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!

Ryan Blaney Dominates But Finishes Second At The Ticket Galaxy 200

Ryan Blaney
Track:   Phoenix Raceway

Race:     Ticket Galaxy 200

Date:    November 11, 2017

 

No. 22  Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start:    6th

Finish:   2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 147

Owner’s Points Position (leading by): 4th (-0)

 

Recap: Ryan Blaney started sixth and finished second in Saturday afternoon’s Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway with the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang after a dominating performance. On the initial start, Blaney showed the speed of the Mustang, powering to the third position in the opening laps. Throughout the first stage, Blaney battled a Ford Mustang that was tight on corner exit, but was able to move forward, capturing the race lead by lap 38 where he’d conclude the opening 60 lap stage. On the first pit stop of the race, crew chief Greg Erwin adjusted with wedge and air pressure, sending Blaney back to the track to restart as the race leader. In the opening laps of the second stage, Blaney communicated to the team that he was loose in and tight off exit but overall the handling was not bad. The 23 year-old-driver would dominate the second 60 lap stage and win his second stage of the 200 lap race. At lap 122, crew chief Greg Erwin elected to bring Blaney to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, putting the team in the first position to start the third and final stage. Blaney was able to maintain the race lead with the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford after an extensive battle with the No. 20 of Erik Jones. Once Blaney checked out from the field in clean air, he reported the handling of the No. 22 Mustang was better than previous runs. Blaney would pit from the lead during a caution at lap 183 for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment to the Discount Tire Ford. The No. 22 Ford Mustang was the fourth car off pit road but the first with four tires. Blaney quickly worked his way to the second position and began running down race leader William Byron. Blaney would ultimately bring the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang home in the second position and secure a spot in the championship four in hopes of winning Team Penske’s fourth owner’s title.

 

Quote:  “It was a good race for us.  Honestly, I thought we had a really good car and we got it better each run, except for the last one really.  I thought our long-run speed was really good and we came in and got four and I was kind of free taking off each run, so we short-filled it a little bit.  I thought that was gonna be enough to tighten us up and we just needed more, so then the 9 got out front and we couldn’t run him down.  I was really, really loose so that stinks.  We figured out a really good way to lose these things.  We’ve finished second a lot this year in that car, so that’s unfortunate, especially when we had a great car today, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  That stinks, but, like I said, that car is in the owner’s championship so hopefully it can go and win that thing next week at Homestead.  That would be great.”

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

Cole Custer Almost Locked Himself Into The Final Four

Cole Custer

Date: Nov. 11, 2017

Event: Ticket Galaxy 200 (Round 32 of 33)

Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location: Phoenix Raceway (1-mile oval)

Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)

Start/Finish: 3rd/7th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)

Point Standings: 5th with 2,228 points

 

Race Winner: William Byron of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

Cole Custer started third, finished seventh. Earned four bonus points.

● Custer ran in the top-10 for the entirety of the Stage.

● He said the Haas Automation Ford’s balance improved as the stage wore on, but could use an adjustment to become tighter.

● He pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):     

● Started fifth, finished seventh. Earned four bonus points.

● Custer battled a loose-handling condition at the beginning of Stage 2.

● He continued to run inside the top-10 for the duration of the stage.

● At the conclusion of the stage, Custer gained three spots after a pit stop for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):          

● Started fourth, finished seventh.

● Custer noted loose-handling conditions late in the run causing him to fall to the eighth position.

● During a lap-180 caution, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments. He gained two positions to restart sixth.

● Custer piloted his Haas Automation Ford Mustang to fifth place, putting him above the cutoff for the Championship Four.

● During the closing laps, Custer was caught pushing him to the seventh position and below the cutoff.

 

Notes:              

● Custer was eliminated from the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. He finished in fifth place, just four points below the cutoff for the Championship Four.

● This marks Custer’s 18th top-10 of the 2017 season, his 20th top-10 in 36 XFINITY Series starts and his first XFINITY Series top-10 at Phoenix Raceway.

● Custer earned eight combined stage points.

● This was Custer’s 36th NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his second at Phoenix Raceway.

● Five cautions slowed the race for 27 laps.

William Byron won the Ticket Galaxy 200 to score his fourth career XFINITY Series victory, fourth of the season and first at Phoenix. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was .960 seconds.

 

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

“We fought hard all day and did all we could to compete for a spot in the Championship Four. We have had fast Haas Automation Mustangs all year and just ran into bad luck in the second round of the playoffs. We would be in the final round if it weren’t for that bad luck. For a first-year team, rookie driver and rookie crew chief we competed at a high level. A huge thanks to everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing, Haas Automation, Ford Performance, Code 3 and everyone who has supported us this season. I’m sure we’ll come back next year stronger.”

 

Playoff Standings:        

1.     William Byron (4,000 points)

2.     Elliott Sadler (4,000 points)

3.     Justin Allgaier (4,000 points)

4.     Daniel Hemric (4,000 points)

 

Failed to advance to the Championship 4:

5.     Cole Custer (2,228 points)

6.     Brennan Poole (2,188 points)

7.     Matt Tifft (2,181 points)

8.     Ryan Reed (2,144points)

 

Next Up:

 

The next event on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the Ford EcoBoost 300 on Saturday, Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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

Cole Custer Logs Another Top Five At Texas

Cole Custer
Date: Nov. 4, 2017

Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Round 31 of 33)

Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series

Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)

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

Start/Finish: 2nd/5th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)

Playoff Point Standings: 6th (3,066 points, 37 points out of first / 13 points from cutoff)

 

Race Winner: Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

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

Stage 2 Winner: Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

Cole Custer started second, finished 29th.

● Custer battled for second in the opening laps until a loose-handling car dropped him to the middle of the field.

● Custer brought the Haas Automation Ford Mustang to the pits where the crew found a flat right-rear tire was the cause of the issue.

● At the conclusion of the stage, Custer opted not to pit to rejoin the lead lap.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):       

● Started 29th, finished seventh. Earned four bonus points.

● On lap 57, Custer pitted during a caution while remaining on the lead lap.

● Custer rejoined the top-10 on lap 81 – a lap before another caution.

● He stayed on the track in seventh and held the position the remainder of the stage.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):

● Started 11th, finished fifth.

● Custer ran just outside of the top-five before a lap-125 caution when he pitted for four tires and fuel.

● He restarted in the eighth position and made his way into the top-five on lap 147.

● Custer pitted for fuel only under green on lap 186.

● He rejoined the race in seventh and drove to fifth before the checkered flag.

 

Notes:              

 Custer’s second-place qualifying effort was his career-best start in 36 NASCAR XFINITY Series attempts.

● Custer was the highest finishing rookie. He earned his ninth rookie of the race award this season.

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

● This marks Custer’s sixth top-five of the 2017 season, his seventh top-five in 36 XFINITY Seriesstarts and his second top-five at Texas Motor Speedway.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 was the first race of the second round of playoffs. One more race remains before the season finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

● This was Custer’s 36th NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his second at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

● Seven cautions slowed the race for 33 laps.

Erik Jones won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 to score his ninth career XFINITY Series victory, third of the season and third at Texas. His margin of victory over second-place Ryan Blaney was 1.018 seconds.

 

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

“We started the race with a flat and did all we could do to salvage a good day out of it. We have had two pretty good Haas Automation Ford Mustangs, but have just had a flat tire in both of the past two races. It is what it is for us. I think there is no reason why we can’t make that up in Phoenix.”

 

Playoff Standings:        

1.     Elliott Sadler (3,103 points) +29

2.     William Byron (3,098 points, -5) +24

3.     Justin Allgaier (3,094 points, -9) +20

4.     Brennan Poole (3,079 points, -24) +5

5.     Matt Tifft (3,074 points, -29) -5

6.     Cole Custer (3,066 points, -37) -13

7.     Daniel Hemric (3,061 points, -42) -19

8.     Ryan Reed (3,046 points, -57) -33

 

Next Up:          

The next event on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the Ticket Galaxy 200 on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Phoenix Raceway.

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

Ryan Blaney Was The Bride’s Maid Again

Ryan Blaney
No. 22  Discount Tire Ford Mustang – Ryan Blaney

Start:    4th

Finish:   2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 200/200

Laps Led: 34

Owner’s Points Position (leading by): 1st (+7)

 

Recap: Ryan Blaney started fourth and finished second in Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway with the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang. On the initial start, Blaney struggled in the non-preferred outside lane, dropping several positions in the opening laps. Throughout the first stage, Blaney battled a Ford Mustang that was loose on corner entry, but was able to move forward back to the fourth position where he’d conclude the opening stage. On the stop, crew chief Greg Erwin adjusted with wedge, sending Blaney back to the track to restart in the fifth position. In the opening laps of the second stage, Blaney communicated to the team that he was able to run the bottom lane better than the cars in front of him. The 23 year-old-driver would use that advantage to survive several chaotic restarts and also pass cars under green flag conditions which prove difficult on the repaved and reconfigured 1.5-mile oval. At lap 83, crew chief Greg Erwin elected to bring Blaney to pit road for four tires and fuel, putting the team in position to cycle to the lead at the end of the second stage. Blaney was able to drive the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford from 12th to eighth position by the end of the stage, and would restart as the leader for the third and final stage. Once Blaney checked out from the field in clean air for the first time of the night, he reported the handling of the No. 22 Mustang to be looser than previous runs. Blaney would pit from the lead at lap 128 for four tires, fuel and a considerable wedge adjustment to the Discount Tire Ford. The No. 22 Ford Mustang was the fourth car off pit road but the first with four tires. Blaney quickly worked his way to the second position and began running down race leader Erik Jones who had hacked out to a nearly three second advantage on the field. At lap 185, crew chief Greg Erwin called Ryan Blaney to pit road for a fuel only stop, sending the No. 22 back out in the second position, right behind the No. 20 of Jones. Blaney would ultimately bring the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang home in the second position, helping build on the team’s lead in the NASCAR XFINITY Owners Championship race as they look to secure a spot in the championship four in hopes of winning Team Penske’s fourth owner’s title.

 

Quote:  “I thought our car was good from the beginning. I was pretty loose to start but once we got it tightened up I thought we were really good. I thought the track took another swing free with maybe 60 to go and got our car looser again but we were still able to run down the 20 and get to him but we just couldn’t pass him. Couldn’t pass anybody. Lap cars were all over the place. I thought it was a good night for us. It just stinks we couldn’t get around him. I thought we had a shot after the green-flag stop. I thought we were way better but we got held up a couple times by traffic. I thought we had the car to win, just a matter of trying to get in front of him and I couldn’t pass anybody. I tried to get him loose a couple times and couldn’t do it. I about wrecked myself trying to get him loose. It is really hard to get around anybody. Hopefully that gets a little better for tomorrow.”

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

Erik Jones Sweeps The 2017 Texas NXS Races

Erik Jones

There was no keeping up with Erik Jones on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway – though Ryan Blaney tried his level best over the closing laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.

Jones, the pole winner, swept the first and second stages of the event, led 142-of-200 laps and completed the season sweep of NASCAR XFINITY Series races at the 1.5-mile track – the first time that’s happened since Kyle Busch won both races in 2009.

The victory was Jones’ third of the season, his third in six starts at TMS and the ninth of his career. Though the race was decisive in Jones’ favor, it settled little with regard to the XFINITY Series Playoff, with no driver clinching a spot in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Regaining the lead after a cycle of green-flag pit stops, when Ty Dillon pulled onto pit road on Lap 192, Jones kept Blaney behind him the rest of the way and powered his No. 20 Joes Gibbs racing Toyota across the finish line 1.018 seconds ahead of Blaney’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

After last year’s fall race, the track was repaved. If anything, the new configuration made Jones even faster.

“It’s sure been a good race track to me,” Jones said. “On the old track and the repave now. It’s just been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to. The first time I came here in a truck, I’ll never forget, I never thought I’d like the place, and ever since then it’s just kind of clicked for me.

“Just excited to get back to Victory Lane. It’s been a few months since I’ve grabbed a win and the 20 guys have got a win, so happy to get them back here. They’ve brought fast cars for the last month, and we just haven’t found Victory Lane, so cool to get back here again and just happy for these guys.”

After Blaney made his last stop for fuel on Lap 185, and Jones pitted a lap later, Blaney trailed the race winner by less than a car length when they both regained top speed. Passing was another matter.

“It just stinks we couldn’t get around him,” said Blaney, who is in the thick of the battle for a Championship 4 spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. “I thought we had a shot after the green-flag stop. I thought we were way better, but we got held up a couple times by traffic.

“I thought we had the car to win – just a matter of trying to get in front of him, and I couldn’t pass anybody. I tried to get him loose a couple times and couldn’t do it. I about wrecked myself trying to get him loose. It’s really hard to get around anybody. Hopefully, that gets a little better for tomorrow.”

Kyle Larson came home third after two snafus on pit road cost him a chance to win. Under caution on Lap 92, after the end of the second stage, Larson came to pit road before it was open. Though he didn’t stop for service, Larson lost positions when he blended back in line.

And after a stop on Lap 127, Larson had to return to pit road to allow his crew to tighten a loose lug nut. With the race going green to the finish after the subsequent restart on Lap 131, Larson ran out of time in his pursuit of the winner and runner-up.

Elliott Sadler ran fourth and took the series lead by five points over JR Motorsports teammate William Byron, who ran ninth. Justin Allgaier, the third JR Motorsports Playoff driver, is nine points behind Sadler after an 11th-place finish.

“My car was really good tonight,” Sadler said. “Erik and Blaney were so much better into (Turns) 1 and 2. They had it figured out. I’ve got to go to work before we come back here in the spring. But all in all, it was a great night for us.”

Cole Custer finished fifth, recovering from a punctured tire that dropped him rapidly from his front-row starting position but the driver of the No. 00 Ford leaves Texas in sixth place, 13 points behind fourth-place Brennan Poole, with the Playoff field to be cut to the top four after next Saturday’s race at Phoenix.

Matt Tifft ran eighth and is fifth in the standings, five points behind Poole.

Check out the unofficial results of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

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