A look ahead to this weekend’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 Xfinity Series race on Saturday, April 7. The My Bariatric Solutions 300 will be televised live on FOX beginning at 2 p.m. CT as well as live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM Radio.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500
BELL LOOKING TO PULL OFF RARE ASPHALT, DIRT DOUBLEHEADER SWEEP THIS WEEKEND AT TMS
FORT WORTH, Texas (April 3, 2018) – Christopher Bell is going to get a little dirty this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Bell, the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion from Norman, Okla., is in his rookie season driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. And while his focus will be on getting his No. 20 Toyota Camry into Victory Lane in Saturday afternoon’s My Bariatric Solutions 300, he’ll also be looking to take the checkers in Saturday night’s Tony Stewart Presents the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track.
“I love dirt track racing. That’s kind of how I made myself how I am today, racing sprint cars,” Bell said. “It helps me be a better all-around. I think everything just builds on each other and makes you a better race car driver.”
“It is my home track and I love coming back to Texas,” said Bell, who finished first (June) and third (November) in his two Truck Series starts at TMS in 2017 . “I love the area and I love the racetrack, so it’s definitely one of the places I have highlighted on my schedule.”
THE CHAMP ISN’T HERE
Erik Jones was simply dominant at Texas Motor Speedway in 2017.
Jones led 254 out of a possible 400 laps in his sweep of the Xfinity Series races last season. He led 112 laps en route to his win in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 in April and followed that up by leading the field for 142 laps in November’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
He won’t be back to defend his title this weekend, however, as it will be the aforementioned Christopher Bell behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 entry in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300.
Bell will lead a crop of young, up-and-coming drivers that includes Tyler Reddick, Justin Allgaier and Austin Cindric against a small field of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers that includes Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon.
Only two of the last 12 winners — dating back to April of 2012 — have been full-time drivers in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series — Chase Elliott (April 2014) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (April 2012). Both drivers went on to win the championship in those respective seasons.
- KEVIN HARVICK — Of the 40 drivers slated to be in the field on Saturday, Harvick is the only one to have visited Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. Harvick, who won his only Xfinity Series start this season on Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile track in February, will surely be the favorite in the Lone Star State. Harvick has 17 top 10s, including five wins in 20 career starts here.
- RYAN BLANEY — If anyone can give “Happy” Harvick a run for his money on Saturday, it’s Blaney. The 24-year-old has run five Xfinity races at TMS, finishing runner-up three of those times, including both races last year.
- JAIME McMURRAY — This might seem like an odd choice on paper given that McMurray hasn’t visited Victory Lane in any series since 2013, but McMurray will be behind the wheel of the No. 42. Kyle Larson drove the No. 42 to a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in early March.
- CHRISTOPHER BELL — The Xfinity Series rookie has led at least four laps in all but one race so far this year and should figure into the mix on Saturday, too. With poles in his last four starts, expect the native of Norman, Okla., to start near the front when the green flag drops Saturday.
- ELLIOTT SADLER — This would be both a surprise and a long time coming for the current Xfinity Series points leader. Sadler hasn’t won a race in the series since 2016 — a winless drought of 44 races — but with four top-fives in his first five races, Sadler is off to a strong start and might have the speed it takes to beat a strong field.
Once a 5-foot-5 point guard who averaged 13.9 points per game as a senior at Norfolk (Va.) University, Brehanna Daniels is now trying to make a living as a member of a pit crew in NASCAR.
Daniels will be at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, serving as the tire carrier on Stephen Leicht‘s No. 55 Toyota for JP Motorsports in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300.
Daniels made history last year at Dover International Speedway when she became the first African-American woman to pit a vehicle in a NASCAR national series race.
Daniels entered the NASCAR Rev Racing Drive for Diversity Pit Crew program in 2017. She trained for several months at Rev Racing in Concord, N.C., and then at Xcalibur Pit School in neighboring Mooresville before making her debut April 8, 2017. Short a tire carrier, Daniels was inserted into the lineup during an ARCA race at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, where she became the first African-American female to go over the wall in any national racing series.
SHEPHERD SET FOR 1,000th NATIONAL SERIES START
On February 23, 1975, Morgan Shepherd accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Since then, Shepherd has been inspiring others with his courage and steadfastness, two things that serve him well as he prepares to make his 1,000th career NASCAR national series start.
The NASCAR national series consist of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.
That 1,000th start will come in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 Xfinity Series race, which also will be his 426th career start in that series. The 76-year-old Shepherd also has 517 Cup starts and 57 in the truck series to put him at 999 when he arrives to Texas.
Shepherd, well-known for his rollerskating dancing on pit road before races (a talent he began at Billy Bob’s right here in Fort Worth, Texas), made his first NASCAR start in the Cup Series on June 20, 1970 at Hickory Speedway.
Shepherd will join some pretty elite company in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300. There currently are seven drivers that have made at least 1,000 career national series starts:
1. Richard Petty 1,185 (all in the Cup Series)
2. Mark Martin 1,143 (882 Cup, 236 Xfinity and 25 Truck)
3. Joe Nemechek 1,139 (667-430-42)
4. Kevin Harvick 1,081 (616-342-123)
5. Michael Waltrip 1,072 (784-279-9)
6. Terry Labonte 1,017 (890-124-3)
7. Jeff Burton 1,005 (695-306-4)
“We carry the cross on the hood of our car and we’re ministry-minded,” Shepherd said during a conference call with Texas Motor Speedway and media on Thursday. “I try to encourage people to get up off the couch and do something with their life. That’s what I do.”
Shepherd shared a story from a few years ago in which he chased down a thief in a Wal-Mart parking lot during a Las Vegas race weekend. Shepherd not only thwarted the robbery, but was rewarded for his efforts the following day when he was visited by local police on pit road who commended the driver. The commendation landed Shepherd and his car on the front page of the sports section the following day.
“That’s probably the only way you can get the cross on the front of the sports section,” Shepherd said. “It was no big deal. I did what I had to do and knew the Lord would be by my side.
“I’m just glad my wife was in Wal-Mart when it happened. She wouldn’t have approved.”
Shepherd also shared the story of the interesting purchase price of the first car he ever owned – a 1937 Chevy.
“I’ve just always had a love for automobiles,” he said. “I got my first car when I was 12. I gave 12 dollars and a half, two flying squirrels, a gray squirrel and a 20-gauge shotgun for it. That was a ’37 Chevy, and that’s what I learned to mechanic on.”
JOSTENS JOINS TMS TEAM
Beginning in 2018, Jostens, the leading provider of custom, hand-crafted fine jewelry for professional sports teams, will begin producing all of the trophies for Texas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR and IndyCar sanctioned events.
The first trophy design will be unveiled at Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
The 121-year-old company produces trophies such as the iconic Heisman Memorial trophy, NCAA Championship trophies, and most recently the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship trophy.
Jostens will also produce the ring that is presented to the Cup and Verizon IndyCar winners at the Champagne Toast in the Speedway Club as well as create the first line of rings for future inductees into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Looking toward 2019, the iconic Texas Motor Speedway Boot and Hat NASCAR Cup Series champion trophies, and the Verizon IndyCar Series Foyt-Rutherford crystal trophy will be redesigned by the historic company, to take on a new look while still remaining true to No Limits, Texas roots and traditions.
QUALIFYING FOR DASH 4 CASH BEGINS AT TMS
The My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway will provide the stage for the popular Dash 4 Cash, which pits full-time Xfinity Series drivers against one another for a $100,000 top prize at each of the program’s four events.
The top four finishing full-time drivers in the My Bariatrics Solutions 300 (April 7, 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM) will qualify for the first round of the Dash 4 Cash at Bristol Motor Speedway the following weekend. The highest finisher of the four at “The Last Great Colosseum” will earn the big $100,000 check.
Richmond Raceway, Dover International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway are the other three Dash 4 Cash races.
The Dash 4 Cash winner and the top three full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers at the end of the race at Bristol, for a total of four contenders, will go on to race for the money at Richmond Raceway the following week and so forth, for the duration of the four-race program.
Comcast will donate bonus money in honor of each Dash 4 Cash weekly winner to support the local community at the four race venues participating in the program.
In addition to the $100,000 prize money for the Dash 4 Cash winner, Comcast will donate a total of $40,000 to local organizations on behalf of the company’s Internet Essentials program.
The My Bariatric Solutions 300 will be the first Xfinity Series race in 21 days … The last driver to win an Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway after starting from outside the top-10 was Kyle Busch, who started the April 5, 2008 O’Reilly 300 from the 31st position … Through the first five races, the top-10 in driver points is besieged with youngsters looking to make a name for themselves, so much so, the average age of the series’ top-10 is a spry 26.0 … JR Motorsports has won two of the last four NASCAR Xfinity Series driver titles (Chase Elliott in 2014 and William Byron in 2017), and with three of the team’s four drivers in the top three in points this season — Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Justin Allgaier — the organization has set its sights on adding a third championship trophy to the mantle … Speaking of Reddick, the 22-year-old native will take Academy Award winner and lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars Jared Leto for a ride around Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday morning. Leto, who is promoting his new album “America,” will join Reddick and TMS President Eddie Gossage for a media session on pit road following the ride-along.