SATURDAY’S NEWS & NOTES

The following are daily news and noteworthy items from the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR doubleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

(All photos provided by Getty Images)

BACON SIZZLES IN SATURDAY NIGHT SPRINT CAR FEATURE

10:58 p.m. — FORT WORTH, Texas (April 7, 2018) — For the first six laps of Saturday night’s Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series A-Main 30-lap feature, it looked like Sam Hafertepe Jr. was going to cruise to his fifth handcrafted Justin Cowboy Hat at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on his side.

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Brady Bacon cruises to the win in Saturday night’s Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series A-Main on Saturday night.

An incident with lap traffic on Lap 7 ended the night early for the native of Sunnyvale, Texas, allowing Brady Bacon the chance to cruise to Victory Lane in the Tony Stewart Presents The Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals.

“It’s really cool to win here, especially so close to home — I don’t get to do that very much,” said Bacon of Broken Arrow, Okla. “The guys worked really hard on this car and so to get the win and make this happen is great.”

Sammy Swindell of Bartlett, Tenn., Johnny Herrera of Denver, Colo., Travis Rilat of Forney, Texas, and Brandon Hanks of Burlison, Tenn. round out the top-five.

Tony Stewart held the lead for six laps, following Hefertepe Jr.’s exit, before Bacon sped passed and never looked back for the final 17 laps. Stewart had a mechanical issue with five laps to go and was forced to retire, finishing 15th.

Christopher Bell, who finished second earlier Saturday in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 Xfinity Series race, had engine troubles and was forced to exit midway through the race.

Tony Stewart Presents The Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals

Kale Westover celebrates his Limited Modified sweep with his family in Victory Lane Saturday night.

Kale Westover, of Blair, Okla., made it a clean sweep, taking the A-Main for the second straight night in the Limited Modified Division A-Main race of the Tony Stewart Presents the Vankor Texas Sprint Car Nationals.

“Winning this means everything. This is the most prestigious sport mod race there is, so to sweep the weekend is unbelievable,” Westover said. “My dad works on this car so hard, I couldn’t do it without him. This is just awesome.”

Bailey Dosser of Rusk, Texas, Shane Herbert of Lafayette, La., Jessie Hoskins of Longdale, Okla., and Derick Grigsby of Marshall, Texas, round out the top-five behind Westover.


BLANEY STREAKS TO FIRST-EVER WIN AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

By John Sturbin

UPDATED 6:15 p.m. — FORT WORTH, Texas (April 7, 2018) — Pole-winner Ryan Blaney extended the growing legacy of Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Xfinity Series team Saturday afternoon, dominating the field en route to victory in the 22nd annual My Bariatrics Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Blaney handed the team led by crew chief Brian Wilson its third consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series victory after 200-laps/300-miles around TMS’ 1.5-mile oval. Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Mustang, finished 2.327-seconds ahead of Christopher Bell and his No. 20 Game Stop/Hello Neighbor Toyota Camry.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300
Ryan Blaney celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday.

Blaney, a regular in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for car-owner Roger Penske, scored his seventh Xfinity victory and first at TMS after claiming his second pole in 66 series starts Saturday morning.

The No. 22 Ford had won the last two consecutive races at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., with Brad Keselowski and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., with Joey Logano to take the owner standings lead over JR Motorsports’ No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro team and driver Elliott Sadler.

Blaney said there certainly was pressure to keep the win streak going. “Oh, yeah. I am not gonna lie about that,” said Blaney, who had logged three runner-up finishes in his first five Xfinity starts here. “Brad and Joey, they definitely reminded me of that this week. They told me that they won in that thing, that it has won two in a row and not to mess it up. They were definitely reminding me of that. And it is in the back of your mind.

“You never want to be the person that breaks a streak of wins, especially when the car has been so fast. That is a huge feat to do, win three in a row with three different drivers at pretty much three different racetracks. That is amazing. It’s nice to be a part of. There was that reminder in the back of my head to try to get this one.”

Meanwhile, second through fifth-place finishers Bell, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Ryan Preece qualified for the opening round of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program at Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend. As a Cup regular, Blaney is ineligible for the $100,000 bonus program.

Blaney led three times for a race-high 132 laps, almost 100 more than Hemric’s 39 laps-led. Blaney was replaced at the point for the first time on a restart on Lap 76, when he spun his tires and Bell bolted into the lead.

“We started up-front and there were a lot of cautions early and in the middle stages of that race,” said Blaney, 24, who posted his second top-10 result of 2018. “It was kind of hard to get going and really tell what your car was doing. The temperatures were so different today from when we practiced yesterday. We didn’t know where we would be at with balance at the beginning of the race.”

Ambient temperature at the drop of the green flag shortly after 2 p.m. CT was 34 degrees. According to the track’s unofficial records, the previous coldest race here was the O’Reilly 300 Xfinity Series event run on April 14, 2007, when the temp was an “unseasonable” 47 degrees. That event was won by Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 Ford over Denny Hamlin and his No. 20 Chevrolet by 0.128-seconds — still the closest Xfinity Series result in TMS history.

“We were pretty close to begin with but got behind a little when we got loose on that restart and then the stages got broken up,” Blaney said. “We were able to restart seventh and drive back up to the lead and lead the whole thing after that. It was just a really fast race car. That says a lot about Brian’s work that he has done and the whole team to bring fast race cars to the tracks lately. Hopefully we can keep this up. It was definitely a fun day.”

Bell wound up leading 10 laps en route to his second top-10 finish in two series races at TMS.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300
Christopher Bell pits during the NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

“There’s been a lot of people that have run second to the No. 22 here recently, so they obviously have something figured out,” said Bell, a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and resident of Norman, Okla. “It doesn’t matter who’s driving that thing, it goes really fast, so we’re really close. We just need to get a little bit better to win. Maybe that’s just me getting a little bit more experience or me getting, pushing a little bit more out of the car.”

Blaney took the lead for the final time from Michael Annett and his No. 5 Pilot Flying J Camaro on Lap 154 and continued to extend his advantage while averaging 124.986 mph.

Since the series’ inception in 1982, a single car/team has only won three or more consecutive races 13 times. The last time a team in the Xfinity Series won three races in a row was 2016, when Kyle Busch — the series’ winningest driver — won at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota.

Team Penske, however, is no stranger to stringing wins together. The No. 22 Ford guys won three consecutive in 2013 with Keselowski earning the victory at Iowa and Watkins Glen and AJ Allmendinger winning at Mid-Ohio.

The Dash 4 Cash program provides four drivers with the opportunity to compete for an additional $100,000 prize at select races. Fulltime Xfinity Series drivers will compete for four positions in consecutive Dash 4 Cash events at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14), Richmond Raceway (April 21), Talladega Superspeedway (April 28) and Dover International Speedway (May 5).

The top four Xfinity Series drivers at TMS qualified for the first Dash 4 Cash event at BMS. Of the four competing for Dash 4 Cash, the highest finisher wins a $100,000 prize. That winner and the three highest-finishing full-time Xfinity Series drivers, for a total of four contenders, will qualify for the next week’s event.

Hemric, driver of the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Camaro, will head into the Dash 4 Cash after posting his first top-10 result in three races at TMS.

“Thank you to Xfinity for allowing us to race for $100,000,” said Bell, who cut his racing teeth on the dirt tracks in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex before graduating to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. “I think this is the first time in my life I’ve raced for $100,000, so that’s really special.”

Xfinity Series point-leader Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Camaro, finished eighth and exited Texas with an 11-point lead in the championship over Tyler Reddick and his No. 9 BurgerFi Camaro.

Meanwhile, 76-year-old Morgan Shepherd’s landmark 1,000th NASCAR national series start saw him complete just 33 laps in his No. 89 Visone RV Camaro before retiring with a suspension problem. Shepherd finished 38th in the 40-car field.


JONES LEADS STAGE 2 … BUT NOT FOR LONG

3:35 p.m. — Chad Finchum generated his second caution period of the afternoon on Lap 81 of Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300, jumbling the field at the close of Stage 2 of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Brandon Jones emerged as the winner of a one-lap shootout at Lap 90 of the scheduled 200 after he opted to not pit his Toyota Service Centers Camry following Finchum’s wreck. The rear section of Finchum’s No. 40 Smithbilt Homes/TLC Resorts Toyota was crumpled from heavy wall contact. Finchum’s problems began early, with a crash in Turn 2 on Lap 3.

The second Finchum incident led to series of pit stops under yellow. Jones did not pit and emerged as the new leader of a pack of 13 cars that remained on track. Pole-sitter Ryan Blaney, who led all 45 laps of Stage 1, pitted for tires and fuel in his No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang and wound up 14th for the one-lap restart on Lap 89.

The top 10 after Stage 2 were Jones, Ryan Truex, Ryan Sieg, Ross Chastain, Ryan Reed, JJ Yeley, Spencer Gallagher, Garrett Smithley, Michael Annett and Jeremy Clements. But Jones’ day went completely awry when he lost traction through the track’s dogleg and hit the outside wall. The No. 19 suffered extensive right front wheel and rear section damage.

That race’s eighth caution handed the lead to Daniel Hemric in the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Camaro. The race record for cautions is 10.

A regular in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Blaney is aiming to give Team Penske’s No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang team its third consecutive Xfinity victory.

Weather conditions continued to be a critical factor. Ambient temperature at the drop of the green flag shortly after 2 p.m. CT was 34 degrees. According to the track’s unofficial records, the previous coldest race here was the O’Reilly 300 Xfinity Series event run on April 14, 2007, when the temp was an “unseasonable” 47 degrees. That event was won by Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 Ford over Denny Hamlin and his No. 20 Chevrolet by 0.128-seconds — still the closest Xfinity Series result in TMS history.

Stage 1 produced three caution period for a total of 11 laps for separate spins involving Finchum in the No. 40 Toyota in Turn 2; Jamie McMurray in the No. 42 DC Solar Camaro in Turn 4 and Vinnie Miller in the No. 01 JAS Expedited Trucking LLC Camaro in Turn 2.

Meanwhile, 76-year-old Morgan Shepherd’s landmark 1,000th NASCAR national series start saw him complete just 38 laps in his No. 89 Visone RV Camaro before retiring.


BLANEY DOMINATES XFINITY STAGE 1

2:50 p.m. — Pole-sitter Ryan Blaney led all 45 laps in a dominating start to the 22nd annual My Bariatrics Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300A regular in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Blaney is aiming to give Team Penske’s No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang team its third consecutive Xfinity victory. Placing second was Brandon Jones in the No. 19 Toyota Service Centers Camry heading into the day’s fourth caution.

Tyler Reddick of JR Motorsports was third in the No. 9 BurgerFi Chevrolet Camaro. A total of 26 cars were on the lead lap at the first mandatory break.

Weather conditions continued to be a critical factor. Ambient temperature at the drop of the green flag shortly after 2 p.m. (CT) was 34 degrees. According to the track’s unofficial records, the previous coldest race here was the O’Reilly 300 Xfinity Series event run on April 14, 2007, when the temp was an “unseasonable” 47 degrees. That event was won by Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 Ford over Denny Hamlin and his No. 20 Chevrolet by 0.128-seconds — still the closest Xfinity Series result in TMS history.

Stage 1 produced three caution period for a total of 11 laps for separate spins involving Chad Finchum in the No. 40 Smithbilt Homes/TLC Resorts Toyota in Turn 2; Jamie McMurray in the No. 42 DC Solar Camaro in Turn 4 and Vinnie Miller in the No. 01 JAS Expedited Trucking LLC Camaro in Turn 2.


JOHNSON SHOWS SPEED IN FINAL CUP PRACTICE

1:05 p.m. — Mired in a season-opening slump, Jimmie Johnson — SURPRISE! — paced Saturday afternoon’s weather-delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series final practice for the 22nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The defending event champion, Johnson ran only three laps around TMS’ 1.5-mile oval during the 40-minute session but wound up atop the chart at 27.253-seconds/198.143 mph. Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, was the only driver to crack the 198 mph mark.

Saturday morning’s opening 55-minute practice saw Daniel Suarez and the top-12 drivers post laps faster than Kurt Busch’s pole-winning speed of 197.368 mph set late Friday afternoon. Johnson, a seven-time Cup champion, was fourth in that session at 198.639 mph.

Kevin Harvick, a three-time race-winner this season, was second-fast at 27.275-seconds/197.984 mph in the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing. Suarez, the series’ first Mexican-born driver, added to the manufacturer mix in third with a best lap of 27.303-seconds/197.780 mph in the No. 19 STANLEY Racing for a Miracle Toyota Camry fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing.

Pole-winner Busch improved from 12th in the morning to fourth in the final at 197.759 mph in the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford fielded by SHR. Reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top-five at 197.614 mph in the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota fielded by Furniture Row Racing.

Clint Bowyer, who broke a 190-race winless streak two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway, was ninth after lapping at 197.527 mph in the No. 14 Mobil 1/Rush Truck Centers Ford.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who damaged his primary car in the morning session, hot-lapped in his backup No. 17 SunnyD Ford at 194.967 mph. Stenhouse turned six laps in his Roush Fenway Racing entry. Stenhouse scraped the Turn 4 wall at approximately 10:35 a.m. in his primary ride, resulting in heavy right-side damage.

Sunday’s race, scheduled for 334 laps/501-miles, will be televised by FOX Sports 1 at 1 p.m. CT.


FIVE THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN TODAY’S MY BARIATRIC SOLUTIONS 300

By John Sturbin

1:36 p.m. — BLANEY BIDS TO KEEP THE NO. 22 FORD STREAKING
Pole-winner Ryan Blaney is poised to add to the fast start Team Penske’s No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang team, led by crew chief Brian Wilson, is enjoying this season during the 22nd annual My Bariatrics Solutions 300.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 - PracticeThe No. 22 Ford has won the last two consecutive races at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to take the owner standings lead by 19-points over JR Motorsports’ No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro team.

Since the series’ inception in 1982, a single car/team has only won three or more consecutive races 13 times. The last time a team in the Xfinity Series won three races in a row was 2016, when Kyle Busch — the series’ winningest driver — won at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry.

Team Penske is no stranger to stringing wins together. The No. 22 Ford guys won three consecutive in 2013 with Brad Keselowski earning the victory at Iowa (8/3) and Watkins Glen (8/10) and A.J. Allmendinger winning at Mid-Ohio (8/17).

Blaney has five series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, posting four top-fives, five top-10s and an average finish of 3.4. He finished as runner-up in both Texas races last season.

DASH 4 CASH MAKES 2018 DEBUT AT TMS — The My Bariatric Solutions 300 is a qualifier for the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program. Dash 4 Cash provides four talented drivers with the opportunity to compete for an additional $100,000 prize at select races.

Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash GIF by NASCAR-downsized_largeHere is the format. Fulltime Xfinity Series drivers will compete for four positions in consecutive Dash 4 Cash events at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14), Richmond Raceway (April 21), Talladega Superspeedway (April 28) and Dover International Speedway (May 5).

The top four Xfinity Series drivers at TMS will qualify for the first Dash 4 Cash event at BMS. Of the four competing for Dash 4 Cash, the highest finisher wins a $100,000 prize. That winner and the three highest-finishing full-time Xfinity Series drivers, for a total of four contenders, will qualify for the next week’s event.

Here are the top-10 Xfinity Series championship contending drivers in average finish at Texas Motor Speedway: Cole Custer (5.0), Christopher Bell (6.0), Elliott Sadler (11.3), Matt Tifft (11.5), Justin Allgaier (12.3), Spencer Gallagher (14.5), Ryan Reed (15.9), Michael Annett (16.1), Ryan Sieg (18.0) and Brandon Jones (19.5).

SHEPHERD SECURES LANDMARK 1,000th START — No NASCAR driver better defines the term “veteran” than Morgan Shepherd.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 - QualifyingA self-described born-again Christian, the 76-year-old placed 31st in Round 1 of Saturday morning’s weather-plagued qualifying session with a lap at 178.962 mph in his No. 89 Visone RV Chevrolet Camaro — good enough to insure he will make his 1,000th career NASCAR national series start in the 200-lap/300-miler. The NASCAR national series consists of the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.

NASCAR Race No. 1,000 also will be Shepherd’s 426th career Xfinity start. Shepherd roller-skated into the Fort Worth facility with 517 Cup starts and 57 in the Truck Series to put him at 999.

Known for that roller-skating dancing routine on pit road before races — a talent he began at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth — Shepherd made his first NASCAR start in the Cup Series on June 20, 1970 at Hickory Speedway in North Carolina.

A native of Ferguson, N.C., Shepherd joins an elite list of seven drivers who have made at least 1,000 career national series starts: “King” Richard Petty, 1,185 (all in the Cup Series); Mark Martin, 1,143 (882 Cup, 236 Xfinity and 25 Truck); “Front Row” Joe Nemechek, 1,139 (667/430/42); Kevin Harvick, 1,081 (616/342/123); Michael Waltrip, 1,072 (784/279/9); “Texas” Terry Labonte, 1,017 (890/124/3) and “The Mayor” Jeff Burton, 1,005 (695/306/4).

TEXAS NATIVE CURREY SET FOR XFINITY DEBUT — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series part-time driver Bayley Currey, of Dixieland, Texas, leads a list of 13 different drivers making Xfinity Series debuts at Texas Motor Speedway today.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 - PracticeCurrey will start 39th in the 40-car field in the B.J McLeod Motorsports No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro. Currey joins current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Michael McDowell making their first series starts on the 1.5-mile oval.

Currey has four NASCAR national series starts on his resume, all in the Camping World Truck Series. He ran three NCWTS races in 2017, posting one top-10 and an average finish of 21.0. He also made one NCWTS start this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, sister 1.5-mile layout to TMS, starting 23rd and finishing 20th.

Currey, 21, is the third different driver to wheel the No. 8 CHASCO Camaro this season. Caesar Bacarella ran the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway, finishing a career-best 13th. The next four races saw Tommy Joe Martins wheel the No. 8, posting an average finish of 27.2.

CAN ANYONE SLOW THE JR MOTORSPORTS JUGGERNAUT? — Five points separate the top three in the championship standings after five Xfinity Series races this season, with a trio of JR Motorsports drivers dominating the standings.

NASCAR Xfinity Series My Bariatric Solutions 300 - PracticePopular veteran Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick (second-place, -4 points behind) and Justin Allgaier (third-place, -5 points), will be eager to pad their stats at TMS.

Sadler, driver of the No. 1 One Main Financial Chevrolet Camaro, holds the point lead after posting a series-best top-fives (four) and top-10s (five) through the first five races. The 42-year-old Virginian also leads the series in average finish with a solid 4.8. — the only series title-contender with an average finish inside the top-five.

Reddick, driver of the No. 21 South Point Hotel & Casino Camaro, basically locked himself into the Playoffs with a season-opening win at Daytona. A Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Reddick has posted that one win, four top-10s and an average finish of 9.0 — third-best among title contenders.

Allgaier has recorded two runner-ups, three top-fives and four top-10s in the first five races of the season. Allgaier’s average finish in the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Camaro this season is (8.0), second only to point-leader Sadler’s 4.8.


RYAN BLANEY AWARDED WEATHER-AIDED XFINITY POLE

12:29 p.m. — Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney needed only one hot lap on an unseasonably cold April morning to qualify on-pole for Saturday’s 22nd annual My Bariatrics Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Ryan Blaney and crew pose don their jackets after taking the pole for Friday afternoon’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at 2 CT.

A regular in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Blaney posted a hot lap of 189.880 mph in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang during a 15-minute session interrupted three times by misty/cold conditions.

 

As was the case during Cup qualifying on Friday afternoon, NASCAR officials determined weather conditions were not conducive to continue with Rounds 2 and 3 of time trials around the 1.5-mile oval.

“We didn’t know what it was going to do out there,” Blaney said. “It was kind of misting pretty hard so we waited as long as we could in the first round. It’s going to be an interesting race.”

Second-fast was Xfinity regular Ryan Truex after a single lap at 189.314 mph in the No. 11 Bar Harbor/Sea Watch International Chevrolet Camaro fielded by Kaulig Motorsports. Brandon Jones will start third in the No. 19 Toyota Service Centers Camry after a four-lap run that produced a fast lap of 188.758 mph.

Meanwhile, veteran Morgan Shepherd placed 31st in Round 1 with a lap at 178.962 mph — good enough to insure he will make his 1,000th career NASCAR national series start in the 200-lap/300-miler. The NASCAR national series consist of the Cup Series, Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.

NASCAR Race No. 1,000 also will be Shepherd’s 426th career Xfinity start. Shepherd, 76, roller-skated into the Fort Worth facility with 517 Cup starts and 57 in the Truck Series to put him at 999.

Today’s race is scheduled to be televised by FOX beginning at 2 p.m. CT.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM BREHANNA DANIELS MEDIA AVAILABILITY 

10:55 a.m. —  Twenty-four-year-old Brehanna Daniels, the first African-American woman to pit a car in one of NASCAR’s three national series, met with media ahead of Friday afternoon’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Daniels will be a tire changer on the No. 55 Toyota for Stephen Leicht.

Here’s what she said:

On whether she’s seen more African-American fans come out to the races …
“I’ve seen a lot more African-Americans come out during the Fontana race in California. I think some of them actually asked what pit stall I was going to be in because they were walking down (before the race) and were like, ‘can I get a picture with you, girl? We were just looking for you. Can we get a picture?’ … It touches my heart and warms my heart to see that times are changing and I’m glad to be a part of that change.”

On being a role model for aspiring African-Americans or females …
“I think God put me in this position … and that I should be this example. It’s tough being the very first to do something, it’s going to come with a lot of things. But I think God put me in this position. I’m a strong person, so I’m enjoying the challenge and enjoying it every step of the way.”

On whether she and her family are NASCAR fans now …
“I’m bringing (NASCAR) to everybody I know. Literally, nobody in my family was a NASCAR fan. The only time we’d ever watch NASCAR was when we were looking for a basketball or football game on TV. But now I’m watching all the races now.”


SUAREZ PACES SECOND CUP PRACTICE

10:55 a.m. — In weather conditions better-suited for an NHL outdoors “classic,” Daniel Suarez got on-track action underway at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday morning by pacing the second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice for Sunday’s 22nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scraped the wall during the second practice session for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Saturday morning.

Suarez toured TMS’ 1.5-mile oval in 28.136-seconds/198.998 mph on the 19th of his 21 laps in the No. 19 STANELY Racing for a Miracle Toyota Camry fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. Curiously, Suarez and the top 12 drivers in the 55-minute session were faster than Kurt Busch’s pole-winning speed of 197.368 mph set late Friday afternoon.

Second-fast was Denny Hamlin, Suarez’s JGR teammate, with a lap in 27.163-seconds/198.800 mph in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota. Series rookie William Byron was third at 27.171-seconds/198.741 mph in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 fielded by Hendrick Motorsports.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, the defending event winner, was fourth at 27.185-seconds/198.639 mph in the No. 48 Lowe’s for Pros Camaro. Rounding out the top-five was Kevin Harvick, a three-time race-winner this season, at 27.248-seconds/198.180 mph in the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Fusion fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing.

Busch, meanwhile, was 12th on the sheet and his best lap of 27.354-seconds/197.412 was faster than his pole-winning effort.

The lone incident occurred when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. scraped the Turn 4 wall at approximately 10:35 a.m. in his No. 17 SunnyD Ford. Stenhouse was checked out at the infield medical center and released, but he will drive his backup Roush Fenway Ford in Sunday’s 334-lap/501-miler.

Final practice will run from 12:30-1:20 p.m. CT.


SATURDAY AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

8:03 a.m. — Today’s schedule:

7:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Texas Motor Speedway Credential Office Hours
7:30 a.m. NXS Garage Open
7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. NASCAR Credentials Open
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. MENCS Garage Open
9:30 a.m. Gates 3, 4, & 5 Luxury Suites & Victory Lane Club Open
9:30 a.m. Gates 2 & 6 Opens for Luxury Suites & Victory Lane Club Suites Only
9:30 – 11:30 a.m.  MENCS HOT PASS IN EFFECT
9:35 a.m.  Legends Racing at Lil TMS
10:00 – 10:55 a.m. MENCS 2nd Practice
11:10 a.m. NXS Sports Day Qualifying Powered by The Dallas Morning NewsSportsDayQualifying_2018nodate
12:30 – 1:20 p.m. MENCS Final Practice
2:00 p.m. NXS My Bariatric Solutions 300
(200 Laps, 300 Miles)MyBariatric300nodate
15 min after checkered flag Trackside Live show at Gate 3
30 min after checkered flag No Limits Live Auction in The Speedway Club
 TMS Dirt Track
6:00 p.m. Dirt Track Gates & Suites Open
7:00 p.m. Tony Stewart Presents The Vankor Texas Sprint Car NationalsVankorTexasSprint2018

 

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