U.S. Cellular 250

NASCAR America: Christopher Bell’s three-peat quite a feat

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Christopher Bell overcame contact with another car in the closing laps at Iowa Speedway and two late-race restarts to win his third consecutive Xfinity race. In doing so, he became the first Xfinity regular to perform the feat since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999.

The three-peat put Bell in rarified air along with Earnhardt, Larry Pearson and Sam Ard as the only regulars in the series who have won three consecutive races.

It has the question being asked once again about Bell’s future in the Cup series.

“I see no reason in holding this young man back,” Dale Jarrett said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “And that has not been Toyota’s forte that they say, ‘Ok, we’ll let these guys hang around a couple of years.’ They want to move them on to the Cup series. They know that’s what they have in mind for Christopher Bell.”

MORE: Christopher Bell taking a step in goal to ‘conquer’ Xfinity Series
MORE: Third consecutive victory in Xfinity for Christopher Bell
MORE: Can Toyota make room for Christopher Bell in Cup?

The decision comes down to sponsorship, but there is already a path that has been blazed by Joe Gibbs Racing to develop drivers when its Cup organization is full.

“If there’s money available, I don’t know why they wouldn’t go back to Furniture Row where Joe Gibbs Racing took Erik Jones last year and have him perform there,” Jarrett continued. “Supposedly, all of the employees were kept.”

Putting Bell in the Cup series might solve two problems.

Furniture Row continues to look for full-time sponsorship of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78, but instead of that uncertainty lessening the appeal of running a second car, Jarrett believes it could improve the financial considerations.

“I think the money would also help that Furniture Row organization in that they are looking for a major sponsor right now for the 78 car,” Jarrett said. “If you know you have these dollars it would help in that situation – maybe you could take a little bit less than what you were thinking about for the 78.”

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

NASCAR America: Ross Chastain is a David among the Xfinity Goliaths

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In his fourth fulltime season in the Xfinity series driving for Johnny Davis, Ross Chastain is still one of the Davids battling Goliath.

Last week at Iowa Speedway, Chastain took advantage of attrition late in the race to score his second career top five – and more importantly, finish one spot ahead of John Hunter Nemechek in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

The two drivers are battling for the final playoff spot in the Xfinity series and Chastain’s finish increased his lead over Nemechek to five points.

“He was running in the top 10 before those last restarts and the wreck that he gained a couple of more spots on,” Parker Kligerman said in Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “He was running in the top 10 in a car that does not deserve to be in the top 10 – he’s told me many times.

They don’t deserve to be in the playoffs, but they are.”

Kligerman believes the difference is the driver. Chastain is able to get more out of the No. 4 Chevrolet than it has to give.

Kligerman added: “He does the same thing in Cup for Premium Motorsports when he goes out and runs top 25 in a car that should not be running in the top 25.

“It’s amazing what Ross Chastain is doing in underfunded equipment and you’ve got to think someone in this sport is going to take notice of this young man and say, ‘I can find value in what he’s doing.’ “

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

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

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
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Without any Cup regulars in the field, Ryan Preece won last year’s edition of the U.S. Cellular 250 over Kyle Benjamin. The Xfinity regulars have another opportunity to showcase their talent again this week with this standalone race.

Here’s all the info for today’s Xfinity race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 5:27 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 5:34 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 250 laps (218.8 miles) around the .875-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 60. Stage 2 ends on Lap 120.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 11 a.m. Qualifying is at 3:05 p.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 4:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 4:55 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Performed by Kaitlin Christensen of Martensdale, Iowa at 5:21 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 5:30 p.m. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 5 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for isolated thunderstorms with a high of 73 degrees and a 33 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Ryan Preece beat a field of Xfinity regulars, including Kyle Benjamin by .054 seconds. In the most recent race at this track on June 17, Justin Allgaier beat Christopher Bell.

STARTING LINEUP: Check back for the starting lineup.

Xfinity practice report at Iowa

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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FINAL PRACTICE

Making his first Xfinity start since 2012, Casey Roderick posted the fastest single lap in final practice for the U.S Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway  with a speed of 131.617 mph.

He beat Justin Allgaier (131.464 mph) by .025 seconds.

Elliott Sadler (131.173), Shane Lee (131.070) and Kyle Benjamin (130.857) rounded out the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek spun off turn four early in practice without doing any significant damage, but he flattened three tires and needed to be taken off the track on a roll back.

Allgaier had the quickest 10-lap average of 129.936 mph. Benjamin, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick and Brandon Jones rounded out the top five.

Making his first start in the Xfinity series, Max Tullman posted the most laps (27). He had the 17th fastest single lap of 129.635 mph, but was 19th among 20 drivers on the 10-lap chart (125.746).

Click here for complete results

FIRST PRACTICE

Sadler posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session for the U.S Cellular 250 with a speed of 130.999 mph.

He narrowly edged Christopher Bell (130.993 mph) by .001 seconds.

Reddick (130.662), Hemric (130.646) and Allgaier (130.635) rounded out the top five.

Roderick (130.208) landed sixth on the chart.

With less than a minute remaining in this session, Reddick spun off turn four. He did minimal damage to his front splitter when he spun through the grass and back onto the pavement.

Austin Cindric (128.995) was the quickest among five drivers who ran 10 or more consecutive laps.

Click here for complete results

What Xfinity Series drivers said after the U.S. Cellular 250 (video)

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Ryan Preece claimed victory in his second Xfinity race of the year and the 38th of his career.

He is the third Xfinity driver to earn his first-career win at Iowa Speedway. He is the ninth driver in series history to get his first-career pole and first-career win in the same race.

Here’s what the other top finishers had to say about the U.S. Cellular 250.

Kyle Benjamin– Finished second

Benjamin earned his first top five and top-10 finishes of his career in his fourth start of the year. His previous best was 16th at Pocono.

“I just needed more laps,” Benjamin told NBC. “I think our car was better on the long run there. I didn’t want to see the caution. … I was real surprised at the fire-off speed we had.  able to get beside (Ryan Preece) there at the end. But most importantly I learned a lot today. … There’s a lot I can carry throughout the year.”

Brian Scott – Finished third 

Brian Scott retired from full-time NASCAR competition after the 2016 season and made his first start of the year for Richard Childress Racing. It was his first Xfinity start since the 2015 finale.

“We weren’t very good in the first segment,” Scott told NBC. “We weren’t very good in the second segment but we made a big adjustment at the end of Segment 2. From then on I knew if we could battle back from the loss of track position and it came down to a long run that we had a shot. The restarts at the end (were) not what I wanted to see I thought but it ended up working to our advantage. It was fun. It was fun to be back out there. Congrats to Ryan Preece.’’

Brennan Poole – Finished fourth

Poole earned his first top five of the season. His previous best finish was seventh twice (Daytona II, Indianapolis).

“I felt like we had a shot at the win there at the end,” Poole told NBC. “I spun the tires a little bit on that last restart and I couldn’t quite roll up to (Ryan Preece) enough to try to make a move to make anything happen.  I was just behind a little it.”

Cole Custer – Finished fifth

Custer earned his fourth top five and his second in as many races.

“We definitely made huge gains on it since the last time we were here,” Custer told NBC. “Our short-track program definitely hasn’t been our strong suit, but we brought something completely different and it paid off. I was really proud of that.