Category Archives: Xfinity Series

William Byron Wins 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship

Byron Also Takes Sunoco Rookie of the Year;

No. 22 Team Penske Ford Captures Owners Title;

Chevrolet Wins Bill France Performance Cup as Top Manufacturer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 18, 2017) – William Byron’s meteoric NASCAR rise continued Saturday, as the 19-year-old added two more superlatives to an already lengthy list – 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion and 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Byron is only the second driver to win the XFINITY Series championship in his rookie season (Chase Elliott, 2014).

Following an extraordinary rookie campaign, the NASCAR Next graduate, who finished third, outlasted his Championship 4 competitors Elliott Sadler (eighth), Justin Allgaier (12th) and Daniel Hemric (34th) in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to capture his second NASCAR title. He also won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2015. With the 2017 championship, Byron – at 19 years, 11 months and 20 days – is the second-youngest champion in series history (Elliott was 18 years, 11 months, 18 days).

This season, Byron drove the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet to four wins, 12 top fives and 22 top 10s. His victories came at Iowa, Daytona, Indianapolis and Phoenix, which helped propel him to a lofty position in the standings – from race No. 2-33, he never dropped lower than fifth in the standings.

Byron’s ascent to the top level of the sport will continue in 2018, as Hendrick Motorsports announced that he will drive the iconic No. 24 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Byron is the fourth member of the NASCAR Next program to win a NASCAR national series championship (Chase Elliott, NASCAR XFINITY Series, 2014; Erik Jones, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2015; Daniel Suarez, NASCAR XFINITY Series, 2016).

With its second-place finish, the No. 22 Ford won the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner Championship for Team Penske, the organization’s fourth XFINITY Series owner title. This season, the No. 22 was piloted by Ryan Blaney (11 races), Brad Keselowski (nine), Joey Logano (seven), Sam Hornish Jr. (five) and Austin Cindric (one race).

Chevrolet, on the strength of 12 victories, clinched the Bill France Performance Cup – the manufacturers’ championship – in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Because Chevrolet owned a more than 40-point lead in the standings following Phoenix, the automaker clinched the title one race early. It is Chevrolet’s 18th Bill France Performance Cup win.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Hornish Jr Claims Victory at Mid-Ohio

(Courtesy: NASCAR Media)

LEXINGTON, OH – AUGUST 12: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Sam Hornish Jr. dominated Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge, but his victory was anything but certain until the waning laps of a caution-filled race. 

Hornish, driving Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang, earlier had eclipsed his own qualifying record at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and edged series rookie Daniel Hemric by 1.335 seconds when the event ultimately went green for the final time with five circuits remaining in the 75-lap distance. 

The victory was the fifth in the series by Hornish, whose last win came in June of 2016 at Iowa Speedway. 

LEXINGTON, OH – AUGUST 12: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, poses with the winners sticker after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hornish, who led four times for 61 laps, traded the top spot with Hemric’s No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro four times over the race’s third and final stage. He took the point for the last time on Lap 62, on a restart following the seventh caution. 

Veteran Brendan Gaughan advanced to the second after Justin Allgaier and James Davison slipped off the track in Turn 3 at Lap 63, setting up a final restart battle that ended prematurely when Gaughan’s No. 62 RCR Chevrolet Camaro was forced off the track by Hornish shortly after the green flag. 

“I finally got the win (at Mid-Ohio),” said Hornish, who finished second here a year ago. “We had a smart, almost flawless day but I feel bad about the 62. I didn’t want to beat him that way.” 

LEXINGTON, OH – AUGUST 12: Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, practices for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 12, 2017 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Rookie Matt Tifft finish third in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, improving his best NASCAR XFINITY Series finish from a fifth-place at Kentucky Speedway last September. Davison, an international racing star and Indianapolis 500 competitor, took fourth in the No. 20 JGR Toyota, followed by sports car veteran Andy Lally, whose No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro team posted their first top-10 finish in the series. 

Twenty-four of the race’s 40 starters completed all 75 laps. Five drivers, Hornish, Hemric, Blake Koch, Ryan Reed and Elliott Sadler, traded the lead nine times. 

NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Sadler spotted the field an early spin and a green flag pit stop to change a flat tire, but he ultimately took sixth, ahead of Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Justin Marks and Dakoda Armstrong. 

Koch won the race’s first stage when Hornish elected to pit with three laps left and leader Sadler was spun in Turn 1 by Poole. 

Hornish quickly went back to the front of the field after Stage 1 pit stops, claiming Stage 2 over Hemric and Davison. 

Saturday’s race left the playoff picture unchanged with no bubble drivers able to bump their way into the standings. Sadler holds an 81-point lead over William Byron, who appeared headed for a top 10 until being caught up in a late accident relegating him to a 25th-place finish.

Kyle Busch Takes Home First Xfinity Series Win at Watkins Glen

(Courtesy: NASCARMedia.com)

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 05: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Rowdy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 5, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – With a victory in Saturday’s Zippo 200, Kyle Busch continued to tick items off his bucket list. 

Recovering from a wheel-hop and spin in Turn 1 on Lap 17 of 82 along with a penalty for driving through too many pit boxes, Busch claimed his first NASCAR XFINITY Series win at the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course, beating polesitter Joey Logano to the finish line by 1.049 seconds. 

“The cars have really been working for me here and it just feels so good to finally win an XFINITY race here,” said Busch, who won last week at Pocono for the first time in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car. 

“We’ve been so close so many times. One of my favorite runs here was in a Zippo car (in 2008) and being in the Zippo race today that’s kind of ironic – I guess they sponsor it every year — but being with (owner) Eddie D’Hondt and the Zippo car, I remember we were really, really fast and wish we would’ve got that one.” 

In winning for the fourth time this season and the 90th time in his career, Busch grabbed the lead when Brad Keselowski and Logano came to pit road together on Lap 49. 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 05: Paul Menard, driver of the #2 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 5, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Busch gained time by staying on the track for five more laps, and by the time he exited pit road on lap 55, he was 1.2 seconds ahead of Keselowski and more than 10 seconds ahead of Logano, who had a lengthy pit stop because of a stuck lug nut.

 “Pit road was pretty good for us,” Busch said. “We stayed out long on that one run, and we were able to cycle back up to the lead. It worked two weeks in a row that way. I don’t know how much longer we can do that before they figure it out, but it’s been working for us, so we’ll take it.” 

Busch held the top spot the rest of the way, surviving a restart with three laps left after Casey Mears ran out of fuel and stalled on the track to bring out the fifth and final caution of the afternoon. Busch chose the inside lane for the restart to control the preferred line into Turn 1. 

The restart brought Logano back near the front of the field, and on the next-to-last lap, he passed Keselowski, his Team Penske teammate, for the runner-up spot. 

WATKINS GLEN, NY – AUGUST 05: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 REV/Fleetwood Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Zippo 200 at The Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 5, 2017 in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

“Dang, I wish it was for the win and not for second,” Logano said of the battle with Keselowski. “I had such a good short run car, just in the wrong position to start that last run. I feel like, if I was second, I could have won the race. I just had a really good short-run car. 

“Our long-run speed was off a bit, and that’s when the 18 (Busch) and 22 (Keselowski) would drive by us, and we were a third-place car on the long run, but probably a winning car on the short run. By the time I cleared the 22, the 18 was gone. If we had another four or five laps, (he would have drove off again). I needed a caution.” 

Keselowski ran third, followed by Just Allgaier, Paul Menard and Kevin Harvick. Ty Dillon, Erik Jones, Brendan Gaughan and William Byron completed the top 10. 

Note: Busch has indicated he plans to “retire” from NASCAR XFINITY Series racing when he reaches 100 victories. That will take at least until 2019. According to rules being implemented for the 2018 season, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veterans can compete in only seven XFINITY races during the year. … The victory was the 139th in the series for Joe Gibbs Racing, breaking a tie with Roush Fenway Racing for most in XFINITY history.