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McDowell earns first XFINITY Series win at Road America
RELATED: Full race results " Standings " Chase Grid ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Michael McDowell ’s Twitter handle is @Mc_Driver. After Saturday, he may want to consider changing it -- to something like @Mc_Winner. McDowell led 24 of the final 25 laps of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville for his first victory in 94 series races. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular finished .534 seconds ahead of his Richard Childress Racing teammate Brendan Gaughan after two late restarts, including a green-white-checkered that pushed the race to 48 laps from its scheduled 45. Chip Ganassi Racing ’s Brennan Poole was the top-finishing rookie, third, in his first start at Road America , after starting 12th. The top three drivers were in Chevrolets. The victory was the perfect finish to some unfinished business McDowell had at the 14-turn, 4.048-mile racetrack. In 2011, he started from the pole position and led a race-high 30 laps, but ultimately finished 12th. In 2012, he started second and finished second. "It means a tremendous amount to me," said McDowell, who will compete in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway . "I've been so close here at Road America . To finally finish it off was huge." It almost wasn't, as Gaughan's late charge nearly spoiled McDowell's day. The 2014 race winner spent much of the day running in the second half of the top 10 after getting out of pit stop sequence with the leaders. On the penultimate lap, though, Gaughan bolted from fourth-place to second after making a three-wide pass of Daniel Suarez and Justin Marks in Turn 5. From there, McDowell -- and victory -- was within reach. "When you're racing your teammate you've got to have a little more respect maybe than normal," Gaughan said. "I almost got close enough to him to make him make a mistake." McDowell didn't waver and pushed the Childress team's winning streak at Road America to three, joining Paul Menard (2015) and Gaughan (2014). The win was not without incident. Team Penske 's Alex Tagliani , who started from the pole position for the second time in two NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Road America , maintained that a Lap-29 tangle with McDowell was deliberate. "We were the car to beat," said Tagliani, who led 17 laps and had just regained the top spot going into Turn 5 when he was bumped from behind by McDowell and spun going into Turn 6. "The opportunity presented itself and he took the fastest car on the track out." Tagliani, who finished second here in 2014, wound up seventh. McDowell, when asked about the incident during his post-race press conference, said it wasn't intentional. "He went wide in Turn 5 and I got under ( Justin Marks ) and (Tagliani)," McDowell said. "I was alongside of him and he just decided to turn in. Once we made contact, I just came off the brake and pushed him out of the way. And the reason I did that is because if had I not, I'd have been stuck there too and I would have got run over." The race was slowed by six caution flags for 13 laps, including one for light rain. Elliott Sadler leads the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship standings by 47 points over Daniel Suarez .
Truex leads speedsters in first practice at Michigan
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Martin Truex Jr . flew to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday as soaring speeds dominated opening practice at Michigan International Speedway . Truex pushed the Furniture Row No. 78 Toyota to a best lap of 201.545 mph on the 2-mile track. He was the fastest of 10 drivers to break the 200-mph barrier. The clocking was well above the 199.557 mph lap that clinched the Coors Light Pole Award for Joey Logano in Michigan qualifying in June. Jimmie Johnson was second-fastest in opening preparation for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), recording a lap of 201.134 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. Logano (200.966 mph), rookie Ryan Blaney (200.775 mph) and Kyle Larson (200.730 mph) completed the top five. This weekend marks what is expected to be the final audition for the premier series' 2017 aerodynamic rules package, which is intended to reduce the effects of downforce and sideforce. The series also used the package in Michigan's 400-miler in June. Race officials also took measures to try to widen the racing groove, using a tire-dragging vehicle to build rubber into the asphalt. The "Tire Dragon" truck was used in the days leading up to Friday's on-track activity. Jeffrey Earnhardt brought out the practice's only stoppage with just less than 10 minutes remaining, scraping the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 and causing significant damage to his Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford. Earnhardt indicated to NBCSN that the team would unload a reserve car before qualifying. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch was sixth-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Defending race winner Matt Kenseth , his JGR teammate in the No. 20 Toyota, was 18th-fastest in the 85-minute session. Four drivers were docked 15 minutes of practice time for minor infractions. Those were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards , Richard Childress Racing driver Paul Menard and BK Racing 's Matt DiBenedetto . Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Two additional Sprint Cup practices are set Saturday (8:30-9:25 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. ET). Both Saturday practices will be televised on CNBC.
Alex Tagliani wins XFINITY pole at Road America
RELATED: Starting lineup Alex Tagliani won the Coors Light Pole Award at Road America on Friday in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Tagliani wheeled his No. 22 Team Penske Ford around the 4.05-mile road course at a top speed of 109.866 mph. That was better than Michael McDowell l, who finished second in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 109.561 mph. For Tagliani, it was his fourth pole win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and his second at Road America . Justin Marks (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Owen Kelly (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) and Daniel Suarez (No. 19 JGR Toyota) rounded out the top five qualifiers. Alon Day, who hails from Israel, is a NASCAR Next driver and is driving the MBM Motorsports No. 13 Dodge, found trouble in Round 1 of qualifying when he went into the sand trap off Turn 12 (of 14) with just over 16 minutes remaining in the opening session. The incident brought out a red flag. Another red flag came out during Round 1 when Josh Bilicki, who was driving the No. 77 Obaika Racing Chevrolet, spun coming off Turn 1, slid through the sand trap and impacted the tire barrier. The Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and marks the third road-course race in four events for the series.
Irked Tagliani after Road America spin: 'Everything goes'
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Alex Tagliani has made a handful of NASCAR starts across the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series over the past several years, remaining winless despite often, if not always, looking like the man to beat. Being the accomplished road course ace that he is -- along with the horsepower and backing from Team Penske / Brad Keselowski Racing that he's enjoyed since 2014 -- you can typically count on the 42-year-old to start up front, and stay there. A third career Coors Light Pole for Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America -- in just his eighth XFINITY start -- once again put Tagliani in prime position to compete for his first NASCAR national series victory, but once again he came up short. For the second consecutive year, his sole XFINITY start was foiled by contact from the eventual race winner. Last year it was Regan Smith at Mid-Ohio; Michael McDowell was Saturday's culprit. With 17 laps remaining in the 48-lap event (extended three laps by overtime), Tagliani -- who'd led a dominating 17 laps already at that point -- retook the lead from Erik Jones , only to be spun after left-rear contact from the No. 2 of McDowell in Turn 5. He was relegated to 30th place after the contact, having to battle back to salvage a seventh-place finish. "I could basically say what I want to say, but I don’t know if it's going to matter at the end," Tagliani told NASCAR.com on pit road following the race. "I think the 2 realized that we were the car to beat and it's unfortunate he presents himself to take us out, and he did it to take away some competition from him. In those instances, I'm a firm believer that you have to resist the temptation of doing it, but it seems in this world, in this series, in this sport, everything goes. "I think I should try to play smarter and drive him that way. At that time, instead of trying to fight clean with the 2 and give him a hard time and try to be creative and try to go around me, I should've let him go by and do what he did to me and take away the competition. It crossed my mind, but I said 'Walk, man.' Because other than the 2, there was nobody else that could touch us. After what I saw, I should've. Should've, could've, but it's not the way you win races." Looking at the replay, it's tough to tell whether or not McDowell should've lifted, or Tagliani shouldn't have dove into the corner, but it was evident neither driver was willing to budge. Particularly after some prior in-race contact between the two. Regardless, McDowell -- while implying in his post-race press conference that he was in a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation -- stands by his declaration that the spin was not intentional. "No, it wasn't intentional; I wasn't intentionally doing it, but at the same time I was clearly in there and I wasn't really sure what he was doing when he came across the nose … " the Richard Childress Racing driver said. "… I don't know. I didn't see the replay yet. The 22 and I had a little run-in earlier in the race and basically I kept putting my nose in and he kept slamming the door. He went wide in Turn 5 and I got underneath the 42 ( Justin Marks ) and 22 and I was alongside of him and he decided just to turn in. Once we made contact, I just came off the brake and pushed him out of the way. The reason I did that is because had I not, I would've been stuck there, too, and I would've gotten ran over. Once he committed to turn in and I was on the inside, we already made the contact. "But I haven't seen a replay. A lot of times, I watch the replay and I go, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was right.' And a lot of times I go, 'Oh, gosh … ' I hope it's not an 'Oh, gosh' moment. But by no means did I come out of Turn 5 and be like 'Here's my shot. I'm going to wipe him out.' That wasn't the case at all. I got a run and went underneath him and when he slammed his door, I wasn't expecting him to slam the door." McDowell now heads to Michigan International Speedway , where he will race in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.
After racing in rain, Blaney looks to win his way into the Chase
LEXINGTON, Ohio--- Ryan Blaney qualified third and finished third in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , but it was far from that simple or cut and dried on Saturday afternoon. "Not a bad day, lots of ups and downs and luckily it ended on a high note," Blaney said of his day at the 2.258-mile track. The downs of the day came early as the Team Penske driver had to start at the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments but he wasted no time navigating his way to towards the front. By Lap 30, he had cracked his way back into the top five. That was not the only adversity Blaney battled through. Wet weather came early at Mid-Ohio, bringing out a caution on the opening lap that allowed teams to put on rain tires. "It was such a weird race, starting fairly dry and then raining," Blaney said. "Everyone has to learn how to rain race right away and then it drying back out and trying to figure out when to put slicks back on or stay on the wets and then it started pouring again." While Blaney held his own in the rain, the No. 22 car was at its best when the track was drying out. The 22-year-old led six laps (Laps 48-53) just past the midway point of the 75-lap event. But then the rain began falling again and after restarting on the front row on Lap 56, Blaney had some contact with the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Sam Hornish Jr . After going off track briefly, Blaney was in 12th place on Lap 60. He made up some ground late in the event, gaining nine spots over the final 15 laps for his first top-five finish (in just his fourth start) of the season in the XFINITY Series. The rain and the constantly evolving strategies made for an interesting day for the young racer amid his first time racing in the rain. "There's some moments where it's fun and some moments where you're ready to rip the steering wheel off," Blaney said of of the task. "I had a handful at moments. At the end of the day, it was a lot of fun and you get to experience a race in the rain. "…There was some calamity at some points but I thought it was overall pretty fun. Just to get that experience and go back and forth between slick and rain (tires). That was really challenging, and drivers like challenges. Just nice to race in the rain finally. That's my first time." This start came on the final off weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup p Series, where Blaney pilots the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Blaney enters Saturday's night race at Bristol (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) outside of the 16-driver Chase Grid with just four regular-season races left before the postseason field gets set. He sits 18 points back of Kyle Larson for the last spot, with Trevor Bayne and Kasey Kahne between himself and Larson. Should Chris Buescher claim a spot in the top 30 in points by the end of the Richmond race on Sept. 30, Blaney would be in a deeper hole to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Entering the 0.533-mile track, Blaney's mindset is focused on joining Buescher as a rookie winner. "We are going to go into the last four races trying to win just like we always do every week," Blaney said of his pursuit of a Chase spot. A win over any of the final four regular-season Sprint Cup races (Bristol, Michigan, Darlington or Richmond) would essentially lock the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate into the postseason field.
Richard Childress Racing
The history of Richard Childress Racing and full crews for Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon
McDowell's Darlington look to honor Childress
Photos courtesy of Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing and Richard Childress Racing RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes WELCOME, N.C. -- Michael McDowell and the Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing organization will honor Richard Childress with a throwback paint scheme similar to that used by the longtime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner during the 1973 racing season. The scheme will be run during this year's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 4 (6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Darlington throwback program debuted last year and was a huge hit among fans and teams at the legendary track. "Obviously to run Richard's paint scheme and honor him for his upcoming Hall of Fame induction and our alliance with him and having Thrivent Financial on there is going to be really cool," McDowell said. "It's an exciting weekend. It's fun to see all the guys in all the old shirts and hats. I saw my firesuit, it's really cool, very vintage." Childress , a six-time champion in the Sprint Cup Series as an owner with driver Dale Earnhardt, will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in January 2017. His Richard Childress Racing organization currently has 105 wins in the series and fields three full-time Sprint Cup teams for drivers Austin Dillon , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . CSLFR currently has a technical alliance with RCR. While the 1973 Chevrolet was primarily white with blue accents, Childress , an owner/driver before stepping aside to focus solely on ownership, did compete with a similar entry that had red features. And those colors, team officials said, worked well with primary sponsor Thrivent Financial. McDowell, with 197 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series, shares driving duties in the No. 95 Chevrolet with RCR XFINITY Series driver Ty Dillon . He said he is looking forward to running the throwback scheme and seeing what other teams come up with for the event. "I think more than anything what the Darlington race weekend does ... it jogs everyone's memory," McDowell said. "The guys in the sport like Richard and others that have been here so long. Just walking around and listening to all the stories is really cool. I think that's what Darlington does for everybody, it makes them reminisce not just about the good ol' days but hearing fun stories and sharing memories. "It kind of re-ignites your passion of how you got started and why you got started." Childress began his NASCAR career in 1969 and made 285 starts before stepping out of the car in 1981. Long before teams began wrapping cars, Childress said he often painted his own entries, a process that often took "a couple of days." "I'd paint them myself. I'd tape it out like I thought I wanted it, and if I didn't like it, I'd move the tape a little bit," he said. "I still remember all the cars. You might forget about it for a while but then you see something and it brings it all back. "I never accomplished that much as a driver so to see them come back today (with this scheme), it's really neat. I had one of my best finishes at Darlington (fourth in '73). To see it run again is so cool." &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Richard Childress Racing cars have parts confiscated
Richard Childress Racing 's three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars had trouble in pre-race inspection Sunday. After multiple trips through the line, NASCAR pulled the Nos. 3 of Austin Dillon , 27 of Paul Menard and 31 of Ryan Newman out of inspection and confiscated the braces in the right rear corners of their respective vehicles. According to NASCAR, the parts in question were optional braces (brackets) in the rear-wheel area of the cars. NASCAR officials had them removed and will take the parts back to the R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. No penalties -- such as a loss of starting position -- are expected today or post-event, according to NASCAR. Mike Dillon, general manager of Richard Childress Racing , said the team didn't replace the parts due to time. For the race, Dillon finished 11th, while Menard finished 18th and Newman finished 24th. Kenny Bruce contributed to this story from Atlanta
Richard Childress Racing pit crew coach steps down
Eric Wilson stepped down as head coach of Richard Childress Racing 's pit crews, effective immediately, PitTalks.com has learned. Wilson took over the coaching job three years ago, replacing Matt Clark. Wilson's plans are unclear at this time, but what is clear is Ray Wright will be the new coach. Wright has been the strength-and-conditioning coach for the past seven years. Wright was also the rear tire carrier for the No. 27 Chevrolet SS of Paul Menard . Taking his place over the wall will be Adam Mestemacher. As far as the strength-conditioning role, Tyler Rader will likely take over the void for the foreseeable future. Rader also fuels the No. 3 Chevrolet SS of Austin Dillon for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. RCR officials declined comment. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Photos: Tour of Richard Childress Racing shop
Go behind-the-scenes at the Richard Childress Racing shop in Welcome, North Carolina.