No. 1 Chevrolet

Jefferey Earnhardt – No. 18 Toyota

Ryan Sieg – No. 39 Chevrolet

Mike Harmon – No. 74 Chevrolet

Xfinity Series practice report from Atlanta

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Justin Haley was fastest in the Xfinity Series’ second and final practice session Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Haley posted a top speed of 177.783 mph around the track.

The rookie for Kaulig Racing was followed by rookie Noah Gragson (177.584 mph), Cole Custer (176.448), Ryan Preece (176.162) and Tyler Reddick (176.011).

John Hunter Nemechek recorded the most laps with 55.

Gragson had the best 10-lap average at 172.715 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Custer was fastest in the first Friday practice session with a top speed of 178.218 mph around the 1.54-mile track.

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (176.989 mph), Justin Haley (176.555), Justin Allgaier (176.157) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (176.045).

Michael Annett had the best 10-lap average at 171.719 mph.

There were no incidents in the session.

The final Xfinity practice session set for 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for the practice report.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, Xfinity team have been ‘putting all of our focus’ into Atlanta

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While last Saturday’s Xfinity Season opener at Daytona marked Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, most of his team’s energy was spent preparing for another race.

The No. 18 team’s main concern entering 2019 was what awaited them in the season’s second race weekend in Atlanta.

“When we started to prepare for this season, we didn’t really focus on Daytona,” Earnhardt said in a media release. “Then we went down there and ran well. We’ve been putting all of our focus into Atlanta from the very start of this.”

In a rather uneventful Daytona race, the grandson of Dale Earnhardt Sr. started second and led the first 29 laps before losing the lead on the last lap of Stage 1 to Justin Haley and finishing fourth. He then placed outside the top 10 in Stage 2 and finished 15th in the race, three spots shy of his career-best result.

The 29 laps led were more than in his first 66 Xfinty starts combined.

Now comes Earnhardt’s second of nine Xfinity starts with JGR. He will try to really show off what he’s capable of as a driver on the abrasive 1.54-mile surface at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Going into Atlanta, I feel like we’re going to be even better than we were last weekend,” Earnhardt said. “The Gibbs cars ran well in Atlanta last year, but it’s a track where the quality of your equipment really shows and it’s more about the driver than compared to Daytona, which can be a wildcard.”

Earnhardt has two Xfinity starts at Atlanta, but none since 2015. His best result is 25th.

JGR has two Atlanta wins in 43 combined Xfinity starts there. Both victories belong two Kyle Busch (2016-17). Last year JGR had one top five (Christopher Bell, third) and a top 10 (Kyle Benjamin, eighth) while Brandon Jones placed 17th.

“I really feel (Daytona was) just the beginning of what will turn out to be the best season I’ve had in a long time,” Earnhardt said. “As I said, we’ve been working on our Atlanta preparation for a few months now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone when we go out and do the same this weekend. I’m looking forward to adding a few more things to the list of career firsts and career highs by the time we leave Georgia.”

Earnhardt’s crew chief, Ben Beshore, called Daytona a “positive” experience for the team but said Atlanta will present “quite a difference” when it comes to team communication.

“There’s a lot more going on,” Beshore said. “You’re not wide open all the way around and you’re not at the mercy of who is pushing you or who is in front of you. Atlanta is a lot more handling focused and Jeffrey is going to be out there by himself to where he controls his own destiny with the feedback he gives to us.

“We’ve done a lot of work on that communication ahead of time so that when we arrive there is already a comfortability level and we’re able to give him the adjustments he needs to keep the iK9 Toyota Supra up front.”