Paul Menard

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Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier fastest in first of 2 Xfinity practices at Indianapolis

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Elliott Sadler (166.420 mph) and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier (166.211 mph) were fastest in the first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practices Friday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch, who has won the last two Xfinity races at IMS, was third fastest at 165.810 mph, followed by Erik Jones (165.508) and Paul Menard (165.466).

Teams are dealing with several changes for this weekend, including:

  • Taller rear spoiler and splitter package
  • Aero ducts on the lower front bumper area
  • 7/8-inch restrictor plate

There is one more Xfinity practice session scheduled for today from 3 to 3:55 p.m. on the NBC Sports app in preparation for Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 race.

Click here for the full first practice session speed chart.

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2016 Team Preview: Richard Childress Racing

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RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING

SPRINT CUP DRIVER LINEUP: Ryan Newman (crew chief Luke Lambert), Paul Menard (Justin Alexander), Austin Dillon (Slugger Labbe)

XFINITY DRIVER LINEUP: Ty Dillon (crew chief Nick Harrison), Brandon Jones (Mike Hillman Jr.), Brendan Gaughan (Shane Wilson), shared car of Austin Dillon/Paul Menard (crew chief Danny Stockman),

CHANGES: Jones is promoted from part-time to full-time in the Xfinity Series, with former Truck Series driver Mike Hillman Jr. as his crew chief. Jones will also be contending for Rookie of the Year honors. … Ty Dillon will be driving a select number of Sprint Cup races – including the season-opening Daytona 500 – in the No. 95 Chevrolet as part of a partnership between RCR and Circle Track-Leavine Family Racing for 2016.

DID YOU KNOW: It has been 22 years since RCR won its last Sprint Cup championship (1994, Dale Earnhardt’s seventh and final championship). … RCR has not reached Victory Lane in Sprint Cup competition since Kevin Harvick’s four wins in 2013. … Other than Harvick, the last RCR driver to earn a win in Sprint Cup is Menard in 2011 (Brickyard 400). … This is RCR’s 47th year tied with Chevrolet.

EXPECTATIONS: Even though he didn’t get past the first round, it was a promising sign that Menard made the Chase for the first time in his career in 2015. … Austin Dillon appears ready for a breakout season. … With defending champ Chris Buescher, 2014 champ Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and former RCR driver Brian Scott moving up to Sprint Cup in 2016, this could be Ty Dillon’s best chance at an Xfinity Series championship. It also could potentially be Ty Dillon’s last season in Xfinity; he’s likely to move up to Sprint Cup in 2017.

WHAT THEY SAID:

“The goals are higher this year. We expect to make the Chase, now we have to get up there and win a championship. I know how hard this group has worked. I spent a lot of time in the offseason around the shop, more than ever, and our focus is there in every department.” – Team owner Richard Childress.

“We’ve gotta win this year in the Cup. We’ve been consistent, and that’s what it takes, but we want to win in the Cup Series this year and we will.” — Team owner Richard Childress.

“Close. Closer two years ago. I think we have all the tools and there are a lot of situations that happen in the Chase that some you are in control of and some you’re not in control of. We came close two years ago, really close, one point close.”  — Ryan Newman on how close he thinks he is to capturing a championship with this team.

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Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon presents his NASCAR ‘superlatives’

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With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Award banquet set for Friday (watch at 9 pm ET on NBCSN), Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon got into the spirit by handing out his own unique NASCAR “superlatives” during Wednesday night’s show on NBC.

Called “Tonight Show Superlatives: NASCAR,” Fallon bestowed honors to several NASCAR drivers including Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and new Sprint Cup champ Kyle Busch, who Fallon gave the “Human Buzz Lightyear” award.

Check out the video and the unique “awards” the drivers received:

NASCAR America: Paul Menard flying under the radar in the Chase (VIDEO)

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Paul Menard is readying himself for his first Chase appearance and expresses his comfort in the intermediate tracks, but can he keep up with the more experienced drivers? Kyle Petty pegs him as a Chase underdog.