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Saturday’s Xfinity race at Las Vegas: Start time, lineup and more

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Michael Annett won the Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona, and Christopher Bell took the checkered flag at Atlanta last weekend.

Who will win the third Xfinity race of the season Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway?

Here’s all the information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Kerrie Burke, VP and General Manager of the Aliante Hotel Casino and Spa, will give the command to start engines at 4:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 4:16 p.m.

PRERACE: Qualifying is at 12:40 p.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 2:15 p.m. Driver introductions begin at 3:28 p.m. The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. Highwayman LIVE, a tribute to Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash at the Cannery Hotel and Casino, will perform the National Anthem at 4:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 3:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly sunny skies with a high of 67 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Ross Chastain won the race at Las Vegas last September. Justin Allgaier was second. Cole Custer was third. Kyle Larson won this race a year ago. Christopher Bell was second. Justin Allgaier was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Atlanta

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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HAMPTON, Ga. — Christopher Bell held off Cole Custer on the final lap to score his ninth career Xfinity Series victory Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The victory was the 150th for Toyota and first for the Supra.

“That’s really really big It all just boils down to the fact that you don’t get to be a first-time winner very often,” Bell said. “There’s a very good possibility Kyle (Busch) is going to win one of the next three (races) and I beat him to Victory Lane. I’m all smiles right now.”

Custer placed second and was followed by Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones and reigning series champion Tyler Reddick.

Click here for race results

Click here for points report

Jeffrey Earnhardt placed a career-best sixth. His previous best finish had been 12th at Bristol in August 2014 and Talladega in May 2015. Earnhardt is not scheduled to be back in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 car until Talladega in April.

Bell led 142 of 163 laps.

Daytona winner Michael Annett placed 12th.

Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell

Stage 2 winner: Christopher Bell

Next: The series races at 4 p.m. ET March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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.

Long: In a time of change, some things remain the same at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — They’ve reconvened in Daytona International Speedway’s infield, some back for a fifth year, others a 10th and still others for more, to watch cars go around in circles.

Their flags pledge loyalties to Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, celebrating days gone by. Other flags wave for Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and reigning series champ Joey Logano.

New or old, fans have returned for Sunday’s Daytona 500, which will held among a swirl of changes.

The season starts with talk of rules that debut next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and will change how the racing looks. There also have been discussions of a new look for 2020 and beyond. Schedule changes are expected next year, even more in 2021 – when the Gen 7 car is projected to premiere.

The dawn of a new season and what is coming has reinvigorated a garage beaten down the past couple of years. Jim France is now in charge and he’s in the garage, a marked change from Brian France’s approach.

Seeing Jim France each weekend gives those who work in the garage optimism. How long it lasts depends on what changes the sanctioning body make.

For fans, it’s all about what the racing looks like.

That’s a lot left to be desired at Daytona so far. Asked if he thought the racing had been good this week, Richard Petty said: “No, I don’t.”

His comment came before Saturday’s Xfinity race won by Michael Annett, who led the final 45 laps. It was great win for Annett personally but the single-file racing frustrated some fans and left them to wonder how Daytona could turn into a high-speed conga line.

“I don’t know what’s going on with the high line becoming just so clearly dominant,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said after watching JR Motorsports win the season-opening Xfinity race for the fourth time in the last six years. “To listen to the drivers and to watch what happened (Saturday) in the race, it doesn’t seem like it’s entirely by choice that they all ride up there, it’s by necessity.”

Fans saw that same type of racing in the Clash and both qualifying races during Speedweeks. What often was missing in those events were things Clint Bowyer says are important to make a good race.

“Moments,” Bowyer said this week. “No different than when I go to a football game. The Super Bowl sucked and I am a football fan. Again, you go watch the (Kansas City) Chiefs games, I was lucky enough to be a Chiefs fan this year and it was a highlight reel one after another with (quarterback Patrick) Mahomes and (Tyreek) Hill.

“I don’t know, there wasn’t a highlight the whole Super Bowl in my opinion. It was a snoozer. Was it an extremely challenging game in other eyes, yes. I guarantee you there are football gods out there saying it was the best game in the history of football. To me, there weren’t enough moments.

“You have to have good passing, side-by-side (racing), changes for the lead, cautions – I don’t want a caution because that means somebody has wrecked or had a problem but there are so many things that go into adding up to those moments. Us drivers, you have to be in a situation that you can make the most of.

“Again, without a caution at the end of some of these restrictor-plate tracks, we may not have those moments. Sometimes all it takes is a caution to make that moment that someone takes to the office the next (day) to say, ‘My gosh, you should have been there and seen that.’ We have to have more of those, no question.”

There is a belief that the racing should be better in the Daytona 500 with a full 40-car field. The Clash had 20 cars and both qualifying races had 21-car fields. There weren’t enough cars to create a competitive second lane, so most ran the high line. That said, Chase Elliott made a number of passes on his own in his qualifying race. Daniel Suarez also tried such moves.

But for all the talk about the racing, some things remain the same. Cup veterans often dominate Speedweeks and have done so this week. Jimmie Johnson won the Clash after contact with Paul Menard. Kevin Harvick and Logano each won their qualifying races. A Hendrick Motorsports car is on the pole for a fifth consecutive year, this time with William Byron.

Maybe things will change Sunday. The Truck Series saw Austin Hill score his first career series win. Then Annett recorded his first career Xfinity win Saturday. 

That’s why fans travel near and far to be at Daytona on a Sunday in February. For all the questions about the racing, for the surprise winners, no one knows what to expect. Just like it has always been at this track.

 

 

Michael Annett earns first Xfinity win in season opener at Daytona

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Michael Annett won Saturday’s Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway to earn his first career series victory in his 230th start.

The JR Motorsports driver led the final 45 laps and beat teammate Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric.

Annett, 32, had never led more than 16 laps in a season before Saturday.

“It just means so much,” Annett said. “It’s been two really tough years in this series for me, just not getting the results I wanted to. Last year was really tough, we even missed the playoffs. I put a ton of work into myself and my race craft … everything this offseason to make myself not have any question of if I was here and ready to go win a championship.”

He previously won at Daytona in the ARCA Menards Series in 2008. In that race, Allgaier also finished second.

“I couldn’t beat him then and I couldn’t do it today,” Allgaier told Fox Sports 1. “To see Michael get his first win, he’s tried so hard and to see the effort and time that he’s put into it, especially this offseason, it’s really, really cool.”

The win is the fourth for JR Motorsports in the last six season openers at Daytona (Regan Smith, 2014; Chase Elliott, 2016; Tyler Reddick, 2018 and Annett today).

Annett and Allgaier also delivered JRM its fourth 1-2 finish in the race.

The victory by the No. 1 team is also the first for Annett’s crew chief, Travis Mack.

“I think it took a while for (Annett’s) approach to racing to change,” JRM co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “He had to learn how to race in good equipment. It’s a different mentality and a different approach.

“He’s certainly not the same guy that we hired … a lot of that has to do with the team around him, specifically with Travis Mack.”

Mack, a former car chief for Earnhardt in the Cup Series, was the crew chief for Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 car in Cup last season before he was let go after 15 races. He led Annett’s team over the last 13 races of the Xfinity season.

“I thought immediately when that happened that we needed to pair him with Michael if Travis was interested in that opportunity,” Earnhardt said. “Travis’ assertiveness and personality would drive Michael and sort of light a fire under Michael.”

Mack said his tenure at LFR made him feel like “a teenager that kind of ran away from home for a little bit and realized it wasn’t better out there. …

“When Dale called me and had me come in I was super excited. I’ve been on-board ever since.”

A year after it had nine non-stage cautions, the 120-lap race was slowed only twice outside of stage breaks for a debris caution and a one-car spin.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Haley

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ross Chastain

Click here for the race results.

Click here for the point standings.

WHAT’S NEXT: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 23 on Fox Sports 1.