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.



  • 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.




  • 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.


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, follow him on Twitter, @VinnieMiller_ and “like” his Facebook page, @VinnieMillerRacing. Additional information about JDM with Gary Keller can be found at, follow JDM on Twitter, @JDMotorsports01, and “like” JDM on Facebook, @JDMotorsports0101.


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.


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.”


Childress To Reduce To Just Three NXS Teams In 2018

Ty Dillon
Entering the 2017 season, Richard Childress Racing chose to run five full-time XFINITY Series teams. It was an ambitious move for the organization while plotting their future in the sport’s lower divisions.

Come 2018, that experiment is getting rolled back.

At Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, team owner Richard Childress told Frontstretch the organization is cutting 40 percent of its XFINITY program.

“There will be three teams,” Childress said of the team’s 2018 plans. “I’m not doing more than three teams, I promise you. I learned a pretty big lesson by doing five this year.”

Who will be the odd man out in this new lineup? In early October, RCR announced it had re-signed XFINITY Series championship contender, Daniel Hemric, for the 2018 season. The team also added Matt Tifft, who is jumping on board after running this year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Hemric will continue to pilot the #21 car in 2018. Tifft takes over the #2 machine, which has primarily been run by Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, and Ben Kennedy this season. The #3 car will also be run in 2018 by a variety of drivers. That eliminates the #33 and #62 teams, which were driven by Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan in 2017.

Jones is heading to Joe Gibbs Racing. Childress admits that he and Gaughan are working on a potential partial schedule for 2018, but nothing is finalized. Those races would likely be run in the #3.

“I’m still not sure yet,” Gaughan told Frontstretch. “I’m debating right now on what we are going to do for next year. I’m always on a one year, year-to-year thing with Richard [Childress]. We haven’t quite decided what our plans are yet, but we will be making that decision here pretty soon.

“I don’t know if we’re scaling back. I know you can never use the word retire with me. I’m going to race until I’m 80. I’ll race until they have to pry a wheel out of my hand and where it’s going to be will be in the desert and places like that. I will never be retired.”

Gaughan did confirm he will return to the #75 Cup Series ride for Beard Motorsports at the four restrictor plate races in 2018. In four races this season for the first-year team, he had a seventh-place finish at the July Daytona event, his first top-10 effort since 2004.


Joe Gibbs Racing Announces Their 2018 NXS Driver Stable

Christopher Bell
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announces today its driver and crew chief lineup for 2018 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The lineup will feature Christopher Bell, Brandon Jones, Ryan Preece and an all-star lineup of current Monster Energy Cup Series drivers.

JGR announced last month that Christopher Bell would compete fulltime in the XFINITY Series next season. Since that time, he earned his first victory in the Series at Kansas Speedway on October 21. He will pilot the No. 20 Toyota Camry with Jason Ratcliff serving as the team’s crew chief. Ratcliff is currently the crew chief for JGR’s No. 20 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team.

Joining Bell fulltime next season will be Brandon Jones behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota Camry for JGR. Chris Gabehart will handle the crew chief duties for the team in 2018.

In addition, JGR announces that Ryan Preece will return to drive a partial schedule behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Camry, with Eric Phillips serving as crew chief. Preece competed in three races for JGR this season and earned a top-five finish in each, including his first-career win at Iowa Speedway. He will also be behind the wheel of the No. 18 this weekend in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“Our NASCAR XFINITY Series program is so important to us at Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Joe Gibbs, owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We are focused on the opportunities we have this weekend in Miami of course, but excited about the talented lineup of drivers we will have competing for us in 2018. The addition of Brandon Jones to our lineup will provide tremendous competition to the Series and give us two opportunities to run for the XFINITY Driver’s Championship, as well as the Owner’s Championship next season. For as young as he is, Brandon has gained a lot of experience across several different series and we are excited to see what he can do in our equipment and with Chris (Gabehart) leading that team.

“We’re proud of our crew chiefs in that series as well,” added Gibbs. “Jason (Ratcliff) is someone we obviously have a lot of confidence in having had great success for us in both the XFINITY and Cup Series. Having Chris (Gabehart) and Eric (Phillips) back gives us proven winners atop each pit box. We believe their experience and ability to work together will really help the development of our young drivers and help our veterans compete for wins each weekend.”

Jones has spent the past two seasons driving in the XFINITY Series. He has also competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), K&N Pro Series East, and ARCA this season. Over the course of his young career he has built an impressive resume of accomplishments which includes making the Chase in his NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie season (2016), compiling four second-place finishes in NCWTS and picking up a win in the K&N Pro Series (Iowa). He also has four ARCA Series wins, including two consecutive wins at Michigan, and was the first driver in ARCA history to win their first two races.

“I’m really fortunate to have gotten as much experience as I have to this point of my career and very thankful to have worked with so many great people and teams over the past several years,” said Jones. “When you look at what JGR has done with Toyota in the XFINITY Series over the past decade the results speak for themselves and I’m excited to go out next season knowing I have an opportunity to be successful each and every week.”

Preece has made three starts in the XFINITY Series for JGR this season and has earned one win, a second and a fourth-place finish. He will be driving JGR’s No. 18 entry on Saturday looking to earn the organization’s fifth Series owner’s Championship. The 26-year-old Berlin, Connecticut native is a very accomplished short-track racer with 20 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) career victories, 70 top-five and 96 top-10 finishes. He was crowned the 2013 season champion.

“Obviously I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities that I have already had with JGR this season and now to be able to increase the number of races next season is a great step in my career,” said Preece. “I’m looking forward to going out there and make the most out of the opportunity.”

Preece will share JGR’s third XFINITY Series entry with the organization’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Kyle Busch, the all-time leader in XFINITY Series wins with 91, is expected to run seven races in 2018, while Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Daniel Suárez and others will fill out the remaining races.


Kaz Grala And JGL Racing Join Forces In The NXS For 2018

Kaz Grala
JGL Racing officials announced today that the team will make a manufacturer switch as they join the Ford Performance family for the 2018 NASCAR season. JGL currently fields the #24 and #28 entries in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The team has fielded Toyota’s for the last three seasons and is excited about switching to Ford Performance and their partnership with Roush Fenway Racing.

“These are exciting times for the JGL Racing organization,” said James Whitener, owner of JGL Racing. “We appreciate the support we have received from Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing over the last few years. We felt that in order for our team to make the next step in our growth process that we needed a more robust technical alliance behind us – and this opportunity with Ford Performance and Roush Fenway Racing provided us that and made the most sense. We look forward to finishing out the season in our No. 24 car and then we will turn our attention to 2018 and getting all of the proper pieces into place.”

JGL Racing has fielded entries during the 2017 season for drivers Dakoda Armstrong, Dylan Lupton, Corey LaJoie, Jeb Burton and Scott Lagasse Jr. The team narrowly missed out on making the NASCAR Playoffs with Armstrong by one spot for the second season in a row.

JGL Racing is also proud to announce that Kaz Grala has signed a multi-year agreement that will see the 18-year-old driver pilot the team’s #24 Ford. Grala will complete his first full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend. His 2017 season started off with a bang as he became the youngest NASCAR driver in history to win at Daytona International Speedway, securing himself a spot in the Playoffs.

“I am beyond excited about the opportunity to drive for JGL Racing next year full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series,” said Grala. “I’ve been watching XFINITY races since I was a little kid, so to be able to compete at that high of a level is nothing short of a dream come true. I can’t thank James Whitener (owner of JGL Racing) and everyone at JGL enough for this opportunity. Bring on Daytona!”

This year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Kaz has garnered one win, top-five finishes at every type of track on the circuit, and 11 top-10 finishes. He will compete for the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year title next season.
“Roush Fenway Racing is obviously a very successful organization, and I think the relationship with them will be extremely beneficial to myself and JGL Racing,” added Kaz. “Plus, I am from Boston, so the alliance feels right at home for me. Ford’s enthusiasm and aggression for building the best program possible is exciting to me, and I can’t wait to be a part of the Ford family next year.”


JR Motorsports Teammates Promise Hard Clean Racing At Homestead

Ty Dillon, William Byron and Justin Allgaier

They’re not exactly the Three Musketeers.

It won’t be “one for all, and all for one” when three JR Motorsports teammates—Elliott Sadler, William Byron and Justin Allgaier—take the green flag in Saturday’s Ford Eco-Boost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In fact, all three drivers, along with Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric, will be competing for the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship trophy, and there’s only one of those to go around.

That doesn’t mean the teammates won’t race each other—or Hemric, for that matter—with respect.

“We have four race teams that were successful all season, and we race each other with the utmost respect,” said Allgaier, who will compete on Saturday without crew chief Jason Burdett, under suspension for a inspection violation last weekend at Phoenix.

“We race each other hard, we race each other clean, and Daniel fits right in on that. Daniel is an extremely clean race car driver. So I feel like, even though we’re teammates, and even though we race each other differently than we would other competitors, I feel like the four guys that we have going for the championship have an equal and mutual respect for each other.

“It’s going to be a clean and hard battle all the way until the checkered flag.”

Until the checkered flag, or until the final lap?

“Even in that circumstance—we can all talk a big game, right?—knowing my teammates and knowing Daniel, it’s going to be a hard battle,” Allgaier said. “If we’re running 1-2-3-4 coming to the checkered, it’s going to be a dogfight.

“But I think it’s going to be the cleanest dogfight you’ve seen in a number of years.”

Sadler sees it the same way, although, for the 41-year-old veteran, this is the only race of the season that really matters.

“I know who I’m racing against and what I’m racing against,” said Sadler, who is seeking his first NASCAR championship. “My guys … they’ve all been sharing information this week. The crew chiefs and all are still doing the same protocol they’ve always done. I think Justin, William and myself understand that it’s one race for one championship.

“We’re going to race each other hard. We understand that all the chips are on the table, and we all klnow what each other’s got, which is a little bit different from racing people from other teams. I know William’s setup, and I know Justin’s, and we’re all going to know what each other’s fighting. So there’s a lot more information on the table.

“But I think we’re going to race each other hard. You don’t get this opportunity all the time, and you’ve got to take advantage of it when you get it.”

Unlike Sadler and Allgaier, Byron will be moving on after this season as he steps up to a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride with Hendrick Motorsports. So does Byron perhaps stop being a teammate one race early?

“I don’t think (you) ever (stop),” Byron said. “You’re out there for yourself, though. You’re there to try and win for your team. You want the other guys on your team to win if you can’t, but you’re going out there to compete for a championship.

“That’s our goal, and we’re going to race those guys just like we have all year—race them clean, and we’re not going to have any issues.”

The three JRM drivers, however, can’t afford to ignore Hemric, who qualified for the Championship 4 race on points last Saturday at Phoenix. Hemric is driving a brand new car in the all-Chevrolet matchup at Homestead, and he doesn’t feel challenged in the speed department.

“The hardest part is to get to this point,” Hemric said. “Everybody’s even going into a one-race match, and that’s pretty exciting to be a part of. Those guys have three cars to worry about. We’ve got one.”


Cole Custer Hopes To Close The Season With A Victory At Homestead

Cole Custer


Event: Ford EcoBoost 300 (Round 33 of 33)

Date: Nov. 18, 2017

Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway

Layout: 1.5-mile oval


Cole Custer Notes of Interest

●  The Ford EcoBoost 300 is the final race of the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series season. In Custer’s 32 starts this season, he has earned six top-five and 18 top-10 finishes while leading 119 laps.


●  Homestead-Miami Speedway is the last of the 11 1.5-mile tracks on the 2017 XFINITY Series schedule. Custer leads the 2017 XFINITY Series in points at 1.5-mile tracks this season with 362.


●  In 14 XFINITY Series starts and nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at 1.5-mile ovals, Custer has five top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.


Cole Custer has earned three top-fives in the XFNITY Series this season at 1.5-mile tracks – April 8 and Nov. 4 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (fifth each time) and Sept. 23 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (fifth) – and finished in the top-10 at three other venues – March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (10th), May 27 and Oct. 7 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (seventh and sixth, respectively) and Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois (seventh).


●  Custer’s best finish in the 32 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 claimed in his series debut in May 2016 at Charlotte.


●  Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 32 XFINITY Series races run this season is second on Nov. 4 at Texas. Custer has 10 top-five and 23 top-10 starts this season.


●  Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 42 points behind leader William Byron and 13 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Custer has earned nine Rookie of the Race awards this season, four of which have come at 1.5-mile tracks (fifth at Texas, twice; 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and sixth at Charlotte). Rookie of the Race awards are given to the highest-finishing rookie.


●  Last week at Phoenix Raceway, Custer battled above and below the championship-contention line to finish just four points out of the cutoff to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead. Custer has clinched the fifth spot in the season-ending point standings.


●  The Ford EcoBoost 300 will mark Custer’s 38th career XFINITY Series start and his second XFINITY Series start at Homestead.

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang

Before the XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, you said the goal was to run consistently in the top-10 and earn a spot in the playoffs. You’ve earned six top-fives and 18 top-10s and were only two positions short of clinching a spot in the Championship 4. From a young rookie looking at an empty shop floor in December to a near-Championship 4 contender, have you exceeded your own expectations?


“At the start of the year we would’ve been really happy with where we ended up this season. We accomplished a lot for not knowing what to expect. In the moment, it hurts, but this Haas Automation team has come such a long way from where we started the year. It’s nothing to hang our heads about, but we really do think we could have competed for a championship at Homestead.”


The Haas Automation team has statistically performed better at 1.5-mile tracks than any other team in the XFINITY Series. Does this give you something to prove at Homestead this weekend?


“We want to go to Homestead and prove that we could’ve won this thing. I think the other competitors in the Championship 4 would’ve had somebody to worry about if we were in this thing. I think we’re going to have a really strong car and a really strong run if we stay out of trouble. There’s no reason why we can’t go down there and win.”


What’s a lap around Homestead like?


“Homestead is pretty tough because it’s almost like you’re on ice the whole time. It’s worn out, it’s wide and you can move around a lot. It’s really fun when you’re up against the wall. Some of the race is going to be about conserving your car and making sure you have something at the end of the race. Homestead is definitely one of the most fun races we go to because you get to slide around and it’s just unique in that way.”


Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Team

Is there something to be shown for how well the team has run at 1.5-mile tracks this year as you get ready for the season finale at Homestead, which happens to be a 1.5-mile oval?


“Regardless of points, our goal all season has been to win a race our first year. We have put a lot of time in preparing for this race and feel that we have a good shot to make that happen this weekend. We are taking what we feel is our best car, Chassis No. 1059.”


Cole Custer Homestead 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


Wiliiam Byron Leads The JR Motorsports Parade Into Homestead

William Byrin
With a pickup pit crew, at the track that cost him a shot at the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title last year, William Byron won Saturday’s Ticket Galaxy 200 to advance to the Championship 4 race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Behind him, JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler also qualified for the title race with finishes of 10th and 18th respectively. The JRM trio will join Daniel Hemric in an all-Chevrolet finale, after Hemric ran fifth and held off a valiant bid from Cole Custer after a restart with 13 laps left.

Byron took the lead off pit road after taking right-side tires only during a stop under caution on Lap 183 of 200. As Hemric, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Custer battled behind him, Byron pulled away to beat Blaney to the finish line by .960 seconds.

“The second-to-last run of the race it took off on the long run,” said Byron, who was knocked out of the Truck Series Playoff last year when his engine blew at Phoenix. “I got up to third, and we got the two tires on it, and we were able to stay up there.

“I felt like clean air was pretty important. The 20 (Jones), the 22 (Blaney) and us were really similar. Whoever was in third would lose distance to the front two after probably 20 or 30 laps. We just had to adjust on it and make sure we got it right for the last pit stop.”

Jones ran fourth, followed by Bell and Hemric, who passed Custer on the final lap to claim the final spot in the Championship 4 by four points. Blake Koch also got past Custer on the way to the stripe to grab sixth place, and Custer rolled home seventh.

The JRM teams found out Saturday morning that their pit crews wouldn’t make it to Phoenix in time for the race because their plane had been diverted to Little Rock, Ark., with a mechanical problem. That led to a scramble for crew members pieced together from Hendrick Motorsports development crews.

In Byron’s case, the put-together crew proved up to the task. They got his No. 9 Chevrolet off pit road first after the final pit stop, though crew chief Dave Elenz said the two-tire call was dictated by the team’s inability to jack the left side of car, a problem that had recurred throughout the race.

“The guys on the pit crew did an awesome job, to step in cold-turkey like that, not knowing that you’re going to do it this morning,” Byron said. “And then showing up and pitting the car in the Playoffs—that’s pretty insane.”

If Byron was relatively unconcerned with a makeshift crew, team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was more than mildly surprised.

“I freaked out when I heard it,” Earnhardt said. “I was real surprised by that news, but I was assured that we had people here who could get in there and do the job, and to be honest with you, they did. Give those guys a lot of credit…

“I’m equally glad that our guys who had to land in Arkansas are safe, and we’ll see them next weekend.”

The major casualty of the race was Brennan Poole, who came to Phoenix fourth in the standings with a good chance to make the Championship 4. But Poole wrecked on Lap 22 while trying to drive to the inside of the lapped car of Caesar Bacarella, who was making his first XFINITY start.

“I saw (Bacarella) go in (to Turn 1), and we were going to kind of go to the top to go around him, and he slid up so I tried to go to the bottom,” Poole said. “Bad luck, bad circumstances.

“I guess I could have been a little more cautious there, but just trying to get up there to get some stage points and keep moving forward.”

None of the four drivers competing for the title next Saturday drives a car eligible for the owners’ championship. The four cars running for the latter title are the No. 22 Ford of Team Penske, the Nos. 18 and 20 Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing and No. 42 Chevrolet of Chip Ganassi Racing.

All four cars have been driven by multiple drivers this season.

Editor’s Note: The No. 7 Chevrolet of Allgaier was found to have an unattached brake cooling hose in post-race inspection, resulting in an L1 penalty. The infraction did not affect the composition of the Championship 4, but Allgaier will lose the services of crew chief Jason Burdett for the season finale!