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Justin Haley fastest in final Xfinity practice in Las Vegas

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Justin Haley led a 1-2 sweep by Kaulig Racing of the top spots in Friday’s final Xfinity practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Haley posted a top speed of 180.307 mph around the 1.5-mile track. He was followed by Austin Dillon, who posted a speed of 178.194 mph in the No. 10 Chevrolet.

The top five was completed by Kyle Busch (177.977 mph), Christopher Bell (177.930) and Tyler Reddick (177.778).

Busch, who had the best 10-lap average at 176.792 mph, scrapped the outside wall in Turn 2 early in the 50-minute session but won’t have to go to a backup car.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

In a session that was heavily impacted by 23 cars incurring pre-practice inspection penalties, Justin Allgaier was fastest in Friday’s first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Allgaier covered the 1.5-mile track at a speed of 178.737 mph and was followed by Busch (178.642 mph), Reddick (178.642), Haley (178.625) and Cole Custer (178.536).

Sixth through 10th were Dillon (178.394), Bell (177.819), Austin Cindric (177.427), Noah Gragson (177.282) and Zane Smith (177.264 mph), who is making his Xfinity Series debut this weekend.

Those drivers penalized due to inspection issues and the amount of practice time they lost due to the penalty were:

Late to inspection (15 minutes): Jeremy Clements, Cole Custer, Mike Harmon, John Jackson

Two-time failures (15 minutes): Jeff Green, Garrett Smithley, Justin Haley, Tyler Reddick, Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell, Stephen Leicht, Chase Briscoe, Josh Williams, Vinnie Miller, Kyle Busch, Matt Mills, Timmy Hill

Late to inspection and two-time failures (30 minutes): Ryan Sieg, BJ McLeod, Ja Junior Avila, Cody Ware

Three-time failures (30 minutes): Joey Gase

Click here for the full practice speed list.

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Elliott Sadler: ‘I’m back,’ will run two Xfinity races for Kaulig Racing

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Elliott Sadler’s “retirement” didn’t last long.

The four-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Most Popular Driver (2011, 2016-2018) will compete in two Xfinity races this season for Kaulig Racing, the team announced Thursday in a release.

“I’m back,” Sadler, 43, said in a tweet this morning (see below).

Sadler, who has 13 wins in the NXS and three in the NASCAR Cup Series, will drive the No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro SS in the Xfinity race April 12 at Richmond Raceway and the Sept. 14 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Emporia, Virginia, native will be sponsored in both races by Nutrien Ag Solutions.

Citing a desire to spend more time with family, he had wrapped up his full-time career in 2018.

“I said I would only return to the racetrack if the right opportunity came along, and this is it,” Sadler said. “I’m thrilled to partner with Nutrien Ag Solutions and Kaulig Racing for these two races and team up with Ross Chastain behind the wheel of the No. 10 Chevy.

“I believe in the mission of Nutrien Ag Solutions, as they help farmers lead the field, and they wanted me to put my helmet back on to do the same at Richmond and Las Vegas.”

In addition to having Justin Haley run the full season in the No. 11, Kaulig Racing has plans to field the No. 10 as a second car for more than half of the 2019 Xfinity season. In addition to Sadler, Chastain also will pilot the No. 10 for at least three races.

“We are so excited to have Elliott drive for us at Kaulig Racing,” Kaulig Racing president Chris Rice said. “Elliott and I grew up racing together at South Boston Speedway, so to have him race for us at his home track is special. We have a great partnership with Nutrien Ag Solutions, who are huge supporters of Elliott, so it is a win-win for our team.”

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Nick Harrison named crew chief for Justin Haley at Kaulig Racing

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Nick Harrison will take over the role of crew chief on Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevrolet this season, teaming with rookie Xfinity driver Justin Haley.

Harrison succeeds Chris Rice, who will serve as the team’s president.

Rice had been the team’s crew chief and general manager since 2016.

“I’m super happy to be moving into my new role as President of Kaulig Racing,” Rice said in a press release. “I’m very thankful to (team owners) Matt and Lisa Kaulig, as well as Kaulig Companies for this opportunity. We’ve had three years of success with this team, and we made the playoffs all three years. We have a great group of men and women, so it’s just an easy transition to move into that President role.”

Harrison has been a crew chief since 2006 and assumes the position at Kaulig Racing after five years at Richard Childress Racing, including being crew chief on the No. 3 Xfinity car last year.

Kaulig Racing’s headquarters are located on RCR’s campus in Welcome, North Carolina. It is part of a technical alliance with RCR.

“I’m super excited to be at Kaulig Racing,” Harrison said in a press release. “I’m thankful for the five years I’ve had at RCR prior to this, and I’m still in the same complex and running RCR equipment, so I don’t feel too out-of-place. We have a great group of guys at Kaulig Racing, and I feel like I have really hit the ground running. Justin is a proven winner in the truck series, and we plan on making a run for the title with him. He is fun to work with and has a great attitude. We had a great test in Atlanta, and we plan on building from that and going down to Daytona to start this season off with a bang.”

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LeafFilter to sponsor Justin Haley for half of 2019 Xfinity season

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LeafFilter Gutter Protection will again be a primary sponsor for Kaulig Racing this season in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Monday.

The company, founded by team owner Matt Kaulig, will be on rookie Justin Haley‘s No. 11 Chevrolet for the first half of the 33-race season.

The car will also have the team’s paint scheme from 2014, LeafFilter’s first year as a sponsor in the sport.

“I couldn’t be more excited to represent LeafFilter, their employees and Matt Kaulig this season, and I’m thankful that they are putting their trust into me as a primary sponsor for my rookie season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” Haley said in a press release. “They’ve been an asset to our sport throughout the last few years, so it’s an honor to have their support in 2019.”

In addition to Haley, Kaulig Racing will field a second car part-time this season. Ross Chastain is scheduled to drive the No. 10 Chevrolet in three races, including the season-opening race at Daytona.


Ross Chastain joins Kaulig Racing for three-race Xfinity deal; returns to JD Motorsports

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Ross Chastain‘s Xfinity schedule has filled out with a three-race deal with Kaulig Racing and a 30-race deal with JD Motorsports.

Chastain will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in the Feb. 16 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. Chastain will be sponsored by Nutrien Ag Solutions at Daytona, Chicagoland Speedway (June 29) and the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 2).

Nutrien Ag Solutions, an agricultural retailer of crop inputs and solutions, was intended to be a sponsor of Chastain at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Other than the three races with Kaulig Racing, Chastain will compete for JD Motorsports in the No. 4 Chevrolet the rest of the season.

Chastain was set to compete full-time for CGR this season before it shut down its Xfinity operation due to lack of sponsorship. That was a result of the Dec. 18 raids by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the California headquarters of DC Solar, Ganassi’s primary sponsor, and the home of Jeffrey Carpoff, the company’s CEO.

Chastain remains under contract with Ganassi.

“It has been awhile in the making, with a group of folks I didn’t have much to do with before,” Chastain said. “But Nutrien (Ag Solutions) is an agriculture company, so they knew my background (as a watermelon farmer). They felt like I would be a good fit for Nutrien (Ag Solutions).”

Chastain later added: “When I got into the Xfinity Series with Jimmy Dick and Viva (Auto Group), I had a Watermelon car. We were trying to figure out how to market it and our hashtag was the #AGcar.

“That was my goal coming into the series was to figure out a way to have an agriculture-based race car. This is a really big step in that direction. It goes with everything I believe in about outside the race car, right? Feeding the world, man. Nutrien (Ag Solutions), they’re stepping up to the plate world-wide. It’s incredible what they’re doing.”

Kaulig first fielded the No. 10 in the last year’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Austin Dillon behind the wheel.

Chastain, who said two weeks ago that he would declare for points in the Xfinity Series, will be teammates with Justin Haley in his three races. Haley, a rookie, will drive the No. 11 full-time for Kaulig Racing.

“Been working with Justin quite a bit trying to get up to speed on everything they have going on and see what he thinks about stuff,” Chastain said. “Just trying to fit in and do my job. (Team owner) Matt (Kaulig) wants to run good and he wants to win. And that’s what I want to do with him. That’s my goal if I got in a wheelbarrow.”

While he will collect points in Xfinity, Chastain has other NASCAR plans. He’s already set to run full-time in Cup with Premium Motorsports in addition to running select races in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series with Niece Motorsports in the No. 45.

He will step into the ride that former Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch was announced as taking in December. A press release cited Koch’s desire to focus on overseeing the success of his company, Filter Time.

Chastain will have sponsorship from RM Parks, Inc, EZ Angus Ranch and Mc Divitt Sign Company during all five West Coast races this season.

Today also marks the first of a two-day organizational test for Cup and Xfinity teams at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Chastain has been tapped by Chevrolet to drive a wheel-force car that is designed to collect data and information.

“I’m just confident in what I’m doing now and what Chevrolet is affording me the opportunities to do to get better as a race car driver are head and shoulders above what I’ve ever been able to do to prepare,” Chastain said. “I’ve never raced between Homestead and Daytona since I got into NASCAR. … Not that I’ve raced anything this year, but I’ve been putting in a lot of work with Chevrolet. So grateful to them for that.”

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