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Primer for first Xfinity playoff elimination race

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The title hopes for four Xfinity Series drivers will come to an end this weekend when the playoff field is trimmed to eight after Saturday’s elimination race at Dover International Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Here’s a breakdown of the situation each playoff competitor finds himself in heading into the Monster Mile:

He’s safe!

Two drivers have secured spots in the second round. Christopher Bell advanced by winning the playoff opener at Richmond Raceway. Cole Custer has put himself in the second round based on points.

The two drivers lead the series in wins, with Bell claiming seven (tying his 2018 mark) and Custer winning six times.

Bell has won the last two Xfinity races at Dover.

Almost There …

Tyler Reddick, the third member of the “Big 3” this year, is all but assured a spot in the second round if nothing unexpected happens Saturday. He finished third at Dover in the spring.

Austin Cindric, the only Xfinity regular outside the “Big 3” to win multiple races this year (two), is also essentially assured a spot in round two. He finished sixth at Dover in the spring.

Not Completely Safe

The next batch of drivers aren’t necessarily in trouble, but one accident in the first stage and an unexpected DNF could spell trouble.

Justin Allgaier in fifth is the highest driver in the standings who hasn’t won this year. He’s 40 points up on the cutline and has 12 playoff points. He finished second at Dover in the spring and won the spring race in 2018.

Chase Briscoe trails Allgaier in the standings in sixth. He’s 35 points up (and has 13 playoff points) on the cutline after a stage win and a ninth-place finish at the Roval. He finished fifth at Dover in the spring.

Noah Gragson is seventh in the standings, 26 points above the cutline. He had a top five on the Roval and enters this weekend’s race with six straight top 10s. He finished 19th at Dover in the spring after experiencing a loose wheel.

Feeling the Heat

The last five drivers in the standings need some help to make it to the second round or they have to win.

Michael Annett is on the bubble and 11 points to the good. Annett is the lowest driver in the standings with a win. He has nine playoff points. Annett finished 10th in the spring Dover race.

That leaves the four drivers who find themselves outside the cutoff line.

John Hunter Nemechek and Brandon Jones each trail Annett by 11 points. Nemechek has no race or stage wins this year and has just two top 10s in the last six races. He’s finished in the top 10 in the last two Dover races.

Jones has no race victories, but has three stage wins and four playoff points. He has top 10s in the last three Dover races, but has the worst career average finish at Dover among the playoff drivers (19th).

Not much has gone well for Ryan Sieg (-37 points) and Justin Haley (-39) in the playoffs. After finishing outside the top 10 at Richmond, mechanical problems resulted in brief trips to the garage for both drivers at the Roval as they finished well off the pace.

Neither driver has won a Xfinity Series race, but that’s what they will need to do Saturday to continue their playoff hopes.

Sieg’s 11th-place finish in the spring was his best Dover result in 11 starts. Haley placed 17th in his first career Dover start.

Here are the playoff standings heading into Dover:

Results, Xfinity point standings after Richmond playoff race

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Christopher Bell led a career best 238 laps Friday night on his way to winning the Xfinity playoff opener at Richmond Raceway.

It is his seventh win of the year, matching his total from 2018.

The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

Bell secured a spot in the second round of the playoffs with his win.

The four drivers currently below the cutline for advancing to the next round are Brandon Jones (-15 points from cutline), Ryan Sieg (-19), Justin Haley (-20) and John Hunter Nemechek (-21).

Click here for the point standings.

Christopher Bell wins Xfinity race at Road America

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Christopher Bell won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America in a two-lap shootout to earn his sixth win of the season.

Bell beat Austin Cindric, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson and Kaz Grala to earn his first career win on a road course.

Bell led 10 of the race’s 45 laps. He started the race in 12th and was in position to win in the final stage thanks a debris caution caused by his teammate Brandon Jones with 14 laps to go. Bell had pit from second place right before the caution and was able to stay out when the rest of the field pit.

“I’m honestly in shock,” Bell told NBCSN. “I really butchered qualifying, tore the crap out of that left-front (tire). I felt like once we got in the race there I’d be able to drive by those guys. And they dropped the green flag and they’re driving by me. That wasn’t very much fun. Then I told (crew chief) Jason (Ratcliff) ‘I’m just really, really tight.’ We got those tires off and he said that left front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there whenever we got the fresh tires on. The strategy obviously worked out really good for us pitting there.”

The final restart was caused by Gray Gaulding spinning off course in Turn 1 with five laps to go.

Bell’s win snaps Cindric’s two-race win streak on road courses.

Matt DiBenedetto, who led the most laps with 18, had bounced back from going off track in the middle of the race and was second on the final lap before he spun in the final turn. He finished 27th.

“Just being stupid on my part,” DiBenedetto told NBCSN. “Was looking in my mirror and got too high and barely got up in the marbles and made the most rookie mistake of my life. It was dumb. Uncalled for. We had the fastest car on track and nothing to show for it. … I drove stupid. I’m pretty pissed off at myself. Nothing else. Won’t sleep all week. This isn’t exactly a good run when I’m trying to make my career.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: AJ Allmendinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

More: Race results, points

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Tyler Reddick finished in the top five in all three road course races this year and is on a seven race top-five streak … Kaz Grala finished fifth in his last scheduled race of the year. It’s his third career top-five finish … Chase Briscoe (seventh) has finished in the top 10 in the last seven races .. Jeremy Clements (eighth) earned his third top 10 of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Justin Allgaier, the defending race winner, finished ninth after he locked his brakes up entering Turn 1 on the last lap of Stage 1 and became buried in the gravel … Cole Custer finished 10th after he went off course on the Stage 2 restart and suffered damage to his grille and had to make multiple pit stops for repairs.

WHAT’S NEXT: VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway at 4 p.m. ET Aug. 31 on NBC.

Longtime crew chief Nick Harrison dies at 37, team announces

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LOUDON, N.H. — Kaulig Racing announced Sunday morning that veteran crew chief Nick Harrison died. He was 37.

Harrison was the crew chief for Justin Haley‘s No. 11 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series and had called the car’s 13th-place finish Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In a statement attributed to team owner Matt Kaulig and president Chris Rice, the team said in a tweet that “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Nick Harrison, our beloved crew chief of the No. 11 car at Kaulig Racing. Please keep Nick’s family in your thoughts and prayers at this time.”

No cause of death or information on services was immediately available. A Kaulig Racing spokesperson said “further details would be provided as they come.”

NASCAR released a statement on Harrison’s death: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of longtime crew chief Nick Harrison, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to his family, friends and Kaulig Racing colleagues.”

According to Racing-Reference.info, Harrison made his debut as an Xfinity crew chief in 2006. He was a crew chief for 184 Xfinity races (including 17 with Haley this year) and had five victories, his first with Kurt Busch in 2012 at Daytona International Speedway with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing.

He also worked 120 races as a crew chief in the Cup Series, including full seasons in 2011-12 with Phoenix Racing’s No. 51 Chevrolet. He guided Busch to a third place June 24, 2012 at Sonoma Raceway, marking Harrison’s best finish as a Cup crew chief.

Harrison also won three times in the Xfinity Series with Austin Dillon and once with Paul Menard. He also won with Dillon in the Aug. 2, 2014 truck race at Pocono Raceway, one of three truck races for Harrison as a crew chief.

During a career with several teams including Phoenix, Richard Childress Racing and Kaulig, Harrison worked with more than a dozen Cup and Xfinity drivers. The roster included Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Boris Said, A.J. Allmendinger, Micahel McDowell, Regan Smith, Ryan Truex, Landon Cassill, Jamie McMurray, Ty Dillon, Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones, Ben Kennedy and Brendan Gaughan.

NASCAR’s updated entry lists for Dover

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All three of NASCAR’s national series will compete this weekend at Dover International Speedway. It’s the first time all three series have been in action since Texas Motor Speedway at the end of March.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race at the “Monster Mile.”

Cup – Gander RV 400 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox Sports 1)

There are 37 cars entered for the race.

Quin Houff is entered in Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet for the fourth time.

Last year, Kevin Harvick won this race over Clint Bowyer and Daniel Suarez. Chase Elliott won the playoff race over Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.

Click here for entry list

Xfinity – Allied Steel Buildings 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on FS1)

There are 38 entries for the race, which is also the final Dash 4 Cash event of the year.

Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe and Gray Gaulding will compete for the $100,000 bonus.

Kaz Grala is entered in his third race driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

Riley Herbst is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

Bayley Currey will drive Rick Ware Racing’s No. 17 Chevrolet.

Justin Allgaier won this race last year over Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric. Bell won the playoff race over Cole Custer and Allgaier.

Click here for the updated entry list.

Trucks – JEGS 200 (5 p.m. ET on Friday on FS1)

There are 32 trucks entered. Three entries have been withdrawn.

AM Racing’s No. 22 Chevrolet will be driven by Austin Wayne Self who will return to the truck after his suspension was lifted.

Ryan Sieg is entered in Reaume Brothers Racing’s No. 33 Chevrolet for his first Truck Series start since 2015.

Raphael Lessard is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 46 Toyota.

Brandon Jones is entered in KBM’s No. 51 Toyota.

Johnny Sauter has won the last two Truck Series races at Dover.

Click here for the updated entry list.