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Xfinity practice report from Mid-Ohio

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Ryan Reed was the fastest in opening Xfinity practice Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Reed led the way with a lap of 94.709 mph. He was followed by Andy Lally (94.499 mph), Kyle Benjamin (94.371), Brendan Gaughan (94.295) and Austin Cindric (94.277).

Benjamin ran the most laps at 26. Kaz Grala was next with 25 laps. Grala was 19th on the speed chart with a top lap of 93.241 mph.

A few cars had issues.

Christopher Bell, who was 10th on the speed chart at 94.009 mph, spun off course but continued. Daniel Hemric, Dylan Murcott and Gaughan also slid off course but continued.

Click here for Xfinity practice report

Final Xfinity practice will run from 4:05 to 4:55 p.m. ET today and can be seen on the NBC Sports App and online. Rain is in the forecast there this afternoon.

FINAL PRACTICE 

Because of rain only five cars recorded a lap in the final session. Most teams did not go out since Saturday’s race is expected to be in dry conditions.

Brendan Gaughan had the fastest lap at 87.738 mph. He ran five laps in the session.

Click here for final practice report

2019 Xfinity, Gander Outdoors Truck Series schedules released

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NASCAR released the 2019 schedules for the Xfinity Series and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series on Wednesday.

The 33-race Xfinity schedule opens Feb. 16 at Daytona and ends Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The races are in the same order as the 2018 Xfinity schedule. There are no new venues for 2019. The series will have five Friday races, 27 Saturday races and one Sunday race.

The 23-race Gander Outdoors Truck Series opens Feb. 15 at Daytona and ends Nov. 15 at Homestead. There are two changes to the 2019 schedule from this year.

Pocono and Eldora will flip-flop. Pocono will precede Eldora on the 2019 schedule. Pocono will be July 27 and Eldora moves to Aug. 1.

The other change to the schedule is that the Texas Truck race typically held in the fall will move to the spring. That event will be March 29 next season.

That means the playoffs now will open Aug. 15 at Bristol Motor Speedway with the Aug. 10 race at Michigan International Speedway as the regular-season cutoff.

The Truck schedule features three Thursday races, 11 Friday races, eight Saturday races and one Sunday race.

Here are the 2019 schedules for both series (start times will be announced later):

Xfinity, Camping World Truck Series entry lists for Daytona are released

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Forty-six Xfinity cars are entered for Saturday’s race at Daytona International Speedway and there are 36 entries for Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Both preliminary entry lists were released Monday.

Six Cup drivers are entered in the Xfinity race: Austin Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola.

Ryan Reed won the Xfinity race last year. Kaz Grala, who is entered in the Xfinity race this year, won last year’s Truck race.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

Click here for Camping World Truck Series entry list

JD Motorsports completes Xfinity driver lineup with Garrett Smithley

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Garrett Smithley will return to JD Motorsports with Gary Keller for a third season, the Xfinity Series team announced Wednesday. The 25-year-old Smithley will again drive the No. 0 car.

He completes JD Motorsports’ driver roster for 2018. Smithley’s teammates will be Ross Chastain, Vinnie Miller and Matt Mills.

“I’m so excited to be back with JD Motorsports with Gary Keller this season,” Smithley said in a statement from the team. “We’ve had two very successful seasons together and to be given the opportunity to continue to build on that is something I do not take for granted.

“Each and every year JD Motorsports with Gary Keller grows and improves. This offseason has been an extremely strong one for this organization, and I knew that if the opportunity presented itself to return, I wouldn’t pass it up. I can’t thank Johnny Davis and Gary Keller enough for the opportunities they have given me and this entire team for all that they do. We’re a family, and we’re in this together. It will be awesome to work with Ross once again, as well as Vinnie and Matt this season.”

Smithley finished 21st in the points last season. He finished a season-best eighth in the season opener last year at Daytona International Speedway.

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Reliving some of NASCAR’s most dramatic finishes

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The Minnesota Vikings’ win against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday marked the first time in NFL history that a playoff game ended with a game-winning touchdown with no time left on the clock.

NASCAR has had its share of dramatic finishes through the years. While it’s easy to debate which dramatic finishes rank among the all-time best, here’s a look at some of the most dramatic (and surprising) wins in NASCAR.

The first selection comes from what is now the Xfinity Series. It was the 2012 season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. Kurt Busch led with Kyle Busch pushing him as they entered Turn 3. Behind them were Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Tony Stewart, Elliott SadlerRicky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne, Cole Whitt and Brad Keselowski.

None of them won the race. 

James Buescher, who was 11th in Turn 4 won for his only Xfinity victory in 91 career starts. 

 

Carl Edwards had won the Xfinity race the day at Atlanta but had yet to win in 16 previous Cup starts before he cranked the engine at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 2005. Edwards came from behind to beat Jimmie Johnson at the line in among the closest finishes in NASCAR.

 

Dale Earnhardt’s incredible ride from 18th to first in the final five laps in 2000 at Talladega Superspeedway is memorable for that alone but it also was his 76th and final Cup victory. When the video clip below starts, you don’t even see Earnhardt but he’s there lurking and works his way up the field. With two laps left, announcer Jerry Punch exclaims: “The Intimidator is scraped and beaten on the right side, but he will not be denied! “Mr. Restrictor Plate knows there are two laps to go! Earnhardt drives to the high side of Bobby Labonte. Wow.”

 

As they took the white flag at Watkins Glen International in 2012, Kyle Busch led, Brad Keselowski was second and Marcos Ambrose was third.

What followed was a chaotic final lap that ended with Ambrose winning. It led broadcaster Dale Jarrett to say about the beating, banging and battling: “A year’s worth of excitement in 2.45 miles. Incredible.”

 

Ricky Craven tried to make his move by Kurt Busch with two laps to go at Darlington Raceway in 2003 but slid up and made contact with Busch and lost his momentum. That allowed Busch to dive underneath and take the lead back. Craven persisted. As they came off the final corner, Craven went underneath Busch for a door-slamming drag race to the checkered flag, nipping Busch by 0.002 seconds to win.

Of course, one can’t include such a list without one of the sport’s most famous finishes. Donnie Allison led Cale Yarborough on the last lap of the 1979 Daytona 500. Yarborough dived low on the backstretch to pass Allison, who blocked. They hit, bounced off each other and hit again before crashing in Turn 3. Richard Petty drove by several seconds later to take the lead and go on to win the event. As Petty celebrated, Allison, Yarborough and Bobby Allison, who had stopped to check on his brother, fought.

 

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