Xfinity Series News (7508)
NASCAR Xfinity Series News
In a two-lap shootout in Saturday afternoon’s CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America, Christopher Bell checked out from the competition to claim his sixth NASCAR Xfinity Series win of the season.
Bell found himself battling the best of the best when it comes to road course racing in NASCAR inside the final laps of the race between AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric, but when Gray Gaulding went into the gravel in Turn 1, the full-course caution waved setting up an eight-mile dash to the finish.
“Man, I’m honestly in shock,” Bell said. “I really butchered qualifying and tore the crap out of the left-front. I felt like once we got in the race there, we’d be able to drive by those guys. Instead, they dropped the green flag and they were driving by me. That wasn’t much fun.
“Then I told Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) I was really, really tight. We got those tires off and he said the left-front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there when we put our new set of tires on.
“That strategy worked out well for us coming in there (with 14 to go) and then the yellow coming out. This car was really, really fast today. We’ve had a great road course season.”
On the final restart, Bell cleared second-place Allmendinger, but it was Cindric who pitted during the last caution that was putting on a show trying to charge from his 20th place restarting position.
By the white flag, Cindric had passed 15 cars and found himself in the clutches of second-place Matt DiBenedetto but when DiBenedetto spun his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra in Turn 14, Cindric crossed the start-finish line second, 1.891 seconds behind Bell.
“We talked about a five-to-go plan, that was like a green-white-checkered,” offered Cindric who came up one position short of claiming three straight road course wins during the month of August. “I wasn’t 100 percent confident, but at the same time, we were battling a lot of wheel hop after four or five laps on tires and we had a lot more than on tires.
“In this kind of racing, you pretty much know that you’re going to get used up if your slower, so we wanted to go on offense and that was our strategy all day and we probably just needed one or two laps to get our Menards – Richmond Ford Mustang in Victory Lane. All in all, a good day, good points, p-2, is alright.”
Cindric described his 19-car charge through the field in two laps in one fitting word.
“Chaos,” Cindric added with a smile. “I passed a lot of cars that just ended up overdriving corners and missing corners. It was chaos, it was insane. I think it’s why all these people show up at Road America and enjoy this type of racing.
“You never know what you’re going to get, it always comes down to those last lap dashes to the finish, I’m glad to be able to put on a show at a place like this.”
For Bell, it was his 14th career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, but first on a road course. He attributed part of his success to luck, while also taking the time to reflect on the last-lap mishap for his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate DiBenedetto.
"I guess I just get lucky on these things, that's for sure,” added Bell. “I'm really heartbroken for Matt DiBenedetto, too. He was obviously really, really fast. We knew in practice that both of our cars were really good, and we were going to be right there racing with each other.
“I don't really know what happened, but I saw him go flying off (Turn) 14 so that sucks. He's in a tough spot right now and he needed a good run there."
Allmendinger admitted that he spun the tires during the last restart and later collided with Noah Gragson while battling in the top-five. He became involved in another off-course exchange on the same lap and limped to a 26th place finish after making a pit stop on the final lap.
Behind Bell and Cindric, points leader and Bristol winner Tyler Reddick finished third, Gragson fourth and Kaz Grala rounded out the top-five.
Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe, Jeremy Clements, Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer comprised the remainder of the top-10.
For Allgaier, the top-10 was a relief after nosediving into the gravel in Turn 1 after suffering a flat left-front tire on the last lap of Stage 1. Falling off the lead lap, getting the lap back, the JR Motorsports driver used the remainder of the race to earn his 15th top-10 of the year.
Playoff contender Custer also had an impressive rebound after falling down a lap after running off course during the first lap of Stage 2 and mowing down several track signs. Earning the free pass late in the race, Custer used aggressive driving in the final run to the finish to earn his 15th top-10 of the season.
With three races remaining in the regular NASCAR Xfinity Series season, next up is a throwback weekend at the “Lady in Black” at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for the running of the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 on Sat., Aug. 31, 2019.
Tyler Reddick Rounds Out Road Course Swing with Top-Five Finish at Road America
"I wish we had that last restart back in our No. 2 Roland Chevrolet Camaro. We had a great balance on our car and ran inside the top five pretty much all day, which is a huge improvement for me on road courses. We were just chasing a little more front turn to roll through the corners better. With the strategy we had going of pitting early in Stage 2, we were in contention to potentially steal this one away if Christopher Bell made a mistake on the final lap. Unfortunately, he didn't make any, and I missed a shift for the first time all day, which caused us to fall back one spot to third. I've struggled here in the past a lot, and on road courses as a whole, so I'm glad to see an overall improvement in my finishes not only from last year, but from the start of this year's swing as well."
|Kaz Grala Delivers a Gutsy Top-Five Finish in the HotScream Chevrolet at Road America|
"I'm really excited about the day we had here at Road America. We came home with a top-five finish, and for me, that's pretty good considering mid-race we had to make an unscheduled pit stop. A miscue on pit road unfortunately cost us some track position when we had to come back down to put on more lug nuts. To come from the tail end of the lead lap there, all the way back up to a top-five finish, is really good. It says a lot about my crew chief, Justin Alexander, and our HotScream team. We don't give up. RCR builds some fast race cars, and we showed that today. The only bittersweet thing is in the middle of the race, we had a really good battle with the 20 car and I think we were as good as he was. Depending on who hit their last adjustment just right, I think we would have had a shot at beating him. I know that we had speed to contend up front, but a top-five finish is still a really good day for us. I can't thank everyone at RCR for the opportunity to race for them this year. I learned a lot and gained a ton of experience."
Christopher Bell won Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America in a two-lap shootout, earning his sixth win of the 2019 season.
“I’m honestly in shock,” Bell told NBCSN. “I really butchered qualifying, tore the crap out of that left-front. 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 Jason 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.”
Driver No. 20 led 10 of the race’s 45 laps in route to victory. Bell was in position to win Saturday’s race thanks to a debris caution caused from his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones with 14 laps remaining. Bell would pit from second place right before the caution came out and was able to stay out while the rest of the field came to pit road.
The final restart of the day was result of Gray Gaulding spinning off course in Turn 1 with five laps remaining.
Bell’s win on Saturday snaps Austin Cindric’s two-race win streak on road courses.
Matt DiBenedetto, who led the most laps of any driver with 18, 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 would finish 27th.
“Just being stupid on my part,” Matt DiBenedetto told NBCSN. “Was looking in my mirror and got too high and barley got up in the middle 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.”
Justin Allgaier the defending race winner, finished ninth after he locked up the brakes entering Turn 1 on the final lap on the fist stage and became stuck in the gravel. Points contender Cole Custer finished 10th after he went off course on the Stage 2 restart and suffered damage to his grille and had to make several pit stops for repairs.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head into Darlington Raceway in the running of the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 where Dale Earnhardt Jr. is scheduled to compete. Live coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC.
Stage 1 Winner: AJ Allmendinger
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Briscoe
Race Winner: Christopher Bell
Henry Repeating Arms and Road America have reached an agreement naming Henry Repeating Arms as the title sponsor of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the world-renowned 4-mile, 14-turn road course. The Henry 180, scheduled for August 8, 2020, takes place less than 300 miles away from Henry Repeating Arms' 138,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Rice Lake, WI.
"We're fortunate to have such a unique track in our home state of Wisconsin. The drivers love it, the track is beautiful, and the racing is always exciting," says Anthony Imperato, President and Owner of Henry Repeating Arms. He continues, "The Henry 180 is going to be a very special race on the NASCAR Xfinity Series calendar in 2020 and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with Road America and Stewart-Haas Racing."
During the press conference at Road America, Henry Repeating Arms explained their current partnership with Stewart-Haas racing extending to the Henry 180. Cole Custer will be driving the No. 00 Henry Ford Mustang during the CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America on August 24, 2019.
"We have used Haas Automation CNC machines for years to manufacture our lever action rifles and shotguns," says Andy Wickstrom, Vice President and General Manager of Henry Repeating Arms. "We share a 'Made in America' DNA so the partnership is a great fit with our company, and we are proud to continue working with them at the Henry 180," Wickstrom concluded.
Both the pole qualifying winner and the race winner of the Henry 180 will receive custom lever action rifles manufactured by Henry Repeating Arms.
Henry rifles and shotguns can only be purchased through a licensed firearms dealer. Most Henry dealers will offer a discount from the MSRP. For additional information about the company and its products visit henryusa.com.
Henry Repeating Arms PR
With four races to go in the regular season, time is running out for NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders. With Playoff implications on the line, expect the competition to be tight and the action to be drama-filled this weekend as the series heads to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin for the 10th annual CTECH Manufacturing 180 on Saturday, August 24 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Road America has seen nine different Xfinity Series winner’s pull into Victory Lane in as many races and this weekend we could see a 10th different winner – which would tie Michigan International Speedway for the longest active different winners streak in the series at 10 each. Only three former Xfinity Series Road America winners are entered this weekend – AJ Allmendinger (2013 winner), Jeremy Clements (2017) and last season’s winner Justin Allgaier. Both Allgaier and Clements are vying for Playoffs spots this season and are still looking for their first win of the year.
But the obvious road course ace to watch this weekend has to be Team Penske’s Austin Cindric, who won the first two of the four road courses the Xfinity Series visits this season (Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio), and now has the opportunity to become the first driver in series history to win at three different road courses in a single season.
Cindric will have his work cut out for him though, as the Xfinity Series’ “Big 3” – Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and Cole Custer - have taken the 2019 season by storm, winning 14 of the first 22 races of the year – a winning percentage of 63.6%.
Looking ahead this weekend to Road America, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer has had the most success among the Big 3 on the four-mile course putting up one top five and two top 10s in two starts; including a best finish of fourth in this race last season. However, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell haven’t had the same luck as Custer at Road America. Bell has made two series starts at the venue posting an average finish of 21.0 and Reddick made his series track debut at Road America last season, starting 29th and finishing 34th. A lot has changed since 2018, as Reddick and Bell both finished inside the top-five at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio earlier this year.
Plus, history has proven that road courses are notorious for giving drivers their first career series win. In fact, 15 different drivers have become first-time series winners on road courses; including Austin Cindric’s first career win earlier this season at Watkins Glen International. Road America stakes claim to the lion’s share of the Xfinity new winners on road courses producing five of the 15 first-time winners – Jeremy Clements (2017), Michael McDowell (2016), Brendan Gaughan (2014), AJ Allmendinger (2013) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (2012).
PLAYOFF PRESSURE FOLLOWS GANDER TRUCKS TO CANADA
With the opening race of the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs behind them, the eight drivers contending for the title head to the lone road course on the series schedule this weekend for the seventh annual Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sunday, August 25 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Brett Moffitt is sitting pretty as the Gander Trucks head north of the border – he opened the postseason with a win at Bristol Motor Speedway and has locked in his spot in the second round of the Playoffs. But after that, it’s a big unknown for the Playoff contenders.
The trio of ThorSport Racing teammates in the Playoffs (Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter), along with the fourth driver in their stable, Ben Rhodes, took a unique approach to preparing for the 2.459-miles of twists and turns in Bowmanville, Ontario. They paired up (Rhodes and Enfinger in one entry, Crafton and Sauter in another) and entered the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race in Ford Mustang GT4s with Multimatic Motorsports in early July.
But no matter who comes out on top this Saturday, it’s guaranteed that a new winner will be pulling into Victory Lane – and it will be the seventh consecutive different winner in the Chevrolet Silverado 250. Current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standout Chase Elliott won the inaugural event in 2013, and was followed by Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Cindric and Justin Haley during the 2014-2018 versions of the race. All of those drivers have also moved on to either the NASCAR Xfinity Series or Monster Energy Series competition.
NASCAR announced Wednesday some important new procedural changes for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, all designed to strengthen the quality of the race fields and add to the intensity of the racing on track.
The updates come at a time the sanctioning body – along with the series sponsors, teams and the broadcast partners – have seen a tangible increase in interest level and excitement for the two series.
There are strong fields filled with both established teams and newcomers ready and capable of making an impact. And NASCAR feels optimistic that these new updates will only be more beneficial.
“We’re really addressing three different updates here between the field size, the driver participation guidelines and looking at 2020 for Dash for Cash and Triple Truck Challenge,’’ said Meghan Miley, NASCAR’s senior director of Racing Operations. “The goal is always to make sure we are enhancing the competition. We are making sure we put our best foot forward for all of our stakeholders – the teams, the drivers, the tracks, the broadcasters, our OEMS, and NASCAR, of course.
“All these updates we make, we look at every year and say, ‘hey, what could we be doing better?’ This is the result of some of those things.’’
Among the key changes for the upcoming season – the race fields in the Xfinity Series will now feature a maximum of 36 cars. The first 31 positions will be based on qualifying times with four provisional positions allotted according to the rulebook and one past champion provisional.
Additionally, driver participation guidelines have been adjusted for both series. In both the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, drivers with more than three years of fulltime Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series experience will be allowed a maximum of five starts in each of the two series – Xfinity and Gander Trucks.
“With the driver participation guidelines, what a chance to highlight these young talents,’’ Miley said. “We’ve gotten feedback from all our stakeholders and from the fans, who say, ‘we want to see more of the regulars’ and then we talk to some of the drivers who say, ‘we want the opportunity to drive against these [Cup] guys because they’re the best and they make us better.’
“So it’s more about finding that middle ground, what works for everybody but is great for us to highlight those series regulars.’’
A caveat to the participation outline is that drivers who elect to earn Monster Energy Series championship points are not eligible to compete in either the Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash or the Gander Trucks’ Triple Truck Challenge, the regular season finale or the Playoffs.
Similarly, Xfinity Series regulars may not participate in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ annual Triple Truck Challenge or the championship race at ISM Raceway.
The 2020 Dash 4 Cash races will include stops at Texas Motor Speedway (March 28), Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (April 4), Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (April 25) and Dover (Del.) International Speedway (May 2). Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 21) will be the qualifier to set the Dash 4 Cash field for the opener at Texas.
The truck series’ Triple Truck Challenge will include races at Richmond (Va.) Raceway (April 18), Dover International Speedway (May 1) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 15). And, in an important caveat to the incentive program, the entry deadline requirement for the Triple Truck Challenge eligibility has been removed so the entire field will be vying for the bonus each week – a move NASCAR made to benefit both the teams and the fans.
That is the impetus for all the rule modifications. NASCAR is optimistic through this intrinsically collaborative approach that the competition will continue to reinvigorate naturally and the fan interest continues to rise and intensify.
After impressing in his first NWES season in 2018 and winning the last two races of the 2019 regular season, Loris Hezemans will become the fifth NWES driver to graduate to a national stage in the United States. The Dutchman will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Road America this weekend, driving the #99 Koolbox Chevrolet Camaro for BJ McLeod Motorsports.
The number of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series drivers crossing the Atlantic to compete in NASCAR in the US keeps growing as the official NASCAR Series in Europe continues to provide the best opportunities to its drivers to develop their professional career. In February Hezemans became the 19th NWES driver to race in NASCAR in America when he finished an impressive third in his Pro Late Model debut in the World Series Of Asphalt Racing.
“We got in touch with Carlos Lira, who used to field cars both in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series and in the ARCA Racing Series. He was positively impressed by my results and helped getting in touch with BJ McLeod Motorsports. We were looking for a chance to debut in the Xfinity Series on a road course and Road America is the perfect fit,” said Hezemans. “I’m really looking forward to go side-by-side with the best NASCAR drivers in the United States.”
Competing at the highest level of NASCAR in Europe proved to be a launching point in Hezemans’ career. Coming from Touring cars and GT racing, the Dutchman won his first NWES ELITE 1 Division race in his debut season in 2018 and conquered the Junior Trophy, the special classification rewarding drivers aged 25 and under. In his second full-time NWES season, he sits second in points among the main contenders for the European NASCAR title ahead of the playoffs.
“Choosing the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series was a fundamental step in my career. NWES provided me with many opportunities and it’s laying the foundations for NASCAR Europe, especially for drivers like me, coming from Europe and not really knowing a lot about NASCAR at the beginning. To be already able to go compete at the NASCAR Xfinity Series level in just one year and a half is incredible. NWES is really showing it is able to bring in people from all over the world and show them what NASCAR is all about,” said the 22-year-old Dutch driver.
“Another NWES driver making his debut in a NASCAR national series is the heart of our mission to build a complete path to NASCAR in the US for drivers coming from all over the world. From our NWES Racing School through the NWES ELITE 2 and ELITE 1 Divisions, we prepare drivers step by step and offer true career opportunities at affordable budgets,” declared NWES President - CEO Jerome Galpin. “Loris is a young and very talented driver coming from a great racing family. It will be very interesting to see how he will perform in correlation to the performance of the package he will have in his hands!”
Hezemans never raced at Road America and will therefore rely on his NWES experience, simulator sessions and footage analysis to prepare his NXS debut in the best possible way and on BJ McLeod Motorsports to hit the ground running in the first practice session.
“It’s not going to be easy for sure and I’m not setting specific goals. We know that with the package we have a top-15 finish would be a very good result and that with some luck on our side a top-10 fantastic. A little bit of rain would definitely spice things up. I’m watching and analyzing carefully many Road America race to be prepared for different situations, and I’m driving on the simulator to get familiar with the track. I can’t wait to hit the track!” concluded Hezemans.
The CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America is scheduled for Saturday, August 24. The green flag will wave at approximately 21:30 CEST.
Henry Repeating Arms Partners with Cole Custer and No. 00 NASCAR Xfinity Series Team at Road America20 Aug 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Henry Repeating Arms, an American manufacturer of classic rifles and shotguns that is a world leader in the lever-action category, has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi (SHR) in the NASCAR Xfinity Series by serving as the primary sponsor of driver Cole Custer and the No. 00 team in the CTECH Manufacturing 180 Aug. 23-24 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
“Made in America, or not made at all” is the motto of Henry Repeating Arms. Named after Benjamin Tyler Henry, who invented and patented the Henry rifle in 1860, Henry Repeating Arms has two manufacturing facilities – one in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the other in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, located approximately 290 miles northwest of Road America.
“Road America is a home race for us and we partnered with Cole Custer because of his success this season and because of the strong relationship we have with Haas Automation,” said Anthony Imperato, president and owner, Henry Repeating Arms. “We use made-in-America Haas CNC machine tools to manufacture our products, all of which come with a lifetime guarantee backed by our award-winning customer service.”
Custer is having a career year in 2019, leading the Xfinity Series with five wins and five poles. The victories have placed the 21-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, into the NASCAR Playoffs for the third straight season.
“We’re enjoying a lot of success on the track and moments like this are how we win off the track,” Custer said. “Henry Repeating Arms is a great customer of Haas Automation and we’re extremely proud to be representing them at Road America.”
Custer has made two career Xfinity Series starts at Road America, finishing in the top-10 each time. His best result at the 4.048-mile, 14-turn road course is fourth, earned in last year’s race.
“In road-course racing, the competition is more on the driver’s shoulders compared to your traditional oval-styled track,” Custer said. “You’re on the edge of your seat for the entire race, and even the smallest mistake can take you out of the race. I enjoy road-course racing and challenging my skills as a driver. I learned a lot in last year’s race at Road America and I’m looking forward to getting back there in my Henry Repeating Arms Ford Mustang.”