Joe Nemechek

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Xfinity set to reach new track winner mark for first time in 22 years

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Unless Joe Nemechek, who hasn’t won a NASCAR Xfinity race since 2004, wins Saturday’s Xfinity event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on FS1), the series will accomplish something that hasn’t been done since Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s first championship season in the series

A non-Nemechek winner will become the fifth driver to earn their first victory at a track in the opening five races of the season.

They’ll have Brandon Jones to thank.

When Jones passed Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go on his way to a win at Phoenix Raceway last weekend, he kept Busch from claiming his 12th series victory on the 1-mile track.

While it was Jones’ second career Xfinity win, it was his first at Phoenix.

Jones followed Noah Gragson‘s first career win to open the year at Daytona, Chase Briscoe‘s first win at Las Vegas and Harrison Burton‘s first career victory at Auto Club Speedway.

Now here’s where we make you feel old.

The Xfinity Series has not seen a new track winner in each of the first five races of a season since 1998. That year, the first 10 races of the year featured new track winners, including the first career wins of Earnhardt and Matt Kenseth.

The streak is primarily a sign of the times. The trio of Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell, who won 34 of 99 Xfinity races over the previous three seasons, have moved to the Cup Series.

It’s also a result of NASCAR limiting drivers who earn points in the Cup Series to five Xfinity starts a year.

Busch isn’t scheduled to make another Xfinity start until May 23 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with six races between starts. Brad Keselowski also competed in Phoenix, but a Team Penske spokesperson said the team hasn’t solidified the remaining schedule for its No. 12 car.

The streak could continue next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

None of the current full-time Xfinity drivers have won there. Even though Earnhardt is slated to compete in the March 21 race, he hasn’t won there in five career starts.

What’s the next track the Xfinity Series will visit where one of its full-time drivers has already won?

The May 2 race at Dover International Speedway. Justin Allgaier won the spring 2018 race there.

Practice holds for Cup, Xfinity teams at Las Vegas

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UPDATED with inspection issues in Cup Friday …

Six Cup and 12 Xfinity teams will miss practice Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for inspection issues last week at Daytona.

NASCAR announced Friday that the Cup teams of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones and Christopher Bell will each have 15-minute holds in practice because those teams used bondo to change the manufacturer’s shape of the fender.

Earlier, t he Cup, the teams of Hamlin and Brennan Poole each will miss 15 minutes of opening practice for failing inspection twice at Daytona.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes four Truck teams for inspection issues at Las Vegas

In Xfinity, the teams of Daytona winner Noah Gragson, Matt Mills, David Starr, Robby Lyons II, Joe Nemechek, Vinnie Miller, Josh Williams, Mason Massey and the No. 74 car of Mike Harmon Racing each will miss 15 minutes of practice for being late to inspection at Daytona.

The Xfinity cars of Justin Haley and Joey Gase each will miss 15 minutes of practice for failing inspection twice.

The Xfinity car of Stephen Leicht will miss 30 minutes of practice for being late and failing inspection twice.

Xfinity practice is from 2:35 – 3:55 p.m. ET Friday. Opening Cup practice is from 4:05 – 4:55 p.m. ET Friday.

Truck Series practice report from Daytona

Zane Smith. Photo: Getty Images
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The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series held two practice sessions Thursday at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for Friday night’s season-opening NextEra Energy 250.

FINAL PRACTICE

Johnny Sauter was fastest in the second and final practice session.

Sauter, whose truck stopped on the track during the first session, roared back to pace the field in the second session with a speed of 193.278 mph.

Defending Truck Series champion Matt Crafton was second fastest (193.228 mph), followed by last year’s Daytona winner, Austin Hill, at 192.645 mph.

Derek Kraus was fourth fastest (191.959 mph), followed by Christian Eckes (191.885). Sixth through 10th were Brett Moffitt (191.853 mph), Ross Chastain (191.750), Stewart Friesen (191.559), Raphael Lessard (191.522) and Riley Herbst (191.416).

A total of 38 trucks took to the track during the second session, part of 40 entries for Friday’s race. However, only 32 will make the race day field following Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, which starts at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Two incidents occurred in the session. Josh Reaume may have suffered an apparent motor issue and took his truck to the garage, while the fastest driver in the first session, Zane Smith, lost power and coasted to a stop coming off Turn 4.

Friday night’s race will start shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.

Final Truck practice results

FIRST PRACTICE

Zane Smith was fastest in the first practice session, covering the 2.5-mile speedway at a top speed of 193.175 mph.

Riley Herbst was second (193.017 mph), followed by Ty Majeski (193.009 mph), Joe Nemechek (192.823 mph) and his son, John Hunter Nemechek (192.468 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Korbin Forrister (190.210), Gus Dean (189.629), Tyler Ankrum (189.597), Brett Moffitt (189.593) and Sheldon Creed (189.561).

The session was stopped three times by a red flag. It was first displayed due to an issue with Clay Greenfield. The second time was for Johnny Sauter stalling on the track because of an electrical issue. Angela Ruch stalled on pit road to bring out the third red flag.

Truck practice No. 1 results

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NASCAR fines three car owners $50,000 each for manipulating Miami result

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NASCAR fined car owners Jay Robinson (Premium Motorsports), Rick Ware (Rick Ware Racing) and TJ Puchyr (Spire Motorsports) $50,000 each, along with other penalties to their teams, for manipulating the outcome of the Cup season finale in Miami.

The scheme was set up to help one of Robinson’s teams finish the highest among unchartered teams and collect the largest postseason bonus for that group.

“Following a thorough review of race data and driver/team communication from the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, as well as interviews with several competitors, NASCAR has determined that the Nos. 15, 27, 52 and 77 teams have violated Sections 12.8.g and 12.8.1 of the NASCAR rule book, which addresses manipulating the outcome of a race,” Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, in a statement. “As a result, those teams in violation of the rule book have been penalized as listed in the penalty report.”

Section 12.8.g of the Cup Rule Book states: In extraordinary circumstances, NASCAR may take whatever action it deems necessary to mitigate and/or rectify circumstances created by a Member’s actions including, but not limited to, negating the results of a driver’s performance and/or advancing a driver in the standings or The Playoffs.

Section 12.8.1.c of the Cup Rule Book states:

Member actions that could result in a loss of 25-50 driver and Team Owner Points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine and/or one Race suspension, indefinite suspension, or termination:

  • Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.
  • Member-to-Member confrontation(s) with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment.
  • Attempting to manipulate the outcome of the Race or championship.
  • Intentionally wrecking another vehicle, whether or not that vehicle is removed from Competition as a result.

Each team penalized had cars fall out of the race to ensure that Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 car gained positions and finished with the most points for the season among unchartered teams and earn the largest bonus. The difference in bonus money from first to second for unchartered teams is about $175,000.

Premium Motorsports’ No. 27 car finished one point ahead of Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 car among the unchartered cars in the owners standings. Wednesday’s penalties made Gaunt Brothers Racing’s No. 96 the highest unchartered team in the car owner standings.

Here’s how the Miami race was impacted:

Joe Nemechek, driving the No. 15 car for Premium Motorsports, finished 38th. He completed 227 of the 267 laps. The reason listed for not finishing was steering.

Reed Sorenson, driving the No. 77 car for Spire Motorsports, finished 37th. He completed 236 laps. The reason listed for not finishing was brakes.

Josh Bilicki, driving the No. 52 car for Rick Ware Racing, finished 36th. He completed 240 laps. The reason listed for not finishing was brakes.

Ross Chastain, driving the No. 27 car, finished 35th, the last car running at the end. He completed 242 of 267 laps.

NASCAR also issued the following penalties related to this infraction:

  • Docked the No. 15 car of Premium Motorsports 50 team owner points, fined competition director Scott Eggleston $25,000 and suspended him indefinitely.
  • Penalized the No. 27 car of Premium Motorsports 50 team owner points.
  • Docked the No. 52 car of Rick Ware Racing 50 team owner points, fined competition director Kenneth Evans $25,000 and suspended him indefinitely.
  • Penalized the No. 77 team 50 team owner points and fined competition director Scott Eggleston $25,000 on top of the fine he received for his position with the No. 15 car.

 

 

 

Four Cup teams docked practice in Miami

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The Cup cars of Chase Elliott, William Byron, Matt DiBenedetto and Joe Nemechek each will miss 15 minutes of Friday’s opening Cup practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway for failing inspection twice last weekend at ISM Raceway, NASCAR announced.

First Cup practice is scheduled from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. ET today on NBCSN.

In the Xfinity Series, the cars of Ryan Sieg, Bobby Earnhardt and Brandon Brown will each miss 15 minutes of opening practice for being late to inspection previously.

Xfinity opening practice is scheduled from 2:35 – 3:25 p.m. ET on NBCSN.