Ryan Blaney Started And Finished In The Same Position At Kansas

Ryan Blaney
Track:    Kansas Speedway

Race:     Kansas Lottery 300

Date:     October 21, 2017


No. 22  Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start:    3rd

Finish:   3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 3

Owner’s Points Position (leading by): 1st (+12)


Recap: Ryan Blaney started third and finished third in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway. Blaney showed speed in the Mustang all weekend and wasted no time working his way to the second position at the drop of the green flag. In the opening 45-lap stage, Blaney’s Ford built loose over the long green-flag run. The third-generation driver would remain in the runner-up position before the first caution flag of the race at lap 45, ending the first stage of the 200 lap event. Blaney reported the handling of his Mustang to be slightly loose on corner entry and crew chief Greg Erwin elected to pit for slight adjustments, four tire and fuel.  When the second, 45-lap stage resumed, it was more of the same for the No. 22 Discount Tire Mustang, consistently running fast lap times on the track and battling for the second position. Over the course of the second stage, Blaney’s Ford began to lose rear grip, so Erwin called for more adjustments to help regain the lost handling. At the end of the final stage the 23-year-old would restart ninth with 104 laps remaining in the 300 mile race. Blaney again worked his way back to the front, battling for the second position by lap 112. When the caution flag was displayed for the final time at lap 137, Erwin called the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford into the pits for the final time, adjusting the track bar along with four fresh tires and fuel. Blaney would restart fourth and he immediately charged forward, battling three wide for the race lead on lap 147. Blaney would lead three laps before losing steam and settling into the second position.  With three laps reaming, Blaney ran over debris, cutting down his right rear tire. He would forfeit the runner-up position, limping his Ford to the finish line in third. The third place finish propelled the No. 22 Ford team to the lead in the Owners point standings, leading the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing by 12 markers.


Quote: “The 18 and 20 were really strong today. I thought the Discount Tire Ford were getting better there at the end and then we had a right-rear come apart at the end of the race. That sucked. I thought that we had something at the end for the leaders. Just not our day. We just stalled out with 15 laps to go.”


Christopher Bell Grabs First NXS Victory At Kansas

Christopher Bell

Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 may have been the opening race in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff, but the real drama involved two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates outside the championship battle.

On Lap 197 of 200 at Kansas Speedway, Christopher Bell caught and passed Erik Jones for the lead, clearing Jones’ No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with a slide job and drifting up to the outside wall right in front of his JGR teammate.

Under a full head of steam, Jones plowed into the back of Bell’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, wrecking the No. 20 Camry, which slowed markedly and finished 15th, a lap down.

Bell took the checkered flag with polesitter Tyler Reddick and some hard feelings on Jones’ part in his wake.

“It’s not dirt racing,” Jones complained, referencing Bell’s dirt-track background. “He’s not clear. I can’t just stop on the top. I didn’t expect him to drive in on the bottom so hard he wouldn’t be able to hold his lane.

“It’s unfortunate. I thought we were going to race for the win, and unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a race—it was more of a wreck. We’ll just have to move on.”

Jones had led four times for 186 laps before Bell ran him down from more than two seconds back in the closing laps. The series leader in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Bell got the victory in his fifth start, becoming the first driver to get his maiden XFINITY win at the 1.5-mile track.

Bell also is the 10th straight different winner in the series.

“I never want to wreck anyone, especially my teammate,” Bell said. “I don’t know. My spotter said ‘Clear.’ I drove it in really deep. I felt like I cleared him – I don’t know.

“It’s my first XFINITY win. I’m sorry that Erik didn’t finish the race, but, man, I’m just stoked. This thing was awesome. To be able to win in the XFINITY Series is something I dreamed of as a kid. We were both on old tires. We were sliding around…

“Bummed for the way it finished, but I’m glad it held on, man. I was getting tire smoke in the car there those last couple of laps, and I was worried we weren’t going to make it.”

Ryan Blaney ran third, followed by playoff drivers and JR Motorsports teammates William Byron and Justin Allgaier, the latter of whom collected 11 stage points and took over the top spot in the standings by two points over Byron, who had to start from the rear of the field because of unapproved pre-race adjustments to his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Elliott Sadler, another JRM entry, recovered from a spin in Turn 4 on Lap 76 to finish seventh and is third in the Playoff standings, 11 points behind Allgaier.

“A tire came apart—I don’t know whether I ran over something or not,” said Sadler, who turned sideways in the path of oncoming traffic. Eventual sixth-place finisher Austin Dillon did a masterful job of avoiding Sadler’s spinning car.

“I gave ‘em a big target, but nobody hit us,” a relieved Sadler said after the race.

Beyond the top three Playoff positions, little was decided. With two races left in the Round of 8, there’s an eight-point gap between fourth-place Brennan Poole, who ran 12th on Saturday, and eighth-place Cole Custer, who brought his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to pit road with two laps left because of a cut tire and finished 19th, two laps down.

Check out the unofficial results of the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway.


William Byron Prepares For Cup Career In A Simulator

William byron
William Byron is right in the middle of a heated battle for the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, but that doesn’t mean he’s not preparing for next year’s quantum leap to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Though Byron has yet to run his first Cup race, he has been spending time driving a simulator for Hendrick Motorsports to help Hendrick’s current Cup competitors prepare for their events. Alex Bowman, who will take over the No. 88 Chevrolet from Dale Earnhardt Jr. next year, shoulders most of the simulator duty, but Byron also takes advantage of the opportunity.

“I go in there and help them with Cup Series stuff most of the time,” said Byron, who is the top seed in the XFINITY standings. “Sometimes they give us stuff from XFINITY, but most of the time it’s Cup stuff and seeing what they’re going to do for the weekend.

“It’s a very helpful tool, and I’m very thankful for Chevy’s support to have that there for us. A critical part of the sport right now is doing those things. We’re trying to keep developing in it, and I think it’s going really well. I just enjoy being in there and being able to use it.”


William Byron Leads The NXS Into The Round Of Eight

William Byron

Last season, William Byron led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series the majority of the season, racking up a rookie-record seven wins. When the Playoffs came around, his engine blew with a late lead in the penultimate race of the year, eliminating him from championship contention.

Byron has carried his success into the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season. He enters the Round of 8 opener – Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway – first on the Playoff Grid. He sits 19 points above Cole Custer on the cutoff line as a result of his three victories, three stage wins and third-place regular season points finish.

The 19-year-old Charlotte native has never made an XFINITY Series start at Kansas, but won the Camping World Truck Series race there last season.

“Kansas Speedway is a fun race track to go to. The last time I was there, I was fortunate enough to win my first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and I can’t wait to get back and have a good run in the XFINITY Series,” Byron said. “It is an important race to start out this round of the playoffs, so we plan on having a strong day and executing well.”


Cole Custer Returns To His Wheelhouse, 1 1/2 Mile Tracks

Cole Custer

Event: Kansas Lottery 300 (Round 30 of 33)

Date: Oct. 21, 2017

Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City

Layout: 1.5-mile oval


Cole Custer Notes of Interest

●  The Kansas Lottery 300 is the fourth of seven races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs and the first race in the second playoff round. Four drivers will be eliminated at the conclusion of the three-race round, narrowing the field to four drivers who will compete for a winner-take-all championship battle in the season finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.


●  Cole Custer is fifth in the XFINITY Series Playoffs with 3,007 points, 19 points behind series leader William Byron. Custer starts the second round of the playoffs with two bonus points, earned by his two stage wins in the Sept. 23 race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.


●  Kansas Speedway is the ninth of 11 1.5-mile tracks on the 2017 XFINITY Series schedule. Custer leads the 2017 XFINITY Series regular season drivers in points at 1.5-mile tracks with 303, he leads the series with a 7.8 average finish at 1.5-mile tracks, and he has led the most laps at 1.5-mile tracks this season with 90.


●  Custer is competing for his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. He has earned 10 top-10s in the last 13 races and three top-10s in the first three playoff races.


●  In 12 XFINITY Series starts and nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at 1.5-mile ovals, Custer has four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. Custer has earned two top-fives this season at 1.5-mile tracks – Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on April 8 (fifth) and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Sept. 23 (fifth) – and finished in the top-10 at three other venues – Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 4 (10th), Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 27 (seventh) and Oct. 7 (sixth), and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois on Sept. 16 (seventh).


●  Custer’s best finish in the 29 XFINITY Series races run this season is fourth, earned in the 11th race of the year June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The result equaled Custer’s best career XFINITY Series finish, which he earned in his series debut at Charlotte in May 2016.


●  Custer has six top-fives and 18 top-10s in 34 career XFINITY Series starts.


●  At 19 years and 8 months old, Custer is the youngest driver in the playoffs.


●  Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 29 XFINITY Series races run this season is third, earned three times – April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Sept. 23 at Kentucky. Custer has 21 top-10 starts and nine top-five starts this season.


●  Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 51 points behind leader William Byron and 15 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Custer has earned eight Rookie of the Race awards this season, three having come at 1.5-mile tracks (fifth at Texas, 11th Las Vegas Motor Speedway and sixth at Charlotte). Rookie of the Race awards are given to the highest-finishing rookie.


●  The Kansas Lottery 300 will mark Custer’s 35th career XFINITY Series start and his third XFINITY Series start at Kansas.


Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang

You lead the XFINITY Series at 1.5-mile tracks and there are still three more of them to visit in the playoffs. Are you confident that you will perform well at the remainder of the intermediate tracks, and does this give you an advantage on the others?


“Mile-and-a-half tracks are what our Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates team looks forward to the most, and there’s no reason why we can’t go out and compete for wins at all of them. It’s going to be a tough round, so having some mile-and-a-half tracks will help us a lot.”


Not only are you in the playoffs for the first time, but you have advanced to the second round. How does a 19-year-old rookie feel after starting the season at Stewart-Haas Racing?


“It’s been pretty crazy to see how hard everyone has worked throughout the season to get us to where we are now. It would mean the world to our whole team to get to the final round in Homestead.”


Is it tough being a single-car team with minimal help in the majority of the races this season?


“Being a single-car team makes it a little bit harder on us. You don’t have a lot of teammates to rely on. Kevin (Harvick) runs the XFINITY car from time to time, so that helps a lot and we’ve learned a ton from it. I rely on Kevin the most. I ask him for advice going into pretty much every weekend about the track and what to expect going into it, especially these playoff races. I’ve never been in the playoffs before, so I asked him about what to expect. These guys have definitely helped me a ton and I don’t know if we would be as good without them.”


Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief of the No. 00 Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Team

What are your expectations heading to another intermediate track where the team has run so well?


“We are bringing the car we ran really well with at Chicago, Chassis No. 1044. We feel that we have a good shot at winning this race. Cole has a lot of confidence in himself and that particular racecar. This round of the playoffs is tough. We know that we have to run up front in the next three races if we want to have a shot at a championship.”

Cole Custer Kansas Performance Profile


No. 00 Haas Automation Team Roster
Primary Team Members:


Driver: Cole Custer

Hometown: Ladera Ranch, California


Crew Chief: Jeff Meendering

Hometown: Concord, North Carolina


Car Chief: Eddie D’Hondt Jr.

Hometown: East Islip, New York


Lead Engineer: Bruce Schlickler

Hometown: Clarksburg, West Virginia


Engine Specialist: Craig Herrmann

Hometown: Albany, New York


Spotter: Eddie D’Hondt Sr.

Hometown: East Islip, New York

Over-The-Wall Crew:

Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux City, Iowa


Front Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard

Hometown: King, North Carolina


Rear Tire Changer: Chris JacksonHometown: Fort Mill, South Carolina


Rear Tire Carrier: Jeremy Howard

Hometown: Dalhant, Texas


Gas Man: Andrew Migliozzi

Hometown: West Borough, Massachusetts


Jackman: Sean Cotten

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Road Crew Members:


Truck Driver: Jason Gray

Hometown: Concord, North Carolina


Mechanic: Daren VanderLey

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama


Mechanic: Michael Brill

Hometown: Woodsville, New Hampshire


Tire Specialist: Bryan Honeycutt

Hometown: Asheboro, North Carolina


Shock Specialist: Dave Hansen

Hometown: York, Maine


Pit Support: Chris Justice

Hometown: Greensboro, South Carolina

H​aas Automation Notes of Interest

The No. 00 Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang will feature decals on the lower-rear quarter panel for:


●  State Fair Community College– Located at 3201 West 16th Street in Sedalia, Missouri, State Fair Community College (SFCC) provides relevant and innovative learning experiences that successfully prepare students for college transfer, career development and lifelong learning. SFCC is committed to being accessible and affordable; values collaborative partnerships; and strengthens and enriches the intellectual, economic and cultural vitality of the community it serves.


●  Haas Factory OutletKansas City, a division of NYMAT Machine Tool Corporation –Based at 15661 South Mahaffie in Olathe, Kansas, Haas Factory Outlet, Kansas City serves all of Kansas and Western Missouri. It is dedicated to providing the best service possible to ensure the Haas machines it sells provide the best overall value of any machine tool brand.

Code 3 Associates Notes of Interest

The No. 00 Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang will feature Code 3 Associates on both sides of the car.


●  Code 3 Associates – Code 3 Associates is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas. Formed in 1985, Colorado-based Code 3 Associates is a national response team that, at the request of local government officials, provides animal rescue and recovery in times of disaster. The organization has evolved from one unpaid volunteer to approximately 75 professional responders and thousands of members around the country, which include animal welfare, law enforcement, fire, EMS and veterinary specialists from the United States and Canada. While its focus is animals and their owners, Code 3 Associates trains its responders to the standards of human rescue, and Code 3 Associates also provides training to conduct thorough investigations into animal welfare issues, all of which is accredited by Colorado State University and the school’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Playoff Standings (first race, Round of 8)  

1.        William Byron (3,026 points)

2.        Justin Allgaier (3,023 points, -3)

3.        Elliott Sadler (3,020 points, -6)

4.        Daniel Hemric (3,009 points, -17)

5.        Cole Custer (3,007 points, -19)

6.        Brennan Poole (3,006 points, -20)

7.        Ryan Reed (3,005 points, -21)

8.        Matt Tifft (3,004 points, -22)


Kaz Grala Is Looking For Another Plate Victory

In the February NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, Kaz Grala – then 18 years, one month and 26 days old – etched his name into the record books as the youngest driver to ever win at Daytona.

Now, the Gallagher Motorsports Racing driver will try to advance to the Round of 6 in the series Playoffs with another superspeedway win in Saturday’s fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Grala currently sits seventh on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings, eight points behind Austin Cindric on the cutoff line. He heads into the contest riding a four-race top five streak, including a fifth-place showing in the last event at Las Vegas. Saturday’s race marks his first career start at Talladega.

“Obviously it’s cool knowing that the last superspeedway race we were able to get the pole and the win, but anything can happen in these types of races,” Grala said. “You can have the fastest truck or be the best plate racer, but we’ve seen it time and time again in every series, that doesn’t guarantee you any sort of favorable finishing position. We’re looking at this race as a wild card, just like everyone else is.”


Cole Custer Pulls Off A Sixth Place At Charlotte

Cole Custer
Date: Oct. 7, 2017

Event: Drive for the Cure 300 (Round 29 of 33)


Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)

Start/Finish: 13th/6th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)

Playoff Point Standings: 5th (3,007 points, 19 points out of first – ADVANCED TO ROUND 2)


Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Daniel Suarez of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

 Cole Custer started 13th, finished ninth. Earned two bonus points.

● Piloted his Haas Automation Ford Mustang into the top-10 by lap 20.

● Noted a tight-handling condition, but managed to make a pass and gain one more position before the conclusion of the stage.

● Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments at the end of the stage.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):       

● Started 11th, finished eighth. Earned three bonus points.

● Custer continued to fight a tight-handling condition at the beginning of the stage.

● Ran as high as seventh during Stage 2 until his car’s balance shifted to being loose.

● At the conclusion of the stage, pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.


Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):

● Started eighth, finished sixth.

● After a caution on lap 141, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and adjustments. He restarted in the 11th position.

● Custer drove to eighth place before a final caution on lap 160, where he pitted for four more tires and fuel to restart back in 11th position.

● With 40 laps to go, Custer powered his way through the field to finish just outside of the top-five.



 Custer was the highest finishing rookie in the Drive for the Cure 300. It was his eighth rookie of the race award this season.

● Custer has earned the most points at 1.5-mile tracks among XFINITY Series drivers this season.

● Custer earned his 16th top-10 of the 2017 season, his 18th top-10 in 34 career XFINITY Series starts and his third top-10 at Charlotte.

● Custer’s sixth-place finish was his fourth-consecutive top-10 this season.

● Due to inclement weather, qualifying for the Drive for the Cure 300 was canceled. The field was set by owner points.

● This was the final race in the first round of the playoffs. Custer advanced to the second round and is seeded fifth.

● There were eight caution periods for 43 laps in the Drive for the Cure 300.

● Alex Bowman won the Drive for the Cure 300 to score his first career XFINITY Series victory. His margin of victory over second-place Sam Hornish Jr. was 1.390 seconds.


Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It was a really good night for us. We got our car better. We didn’t have the track position that we wanted, so I think we were more of a third- or fourth-place car, but our Haas Automation Mustang was really solid tonight. I was happy with the improvements we made through the weekend, so I’m looking forward to the next round. It’s going to be a dogfight, that’s for sure. Everybody in this next round has a lot of speed. I think if we can win a race it’s going to be huge. It will be tough, but we just have to really be on our game and fire on all cylinders.”


Playoff Standings:        

1.        William Byron (3,026 points)

2.        Justin Allgaier (3,023 points, -3)

3.        Elliott Sadler (3,020 points, -6)

4.        Daniel Hemric (3,009 points, -17)

5.        Cole Custer (3,007 points, -19)

6.        Brennan Poole (3,006 points, -20)

7.        Ryan Reed (3,005 points, -21)

8.        Matt Tifft (3,004 points, -22)


Failed to advance to the Round of 8

9.     Brendan Gaughan (2,079 points)

10.   Michael Annett (2,058 points)

11.   Blake Koch (2,055 points)

12.   Jeremy Clements (2,052 points)



Team Penske Reviews The Charlotte NXS Race

Joey Logano

Track:   Charlotte Motor Speedway

Race:    NC Drive for the Cure 300

Date:     October 7, 2017


No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang – Sam Hornish Jr.

Start:    31st

Finish:   2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 0

Owner’s Points Position (behind leader): N/A


Recap: Sam Hornish Jr. started 31st and finished second in the No. 12 PPG Ford Mustang in Saturday night’s NC Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Despite the deep starting position, the Defiance, OH native, wasted no time working his way forward at the drop of the green flag. In the opening 10 laps, Hornish wheeled the colorful PPG Mustang inside the top-20, reaching the 16th position before the first caution flag of the race at lap 28. Hornish reported the handling of his Mustang to be slightly loose on corner entry and tight in the center. Crew chief Brian Wilson elected to leave the PPG Ford on the track with only a handful of teams taking the opportunity to pit. Hornish continued his forward march during the remaining laps in the first stage, reaching the 10th position when a caution flag at lap 42 ended the stage. Wilson elected to adjust with wedge, also having the crew add tape to the nose to give Hornish more forward turn. When the second stage resumed, it was more of the same for the No. 12 PPG Mustang, consistently running the fastest lap times on the track while marching inside the top-five and finishing the second stage in the third position. The handling had swung to the free side on corner exit during the second stage, so Wilson elected to adjust with track bar on the second stop of the night. The No. 12 Team Penske crew gained a one position on pit road, allowing Hornish to restart on the front row for the beginning of the final stage. The No. 12 Mustang struggled on restarts, but after 10 laps proved to be the fastest car on the track. On the third pit stop of the night, Wilson elected to leave the car alone, servicing it with just four tires and fuel. Unfortunately, the track would take another swing, adding grip as the conditions continued to cool off, and Hornish would have to battle a car that was too tight. When the caution flag was displayed for the final time at lap 160, Wilson called the No. 12 PPG Ford into the pits for the final time, adjusting with track bar, and additional tape on the nose preparing for the sprint to the finish. Several of the lead lap cars had pitted on the lap 141 caution, which shuffled the No. 12 team to the ninth position on the ensuing restart. Again, wasting little time, Hornish charged forward, battling teammate Ryan Blaney for the second position where he would finish the night.


Quote: “I think if it had been anybody else other than my teammate or Bowman winning I’d probably been pretty disappointed with tonight for as fast as we were, but the fact that we stuck with it. The car was great.  We needed long runs and didn’t have any early on in the race.  Finally got the car adjusted right where we thought we needed to be and kind of overstepped it.  On that last restart I kind of got stuck on the bottom and it also freed the car up a little bit right there too, knowing that we’re gonna be back in traffic.  It took us a little bit longer.  The top lane rolled and the 2 and the 42 were able to make a lot of ground on us there early, and it was everything that Alex needed to be able to win and it was a bit of fighting for me to be able to get back second.  By the time I had a slip-up underneath the 22 car.  I’m really glad we didn’t end up getting together.  I figured I kind of slid around the corner long enough that I figured I wasn’t gonna correct until he was past me again, and made the right-rear tire mad and it took us about five or six laps to get that calmed back down, go back after him and just not enough time there at the end.”


No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney 

Start:    2nd

Finish:    3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 38

Owner’s Points Position (behind leader): 2nd (-8)


Recap: After an extensive rain delay at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS), Ryan Blaney finished the NC Drive for the Cure 300 in the second position, capturing his 34th career top-five finish. Blaney and the No. 22 Discount Tire team started the 200-lap event second after Saturday’s qualifying session was rained out and the field was set by the rule book. During the first 45-lap stage, Blaney raced within the top three, battling a loose Ford Mustang. The first stage saw two cautions where Blaney communicated to his team the Ford had no turn or drive on take-off. Blaney would remain in the third position until the end of the stage. Crew chief, Greg Erwin called the third-generation-driver down pit road, under caution on lap 47 for minor adjustments to help tighten up the Ford and help on take-off. The 23-year-old would restart from the third position once the second stage started on lap 51. Shorty after, Blaney captured the second position making it three-wide. Over the course of the long run, Blaney’s Ford became increasingly free, dropping to the fourth position by the end of the second stage on lap 90. Blaney raced his way up to the second position on lap 97 before the race fell under caution once again on lap 104. During the restart, Blaney would battle hard for position, almost capturing the race lead before settling into the second position.  Erwin called Blaney down pit road on lap 123 for a scheduled pit stop under caution. The No. 22 team won the race off pit road and Blaney would restart as the race leader with 74 laps remaining. The race would see yet another caution on lap 147, gambling the caution would come out again, Erwin elected to stay out while other teams came to pit road. Blaney would go on to lead 38 laps before the caution flew again on lap 160. Blaney came to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and minor adjustments on lap 162. Blaney would restart eighth and drive up to the second position before falling back to third at the end of the race. Blaney’s third place finish was his fourth top-10 finish in six races at CMS.


Quote:  “I thought we had a pretty decent car.  We started off great.  I thought we lacked a little bit of speed and I was real loose.  We did a pretty good job of getting it tighter to where it might be a little bit better.  We got the lead on pit road, which is good.  They did a great job on pit road all night with really fast stops and that helped out a bunch.  On that last restart we got running there and some cars stayed out.  They gambled a little bit and we got stuck behind the 5 a little bit.  The 42 did a good job.  He got a big run on the top and drove away from us.  He was better than us that last run anyway.  We lost a little bit of speed there.  It stinks we couldn’t have won that race, but I thought we learned a little bit and hopefully we can apply that tomorrow.”


Alex Bowman Shows Why He Will Be In The HMS No. 88 Next Year

Alex Bowman
Behind the wheel of a car on something other than a virtual race track for the first time in nearly a year, Alex Bowman warmed up for the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports ride he’ll inherit next season with a stunning victory in Saturday night’s rain-delayed Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor  Speedway

Behind Bowman, who won for the first time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Ryan Reed soldiered home in 12th place, one position behind Brendan Gaughan. But Reed moved on to the XFINITY Playoff’s Round of 8 by one point over Gaughan, who was eliminated along with Jeremy Clements (20th on Saturday), Blake Koch (25th) and Michael Annett (27th).

Reed joins Justin Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole, Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, William Byron and Matt Tifft in the Round of 8, with the series set to resume competition Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway.

“Bowman The Showman”, who hadn’t raced since his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup / XFINITY Series doubleheader last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finished 1.390 seconds ahead of part-timer Sam Hornish Jr., who passed Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney in the closing laps for the second position. The start was Hornish’s fifth of the season.

The car Bowman drove to victory in a race that started five hours late because of persistent rain was the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, under an agreement with Hendrick Motorsports. Since his last races at Homestead, Bowman has spent the bulk of his time driving simulators for HMS.

“I can’t thank Mr. (Rick) Hendrick and Chip Ganassi enough for letting me drive this car,” said Bowman, who will succeed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Chevy in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next year. “To get my first win here at my second home in Charlotte means so such.

“Thank you so much to all the fans for sticking out this rain delay. It’s been a long time since I’ve raced. My pit stops were terrible. I didn’t do a good job on pit road, but I felt like my restarts were really good. It feels amazing to finally get us one.”

With Bowman pulling out to a sizable lead after the final restart on Lap 167, the real suspense involved Gaughan and Reed, who were locked in an intense battle for the final playoff position. Gaughan passed Reed for 12th on Lap 181 of 200, but needed one more position to stay alive in the Playoff.

Gaughan passed Byron for 11th, but Reed followed. As Gaughan chased Sadler for 10th, Reed had to ward off a challenge from Brandon Jones, Gaughan’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing. Gaughan ran out of time in his pursuit of Sadler, who was on older tires, and the last playoff spot belonged to Reed.

“We were getting the 1 (Sadler), but we need Brandon to get in front of (Reed), but a good run,” Gaughan said. “We had a decent season, but I wouldn’t say great. We’re going to go on and try to see if we can win a couple of races…

“Nothing ever comes easy around me and (crew chief) Shane Wilson, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Though he qualified for the Round of 8, Tifft had his share of nervous moments. On Lap 99, he came to pit road complaining of a vibration, incurred a penalty for a runaway tire and lost a lap. But Tifft regained the lead circuit under caution for Erik Jones’ spin on Lap 121 and salvaged a ninth-place result.

“We’ve been fighting back from a lot of difficult situations,” Tifft said. “We were able to put our MotoRad Camry back in the top 10 today, and we had so much stuff going on today.

“Really excited about our chances in the second round, and we’re riding the right wave right now, and I feel like we’re getting things clicking between the team and I right now. So it’s a good time for us right now, and it was a good fight today for sure.”

Note: Justin Allgaier, who entered the race as the series leader, hit a battery that fell from Angela Ruch’s car when Ruch spun in Turn 2 for the second time. Allgaier’s engine overheated and finally expired, relegating the JR Motorsports driver to a 33rd-place finish.

Check out the unofficial results of the Driver For The Cure 300 at Charlotte.


Matt Tifft Leaves JGR For Richard Childress Racing In 2018

Matt Tifft
Richard Childress Racing has signed Matt Tifft to a multi-year agreement to join RCR’s NASCAR XFINITY Series driver lineup. Tifft will pilot the #2 Chevrolet Camaro beginning in 2018 and will compete for the 2018 driver championship. The 21-year-old driver is currently a contender in the XFINITY Series Playoffs in his rookie season.

Tifft, a native of Hinckley, Ohio, has made 70 starts across NASCAR’s top three national touring series dating back to 2013, including 39 in the XFINITY Series. Tifft’s racing background includes dirt late model and super late model racing on dirt tracks in Ohio and Michigan. His asphalt racing experience includes 26 starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and 25 starts in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Tifft was awarded Rookie of the Year honors in the ARCA Racing Midwest Tour.

“I am very appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to race for a championship and grow as a driver under one the most successful and historic teams in NASCAR,” said Tifft. “RCR has a long history of developing partnerships through its XFINITY Series program. I am looking forward to being a part of the family and applying what I have learned in my first full-time XFINITY Series season while continuing to grow with the goal of competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in the future.”

“Matt is a talented race car driver and an even better young man,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR. “I’ve watched him race for the past few years and we were impressed by his ability. We look forward to welcoming Matt to our XFINITY Series program and having him compete for a championship with RCR.”

An announcement regarding sponsorship and crew chief for Tifft and the #2 Chevrolet Camaro will come at a later date.