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Tommy Joe Martins returns to BJ McLeod Motorsports for 2019 Xfinity season

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B.J. McLeod Motorsports on Thursday announced that Tommy Joe Martins will return to the Xfinity Series team for a third season.

Martins joined the team in 2017. In 28 starts, his best finish with the team has been 11th at Iowa (in 2017).

“It is with great enthusiasm to have Tommy Joe Martins back with the team,” team co-owner Jessica McLeod said in a media release. “Martins has played a great part in helping us improve our on-track performance over the last two years and we are looking forward to what’s to come.”

The team, which recently moved into a new shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, will field three full-time cars in the Xfinity Series in 2019, its fourth year of operation.

Its two full-time drivers will be Vinnie Miller in the No. 78 and Matt Mills in the No. 8, while Martins will be part of a rotating cast of drivers in the No. 99 that will also include team co-owner B.J. McLeod, J.A. Avila Jr., and other drivers that may be added.

Click here to read the full press release.

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NASCAR’s Saturday schedule at Miami

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Today marks the final two practice sessions of the season for the Cup Series and the last race of the year for the Xfinity Series.

Here is the day’s schedule at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

8:30 a.m. –  Xfinity garage opens

10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:35 – 12:25 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

12:35 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; multi-car/three rounds (NBCSN)

1:40 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

2 – 2:50 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN, MRN)

3 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

3:30 p.m. – Ford EcoBoost 300; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Xfinity Dover race results, points standings

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DOVER, Del. — Christopher Bell set an Xfinity Series rookie record Saturday with his sixth victory, winning the Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway.

Cole Custer finished, followed by Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Spencer Gallagher.

Click here for the race results.

Bell advanced to the Round of 8 along with Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick, Austin Cindric and Matt Tifft.

Ross Chastain, Ryan Reed, Ryan Truex and Brandon Jones were eliminated after the first round of the playoffs.

Click here for the points standings after the Round of 12.

Podcast: Ross Chastain on the ‘evil business’ of competing for sponsors

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In his 2011 debut in a NASCAR national series, Ross Chastain earned a 10th in the Camping World Truck Series race at O’Reilly Raceway Park and a business lesson.

The most recent winner in the Xfinity Series said he received an unusual email shortly afterward from his new sponsor.

“The National Watermelon Association and Promotional Board got a nice little letter from NASCAR offering them to sponsor the Bristol truck race,” Chastain said on the most recent NASCAR on NBC Podcast. “They could have Ross in the 66 truck. And they could have the sponsorship of the race.”

Chastain’s sponsorship was unaffected – the board was on his truck for five more races – but the driver said it was an eye-opening experience on the competitive economics of NASCAR.

“That letter didn’t come to me,” he said. “It was never run by me or the team. None of us knew about it. They forwarded to me and said, ‘Hey, what’s this about? We don’t have sponsorship for this. We barely put this program together with you.’

“We never brought it up to NASCAR. It was just probably that somebody in their business development side. It never happened again. It opened my eyes to, ‘OK. I can play ball. I can play ball real well.’ And we know that now. I’m glad it happened so early because it really taught us a lot.”

Chastain’s three-race stint in the No. 42 Chevrolet of Chip Ganassi Racing, which is scheduled to conclude with tonight at Richmond Raceway, also has a layer on the state of driver economics.

After winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Chastain disclosed that he wasn’t being paid for driving the car. During the podcast, he compared it with “an internship. When you’re young, you’ll do anything to get the job you want.”

Is he worried about devaluing his worth to the point at which it might destabilize the pay structure for younger drivers, though?

“Times are changing, man,” Chastain said. “You’re not going to make the money you used to. Granted, it’s a business. Everyone wants to make money in life, and you have to live. It’s just tough luck.

“It’s tough facts of life. I hate to talk about it because people don’t want me to. I didn’t say, ‘All right (sponsor DC Solar), you’re going to pay all this money, Chip Ganassi, you’re going to put in all this effort and these man hours, but hey I need to get paid.’ That’s crazy. Are you kidding me? I’m not going to say that. When they said there’s not money to get paid. I said, ‘Great. I just want a trophy. And I want to get you a trophy. And that’s all there is to it.’ ”

Even though he isn’t getting paid by Ganassi, Chastain said he feels fortunate that he isn’t paying to drive the car as he believes many other drivers are (by bringing sponsorship to a team and the receiving a percentage in return).

“A lot of people think I am, and I don’t correct them a lot of times because it honestly keeps other drivers with sponsorship away,” he said. “Because this is a very evil business. There’s people all the time that will reach out to my sponsors (and say), ‘Oh we can do a better job.’”

In the podcast, Chastain also discussed:

–What it was like addressing the Ganassi shop after his win;

–Why his driving style seems to make so many other drivers angry (“I have no friends on the track. Partly because the way I race, and I know that.”);

–The essence of watermelon farming, where he hopes to return after his driving career is over.

–Whether he has talked with Kevin Harvick since their skirmish at Darlington Raceway;

–If he can win the Xfinity championship with JD Motorsports, his primary team.

To listen to the NASCAR on NBC Podcast, click on the embed above, or you can download the episodes at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play or wherever you get your podcasts.

Today’s Xfinity race at Road America: Start time, lineup and more

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After spending a week on the short track of Bristol, the Xfinity Series has its third road course race in  four weeks, competing today at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Robert Henderson, maintenance technician from Johnsonville, will give the command to start engines at 3:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:21 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 45 laps (182.2 miles) around the 4.048-mile road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 10. Stage 2 ends on Lap 20.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 8:30 a.m.Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12 p.m. Qualifying is at 12:35 p.m. Driver introductions are at 2:30 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Christi Lueck will perform the anthem at 3:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 3 p.m. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies and a 24 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Jeremy Clements survived a last-lap spin to win over Michael Annett after leading 10 laps.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.