Daniel Suarez will start from the pole position in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This is his third pole of the 2016 season, and his sixth career pole.
The first round of qualifying saw Kyle Larson at the top of the leaderboard at 168.261 mph. Suarez was second at 168.193 mph, Justin Allgaier was third at 167.759 mph, Erik Jones was fourth at 167.033 mph, and Darrell Wallace Jr was fifth at 166.770. Elliott Sadler was 10th in this round at 166.077 mph. Matt Tifft will start 39th due to not being able to pass inspection. The five drivers who will not compete in the season finale include Dexter Stacey, Mike Harmon, Ryan Ellis, Morgan Shepard, and David Starr.
In the second round of qualifying, Suarez was at the top of the leaderboard at 169.062 mph. Larson was second at 168.998 mph, Sadler was third at 168.850 mph, Jones was fourth at 168.761 mph, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five at 168.724 mph. Allgaier was eighth in this round at 167.660 mph.
In the third round, Suarez clinched the pole with a speed of 169.924 mph. Sadler will start second with a speed of 169.747 mph, Jones will start third at 169.545 mph, Ryan Blaney will start fourth at 168.545 mph, and A. Dillon will start fifth at 168.545 mph. Allgaier will start from the sixth position, while Suarez, Sadler, and Jones will start in positions one, two, and three.
The Ford EcoBoost 300 will be live on Motor Racing Network and NBCSN beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2016 and to crown a champion in the inaugural Chase.
45 drivers have made the trip to South Florida to compete for 40 spots in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who qualified for the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup are ineligible to compete in the race.
Homestead-Miami Speedway is located in Homestead, Florida. The track is 1.5-miles in length and features progressive banking ranging from 18 to 20 degrees. In 2004, Casey Mears set the qualifying record at 177.936 mph. In 2001, Joe Nemechek set the race record at 132.191 mph.
The championship comes down to a battle between Joe Gibbs Racing and JR Motorsports. For JGR, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones will battle Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier from JRM to become a champion in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
The four Chase drivers talk about the importance of the Ford EcoBoost 300.
“We have done everything that we need to do to get ready for Homestead and we are as prepared as we can be as a race team. We have saved our Darlington car which is our best car for Homestead. I have a lot of experience, I need to be a leader, and I need to stay focused. We are fortunate to be in this position to go fight three other guys for the driver championship and a few others for the owner championship. We are going to go make the most of it,” said Sadler.
“Going into Homestead, we’re all even. We’ve got a 25- percent chance, a one-in-four shot at winning it (the championship), the same as everybody else does. For us, you sit on the pole and you win the race, that’s all you can do. We have to do as close to that as we can. The faster we go in qualifying, the faster we are in the race. All of that makes our job a lot easier when it comes down to the checkered flag and the championship. I’m confident that our BRANDT Professional Agriculture team can go out and make it happen,” said Allgaier.
“One day I had a dream about it, but I didn’t know how fast it was going to come. The only thing I know is that I was working super hard to try to make it happen as soon as possible and right now we’re in the position to do it, so very grateful to be in this position and very thankful as well with everyone that has been making this possible. I think it’s been a really good journey. Now we have to make it happen in the most important race of the year in Homestead,” said Suarez.
“It’s pretty special for me having a shot to go Homestead again this year and win a championship in the XFINITY Series. It would be pretty cool to win back-to-back championships in the Truck and the XFINITY Series, so it’s pretty awesome. We just have to get everything right and execute like we need to in Homestead and I’m sure we’ll have a good shot at it,” said Jones.
The Ford EcoBoost will be live on Motor Racing Network and NBCSN beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST.
Fire up the scanners, it is time for Crew Chatter with Speedway Digest writers. This week we tackle Kansas with the question, “Should NASCAR limit the participation of Sprint Cup drivers in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Chase?”
This is an interesting question that is always popping up. I think this is something that should be left up to the drivers in the series as I have posed this question to the regulars numerous times and have yet to find one driver who said they shouldn't. The regulars love the Sprint Cup Series racers in the series because it makes them feel proud of themselves when they go out there and beat them. I will say that the races are much better when it's all series regulars. But if the regulars enjoy the challenge of having them there then why take it away because we don't like it?
Yes! I think it's a good thing they can't run at Homestead and I don't think they need to run during the rest of the Chase either. If they are not currently in the running for the Cup title, then things might be different. There might be some who aren't going to be factors in the XFINITY and truck race but they may still need some seat time. I thought it was just fine that the current 'Chasers' and double-duty drivers like Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon did not run both races at Dover when that race became a double header after being postponed for weather conditions. Another thing is when you have a Cup driver 'stink up an NXS or truck show', not much can change in the Chase standings in those two divisions.
The Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Chases will have a champion that is a regular in that series. The races that make up the playoffs for those respective series should only include those drivers eligible for the championship in that series.
Or maybe NASCAR could limit participation from Cup Chase drivers in the lower series, and Xfinity drivers in the Truck Series. I'm a firm believer that the championship should be decided with the drivers who have fought tooth and nail all year long to get to where they are, and shouldn't have Cup regulars spoil the party.
You'll probably see that Homestead will be one of the best races of the season, due to the drama, high intensity and everything being on the line. And with no Cup regulars in the races, the drivers will be free of worry, and can put on a show.
I believe NASCAR should limit that participation from Sprint Cup drivers. At Kentucky and Dover, we saw Xfinity Series regulars battle it out in an uninterrupted battle to win. New Hampshire and Las Vegas saw the same action without Cup participation for the Camping World Truck Series. There is many reasons why I believe that participation should be limited is because names have to be made in those series for those drivers to advance to the Sprint Cup ranks. However, I also believe that Xfinity and Truck regulars like that participation from Cup drivers because it shows that they can beat Cup drivers on any given week. Sponsorship is the main reason why Sprint Cup drivers drive in these two series. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does after this year.
After a dominating performance by Kyle Larson, it was Joey Logano who was able to take the victory in the rain-delayed Drive for the Cure 300. This is Logano’s second victory of 2016
“I knew my only shot was on the restart. I knew the car was good on the short run. I knew this was my one shot,” said Logano in a post race victory lane interview.
“I really wanted to win this race. Anytime i get to run this pink car it is very sentimental to me and my family. All I could think about those last seven laps is that the door would be left open for me to win the race. It shows how hard my team works,” said second-place finisher, Elliott Sadler.
The first half went green until Ray Black Jr. spun at the time of the completion caution. Larson dominated the first 50 laps, but was passed for the lead by Erick Jones, but Larson quickly regained the lead as they battled through lap traffic. After a long green flag run, the caution flag flew for debris. However, Larson continued to show off his dominance. At the halfway point it was Larson, E. Jones, Logano, Poole, and Harvick.
In the second half of the race, the field stayed green and underwent green flag pit stops. Brennan Poole was struggling with electrical issues, but the car kept backfiring on him after the pit stop. E. Jones was having trouble finding grip. Justin Allgaier continued to struggle with his transmission issues. After nearly lapping the whole field, Larson remained the leader as E. Jones made his way to pit road and had an uncontrolled tire with 25 laps to go to bring out the caution. As the race restarted from that caution, Larson was able to gain the lead, but the caution flew shortly after from a spin by Dakota Armstrong. On the restart, Logano was able to pass Larson to take the lead to win the race. Sadler finished second, Daniel Suarez finished third, Larson finished fourth, and E. Jones rounded out the top-five.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series closes out the ‘Round of 12’ with Suarez and Sadler holding victories going into the ‘Round of 8’. Also advancing include Allgaier, E. Jones, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Blake Koch.
Larson led the most laps at 165 followed by E. Jones with 21, Logano with 12, and Allgaier and Sieg both led one lap. There were 12 lead changes among these five drivers. Ty Dillon missed advancing by one point, Poole missed by five points, Sieg missed the cutoff by six points, and Brandon Jones missed the cut by 21 points.
The race saw an average speed of 143.560 mph. The time of race was 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 23 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.462 seconds. The caution flew four times for 19 laps.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Kansas Lottery 300 from Kansas Speedway. Motor Racing Network and NBC will have the coverage.
On Thursday, before all on-track activity was cancelled on Friday and Saturday, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were asked about how the will prepare during practice.
“Yeah, we learned a lot. When we unloaded in race trim and really only made one lap in qualifying trim today just because we needed to run through a bunch of things to see where the balance needed to be and applied all that to our qualifying stuff to adjust the balance. So, hopefully we can hopefully go back, and that’s usually what our guys do the best, is put all the pieces together and apply that to race stuff. So, we’ve already been talking about that some. But it is definitely going to be punching a lot of numbers and going through a lot of things that we did because that’s really what we focused on today, was race trim,” said Kevin Harvick, who will start on the pole position in the Bank of America 500.
“I think so. I think the race track gained a lot more grip than we all thought it was going to. In the past looking at previous years qualifying we haven’t really picked up from practice speeds and we picked up four tenths of a second. Kind of we know a little more of the direction it’s going to go, but at the same time I feel like a lot of the rubber is going to go away with the rain. We are kind of just going to have to wait and see what it does. We could very well be racing in the day on Sunday. I don’t think any of us really know what is going to happen here. Hopefully, it’s a night race, I feel like that is going to suit our car a little more. Charlotte tends to free up at night and we were pretty tight in practice, but either way I think we are going to have a great car,” said Alex Bowman, who will start second, after qualifying.
We unloaded in race trim instead of qualifying trim in order to work on some race stuff and kind of get some of that out of the way. Through this practice, we at least used a set of tires in order to concentrate on that, swapped over to qualifying trim because we do feel like we’re going to qualifying tonight – there’s no weather looming for that – so we needed to make sure that we were going to have a good car for qualifying and that’s pretty much it. If it’s a wash out tomorrow, we got what we got. We’ll just have to go off notes and what we did here in the spring, obviously what the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) did here in the spring – they were really, really good – so we feel like we’ve got a good baseline to base ourselves off of,” said Kyle Busch.
Today’s Bank of America 500 will be on Performance Racing Network, and simulcasted on NBC and NBCSN at 12:00 p.m. EST. The Drive for the Cure 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series will race 45 minutes after the checkered flies in the Sprint Cup race. That race will be on NBCSN and Performance Racing Network.