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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Michigan & Texas

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: FireKeepers Casino 400
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, June 9
The Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2018 Race Winner: Clint Bowyer

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: LTi Printing 250
The Place: Michigan International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, June 8
The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 1:00 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250 miles (125 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 125)
2018 Race Winner: Austin Dillon

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series 

Next Race: SpeedyCash.com 400
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, June 7
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.5 miles (167 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 167)
2018 Race Winner: Johnny Sauter

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Busch keeps reaching historic heights

Fresh off a historic 55th career victory at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, Kyle Busch is hoping to keep his momentum heading into Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Busch’s work last weekend tied him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace on the all-time Monster Energy NACAR Cup Series wins list. And as with Wallace, all the drivers ranked ahead of him (with the exception of 83-time winner and current driver Jimmie Johnson) are already esteemed members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Busch would love to carry some of that golden touch into Michigan, a place where he’s had to work hard throughout his career. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry has one victory (2011), 10 top 10s and six top fives in 28 starts on the two-mile track. But his 89.2 driver rating is only ninth best among the current top-16 rated drivers. And his 255 career laps led there is near the bottom of that mark statistically for Busch through the season’s opening 15 venues. He’s only led fewer laps at Talladega (238) and Las Vegas (254) among tracks the series has visited so far in 2019.

Busch has top-10 finishes in the last four Michigan races – including fourth place and third place in the two races last season. But that snapped a streak of seven consecutive finishes outside the top-10, including a pair of DNFs in 2015 (crash) and 2016 (engine).  He’s only led laps in four of the last 14 Michigan races.

With 13 top-10 finishes – including four victories – in 14 races this season, however, Busch and his team understandably arrive in Michigan feeling optimistic. His average finish this year is 6.4. The next best such mark is Joey Logano at 8.3 and Chase Elliott at 9.2. He’s led laps in 12 of the opening 14 races.

“I’m not entirely sure (what to expect),’’ Busch said of Michigan. “We’ll just go into the weekend like we always do – keep working on our car to be the best it can be in practice on Friday and hope we have a shot to get back to Victory Lane there. We have had a lot of struggles on the repave but turned that around a bit last year. Our whole team has shown how well we’ve worked together and [crew chief] Adam {Stevens] has been able to make the right calls, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he has in store for me at Michigan this weekend.’’

MOTOR CITY

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ twice annual Michigan International Speedway stops have been competitive not only from the perspective of the drivers, but because the racetrack is in the backyard of two of America’s most celebrated – and competitive – auto manufacturers: Ford and Chevrolet.

Ford Motor Company leads all makes with 37 wins in the 99 Michigan Cup races. Chevrolet has 26. In the last 20 races, Chevrolet has won nine times, Ford has won six times and Toyota has won five times. Ford driver Clint Bowyer is the defending winner of this week’s Firekeepers Casino 400.

The last Toyota victory came back in 2015 with driver Matt Kenseth. Ford swept wins last year with Bowyer and then his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick at the second race. Chevrolet drivers – Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson are the winningest in this weekend’s field with three victories each.

Interesting, no manufacturer has swept the race weekend – winning both the Cup and Xfinity races – since 2014 when Johnson won the Cup race and Paul Menard drove a Chevrolet to victory in the Xfinity Series race.

The ‘Closer’ is the favorite

Kevin Harvick has had a frustrating season by Kevin Harvick standards. He hasn’t won a race yet. Yet.

The 2014 Cup champion and driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang does show up at Michigan as the top-rated driver among those with more than six previous starts at the track. He’s won twice – including the second Michigan race last summer and has 17 top-10 finishes – most among active drivers. His 12 top-five finishes are twice as many as any other competitor except Jimmie Johnson, who has 13.

Harvick has five top-five finishes in his last seven Michigan races, including a runner-up and victory. His average finish of 10.75 in 36 starts is best among all active drivers except Chase Elliott, who has a 5.333 average finish in only six starts.

“How you finish at Michigan depends on how your day is going,’’ Harvick said. “If you’re having a good day, it’s not really hard to tell your guys what you need, and everyone is in a good mood. If you’re having a bad day, you can get behind at Michigan really fast. You’re going to end up with a green-flag pit stop and a whole bunch of green flag laps. You just have to be going from the time the green flag drops and keep yourself in position at the end.’’

It could all spell a huge victory pick-me-up for the perennial championship contending team. Through the season’s opening 14 races, Harvick has nine top-10 finishes and five top-five showings and has won a series best three pole positions. He’s led 282 laps (in six races), including a race high 104 laps at Kansas Speedway last month, only to finish 13th.

He’s been ranked among the championship top-five all season – as high as second place after Las Vegas – and is ranked fifth now the only member of that top-five group without a win.

Chasing Victory

Chase Elliott has an enviable and lauded racing record at Michigan. What he’d like, is a victory to top off his hard work.

The 23-year old Hendrick Motorsports driver is the highest ranked driver in Sunday’s race – his 104.5 rating the only such mark to exceed 100. He is a perfect six-for-six in top-10 efforts at the track including runner-up finishes in his first three Cup races. His “worst” finish is ninth-place – his result in both 2018 races.

His average finish (5.333) and average running position (9.288) are tops in the field.

And Elliott comes into the weekend on a hot streak. The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet has scored top-five finishes in the last five races. He earned his first career Talladega Superspeedway victory five races ago and answered with a fifth place at Dover and three consecutive fourth-place finishes at Kansas, Charlotte and last week at Pocono.

The work has placed Elliott third in the series driver standings – the highest he’s ever been ranked in his four-year career.

Friendly confines for Larson

Kyle Larson has certainly had an emotional roller coaster of a season. His highs, like winning his first Monster Energy All-Star race last month have been tremendous. But Larson has also suffered four DNFs in the last eight races. He’s tied with Jimmie Johnson at 16th in the points standings – the last transfer spot into the Playoffs.

In between the tough luck, the popular 25-year old Californian has excelled – even if he’s still looking for his first points-paying win since his victory at Richmond in the 2017 regular season finale. Michigan has been THE best venue on his resume. His three consecutive wins in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 at the track from 2016-2017 has only been matched twice before in NASCAR history –  by a couple NASCAR Hall of Famers. Bill Elliott won four-straight at Michigan – sweeping the 1985 and 1986 seasons.  And David Pearson won three-straight in 1972-73 seasons. Among this weekend’s starting field, only veteran Kurt Busch has equaled Larson’s three wins.

Certainly, Larson’s win in the 2017 second Michigan race was his most dominant performance of the victory trio. He won the pole position and led a race best 96 laps. When he won the following spring, Larson was ranked second in the championship standings, his highest career Cup ranking.

At this point for Larson, however, a victory this weekend is as much about restoring his championship run as it is a place in track history. Last year he finished 28th and 17th in the two Michigan races.

In this season’s previous four races leading into Michigan, Larson has a season best third place at Dover and an eighth place at Kansas before getting collected in a crash at Charlotte and finishing a disappointing 26th at Pocono last weekend.

Sunoco rookie points shake-up

For only the second time this season, there is a change atop the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Richard Childress Racing driver Daniel Hemric’s 13th-place finish Sunday at Pocono coupled with JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece’s 23rd-place finish put Hemric in first place among the first-year drivers.

Hemric, who has had four top-20 finishes in the last six weeks in the No. 8 RCR Chevrolet, is now ranked 24th in the Cup standings – four points ahead of Preece, in 25th place. Matt Tifft is ranked 31st.

Hemric led three laps at Pocono – only the second time this season he has paced the field (seven at Charlotte). His best finish is fifth at Talladega, Ala.

Preece, who has held the rookie championship lead for 12 of 14 weeks, is still looking to lead his first laps in the No. 47 Chevrolet. He has a pair of top-10 finishes – third at Talladega, Ala. and eighth in the Daytona 500.

This will be the first series start at Michigan for all the rookies. Hemric was runner-up in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race here last June and was third in a 2016 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at the track. Neither Preece nor Tifft have scored a top-10 in previous races at Michigan.

2019 By The Numbers

Through the opening 14 races, there have been six different winners representing three teams. Joe Gibbs Racing leads with nine trophies – four from Kyle Busch, three from Martin Truex Jr. and two from Denny Hamlin.

Eight different drivers from four teams have won pole position in 2019. Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick lead the series with three poles each.

The average number of lead changes (19.43) is the highest for any season since 2015. Eight races have been decided by a Margin of Victory of less than a second.

And green flag passes for the lead are up 56.6 percent compared to a year ago. In 10 of the 14 races, that mark exceeded a five-year average.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations

Six drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series – JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch, Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, Front Row Motorsports’  Michael McDowell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Daniel Suarez will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Michigan International Speedway in advance of Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

*Preece, 28, of Berlin, Conn., will be making his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut on the two-mile Michigan track. The rookie brings a pair of 2019 top-10 finishes into Sunday’s event – both coming on the sport’s superspeedways. The driver of the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet was eighth in the Daytona 500 and a career-best third at Talladega last month. He is ranked 25th in the points standings and coming off a 23rd place effort at Pocono last week.

*Jones, 23, of Byron, Mich., one of this week’s genuine “locals,” would love to earn his first win at his home track. His best finish in four series starts at Michigan is third-place (2017). He has a pair of top-five finishes – fourth in a Xfinity Series race (2016) and third in a Gander Outdoors Truck Series race (2015). The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota comes to Michigan on a strong season streak. He’s finished top-10 in three of the last four races, including a third place at Pocono on Sunday. He’s finished third three times this year (Daytona 500, at Kansas and at Pocono) and is ranked 15th in the standings with six top-10 finishes through the opening 14 races.

*Busch, 40, of Las Vegas, has perpetually been on the verge of victory in 2019. He has finished 12th or better in 11 of the season’s 14 races. HIs best showing in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet is runner-up at Bristol. He was 11th at Pocono last weekend and ranked eighth in the Cup championship standings. Busch boasts three victories at Michigan – his last coming in 2015. He was top-10 in both 2018 races – winning the pole position, leading 46 laps and finishing third in this race. He’s collected seven top-12 finishes in the last eight Michigan races.

*Johnson, 43, of El Cajon, Calif. is hoping to translate some early season momentum into his first win since 2016. The seven-time series champion has one previous win at Michigan (2014) and scored finishes of 20th and 28th last year – leading 13 laps in the second race. The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has reason to be optimistic this weekend. Through the first 14 races, he’s already earned half as many top-10 finishes (six) as he totaled in both the previous two seasons (11). He’s finished top-10 in two of the last three races – sixth at Kansas and eighth at Charlotte and is ranked 16th in the championship standings.

*McDowell, 34, of Phoenix, Arizona earned his third top-20 finish of the season last week at Pocono Raceway. The driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford scored a career best fifth place in the season-opening Daytona 500. McDowell is looking for his first top-20 finish in what will be his 11th Michigan start. His best showing there was 23rd in 2017. He finished 25th in both races last year.

*Suarez, 27, of Monterrey, Mexico, is turning in strong statistics in his first year driving the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. He has five top-10 finishes through the opening 14 races, including a season best of third at Texas. And Michigan is certainly one of the highlights on his schedule. It’s where he scored his first NASCAR national series victory – a 2016 Xfinity Series win. He won two more times after that Michigan breakthrough showing and went on to earn the Xfinity championship that year.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Irish Hills of Michigan are about to get some pure Xfinity Series action

Next up on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the 28th annual LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, June 8 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Xfinity drivers will battle it out for 125 laps (250 miles) on the 2-mile track famously nestled in the Irish Hills of Michigan. The race is broken up into three stages. The first two stages are 30 laps each and the final stage is 65 laps.

Michigan International Speedway has hosted a total of 27 NASCAR Xfinity Series races producing 22 different poles winners and 19 different race winners. No driver has won more than two poles or more than two races in the series at Michigan. Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon lead the series in poles at Michigan with two each. Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman and Todd Bodine lead the series in wins at Michigan with two each.

Only one former series Michigan pole winner and/or race winner is entered this weekend – Paul Menard. Menard sat on the pole in 2011 and won in 2014. He will be piloting the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang with crew chief Matt Swiderski this weekend. In total Menard has made 13 series starts at Michigan posting one win (2014), six top fives, 11 top 10s and an average finish of 7.8.

Reddick, Bell and Custer are setting themselves apart from the field

This season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series three title contenders – Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell and last weekend’s winner Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer – have all won multiple races and are setting themselves apart from the rest of the field.

Reddick continues to grasp the lead in the Xfinity Series driver standings by 77 points over second place Christopher Bell following Pocono last weekend. Reddick has been super consistent this season, currently on a streak of nine top-five finishes that include two wins (Talladega and Charlotte). In 12 starts this season he has scored two poles, two wins, 10 top fives and 11 top 10s. He also has three stage wins and 13 Playoff points. He’s made two series starts at Michigan posting one top 10 (seventh) and an average finish of 10.0.

Just behind Reddick is Christopher Bell cruising in second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings 77 points back from the standings lead, and 22 points ahead of third place Cole Custer. Bell has had flashes of greatness this season but is still trying to hammer down the consistency he needs to catch Reddick in the points. Bell does have three wins this season (Atlanta, Bristol and Dover), tied with Custer for the series most among title contenders. In total this year, Bell has amassed three poles, three wins, seven top fives and eight top 10s. He also has grabbed five stage wins and accumulated 20 Playoff points this season. Bell made his series track debut at Michigan last season, where he started seventh and finished 11th.

Soaking up most of the spotlight recently has been Cole Custer, who’s true talent was on display in the closing laps of last weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway. The Californian lost the lead during the restart for NASCAR Overtime only to race his way to the front by passing Reddick on the last turn of the last lap of the race to take his third checkered flag of the Xfinity season. Now Custer is tied with Bell for the most wins by title contenders this season with three each. In total Custer has made 12 starts in 2019 posting three poles, three wins (California, Richmond and Pocono), seven top fives and eight top 10s. Plus, he has five stage wins and 20 Playoff points to take into the postseason. Custer is ranked third in the series driver standings 99 points back from Reddick and 22 points back from Bell in second place. Custer has made two series starts at Michigan posting one top five and two top 10s. His average finish on the 2-mile track is a stout 6.5.

Allgaier is winless but hungry for a victory

Motivation for the winless drivers vying for a postseason spot this season is undoubtedly high with four championship contenders already with wins, but one driver coming off a career-best season is especially feeling the pressures that arise with going winless.

JR Motorsports Justin Allgaier, 33, from Riverton, Illinois, scored his first of five wins last season at Dover International Speedway, the 10th race of the season. Though winless through 12 races this year, Allgaier’s season has seen some solid runs, posting five top fives, three of which were runner-up finishes.

Allgaier needs a win to guarantee his spot in Playoffs. Currently fifth in points, Allgaier sits 133 points back from the series standings lead, but just 16 points behind fourth place Austin Cindric.

Allgaier and the No. 7 team were strong last weekend leading 27 laps at Pocono, but have lacked consistency, ultimately finishing 11th at the Tricky Triangle.

“We didn’t exactly get the finish we were looking for at Pocono, so I’m hoping we can get the momentum we had back on track this weekend,” said Allgaier.

Michigan is a track where Allgaier has had success. In eight series start at Michigan, he has posted one top five and four top 10s, including a ninth-place finish last season.

Perfect 10: Xfinity different winner streak is looking for No. 10

Dating back to 2010, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has seen nine different winners visit Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway and the series turns to the Irish Hills looking for the streak to continue and bring the fans No. 10.

The streak of different winners began in 2010 with Brad Keselowski, then Carl Edwards (2011), Joey Logano (2012), Regan Smith (2013), Paul Menard (2014), Kyle Busch (2015), Daniel Suarez (2016), Denny Hamlin (2017) and Austin Dillon (2018). Menard is the only former winner entered this weekend, making the chances pretty good the streak continues.

Two drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series history have recorded their first series win at Michigan International Speedway – Ryan Newman in 2001 and 2016 Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez in 2016.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

RCR extends Xfinity partnership with KCMG – Richard Childress Racing (RCR) announced today that KC Motorgroup Ltd. (KCMG) is returning as a multi-race partner during the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. The international brand will first appear on Tyler Reddick’s No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro for the upcoming race weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

Rookie consistency is getting it done – Following the 12th race of the season the top three drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series to complete the most laps this season are Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates – Chase Briscoe (2,210 laps completed / 99.91%), Justin Haley (2,209 laps completed / 99.86%) and Noah Gragson (2,208 laps completed / 99.82%). Briscoe won the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award for Pocono Raceway after finishing a season-best third.

Milestones & Streaks – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell will be making his 50th consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series start this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. … Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing are tied for the series most wins at Michigan with five each. … Some streaks to watch – Tyler Reddick is currently on a streak of nine consecutive top-five finishes. … Austin Cindric is on a streak of six consecutive top-10 finishes. … Christopher Bell has currently led at least one lap in all 12 races this season.

Joe Graf Jr. to make series debut – Richard Childress Racing has tapped ARCA Menards Series driver and New York University student, Joe Graf Jr., to drive the No. 21 Chevrolet Camaro this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Graf, from Mahwah, New Jersey, will become the 11th different driver to make their series debut at Michigan. Graf has one start at Michigan in the ARCA Menards Series last season, where he started 25th and raced his way to a fifth-place finish.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts

Four drivers from the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer, Richard Childress Racing’s Joe Graf Jr., Brandonbilt Motorsport’s Brandon Brown and B.J. Mcleod Motorsport’s Vinnie Miller – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Michigan International Speedway leading into this Saturday’s LTi Printing 250 at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

Birthdate: January 23, 1998

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Ladera Ranch, California

Hobbies: Watching sports

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Crew Chief: Mike Shiplett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he made the Playoff’s Championship 4; ultimately finishing runner-up in the final driver standings while his No. 00 Ford won the owner’s title for Stewart-Haas Racing.
  • Made the Playoffs and finished fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings in his rookie year (2017).
  • Has five career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins (Homestead-Miami, Texas, Auto Club Speedway, Richmond and Pocono); including last season’s Playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway to win his way into the Championship 4 finale.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently third in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 99 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick and only 22 points back from second place Christopher Bell.
  • In 12 starts this season he has posted three poles (Bristol, Dover and Pocono), three wins (California, Richmond and Pocono), seven top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 10.8.
  • Has led the second-most laps (464 laps; 20.98%) this season behind Christopher Bell’s 536 (24.23%).

Michigan International Speedway Performance:

  • Has made three series starts at Michigan posting one top five and two top 10s.
  • Has an average start of 5.5 and an average finish of 6.5 at Michigan.
  • Has led 15 laps at Michigan.

Brandon Brown (No. 86 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: September 14, 1993

Driver’s Age: 25

Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia

Hobbies: playing soccer, spending time with family

Team: Brandonbilt Motorsports

Crew Chief: Adam Brenner

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • 2019 marks the first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for driver Brandon Brown.
  • Has made 32 series career starts from 2016 -2019, posting an average start of 25.7 and an average finish of 21.9. His career-best Xfinity Series finish is 13th (three times this season: Atlanta, Dover and last weekend at Pocono).
  • Made series debut in 2016 driving for family owned Brandonbilt Motorsports at Richmond Raceway; he started 26th and finished 29th.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 15th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 327 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick and 75 points behind the Playoff’s cutoff.
  • In 12 starts this season he has posted six top-15 and 11 top-20 finishes.
  • His average starting position this season is 22.1 and his average finish is 16.6.

Michigan International Speedway Performance:

  • Made his series track debut at Michigan in 2017; he started 31st and finished 33rd.

Vinnie Miller (No. 78 B.J. McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: August 16, 1997

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Ortonville, Michigan

Hobbies: hunting, fishing, boating, golfing, diving, driving snow mobiles, hanging with friends

Team: B.J. McLeod Motorsports

Crew Chief: Keith Wolfe

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he competed in his first full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series posting four top-20 finishes and ultimately finishing 27th in championship points. He ran the first 27 races with JD Motorsports and the last six with B.J McLeod Motorsports.
  • In 2019 he is running full-time with B.J. McLeod Motorsports.
  • In total he has made 46 NASCAR Xfinity Series career starts posting a best finish of 17th (twice in 2018: Talladega and Indianapolis).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 24th in the NASCAR Xfinity driver points standings, 434 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick and 182 points back from the Playoff cutoff line.
  • In 12 starts this season he has posted an average starting position of 28.4 and an average finish of 25.5.

Michigan International Speedway Performance:

  • Made his series track debut at Michigan last season; he started 32nd and finished 25th.

Joe Graf Jr. (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: July 12, 1998

Driver’s Age: 19

Hometown: Mahwah, New Jersey

Hobbies: Watching sports

Team: Richard Childress Racing

Crew Chief: Mike Shiplett

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
  • Graf Jr. currently competes full-time in the ARCA Menards Series where he has posted four top 10s and is ranked fifth in points.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Will make first start of the season and his career this weekend at Michigan.
  • Graf Jr. will not only drive this season in RCR’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program, but he will also join its marketing and communications team. He is a freshman at New York University, and will cut his teeth on the track and learn the business side of the sport by serving as a marketing and communications intern for the team as well. “This is an amazing opportunity that wouldn’t be possible without NYU and RCR working together,” said Joe Graf Jr.

Michigan International Speedway Performance:

  • To make series track debut this weekend.
  • Has made one ARCA Menard Series start at Michigan – starting 25th and finishing fifth.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Triple Truck Challenge debuts at Texas with $500k up for grabs

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series drivers will compete for more than a cowboy hat in this weekend’s SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway (Friday, June 7 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), in this season’s first round of the Triple Truck Challenge.

The “Triple Truck Challenge” is new to the series this season, the special bonus program takes place at three consecutive races – Texas Motor Speedway (June 7), Iowa Speedway (June 15) and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (June 22). All drivers earning series points are eligible and drivers who win one of the three races receive a $50,000 bonus.

2019 Triple Truck Challenge Format Rundown:

  • The winner of each of the three events (Texas, Iowa, Gateway) will receive a $50,000 bonus.
  • If a driver wins two of the three events, they will be awarded the $50,000 bonus per race and an additional $50,000 bringing the total bonus winnings to $150,000.
  • If a driver wins all three events, he/she will be crowned the Triple Truck Challenge champion and will receive an additional $300,000, bringing the total to $500,000 in prize money.

Tripletruck

ThorSport hoping to cash in on Texas dominance

With an extra $50 thousand dollars on the line in Friday night’s SpeedyCash.com 400 (at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), ThorSport Racing is looking to build upon their success in the Lone Star State.

Two ThorSport drivers – defending race winner Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton – have tasted considerable success at Texas Motor Speedway, with Sauter leading all active drivers with five wins and Crafton owning a pair of Texas victories.

While Sauter is the only ThorSport driver locked into the Gander Trucks Playoffs with a race win this season, his three teammates have all enjoyed solid performances thus far. Grant Enfinger leads the standings, with Ben Rhodes, Crafton and Sauter currently occupying fourth through sixth place in the standings.

In addition to the Sauter and Crafton wins, Enfinger has scored three top-five finishes in five Texas starts, while Rhodes was the runner-up in this race last year.

NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Etc.

Biffle returns at Texas: Greg Biffle will pilot the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports entry at Texas Motor Speedway after a three-year hiatus from national series competition. The 2000 Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion has 81 series starts, with 16 wins, 42 top-five and 54 top-10 finishes. Biffle also has 20 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and 19 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins.

Chastain opts for Gander Truck points: Ross Chastain will officially compete for Gander Outdoors Truck Series points for the remainder of the 2019 season. Chastain, who at the beginning of the season declared for Xfinity Series points, will have to win a race and be in the top-20 in drivers points for a chance to compete in the series Playoffs. He has eight races left in the regular season.

Reigning champion Brett Moffitt racing for the fans too: Lucky fans will have the opportunity to win a Destiny Homes S.M.A.R.T. Series home, a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and $10,000 if NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series reigning champion Brett Moffitt can win all three events in NASCAR’s “Triple Truck Challenge.” The Destiny Homes S.M.A.R.T Series Dream Home Giveaway presented by Iowa Realty kicks off Thursday, May 23 and runs through Friday, June 21, 2019. Fans can enter the sweepstakes at www.SMARTSeriesHomeGiveaway.com. If Moffitt wins all three races, the grand prize will be the S.M.A.R.T. Series home from Destiny Homes for one fan. Another lucky fan will be drawn to win the Chevy Silverado, valued over $50,000. A third fan can win the $10,000 cash prize.

OEM performance at Texas: Toyota and Chevrolet have led the charge at Texas Motor Speedway overall since 2004 – combining to win every race since then. Prior to that, Ford won the first two races in 1997 and 1998, and Dodge won their first race at the track in 1999. Overall, Toyota leads with 18 wins – including the most recent race in the spring of this year by Kyle Busch. Chevrolet had taken the three wins prior to Busch’s, to reach a total of 17. Dodge has five wins and Ford has three at the 1.5-mile circuit.

Poole Returns to Texas: Brennan Poole will pilot the No. 30 On Point Motorsports Toyota Tundra for the fourth time this season in this weekend’s running at Texas. Poole, from The Woodlands, Texas, earned his career-best finish of second at Charlotte Motor Speedway last month.

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts

Six drivers from the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series – ThorSport Racing’s Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton, Halmar Friesen Racing’s Stewart Friesen, Kyle Busch Motorsport’s Harrison Burton, On Point Motorsport’s Brennan Poole and Young’s Motorsport’s Gus Dean – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Texas Motor Speedway leading into this Friday’s SpeedyCash.com 400 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Media Rotation Drivers Texas Motor Speedway Performances
Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating
Stewart Friesen 5 1 0 2 3 1 9.6 95.0
Matt Crafton 37 3 2 15 26 3 8.9 100.8
Johnny Sauter 22 4 5 11 17 0 6.1 109.0
Harrison Burton 2 0 0 0 1 1 18.5 63.5
Brennan Poole 2 0 0 0 1 0 12.0 71.1
Gus Dean 1 0 0 0 0 1 29.0 31.7
* – Driver Rating based on last 29 races at Texas Motor Speedway (2005 – 2019).

— NASCAR —