JR MOTORSPORTS RIDES HIGH ATOP THE XFINITY PLAYOFF STANDINGS ENTERING O’REILLY AUTO PARTS 300
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 1, 2017) – NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contenders looking to advance to the Championship 4 must go through JR Motorsports. The organization has its three championship contenders atop the standings entering Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (7:30 p.m. CT, TV: NBC Sports Network, Radio: PRN, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch locally).
Justin Allgaier, William Byron and Elliott Sadler sit first, second and third, respectively, and remain in control of advancing to the final round of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. The trio has combined for five top-five and nine top-10 finishes in the four races of this year’s Playoffs as they prepare for the middle race of the Round of 8 segment. The round opened at Kansas two weeks ago with the series being idle this past weekend.
“We are excited for this round,” Byron said. “These are some really good race tracks for us. I feel like we’re going to have a strong round here so if we just need to keep it going in the right direction.”
What can push the three JR Motorsports drivers into the Championship 4 is collecting coveted stage points. The team has continued its mission during the first four races of the Playoffs and will continue this weekend.
“We feel like we’re in a good position as far as where we are in the standings,” Elliott said. “We’re going to go into this weekend with the mindset that we need to get as many stage points as we can, and ultimately try and win the race.”
For Byron, a run to the championship would put an exclamation mark on his final season with JR Motorsports. Byron continues his ascension up the NASCAR ladder, moving to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018 for Hendrick Motorsports in the No. 24 Chevrolet.
After missing out to compete in the Championship 4 in the Camping World Truck last year, Byron is determined to make it to Homestead-Miami Speedway this season with an opportunity to claim the championship.
“I want to get to that point and be able to apply myself and be able to see what I can do in that situation,” Byron said. “Every racer wants that one shot to have to win at Homestead. We just want to get to that point in the season and see what we can do from there.”
Byron and the JR Motorsports team will continue its quest for a championship Saturday evening during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. The XFINITY Series opens at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday with practice sessions at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The series will have same-day qualifying Saturday with the Texas Lottery Salute To Veterans Qualifying Days beginning at 5:05 p.m.
Tickets for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 begin at just $25 for adults and kids 12 and under are free. To purchase tickets, call the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500 or visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com.
- LONE STAR STATE OF MIND
This weekend marks a homecoming for NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender Brennan Poole. Poole, a native of The Woodlands that is located just north of Houston, returns to his home track looking to get one step closer to securing a spot in the Championship 4.
Poole currently sits fourth in the championship standings with a five-point cushion over fifth-place Matt Tifft entering this weekend’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. He has found some late-season momentum in his pursuit of a championship with seven top-10 finishes in the last 10 races. The run has been highlighted by a career-best, second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway in September.
Poole earned his best Texas finish in last year’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 when he led two laps en route to an eighth-place finish.
- COMEBACK KID
Matt Tifft has proven to be the feel-good story of the 2017 season. Tifft is now more than a year removed from undergoing surgery to remove a slow-growing brain tumor. Now, the 21-year-old driver is looking to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship to write the final chapter of his incredible comeback story.
Tifft returns to Texas after finishing ninth during April’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 – his best finish at the Fort Worth venue. He also rides a streak of five consecutive top-10 finishes entering Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
“We are hitting the final stretch of our season and it is going to be important that we keep our focus going into Texas,” Tifft said. “We came away with a solid finish last race, but we need to make sure we are getting stage points and getting up to the front faster. We had a good finish at Texas earlier in the year and I look forward to building on that run.”
- SOUND THE BELL
Christopher Bell is pulling double duty this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Bell, a championship favorite in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will pilot the No. 18 entry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Earlier this month, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Bell would compete full-time in the XFINITY Series for the organization beginning in 2018. Bell is set to pilot the No. 18 Safelite Toyota in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
Bell is looking to maintain his momentum from the series’ last race at Kansas Speedway where he scored his first career XFINITY Series victory. Bell held off teammate Erik Jones in a dramatic finish.
For Bell, his rise up the NASCAR ladder has happened at warp speed. It was just two years ago that he was making his first start in the truck series at Iowa Speedway and now finds himself on his way to the XFINITY Series.
“I feel like it’s happened really quickly,” Bell said of how he has gotten to this point in his racing career. “The fact that I’ve been able to go from racing on the dirt to racing in the truck series to now starting to get my feet wet in the XFINITY Series, it’s only been the span of a couple of years.
“It wasn’t that long ago where I was going down Interstate 35 to Dallas and running Cowtown Speedway and all those dirt tracks down there. And I’d drive right by the big track at Texas and wonder if I’d ever get my opportunity there. Now I’ve got several races there and it’s one of my favorite tracks. It’s cool to see how it’s come together and it’s been a quick ride, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
- TEXAS HIGH SCHOOLER RECOGNIZED ON XFINITY CAR
Fifteen-year-old Aaron Singleton lost his life a result of a seizure during a football game nearly a year ago. Singleton, a Joshua High School junior varsity football player, will be one of the many faces on NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Joey Gase’s Donate Life Texas car that features photographs of donation and transplant honorees.
Gase, an advocate for Donate Life America following the sudden passing of his mother and donation of her organs, has continued to honor those who donate. Along with the photo of Singleton, his family and friends will have their painted handprints featured on the car.
For Singleton’s mother Cassondara, the honor is just another reminder of her son’s impact.
“When they first told me, I cried because I couldn’t believe that he was going to be honored that way,” she said. “It’s amazing that he can still live on and that we can contribute as a family like that. I think we’re going to be in awe. It’s going to be overwhelming, but it’s going to be amazing.”
- WEDDING BELLS ARE RINGING
The sounds of the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR tripleheader weekend will include roaring engines, tires screeching, fans cheering and … wedding bells ringing.
Texas Motor Speedway will serve as the site where Michael Minty and Pam Sachs officially tie the knot during a special wedding ceremony on the start/finish line Saturday at 10 a.m. CT. The couple has shared many special moments at tracks across the country and found it only appropriate their special day be held at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We are die-hard NASCAR fans, whether on TV or at the track – which we prefer,” Sachs said. “It just seemed like a logical and perfect way for us to get married at a place we so love.”
Sachs, from Houston, and Minty, from Corona, Calif., will have a small gathering of family and friends in attendance as Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries Chaplin Bret Shisler presides over the ceremony.
- TEXAN TAKES CENTER STAGE
Madison McWilliams, a rapidly emerging teenage pop star from Austin, Texas, will perform that National Anthem prior to the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. This weekend will mark the largest crowd McWilliams has performed in front of in her young career. She has performed at several major events this year, including Austin’s ever-popular SXSW in March and Make-A-Wish World Wish Day during April in San Antonio. She serves as an official Make-A-Wish ambassador for Central and South Texas and her song “Fighter” was written as a tribute to the Make-A-Wish children.
“Performing the National Anthem at Texas Motor Speedway is a dream come true,” McWilliams said. “As a native Texan, being at the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 is already a thrill but having this opportunity with NASCAR is beyond anything I could imagine. I’m really looking forward to it – not to mention I just turned 16 so I can see which car I should ask my Mom for.”
Cup regular Kyle Larson enters Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 as the defending race winner. Larson picked up his first career victory at Texas during last year’s event, passing polesitter Brad Keselowski on the final restart and led the final 30 laps for the victory. … Of the 10 previous NASCAR XFINITY Series races, Cup regulars have won eight. Erik Jones (spring race of 2015) and Chase Elliott (spring of ‘14) are the only full-time XFINITY drivers to visit Victory Lane during that span. This week Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Larson look to continue the Cup dominance. … Joe Gibbs Racing has won five of the previous nine XFINITY Series races at Texas Motor Speedway, most recently sending Jones to Victory Lane in April’s My Bariatric Solutions 300. Playoff contender Matt Tifft, along with Christopher Bell and Erik Jones, will look to make it six in the last 10.