Saturday, Jul 02

The NASCAR Xfinity rolls back home again to Indiana for the fifth annual Lilly Diabetes 250 at the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the fourth and final installment of the Dash4Cash, a heat race spectacular. Officially 41 cars are competing for 40 spots in Saturday’s qualifying session. 


There have only been four races at Indianapolis due to the recent move from Lucas Oil Raceway. Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne are the only two drivers to have won a pole at the speedway. Three different drivers have made their way into victory lane. In 2014, Ty Dillon became the youngest winner. In 2015, Kyle Busch became the oldest winner at Indianapolis for the Xfinity series. Two races have been won from the pole position. The last race to be won from the pole was in 2015 by Busch. Dillon holds the race record sarin 2014 with a speed of 137.153 mph. Busch holds the qualifying record set in 2015 at 180.527 mph. 


Goodyear is giving teams six sets of tires for the race weekend. Tire codes will be the same as the Cup series. Tires will align for what was run at Pocono Raceway in early June.


The Lilly Diabetes 250 will feature two heats at 20 laps each. The first two NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars in each heat will move to race for the $100,00 bonus in the 60 lap main event. 


“I think the biggest thing about the Brickyard is the prestige, the track’s history and quality of racing – all the historic finishes it’s had over the years, whether it has been IndyCar or NASCAR. To me, it’s a special place to go to because of its heritage of being Indianapolis. Every guy in NASCAR and, especially every guy in IndyCar, they want to win there. Getting our Skittles Camry to victory lane there two years in a row would be special for a lot of reasons,” stated Kyle Busch about what it means to race at Indianapolis in his weekly press release.


Paul Menard, who is pulling double duty this weekend, talks about the prestige of racing in Indiana in a weekly press release. "Indy has a special meaning to me for sure. It's the greatest race track in the world. It's the one I circle every year, even before I won there. I spent a lot of time there as a kid watching IndyCar races. I was at the inaugural Brickyard 400. At one point I could name every Indy 500 winner from 1911 through probably the mid-90's. I've forgotten most of them now but could still probably name quite a few. I was and still am a big history geek. I love history, especially at Indianapolis. I'm looking forward to another shot at a win this weekend with Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and the Richmond/Menards team. It should be fun."


"Indy just brings a lot of excitement. It's so historical and when you drive in the track, it's a pretty big deal. I'll never forget my first time at Indy; I wanted to lift a lot earlier in the corners. Most places we go to, you can see the exit. At Indy, it looks like you're driving straight into a wall. You turn and see another wall. You turn one more time and then you have a huge straightaway,” said Blake Koch, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular.


In the only two practice sessions of the weekend, Busch was the fastest in each. Qualifying for the Lilly Diabetes 250will begin at 11:40 am on NBCSN. The race will begin at 3:30 pm on NBCSN and IMS Radio Network, in conjunction with Performance Racing Network.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series have completed their first trip to the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway. Here are five takeaways from the Food City 500 and the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300:
·      Heat Races: Back in January at the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte, NASCAR announced that the NASCAR Xfinity Series will participate in heat races in the Dash4Cash events in 2016. This was a great first run of this style format. However, the heat races need to be worked on because there was no excitement in the heats. Qualifying should not happen when we use this format. There were no eliminations which made the races lackluster. In order to divide the field into the two heats, NASCAR should use the average speed of practice to divide the field or have slips of paper in a hat labeled 1 or 2, and whatever number you draw, that is your heat. I know this is the first run of this format, but it is obvious something needs to change to add more drama and excitement. We need the “Norm Benning Moments”. 
·      Tires: The tire combination used at Bristol has not changed. Goodyear needs to try to bring softer tires. Drivers were complaining that the tires were making it hard to pass. In the Food City 500, we saw couple of drivers who had melted beads when they wrecked. That is not a Goodyear issues, but a setup issue. It is not a tire problem when only a couple of drivers experience problems.
·      Old vs New Bristol: This ever going debate continued into the weekend. For me, they are both the same. The only difference between old and new Bristol is the racing line. In Old Bristol, drivers would race the bottom lane and the top lane would be hard to pass. New Bristol has the same idea, but the racing groove is on the high lane. Drivers say that the racing is better on “new” Bristol. Does our debate come from how many wrecks were experienced on each configuration? Honestly, that seems to be the issue. 
·      Matt Kenseth: Matt cannot seem to catch a break this season. He is always running up towards the front, but something always happens to where he cannot finish where he started. The other Joe Gibbs Racing cars have won a race, leaving Kenseth as the only driver to not have done so. Hopefully, the tide will turn for Kenseth and his JGR team so that Coach Gibbs will have all four of his cars into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
·      Solid Finishes: The Food City 500 saw some unfamiliar names in the top-10. Trevor Bayne, who finished fifth, had his best career finish since he won the 2011 Daytona 500. Matt DiBenedetto, who finished sixth, has an amazing story and created a new career best finish at Bristol. Clint Bowyer, who finished ninth, has struggled throughout much of the season with HScott Motorsports. Short tracks should now be considered the great equalizer, just like plate tracks. Martinsville also had some new names in the top-10. Will Richmond provide the same?
What are your takeaways from the events at Bristol Motor Speedway?
Erik Jones wins the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 and the first Dash4Cash event for the NASCAR Xfintiy Series at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jones was able to spoil the Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson Show on the final restart. Jones becomes the first NASCAR Xfinity regular to win this season. He also is the first driver to clinch a spot in the Xfinity Series Chase. This is Jones’ third victory in 33 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. Jones was able to win from the pole position. Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Larson, Austin Dillon, and Justin Allgaier. ‘
An emotional Erik Jones explains how he ran his race at Bristol. “It was a great day overall for us. We started off the race really good, and as the race went on we got shuffled back there to third, then on a restart back to fifth It’s funny to think back to those little moments where you’re racing people so hard that those little spots we gained at the end of the day were really what made it happen on that last restart. Pretty proud of all these guys. We’ve grown a lot since Daytona to get to this point, and to get a win here. Beating the 18 and the 42 was a really big day for us, and pretty cool to be the first Xfinity regular to get a win.”
An unhappy Kyle Busch explains his top-five run at Bristol. “I don’t know. Our car was one of the best, if not the best there on that one long run where Larson got by me. That was the race. I don’t know why, but I was getting too tight. On pit road, I was hoping my guys could get it back for me, but we didn’t. You can’t pass here. It used to be a racetrack you could race around three-wide and pass, work traffic really well, and have some fun. Now, it is just frustrating, aggravating. 
A disappointed Kyle Larson, who led the race high of 94 laps, explains his performance at the .533-mile oval. “It was pretty fun. I was too loose in the heat race, but it was nice that we had that little break to make adjustments. We probably got ourselves a little too tight for that first run, but that’s still really good long run speed. It really hurt my short run stuff for maybe 10 to 15 laps. Had a lot of fun up there through traffic. I was able to get past Erik (Jones) for the lead, and then probably led like a lap or two when Kyle (Busch) got by me. I just followed his tracks through lap traffic. We got into some really heavy lap traffic, and I jumped to the bottom and he got pinned on the outside, then I got to the lead. That last run where he (Busch) was quite a bit better than where I was. I was doing all I could to stay calm and patient. He ran me really clean. I didn’t want to see that caution because I knew I could probably hold him off in traffic. I knew I was tight on the short runs. I still should’ve won, but I did a really bad job on that restart. I did a really poor job those last three laps. I’m pretty disappointed in myself, and probably won’t forget about this one for quite awhile.”

In the first 50 lap heat, Erik Jones won and led all the laps. The caution flag failed to fly in the heat. Jones and Allgaier would become the two drivers from the first heat to be eligible for the Dash4Cash prize.
In the second 50 lap heat, Austin Dillon won and led all the laps as well. The caution flag also failed to fly during the heat. Joey Logano had problems that followed him into the heat where his car was popping in and out of gear. For the main, Logano had a bungee cord on hand if the problem persisted. Ty Dillon and Daniel Suarez were the two drivers who became eligible for the Dash4Cash Prize. 
The first heat race saw an average speed of 121.047 mph, time of race of 00 Hrs, 13 Mins, 16 Secs, and a margin of victory: 0.831 Seconds. The second heat saw am average speed of 120.977 mph, a time of race of 00 Hrs, 13 Mins, 15 Secs, and a margin of victory: 1.414 Seconds. The main event saw an average speed of 93.829 mph, the time of race was 01 Hrs, 08 Mins, 10 Secs, and a margin of victory of .416 seconds. There were three caution flags for 23 laps. There were 10 lead changes among four different drivers. 
Daniel Suarez holds the points lead over Erik Jones by six points, followed by, Justin Allgaier (-8), Elliott Sadler (-10), and Brandon Jones (-19). Inspection from Bristol Motor Speedway was all clear with the cars of Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier being taken back to the Research and Development Center. 
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head to the Richmond International Raceway for the Toyota Care 250, the second installment of the Dash4Cash.

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