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Entry lists for NASCAR at Talladega

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This weekend will mark the first time Talladega Superspeedway will hold a NASCAR Cup race without restrictor plates in more than 30 years.

Instead of restrictor plates, NASCAR requires Cup teams to use tapered spacers to limit the engine’s horsepower. 

Both the Cup and Xfinity Series will be in action this weekend at the 2.66-mile track. The Truck Series does not race again until May 3 at Dover International Speedway.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race:

Cup – GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox)

There will be a full 40-car field in Sunday’s main event.

Cody Ware will once again be back in the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Stanton Barrett will make only his second Cup start since 2008 in the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. He finished last in the 2018 Cup playoff race on the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Justin Haley will make his NASCAR Cup debut in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will be in the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Inc. (XCI) Racing Toyota. It will be the first Cup race for XCI.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman will be in the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota.

Joey Logano won this race last year, leading 70 of 188 laps and beating Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott. Aric Almirola won last fall’s playoff race at Talladega, beating Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Xfinity – Money Lion 300 (1 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

There are 37 cars entered.

B.J. McLeod will be in the No. 15 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports.

Brett Moffitt will make his third career Xfinity start – and first since 2017. He’ll be in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Chris Cockrum will make his second Xfinity start of the season in the No. 17 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will make his fourth Xfinity start of the season – and his third for Joe Gibbs Racing – in the No. 18 Toyota.

Max Tullman will make his fifth career Xfinity start – and second of the season – in the No. 42 Motorsports Business Management Toyota.

Brandon Brown returns to the No. 86 Brandonbilt Motorsports after competing for RSS Racing at Richmond.

Canadian driver Alex Labbe will make his third start of the Xfinity season in the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet.

There is no driver listed yet in the No. 99 B.J. McLeod Racing Toyota.

Spencer Gallagher won this race last year, leading just one lap. Brandon Jones was second and Justin Allgaier was third.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

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Rick Ware Racing to field full-time team in 2017 NASCAR Cup season

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Veteran NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series team owner Rick Ware announced Friday that he will field a new full-time team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for the 2017 season.

The Thomasville, North Carolina-based team will make its debut at next month’s 59th Daytona 500 and compete as an “open non-chartered” team. Sponsorship of the team will be announced at a later date, according to a media release.

In much the same way Rick Ware Racing has done with both its Xfinity and Truck teams over the years, there will a rotating roster of drivers that will pilot the No. 51 Chevrolet during the 2017 season.

Timmy Hill will be the first driver during Speedweeks and in the Daytona 500. Others slated to compete in subsequent races include longtime RWR drivers Stanton Barrett, Cody Ware and Kevin O’Connell.

Ware has purchased assets from Tommy Baldwin Racing including cars, pulldown rig and technology support.

In addition Ware has added Joe Lax, who will serve as crew chief of the No. 51, and Mike Hillman Sr., who will fill a newly-created role as a consultant.

“We’ve been eyeing our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series since the end of last year,” Ware said in a media release. “We knew with the competition level stronger than ever, we needed to take the steps to make sure we could come to the track and be as competitive as possible, while focused on building our organization as the season presses on.”

RWR has just one prior start in NASCAR’s premier series, coming at Las Vegas in 2012 when Hill finished last in a 42-car field after being involved in a wreck 42 laps into the 267-lap event.

Hill, 23, will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 by qualifying performance. It will be Hill’s 49th career NASCAR Cup start — but his first at Daytona. In addition, because RWR is a non-charter team, it and whichever driver is behind the wheel will have to qualify on performance for every NASCAR Cup race it enters.

After a one-year hiatus, RWR will also return to the Truck Series with Spencer Boyd as its driver. It is not expected to field an Xfinity Series program due to the upgrade to NASCAR Cup.

Last season in the Xfinity Series, fielding rides for 22 different drivers. Veteran driver Jeff Green had the best overall finish: seventh in the summer race at Daytona.

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Paul Menard tops speed charts in final Xfinity practice at Road America

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Wisconsin native Paul Menard shook off raindrops and his fellow competitors to become the fastest driver in Friday’s final Xfinity Series practice at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

Menard, who turned 35 a week ago, covered the twisting four-plus mile layout with a speed of 108.202 mph, barely edging past second-fastest Boris Said (108.044 mph).

Chase Elliott, who was second-fastest in the day’s first practice, was third-fastest in the final session (107.672), followed by Ryan Blaney (107.656) and Ty Dillon (107.636).

Blaney was also third-fastest in the first practice session of the day.

Ben Rhodes, who was fastest in the first session, was 15th-fastest in this session.

Stanton Barrett, who was unable to practice in the first session because the liftgate on his hauler broke and the team was unable to unload his race car, was able to finally get on track for two laps late in the second session, thus making him eligible to qualify Saturday at 12:15 pm ET.

The Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville race will take the green flag less than three hours later at 3 pm ET.

Here’s how Friday’s final practice session played out:

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Ben Rhodes sets the pace in first of two Xfinity practices at Road America

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Ben Rhodes was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions Friday at Road America.

Rhodes set the pace with a speed of 108.500 mph over the four-plus mile road course in central Wisconsin.

Defending Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott was second-fastest at 108.133 mph, followed by Ryan Blaney (108.040), Justin Marks (107.948) and Brian Scott (107.947).

The second session will kick off at 4:30 pm ET and run to 5:55 pm ET.

A number of cars spun out during the practice session, including Kenny Habul and Derek White, who was stuck in a gravel pit and had to be towed out. His car suffered right side body damage.

Also of note, an unusual circumstance occurred when Stanton Barrett couldn’t get his race car out of the hauler. The motor for the liftgate was unable to get power to bring the car out.

The liftgate jammed about halfway up and the team was unable to get the car out of the hauler on time to get on the track. It’s unclear if the team will be able to get out on track for the second practice session.

Here’s how the first practice session played out:

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Erik Jones, 18, holds off Keselowski and Earnhardt Jr. to earn first career Xfinity Series win

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There must be something about being 18 years old and racing in the spring at Texas Motor Speedway.

Chase Elliott won his first Xfinity Series race at the 1.5-mile track last spring, and Erik Jones did the same thing in Friday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

Jones started on the pole, led 79 laps in the 200-lap event, and held off Sprint Cup stars Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“It’s really surreal,” Jones said. “This is going to take a while to sink in. This has to be the biggest win of my career. … We’re in victory lane and we’re just going to take it in.”

Keselowski and Earnhardt Jr. both spoke highly of Jones’ win – and how he did it.

“It was up and down, not quite where we wanted to be at the end, we came up one spot short,” Keselowski said. “We ran wide open for the last 2-3 laps, but eventually he just had a little bit more speed.”

Added Earnhardt, “Too loose the whole race really. Mostly, we needed more wedge. Erik and Joe Gibbs did a great job. He’s a great fast kid and is going to do good in this sport. … I knew he was good. Now everybody knows he is.”

Earnhardt later tweeted to Jones, saying, “Hell of a job, dude.”

Regan Smith finished fourth, followed by Austin Dillon, Darrell Wallace Jr., Denny Hamlin, Elliott, Chris Buescher and Brian Scott.

How Jones won: Jones led the final 51 laps, and looked like an experienced veteran every time he was challenged, most notably by Keselowski and Earnhardt. He got a great jump on the final restart on Lap 173 and began to pull away, eventually leading Keselowski by more than two seconds.

Who else had a good day: For series regulars, Regan Smith didn’t lead a lap but still came home with a strong fourth-place finish. He just didn’t seem to have quite as strong a car as teammate Earnhardt, who finished one spot ahead of him. … Also having a strong run was Darrell Wallace Jr., who led three laps and finished sixth.

Who had a bad day: Brendan Gaughan had a good run going until he was caught up in a wreck 33 laps from the end. Instead of a possible top-10 finish, Gaughan wound up with a disappointing 33rd-place finish.

Notables: Brad Keselowski qualified second but was forced to drop to the back of the field for an unapproved fuel pump found during inspection. However, that didn’t seem to hinder Keselowski, who climbed from 40th to 7th in 33 laps and then took the lead for the first time on Lap 47. … Bubba Wallace was the highest-finishing rookie in sixth. “We just missed it by a little bit,” Wallace said. … Brandon Gdovic made his Xfinity debut, finishing 26th.

Quote of the day: “I’ll probably look like a dork, but I’ll find out tonight.” – Erik Jones when asked after the race how he thinks he’ll look when he puts the victory cowboy hat on.

What’s next: The Xfinity Series moves to Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 18, for the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300.

Unofficial results of O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway:

1 Erik Jones … 200 laps
2 Brad Keselowski … 200 laps
3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 200 laps
4 Regan Smith … 200 laps
5 Austin Dillon … 200 laps
6 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 200 laps
7 Denny Hamlin … 200 laps
8 Chase Elliott … 200 laps
9 Chris Buescher … 200 laps
10 Brian Scott … 200 laps
11 Elliott Sadler … 200 laps
12 Ty Dillon … 200 laps
13 Brennan Poole … 200 laps
14 Sam Hornish Jr. … 200 laps
15 Ryan Reed … 200 laps
16 Dakoda Armstrong … 200 laps
17 John Wes Townley … 200 laps
18 Daniel Suarez … 199 laps
19 JJ Yeley … 199 laps
20 Ryan Sieg … 199 laps
21 Ross Chastain … 199 laps
22 Jeremy Clements … 198 laps
23 David Starr … 198 laps
24 Mike Bliss … 197 laps
25 Landon Cassill … 197 laps
26 Brandon Gdovic … 196 laps
27 Harrison Rhodes … 195 laps
28 Mario Gosselin … 195 laps
29 Eric McClure … 192 laps
30 Peyton Sellers … 190 laps
31 Joey Gase … 186 laps
32 Blake Koch … 182 laps
33 Brendan Gaughan … 167 laps
34 Cale Conley … 165 laps
35 Timmy Hill … 150 laps
36 Derrike Cope … 79 laps
37 Stanton Barrett … 11 laps
38 Jeff Green … 10 laps
39 Derek White … 7 laps
40 Mike Harmon … 2 laps

Average Speed: 132.989 mph
Time of Race: 02 hours, 15 minutes, 21 seconds
Margin of Victory: 1.624 seconds
Lead changes: 15 among 8 drivers

Laps led: Erik Jones (79), Brad Keselowski (56), Brian Scott (26), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (25), Dakoda Armstrong (7), Brendan Gaughan (3), Darrell Wallace Jr. (3), Austin Dillon (1).

Cautions: 6 for 30 laps

 

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