John Hunter Nemechek Partners With Chip Ganassi Racing’s NXS Team In 2018

John Hunter Nemechek

 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that they have signed John Hunter Nemechek, a five-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and former NASCAR NEXT driver, to pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro in multiple NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) races in 2018. Nemechek, 20, will work with veteran NXS crew chief Mike Shiplett, who has led the team for the last four seasons. Nemechek’s No. 42 Chevrolet will carry primary sponsorship from Fire Alarm Services, Inc. in 2018.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

 

  • Behind the Wheel: Nemechek began his racing career in quarter midgets at the age of five. He was the 2011 Allison Legacy Race Series Rookie of the Year and followed-up with the series championship in 2012. Nemechek moved into late models in 2013 and won the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series Championship at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway. He won three of the biggest Super Late Model races over the next two seasons including the famed All-American 400 in Nashville, Tenn., the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.

 

  • Fully Covered: Headquartered in Arvada, Colo., Fire Alarm Services, Inc., provides superior fire, life safety, and security services and products for protecting their client’s real estate investment. They are the one source for all of their customer’s fire alarm, electrical, security, sprinkler, fire extinguisher and fire suppression needs.

 

  • Making His Way Through NASCAR: Nemechek made his NCWTS debut in 2013 at Martinsville Speedway at just 16 years old. He competed in the NCWTS on a part-time basis in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Nemechek captured his first series victory at Chicagoland Speedway in 2015 and was also named the series’ Most Popular Driver. He moved to full-time driving duties in 2016 and 2017, where he qualified for the NCWTS playoffs in both seasons. In 76 starts, Nemechek has five wins, one pole, 22 top-five and 38 top-10 finishes. He finished eighth in the final points standings in both 2016 and 2017.

 

  • Family Ties: John Hunter is the son of 1992 NXS Champion and multi-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) winner Joe Nemechek. Joe drove for CGR co-owner Felix Sabates’ SABCO Racing team from 1997-1999 and scored the team’s final MENCS victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September 1999. John Hunter’s namesake is his late uncle, John Nemechek, who competed in the NCWTS from 1995-1997. He passed away due to complications from head injuries sustained in an accident during a 1997 NCWTS race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, just three months before John Hunter was born.

 

CGR QUOTEBOARD:

 

  • Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We are happy to have John Hunter join our organization and also announce the relationship with Fire Alarm Services. We had a very successful 2017 with our XFINITY program and look to improve upon that.  We feel that John Hunter has the talent to be a future star in the sport and can’t wait to get him behind the wheel.”

 

  • John Hunter Nemechek, Driver No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro:  “I couldn’t be more excited to join Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel like their cars and organization were the talk of the garage in 2017 and I hope to play a part in continuing their run of success in 2018 and beyond. Also, Fire Alarm Services has been a supporter of my career since 2016 at our family-owned team, and I am looking forward to continuing that partnership at Chip Ganassi Racing. I am extremely grateful to Shannon and Connie Smith, owners of Fire Alarm Services, Inc. I also want to thank my father for all that he has done to help grow my passion for racing.”

 

About Chip Ganassi Racing:

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include two cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, one car in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, two factory Ford GT’s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and two factory Ford GT’s in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Overall his teams have 18 championships and more than 195 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, seven Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

JD Motorsports Welcomes Vinne Miller For 2018

Vinnie Miller
JD Motorsports with Gary Keller (JDM) is excited to announce that NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) graduate Vinnie Miller will drive the No. 01 Chevrolet Camaro NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) entry full-time next season. Miller made the announcement live on SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio on “Tradin’ Paint with Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers.”

Miller, 20 years of age, grew up racing on the same Michigan short tracks as fellow Michiganders and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drivers Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones. The Ortonville, Mich., native ran events in both the NKNPSE and the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards last season, scoring an impressive six top-10s, which included leading laps at his home track, Michigan International Speedway.

He made his NXS debut at Chicagoland Speedway with JDM on September 16, scoring a 29th-place finish. Additionally, he made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2017, scoring a strong seventh-place finish.

“It’s a dream come true,” Miller said. “As a young racer, you certainly dream of making it to this level and competing with the best of the best, without being sure it will ever happen. I have several people to thank, but mostly importantly, I need to thank my family for their support. The sacrifices they have made to allow me to chase my dreams do not go unnoticed, and it will be really special to share the next step in this journey with them.”

“I see a lot of potential in Vinnie,” said team owner, Johnny Davis. “He is a hard-working young man, and he has demonstrated his ability as a racer. He’ll have a lot to learn next year, but my team is committed to giving him the resources he needs to have a successful rookie year. Vinnie already fits in great with the team, so we’re looking forward to the 2018 season.”

“I’m really looking forward to joining JD Motorsports with Gary Keller,” Miller added. “In the ever changing motorsports landscape, to join a team that has raced full-time since 2002 is super exciting, and shows the dedication the organization has to the sport.”

For more information about Vinnie Miller, please visit www.VinnieMillerRacing.com, follow him on Twitter, @VinnieMiller_ and “like” his Facebook page, @VinnieMillerRacing. Additional information about JDM with Gary Keller can be found at www.TeamJDMotorsports.com, follow JDM on Twitter, @JDMotorsports01, and “like” JDM on Facebook, @JDMotorsports0101.

TIL NEXT ITME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Roush Fenway Racing Fields NXS Developmental Driving Team in 2018

Chase Briscoe

(Chase Briscoe)
Roush Fenway Racing will field a driver development team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) in 2018, with Ty Majeski, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe, each a driver in the Ford family of NASCAR race teams, sharing the iconic No. 60 Ford Mustang. The project is intended to continue the progression and development of the three drivers and will be run by Roush Fenway with collaboration from Ford Performance and Team Penske. Roush Fenway veteran Mike Kelley, who helped guide Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to a pair of NXS championships, will serve as crew chief on the car.

“Driver development has always been part of our DNA at Roush Fenway and Jack Roush has always taken pride in providing opportunities for up and coming drivers,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. “All three of these drivers have exhibited a great deal of potential on and off the track and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch as they hone their skills together and grow into the next generation of champions in our sport.”

Majeski, who finished 10th in his third NXS start last weekend at Homestead, recently captured his fourth-consecutive ARCA Midwest Tour championship, winning six of the 12 races. In 32 Late Model races this year, the Wisconsin phenom has scored an impressive 20 wins and 29 top-three finishes. He is coming off a dominating performance in the Governor’s Cup at New Smyrna, where he won the event for the third consecutive year. Majeski is also the No. 1 ranked iRacer in the world, with over 830 wins in 1,112 starts.

Austin Cindric

(Austin Cindric)
At the age of 19, Cindric has a very diverse racing background. He has won races in rallycross, IMSA, ARCA, the NASCAR K&N Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). In only his rookie season, Cindric advanced to the championship round in the NCWTS playoffs at Homestead. In 2017, Cindric scored eight top fives and 16 top-10 NCWS finishes; including a win this season at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

Briscoe, whose family has a rich history driving and owning sprint cars, scored 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes and finished sixth in the points standings in his NCWTS rookie season, including a dominating victory in the season finale at Homestead. He won the 2016 ARCA championship in dramatic fashion, tallying six victories, leading almost 1000 laps and distancing himself from the second-place finisher by over 500 points.

The trio will look to build on the rich history of Roush Fenway’s No. 60 that includes a NASCAR record 93 wins and almost 16,000 laps led. Mark Martin was a dominating fixture in the car in the 90s and Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Chris Buescher each drove the car to NXS championships.

The No. 60 is set to run all of the NXS races in 2018, while competing for the NXS Owner’s Championship. Further details will be made available – and a media availability for all three drivers will be conducted – after the Thanksgiving Holiday.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

NASCAR Standardizes At-Track Pit Rosters

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
NASCAR announced Wednesday morning that it will standardize at-track team rosters across all three national series in 2018, providing a structure for the number of personnel working on each vehicle during the course of a race weekend.

The biggest competition impact from the rules update is the the number of crew members who go over the wall for pit stops moving from six to five.

At-track rosters for all three series will fall under three headings: Organizational, Road Crew and Pit Crew. Job descriptions and roster maximums for each category:

• Organizational: Examples include competition director, team managers, technical director, IT specialists. In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, teams will be allotted three organizational roster spots for one- and two-car operations, and four spots for three- and four-car outfits. XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series teams will be allowed one organizational roster spot each.

• Road Crew: Examples include crew chief, car chief, mechanics, engine tuners, engineers, specialists (for areas such as tires, aerodynamics and shocks) and spotters. The limits for these personnel by series: Monster Energy Series, 12; XFINITY, 7; Camping World Trucks, 6.

• Pit Crew: This designation refers solely to team members who perform over-the-wall service during pit stops. The maximum is five for all three series.

The exceptions to these numbers are slight. Monster Energy Series teams are allowed one extra road crew position at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the three road courses (Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Charlotte), where teams often use multiple spotters. Also, an additional road crew roster spot will be allowed for XFINITY teams at 10 races and Truck Series teams at five.

It will be left to the teams’ discretion on how to best assemble their team – including the over-the-wall crew – within the roster limits. All rosters will be made public – for fans and media – before each race weekend.

For routine four-tire stops starting next season, teams could forgo one tire carrier and devise a new framework for servicing their vehicles.

The responsibilities of the fueler will also be narrowed, with other over-the-wall duties such as wrenching out chassis adjustments prohibited in 2018.

In another effort to bring further recognition to team members, rostered crew will be assigned letters or numbers worn on their uniforms and on armbands to identify their duties.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

The Future NASCAR Stars Are Here!

Christopher Bell

According to NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, you don’t have to look far to find the next generation of stars.

“They are here,” France said on Sunday morning before the Ford EcoBoost 400 during a question-and-answer session with reporters at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “They are here, and they’ve got to develop their performance, but they’re doing well. You look at Ryan Blaney, you look at Chase (Elliott) almost making the final here in Miami. Go down the list. We’ve got a loaded group.

“But it’s true, we’re in a transition, too. But that happens from time to time, not usually in the concentrated manner that we have now, but it happens. But we’re excited. We’ve got a great, great bunch of 19-, 20-(year-olds), and they’re talented, so we’re in good shape.”

NASCAR President Brent Dewar, who appeared with France on the dais, echoed those sentiments.

“We anticipate every decade you’re going to go through this rotation, and between NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity, these young stars that you’re talking about have all come through those classes, and they’re all good wheel men and women that are coming up through these series. And I think that’s the key thing, and we’re working with them in terms of how they work outside the car.

“And I think the other part is if you look at most sports, name any other major sport where you get to have a 15  to 20 year career at the highest level. It just does not exist. Those are exceptions.  It’s the norm here. So if you look at all the ones you take and you add 20 years, you’re going to be somewhere around the age of a Dale Jr. and a Matt Kenseth, so they were those same very 19 , 20 , 21 year olds years back.”

France’s and Dewar’s comments were juxtaposed against the backdrop of a sea change in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, from which the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is retiring after Sunday’s race. Kenseth, the 2003 champion, also faces a hiatus from NASCAR’s premier series, and Danica Patrick announced on Friday she will race for the last time in the series in the 2018 Daytona 500.

“Dale Jr. has made an obviously big contribution on and off the track for a long time,” France said. “So while we’re going to miss him for obvious reasons, he’s not going to be that far away, being an owner and working with NBC.

“So he’s going to be glued to the sport, and that’s a good thing for us.”

Both France and Dewar expressed optimism about the state of the sport and were thankful for the dialogue and collaboration between the sanctioning body, team owners, manufacturers, drivers and race tracks toward a long-term strategic plan for the sport.

“Well, I’m really more optimistic right now, and I know you may expect me to say that, but we’ve made the transition largely,” France said. “We’ve gotten the council meetings going. We’ve gotten charters in position so we can get our interests aligned more closely with drivers, OEMs and the charters and the team owners.

“We have the young drivers already in place. We’d like a couple more, of course. We’ve got some diversity with Bubba Wallace going in the 43 car (as the only African-American driver competing at NASCAR highest level). We like that. We’d love to see more of that. And we like all the changes that we’ve made in the last four or five years, including stage racing this year. It has created the things that we thought were important.”

And just as the sanctioning body has collaborated extensively with race teams on the evolution of the racing on the track, so too has NASCAR and the industry worked to improve the overall business model.

“The difference is now we have a mechanism of working together and a process to do that, and we’re all in,” Dewar said. “From tracks to teams to drivers, we’re all in, and we’re trying to focus on the sport, the business behind the scenes, and just continue to make continuous improvement to do that.

“I’m making it sound easy. It’s really hard. It’s really, really hard. At the end of the day, they’re racers. Race car drivers want to win, and team owners want to win, and we want them to win. We want to cultivate and nurture that as much as possible, but there’s still a business behind all these sports, and we need to make continued improvement on the business side.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

William Byron’s Meteoric NASCAR Rise Continued Saturday Night At Homestead

William Byron

William Byron’s meteoric NASCAR rise continued Saturday, as the 19-year-old added two more superlatives to an already lengthy list – 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion and 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Byron is only the second driver to win the XFINITY Series championship in his rookie season (Chase Elliott, 2014).

Following an extraordinary rookie campaign, the NASCAR Next graduate, who finished third, outlasted his Championship 4 competitors Elliott Sadler (eighth), Justin Allgaier (12th) and Daniel Hemric (34th) in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to capture his second NASCAR title. He also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2015. With the 2017 championship, Byron – at 19 years, 11 months and 20 days – is the second-youngest champion in series history (Elliott was 18 years, 11 months, 18 days).

This season, Byron drove the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet to four wins, 12 top fives and 22 top 10s. His victories came at Iowa, Daytona, Indianapolis and Phoenix, which helped propel him to a lofty position in the standings – from race No. 2-33, he never dropped lower than fifth in the standings.

Byron’s ascent to the top level of the sport will continue in 2018, as Hendrick Motorsports announced that he will drive the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Byron is the fourth member of the NASCAR Next program to win a NASCAR national series championship (Chase Elliott, NASCAR XFINITY Series, 2014; Erik Jones, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2015; Daniel Suarez, NASCAR XFINITY Series, 2016).

With its second-place finish, the No. 22 Ford won the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Championship for Team Penske, the organization’s fourth XFINITY Series owner title. This season, the No. 22 was piloted by Ryan Blaney (11 races), Brad Keselowski (nine), Joey Logano (seven), Sam Hornish Jr. (five) and Austin Cindric (one race).

Chevrolet, on the strength of 12 victories, clinched the Bill France Performance Cup – the manufacturers’ championship – in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Because Chevrolet owned a more than 40-point lead in the standings following Phoenix, the automaker clinched the title one race early. It is Chevrolet’s 18th Bill France Performance Cup win.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske Grabs Fourth NXS Owners Championship

Ryan Blaney

Track:    Homestead-Miami Speedway

Race:     Ford EcoBoost 300

Date:     November 18, 2017

 

No. 22  REV Group Ford Mustang – Sam Hornish Jr.

Start:    8th

Finish:   2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 0

Owner Points Position (leading by): 1st – Fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Championship

Recap: Sam Hornish Jr. raced his way to the second position and claimed Team Penske’s fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Championship in Saturday night’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the No. 22 REV Group Ford Mustang. While the team reached the ultimate goal at the end of the event, the race began with tension as Hornish reported the brakes on the No. 22 Ford Mustang were going soft in the opening twenty laps. Hornish moved from the eighth position inside the top-five despite the soft brakes and tight handling condition. When the first caution flag of the race was displayed at lap 18, crew chief Greg Erwin elected to leave the car on the track, as did the rest of the lead competitors. When the race resumed, the handling of the Mustang continued to deteriorate and Hornish dropped out of the top-10, concluding the first stage in the 13th position. To complicate matters, Hornish reported the brakes were starting to get extremely soft, making it difficult to carry speed into the corners and get the car to rotate. On the first stop of the day, Erwin elected to adjust with air pressure and added a piece of tape to the nose of the REV Group Mustang. During the opening 20 laps of the second stage, Hornish began moving forward, running the fastest laps on the track, quickly climbing back inside the top-five. At lap 73, Hornish reported to the team he hadn’t used the brakes in 20 laps, confirming that the adjustments had indeed helped the handling of the REV Mustang. Hornish finished the second stage in the second position, despite needing more center turn. On the second stop of the race, the team made a track bar adjustment and air pressure, making a minor swing on the handling of the car as conditions began to cool with the sun setting over turn 1 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Through the opening run of the final stage, Hornish ran consistently in the second position, maintaining the leaders pace while building a gap to the cars behind him also vying for the owner title. At lap 144, crew chief Greg Erwin called the No. 22 REV Ford to pit road for four tires and an air pressure  adjustment, hoping to give Hornish the center turn he needed for the rest of the race. After the green flag pit cycle, the team returned to the second position, running one position ahead of the No. 18 for the owner’s championship. Through the third run of the day, Erwin continued to remind Hornish to preserve the tires should the race go green to completion. In the last forty laps, spotter Joey Meier, who will spot for Brad Keselowski tomorrow as he chases his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title, worked on giving Hornish targeted lap times as the team worked to manage the gap behind to the other owners title competitors. The race remained green with Hornish running in the second position to the checkered flag and to the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Championship. The championship marked the 31st national title for Team Penske, in 51 years of motorsports.

Quote: “Great day. It didn’t look really good after the first stint. I didn’t have any brakes left. Not sure what happened. We’ve been having a little bit of a brake issue. I may have rode them too hard trying to get the car to do what I wanted it to do. The Ford Mustang came to life after we were able to make some changes on it on the first stop. I basically didn’t use any brakes on the last 155 laps. It was great that we didn’t have a bunch of restarts. I felt that if we did we might have had to makes some adjustment to run with Cole. Congratulations on Cole (Custer) in winning his first race and William (Byron) for winning the championship. (They) brought me down here to take care of the car and make sure we got our goal accomplished and I felt that we did a good job doing that. As a racecar driver you always want a little more. You want to win the race. Just really happy. Looking forward in getting home tomorrow to see my wife and kids. I just want to thank everyone at Penske for putting me in this car. Thanks to Roger, Tim Cindric and the guys for giving me this opportunity.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Elliott Sadler Angered And Saddened At Homestead

Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler’s despair and frustration in finishing second for the fourth time in the last seven NASCAR XFINITY Series seasons was evident on Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

It was scrawled on his face. It was patently obvious when he crawled through the window of his No. 1 Chevrolet and confronted Ryan Preece, on whom he projected his anger.

The 42-year-old veteran for JR Motorsports, his 22-year career devoid of a championship in a top-three NASCAR series, was angry that Preece had impeded his way as he attempted to catch teammate William Byron while they contested the series title with nine laps to go in Turn 3.

Tonight is the closest I’ve ever been to winning a championship,” Sadler said. “Having the lead against [Byron], the race is in my hands to win the championship, and when I dove down into Turn 1, we’d been running behind [Preece] for 10 laps. When I dove down into [Turn] 1, I thought he was going to give it to me, and I was going to slide in front of him, and he just gassed it and pinched me down, and that was it.

“That’s pretty hard to swallow.  I’ve been racing a long time; y’all know that.  But I would say tonight is the most devastating and down and out I’ve ever felt in my career.”

Held from Preece by three officials, Sadler made his point. Preece, he believed, had no business racing a title-contending driver the way he did. Trouble was, Preece was in fourth place, in his preferred line and trying to help his Joe Gibbs Racing team win an owners’ championship at the moment Sadler failed to get past quickly enough to chase after Byron, who eventually rolled away to finish third in the race and claim his first NASCAR championship at age 19.

Sadler said the circumstances leading him to finish five points behind the champion was “very devastating to me right now to have one taken away from me like that.” Sam Hornish Jr., who won the team title for Team Penske by finishing second, negated Preece’s right to battle him, he said.

“He wasn’t [racing for a championship] because the [Hornish Jr.] was a half a lap ahead of him,” Sadler reasserted. “He wasn’t racing anybody.” JR Motorsports’ No. 9 and JGR — with two cars — also entered the race eligible to win the owner championship.

Preece said he would have “laid over” or moved from Sadler’s way if ordered, so the title contenders could have right of way. Byron had passed Sadler for the final time by ducking low as Sadler ran the high line. Sadler became bottled behind and had his momentum blunted.

The incident was the final stroke in a pitched contest between Byron, who will take over the No. 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsport in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next year and the frustrated veteran. Sadler was hustling to overtake Byron for fourth place with 38 laps left when his car got loose in the middle line causing him to glide up the track and make contact with the rear of Byron’s car.

Sadler finished second in the XFINITY Series final standings — by an excruciating two points last season —  as he was passed on a restart with three laps left by Daniel Suarez, who bore away to win the race and the title. Sadler, who finished third in the race, had led the standings for the previous 13 weeks, and finished second for the third time in five years.

Sadler was without his normal crew chief, Kevin Meendering, in that race because he was serving a penalty for loose lug nuts discovered in a post-race inspection at Phoenix Raceway.

This season he entered second in points and winless after claiming three victories last season, increasing his winless streak to 38 races.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Cole Custer Grabs First NXS Victory In The Ford EcoBoost 300

Cole Custer
Haas Automation Driver Scores First Career XFINITY Series Victory

 

Date:  Nov. 18, 2017

Event:  Ford EcoBoost 300 (Round 33 of 33)

Series:  NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location:  Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

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

Start/Finish:  2nd/1st (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)

Point Standing:  5th with 2,288 points

 

Race Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

● Cole Custer started second, finished first. Earned 10 bonus points.

● Took the lead on lap three and held it for the next 21 laps around the 1.5-mile oval.

● Relinquished the lead for only three laps following a lap-24 restart before retaking lead on lap 27 from Tyler Reddick.

● Custer led through the end of Stage 1.

● Pitted for four tires, fuel and tire pressure adjustments at the conclusion of Stage 1.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):           

● Started third, finished first. Earned 10 bonus points.

● Custer ran inside the top-five and reassumed his position at the front by lap 62, leading through the end of the stage.

● At the end of Stage 2, pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and tire pressure adjustments to improve his drive off the track’s corners.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200): 

● Started first, finished first.

● After taking the lead in Stage 2, Custer never gave up the point, leading the race’s final 139 laps, even during a scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 144 for four tires and fuel.

● Custer crossed the stripe with a whopping 15.405-second margin of victory over second-place Sam Hornish Jr., the three-time IndyCar Series champion and 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner.

 

Notes:         

● This marks Custer’s first career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory and it came in only his 38th XFINITY Series start.

● Earned a perfect driver rating by sweeping both stages and taking the race victory (150.0).

● Custer led three times for a race-high 182 laps. It is a record for the most laps led in a single XFINITY Series race at Homestead.

● This was Custer’s rookie season in the XFINITY Series, and he ends it with seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes.

● Custer earned the most points at 1.5-mile tracks among XFINITY Series drivers this season (422).

● This was Stewart-Haas Racing’s first win in the XFINITY Series, as the team debuted its XFINITY Series program this season.

● Custer’s win was the ninth XFINITY Series victory of the season for Ford.

● Custer is the 36th different driver to win an XFINITY Series race with Ford.

 

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

“We knew we were gonna be really good this weekend, but our Haas Automation Mustang was unreal. We really wanted to have a good showing at Ford Championship Weekend. Even though we weren’t in (the Championship 4), we wanted to win.

 

“I want to thank everybody at Haas Automation, Code 3 Associates and Roush Yates Engines – the engines have been unbelievable all year – and XFINITY and everybody at NASCAR and all of our fans, it’s just been unbelievable.

 

“Going into this year there were so many question marks, and to see how far we’ve come is really unbelievable. I have to especially thank Gene Haas. I would never be here without him and I can’t thank him enough.

 

“I can’t stress enough how good this Haas Automation Mustang was. I was just pedaling it going half-speed the last few laps. I’ve had some good cars before, but that was pretty impressive. I can’t say enough about this group. They’ve worked so hard all year getting us up and going and it’s just unbelievable.  There’s no better team I’ve worked with before and I can’t thank them enough.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

William Byron Claims The 2017 NXS Championship

William Byron

As Cole Custer celebrated his first victory in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and 19-year-old William Byron reveled in the series championship, a heartbroken and angry Elliott Sadler confronted the driver he believed cost him a long-coveted NASCAR title.

Custer took the checkered flag in a different zip code, crossing the finish line 15.405 seconds ahead of second-place Sam Hornish Jr., who delivered the owners’ championship to Roger Penske. The real action, however, occurred three-quarters of a lap behind the winner.

Sadler had passed Byron, his JR Motorsports teammate on Lap 165 of 200. The 42-year-old veteran stayed out front until Lap 191, when he closed on the No. 18 Toyota of Ryan Preece and lost momentum. Byron charged past Sadler into third place—and into the lead among the four drivers battling for the title.

With four laps left, Sadler pulled up to Byron’s bumper. Byron shot past Preece’s Toyota, clearing him to the inside. Sadler tried to follow but couldn’t complete the pass, and slid up into Preece’s Camry, with the right front of Sadler’s No. 1 Chevrolet clipping the left rear of the Toyota.

Sadler hit the wall and his title hopes were gone. The disconsolate driver finished second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings for the fourth time, and his disappointment stood in marked contrast to the elation of his young teammate.

“I don’t know that I took a breath the last 20 laps,” Byron said. “That was incredible. I just have to thank this team. This is awesome. Elliott raced me clean, and we just raced hard for it. I just can’t believe this.

“I’ve just got to thank God for giving me this platform to perform. I can’t believe this. I’m tired, whew. I’ve never driven that hard in my life.”

Team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. had his share of nervous moments as his drivers fought for the championship.

“Man, that is tough watching those guys battle like that together,” Earnhardt said. “William did a great job running an awesome race. To be as young as he is, he drove like a veteran tonight. I know Elliott is probably really disappointed. It’s hard to watch any of your guys lose one, but at least we will be taking the trophy back to Mooresville tonight.

“This is great for JRM and all our employees. One thing about William winning, the over-the-wall guys I’m pretty close to a lot of them. They pit my car, too (in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series). It’s pretty cool to see these guys enjoy themselves. This really effects a lot of people.  I’m really glad to be a part of it.”

All but forgotten in the dramatic championship battle and its aftermath was Custer’s overwhelming maiden victory. Pulling away steadily after a restart on Lap 97, Custer posted the largest margin of victory in the series this season and the largest ever at the 1.5-mile track.

Custer led 182 laps and scored a perfect driver rating of 150.0, the only time a driver has accomplished that feat this year.

“We knew we were going be really good this weekend, but our Haas Automation Mustang was unreal,” Custer said. “We really wanted to have a good showing at Ford Championship Weekend.  Even though we weren’t in it (the Championship 4), we wanted to win.”

Preece was racing for the owners’ championship against the No. 22 Ford of Hornish and the No. 9 Chevrolet of Byron after Christopher Bell fell out with engine problems after 78.

“To be honest with you, if there’s a person you don’t want to cost a championship to, it’s Elliott Sadler,” said Preece. “You know, I’m just trying to do team orders here. I was racing for an owner championship. Yeah, we weren’t racing for the win right there, but we were still racing the 9 (Byron).”

“It’s not where I want to be right there. Obviously, I hate it, but I can’t take it back.”

Editor’s Notes: With only three cautions—two for planned stage breaks–the race set a speed record at 136.140 mph… Championship contender Justin Allgaier had seven-time Cup champion Chad Knaus calling the shots on his pit box in place of suspended Jason Burdett, but Allgaier’s car struggled to a 12th-place finish, third in the title race… Daniel Hemric, the fourth Championship 4 driver, and the only one not from the JRM stable, lost 12 laps with electrical problems early in the race and came home 34th.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!