Noah Gragson

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Cole Custer wins pole for Las Vegas Xfinity race

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Cole Custer will start on the on the pole for today’s Xfinity Series regular-season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Custer claimed his series-leading sixth pole of the year with a speed of 181.372 mph around the 1.5-mile track. His six poles match his total from last season.

Christopher Bell qualified second (181.372 mph). The top five is completed by Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric.

Elliott Sadler will start eighth in his final NASCAR start.

Driving for Morgan Shepherd, Landon Cassill qualified ninth. It is the best start for a Shepherd Racing Ventures car since Charlotte in October 1995 when Shepherd started ninth.

Noah Gragson will start 36th and Alex Labbe will start 37th after they spun in Turn 4 on their qualifying runs. Gragson slid onto pit road and barely managed to keep his car from hitting the pit wall.

Ja Junior Avila had his qualifying time disallowed after he did not have a window in place on his car. He will start last.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Xfinity practice report at Las Vegas

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There was no slowing down Tyler Reddick during Friday’s two Xfinity Series practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as he was fastest in both sessions.

In the second session, Reddick covered the 1.5-mile oval at 175.644 mph, just about a half-second slower than his speed in the first practice.

Click here for second Xfinity practice results.

Justin Allgaier was second-fastest in the second session (175.120 mph), followed by John Hunter Nemechek (174.593 mph), Christopher Bell (174.407) and Noah Gragson (174.227).

Sixth through 10th were Brandon Jones (174.227 mph), Austin Cindric (173.930), Chase Briscoe (173.784), Justin Haley (173.728) and Landon Cassill (173.650).

Only 34 cars took to the track in the second session.

Qualifying takes place Saturday at 2:35 p.m. ET, with the 200-lap final playoff qualifying race set to take the green flag shortly after 7:30 p.m. ET.

FIRST PRACTICE SESSION

Tyler Reddick was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practices Friday afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Reddick, driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro, covered the 1.5-mile oval with a top speed of 176.131 mph, the only driver to exceed 176 mph.

Click here for first Xfinity practice results.

Chase Briscoe was second-fastest (175.781 mph), followed by Austin Cindric (175.256 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (175.075 mph) and Brandon Jones (174.938 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Noah Gragson (174.859), Ryan Truex (174.814), Cole Custer (174.808), Christopher Bell (174.803) and Ryan Sieg (174.718).

A total of 37 cars took to the track for the session.

The second and final practice session will be today from 6:35 p.m. ET to 7:25 p.m. ET.

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Xfinity Series playoff clinching scenarios for Indianapolis

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While the Cup Series’ regular season comes to a conclusion this weekend in Indianapolis, the Xfinity Series still has two races before its 12-driver playoff field is settled.

The first of those two races is Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Four spots remain to be finalized in the playoff field. The drivers who have already clinched via a win or points are: Tyler Reddick (four wins, standings leader), Christopher Bell (six wins), Cole Custer (six wins), Austin Cindric (two wins), Chase Briscoe (one win), Michael Annett (one win), Justin Allgaier (points) and Noah Gragson (points).

Reddick, the defending series champion, can lock up the regular-season title and 15 playoff points this weekend.

He’ll clinch the title if he leaves Indy with a 61-point lead above second place. He currently holds a 51-point lead on Bell.

Here are the three other drivers who can clinch a playoff spot this weekend and their clinching scenarios.

Justin Haley, Kaulig Racing No. 11 Chevrolet (+88 points above cutline) – The rookie driver would clinch with a win or would clinch on points with 45 points and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Allgaier, Gragson, John Hunter Nemechek or Brandon Jones), he would clinch on points with 23 points.

Haley will be making his first start at IMS.

John Hunter Nemechek, GMS Racing No. 23 Chevrolet (+35 points) – Would clinch with a win or could clinch on points with help.

Making his second start at IMS. Finished 25th last year after being involved in an incident.

Brandon Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (+22 points) – Would clinch with a win or could clinch on points with a repeat winner (or a win by Allgaier, Gragson, Haley or Nemechek) and help.

Jones has made three series starts at Indianapolis, posting three top 10s and an average finish of 9.7.

Every other driver in the series can only clinch a spot this weekend via a win.

Ryan Sieg currently holds the 12th and final playoff spot with 647 points.

Behind him is Gray Gaulding, who trails Sieg by 119 points.

Cole Custer declared Darlington winner after NASCAR DQ’s Denny Hamlin’s car

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DARLINGTON, S.C. – NASCAR announced that Denny Hamlin‘s winning failed inspection after the race and was disqualified.

Cole Custer, who finished second to Hamlin on the track., was declared the winner.

Hamlin’s car was the only car among the six cars NASCAR inspected (the original top-five finishers and a random, which was Noah Gragson‘s car) after the race.

NASCAR announced that Hamlin’s car failed heights after the race. The car was found to be too low on the left front and too high on the right rear.

Wayne Auton, managing director of the Xfinity Series, noted that Joe Gibbs Racing has until noon Monday to decide if to appeal the penalty.

With Hamlin being relegated to last, Tyler Reddick finished second. Ryan Blaney was third. Christopher Bell placed fourth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth.

MORE: Updated Xfinity Race Results

MORE: Updated Xfinity Driver Points

Custer said “It’s a really strange feeling” to win this way.

“You don’t want to win that way, but it is what it is,” Custer said. “We all play by the same rules.”

Custer said he was standing by the team’s hauler after the race when he found out.

“I Stone Cold’d two beers,” Custer said of doing his trademark celebration once he found out he had won, “and got a picture by the car.”

This marked the fourth time in the Xfinity Series this season that a car has been disqualified after a race but the first time it has been a winner.

“We’re in the middle of a 15-week stretch (of races), the playoffs are coming and everybody is pushing everything they can to get that little bit they can to win a race,” Auton said of the four disqualifications this season in the Xfinity Series.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell had his third-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in June taken away when his car failed inspection. His car was found to be too low in the front and too high in the rear.

Kaulig Racing has twice had AJ Allmendinger‘s car disqualified. The car was disqualified after Allmendinger’s third-place finish at Daytona in July was taken away when inspection showed that the engine would not hold a vacuum. Allmendinger’s second-place finish was taken away when his car failed to meet minimum height requirements at Watkins Glen.

The disqualification to Hamlin marked the second time a national series winner has been disqualified this year. Ross Chastain‘s winning truck was disqualified after it was found to be too low in the front.

Darlington Xfinity practice report

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DARLINGTON, S.C. – Noah Gragson had the fastest lap in Friday’s final Xfinity Series practice at Darlington Raceway.

Gragson averaged 166.275 around the 1.366-mile track. He was followed by JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier (165.726 mph), Christopher Bell (165.663), Cole Custer (164.765) and Chase Briscoe (164.435).

Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his lone NASCAR start this season, was 10th on the speed chart with a top lap of 163.299 mph.

Custer ran the most laps in the session at 55.

 

FIRST PRACTICE

Cole Custer posted the fastest lap in the first of two Xfinity Series practices Friday at Darlington Raceway.

Custer led the way with a lap of 167.607 mph. He was followed by Denny Hamlin (167.373 mph), Justin Allgaier (167.134), Noah Gragson (166.794) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (166.703).

MORE: Click here for practice report

Chase Briscoe ran the most laps in the session at 34. He was seventh on the speed chart with a top lap of 166.388 mph.

Hamlin will go to a backup car after hitting the wall in practice. Final Xfinity practice will be from 3:05-3:55 p.m. ET on NBCSN.