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Jayski.com: NASCAR National Series News & Notes -- Richmond

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Toyota Owners 400
The Place: Richmond International Raceway
The Date: Sunday, April 30
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (400 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 100),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 200), Final Stage (Ends on lap 400)

NASCAR XFINITY Series
Next Race: ToyotaCare 250
The Place: Richmond International Raceway
The Date: Saturday, April 29
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 187.5 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 75),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on lap 250)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Toyota Tundra 250
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Friday, May 12
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 250.5 miles (167 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 40),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 80), Final Stage (Ends on lap 167)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Dale Earnhardt Jr. To Retire At End Of Season
Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced Tuesday he will retire from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing at the end of the season. He is still under contract to run two NASCAR XFINITY Series races in 2018.
In 603 career starts, Earnhardt has 26 wins, 149 top fives and 253 top 10s. He is a 14-time Most Popular Driver and a two-time DAYTONA 500 champion.
The No. 88 Chevrolet driver, who currently sits 24th in the standings, will attempt to turn his season around at Richmond - one of his better tracks.
In 34 starts at Richmond, Earnhardt owns three wins, five top fives, 14 top 10s and a 13.2 average finish.

Jimmie Johnson Goes For Third Straight Win And A Tie With Yarborough
Jimmie Johnson maneuvered around Kevin Harvick with 21 laps left in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and outlasted a hard-charging Clint Bowyer to win his second consecutive race.
The victory gives Johnson 82 career wins. With a third straight victory in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway (2 p.m. ET on FOX), Johnson would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series all-time wins list (83). The No. 48 Chevrolet driver trails Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth on the all-time wins list (84) by a mere two checkered flags.
In 30 career starts at Richmond, Johnson claims three wins, seven top fives and 12 top 10s.
Johnson sits sixth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings - 116 markers below first-place Kyle Larson. His 10 playoff points are tied with Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski for the most on the circuit. Johnson and Keselowski are the only drivers with multiple wins this season.

Bowyer Hopes To Build On Runner-Up Result
Clint Bowyer’s move to Stewart-Haas Racing seems to have revived his career.

The No. 14 Chevrolet driver wheeled his way to a runner-up finish Monday at Bristol - his best showing since placing second at Richmond - the site of this weekend’s race - on April 27, 2013.
Bowyer’s two top-five and four top-10 finishes this season outnumber his totals of zero top fives and three top 10s from last year.
He sits eighth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings - 121 markers behind leader Kyle Larson. The Kansas native hasn’t placed better than 19th in the final standings since finishing seventh in 2013.
Richmond is one of Bowyer’s top tracks. In 22 starts at the Virginia oval, he owns two wins, four top fives and 12 top 10s.

Larson Continues Breakout Season, Extends Points Lead
Kyle Larson continued his breakout season with a stage win and sixth-place finish at Bristol. He now holds a 27-point advantage over Chase Elliott in the standings on the strength of one win, five top fives and six top 10s.
The 24-year-old Chevrolet driver will try to extend his lead in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. In six starts at Richmond, he has posted one top-10 finish - a runner-up showing last fall. He has never finished worse than 16th at the Virginia track and has an average finish of 11.3 there.

Beat Virginia: Hamlin Tough To Pass At Richmond
Chesterfield Virginia native Denny Hamlin returns home to Richmond International Raceway where he’ll go for his second straight win after visiting Victory Lane there in last year’s regular season finale.
In 21 starts at Richmond, Hamlin owns three wins, eight top fives and 12 top 10s. He holds the second-best driver rating (109.9), as well as the third-best average finish (10.1) and average running position (7.8) there.
Hamlin has started the season off slow. He is currently 15th in the points standings - 176 markers behind leader Kyle Larson.
Could Richmond Be The Site Of Kyle Busch’s First Win?
Kyle Busch visited Victory Lane nine times in the previous two seasons, but he’s still searching for his first win of 2017.
That first triumph could come this weekend at Richmond International Raceway - a track where the Las Vegas native has excelled throughout his career. In 23 starts at the .75-mile track, Busch claims four wins, 15 top fives and 17 top 10s. Among active drivers, he boasts the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ top average finish (7.0) and driver rating (110.8), along with the second-best average running position (7.7) at the .75-mile track.
Busch led 78 laps in last year’s spring race at Richmond before his teammate Carl Edwards moved him for the win off Turn 4 on the final go-around.
The No. 18 Toyota driver ranks 11th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings - 146 points behind leader Kyle Larson.

Furniture Row Puts On Show At Bristol
Furniture Row Racing continued to display its speed in Monday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr. placed second in Stage 1 and won Stage 2, before finishing eighth due to a pit road speeding penalty that took him out of contention for the race win. He led 116 laps on the day.
The No. 78 Toyota driver’s 20-year-old teammate Erik Jones flashed his immense potential, finishing third in Stage 1 and sixth in Stage 2, but finished 17th as the result of a wreck and pit road penalty.
Truex is third in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings on the strength of one victory and a series-leading five stage wins. His 10 playoff points are tied with Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson’s totals for the most in the series.
Jones sits 12th in the points standings, the highest ranking among Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders.

NASCAR XFINITY Series

A Look Back: Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Career
One of the most iconic figures in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr., announced Tuesday that he will be retiring from NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2017 season. It just so happens that his last NASCAR XFINITY Series victory was this race at Richmond last year.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s career in the NASCAR XFINITY Series has been solid to say the least. He has posted two series titles (’98-’99), 24 wins (10th-most all-time), 67 top fives (tied with Clint Bowyer and Sam Ard for 21st-most all-time) and 90 top 10s (38th-most all-time). Below is a timeline of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s accomplishments in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
June 22, 1996 - Made his first NASCAR national series start at Myrtle Beach Speedway in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driving the No. 31 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet; he started seventh and finished 14th.
March 28, 1998 - He won his first career NASCAR national series Coors Light pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. at a speed of 122.217 MPH.
April 4, 1998 - He won his first career NASCAR national series race at Texas Motor Speedway driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in just his 16th career series start.
November 15, 1998 - Won his first NASCAR national series title, claiming the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship by 48 points over second-place Matt Kenseth. Finished the ’98 season with seven wins, 16 top fives and 22 top 10s.
June 27, 1999 - Earnhardt Jr. becomes one of seven drivers in NASCAR XFINITY Series history to win three consecutive races (Dover, South Boston and Watkins Glen) following his victory at Watkins Glen International on this date. He joins Sam Ard, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Harry Gant, Larry Pearson and Ryan Newman.
November 13, 1999 - Becomes one of six drivers in NASCAR XFINITY Series history to win consecutive titles (1998-1999); joining Sam Ard (1983-84), Larry Pearson (1986-87), Randy LaJoie (1996-97), Martin Truex Jr. (2004-05) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12).
November 19, 2005 - Fielded the first car as an owner under the JR Motorsports billing with driver Mark McFarland; the team started 18th and finished 20th.
July 2, 2010 - Drove the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet, made famous by his father, to Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway. This would be the final time he would drive the No. 3.
April 23, 2016 - His most recent win in the NASCAR XFINITY Series came at Richmond International Raceway in this event last season.

Dash 4 Cash Round 3 of 4: Richmond International Raceway
For third time this season NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contending drivers will have the chance to battle it out for the Dash 4 Cash, and the giant $100,000 check that comes with it. JR Motorsport’s driver Justin Allgaier snagged the first Dash 4 Cash win at Phoenix International Raceway, and then last week at Bristol, Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric grabbed the second installment of the program and his first Dash 4 Cash win.
Richmond International Raceway has been a part of the Dash 4 Cash program since 2011. Only two drivers have won the Dash 4 Cash at Richmond - Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and Ty Dillon in 2016.

A Quick Reminder Of Dash 4 Cash Eligibility

  • The top two finishing NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers who have declared for series points in each of the two stages will make up the four-driver Dash 4 Cash field for the Final Stage. Once Stage 1 is complete, the two drivers who lock into the main field won't have their position counted against other Dash 4 Cash-eligible drivers following Stage 2 to ensure a four-driver field.

  • The field will then begin the race with Stage 1, followed by Stage 2 and the Final Stage. At Richmond International Raceway: Stage 1 (Ends on lap 75), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on lap 250)

  • The highest finisher in the final stage among the four Dash 4 Cash drivers wins the Dash 4 Cash and a $100,000 prize.

  • Plus, don’t forget if a driver earns two Dash 4 Cash bonus wins over the four Dash 4 Cash races, that qualifies them for the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs.

JR Motorsport’s Elliott Sadler Extends Points Lead Over Teammate William Byron
Elliott Sadler’s stranglehold on the NASCAR XFINITY Series points continues. Just when it looked like second-place William Byron was going to catch Sadler following Texas, Sadler found another gear and opened the points gap back up to 16 following his third top five of the season.
Sadler is on a six-race streak of finishing inside the top 10; dating back to the second race of the season at Atlanta. In seven starts this season, Sadler has posted three top fives and an average finish of 9.0.
Expect the top 10 streak to continue at Richmond. In Sadler’s last 12 starts at the famous half-mile track, he has posted nine top-10 finishes.

Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric Arrives In The Top Five In Points
Richard Childress Racing’s Sunoco Rookie Daniel Hemric showed some signs of life last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway winning Stage 2 of the race and posting his first career series top-five finish as he took home the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus. On top of all that, the young Kannapolis, North Carolina, native has moved into the top five in the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship standings, 80 points back from the standings lead and just four points back from fourth-place Ryan Reed.
In seven starts this season, Hemric has posted one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 15.4.
Hemric will be making his NASCAR national series debut at Richmond International Raceway this weekend.

Kyle Benjamin To Make Series Debut For Joe Gibbs Racing At Richmond
Joe Gibbs Racing has tapped NASCAR Next graduate Kyle Benjamin to pilot the No. 20 Toyota Camry with crew chief Chris Gabehart at Richmond International Raceway in the ToyotaCare 250 this weekend.
Benjamin has built quite the resume working his way up the ranks. He became the youngest pole winner (15 years old) in ARCA Series history at Toledo Speedway in 2013. Later that same season, he became the series’ youngest winner when he took the checkered flag at Madison International Speedway. Not long after that he moved over to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where over the past three seasons he has posted five wins, 14 top fives and 19 top 10s. He also finished a career-best second in the final NKNPSE championship points in 2016.
Benjamin is scheduled to compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing at Richmond this weekend, and then Pocono Raceway (06/10/17), Iowa Speedway (07/29/17) and Kentucky Speedway (09/23/17).
A total of 79 drivers in NASCAR XFINITY Series history have made their series debut at Richmond International Raceway. Six of the 79 are competing this weekend - Ryan Blaney (04/27/12), Cole Custer (04/23/16), Austin Dillon (09/07/08), Brandon Brown (09/09/16), Daniel Suarez (04/25/14), and Ryan Reed (04/26/13).

NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.
Virginia Natives To Look For: Three Virginia natives will be attempting to compete this weekend at Richmond International Speedway - series standings leader and JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler (Emporia), King Autosport’s driver Brandon Brown (Woodbridge) and Brandon Gdovic Racing’s driver Quin Houff (Weyers Cave).
Playoff Bubble Update: Dakoda Armstrong (11th in points) and Cole Custer (12th) are currently teetering on the playoff bubble following the seventh race of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway. Armstrong is only 11 points ahead and Custer is just two points ahead of 13th-place Brandon Jones. RCR’s Jones has made two starts at RIR, posting a 19.0 average finish.
JGR Tops In Wins Over Last Five Seasons: Over the last five full seasons (not including 2017), no other team has visited Victory Lane more than Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. From 2012 to 2016, the series has run 165 events and nine different organizations have posted at least one win. Joe Gibbs Racing leads the series in wins during that time with 64 (38.7%) victories, followed by Team Penske (33 wins), JR Motorsports (23), Richard Childress Racing (22), Roush Fenway Racing (12), Chip Ganassi Racing (six), HScott Motorsports (three), Biagi-DenBeste Racing (one) and Richard Petty Motorsports (one).
Monster Names To Watch This Weekend: This weekend at Richmond International Raceway, five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will attempt to compete in the ToyotaCare 250 - Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson.
New RIR Winner Probability Is High: Of the 42 drivers entered this weekend in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Richmond International Raceway only one is a former winner - Morgan Shepherd - who won on Sept. 10, 1983. If Shepherd makes the race, the chances for a new winner are at 97.5%, if he doesn’t it goes up 100%.
Top 10 In Points Still Looking For A Win: Seven of the current top 10 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings are still looking for their first career series victory - William Byron, Daniel Hemric, Darrell Wallace Jr, Blake Koch, Brennan Poole, Matt Tifft and Michael Annett have yet win in the series. Richmond has hosted six first-time series winners in Victory Lane since 1982 - Kyle Busch (2004), Robby Gordon (2004), Jeff Purvis (1996), Bobby Hamilton (1989), Butch Lindley (1982) and Tommy Houston (1982).
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update: William Byron continues to hold on to the rookie standings lead by 17 points over second-place Daniel Hemric followed by Cole Custer (-30), Matt Tifft (-33), and Spencer Gallagher (-41).
Car Owner Points Update: Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang team has opened the lead in car owner points to 53 markers over the second-place Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry team through the first seven races despite not having a win. Penske is looking to win his fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series owner title this season.
NXS Milestones: Elliott Sadler will be making his 337th series start this weekend, tying Kevin Harvick for 13th on the NASCAR XFINITY Series all-time starts list. ... BJ McCleod will attempt to make his 50th NASCAR XFINITY Series start this weekend.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Losses Are Frugal For Fugle At Kyle Busch Motorsports
Ryan “Rudy” Fugle has been one of the preeminent crew chiefs in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series over the last couple of seasons. He has guided his team at Kyle Busch Motorsports to three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner’s championships in all three of his seasons with the team (2013, 2015 and 2016). Fugle captured a driver’s championship with Kyle Busch Motorsports driver and Sunoco Rookie Erik Jones in 2015.
Fugle (33), a New York native, went to UNC Charlotte and studied engineering. He started his career as a crew chief in NASCAR in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2009 when he was atop of the pit box for driver Michael Annett for seven races. In 2010, Fugle was the crew chief for Annett for the entire season.
Fugle went to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2011 and was the crew chief for Justin Lofton for nine races.
In 2013, he found his calling as a crew chief in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kyle Busch Motorsports. He was atop of the pit box that season for a multitude of drivers including current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. In 21 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, he helped guide the No. 51 Toyota Tundra to six wins, 10 top fives and 15 top 10s. Fugle delivered the owner’s championship to Kyle Busch Motorsports that season.
In 2015, Fugle led Sunoco Rookie Erik Jones to one of the most dominant rookie seasons to date...at the time. Fugle and Jones combined to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver’s and owner’s championship, and Jones was awarded the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. The two won three races, scored 11 top fives and 20 top 10s in 23 races.
In 2016, Fugle and Sunoco Rookie William Byron partook in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record-shattering season. The two won seven races; breaking the previous NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie wins record of five set by Kurt Busch in 2000. The combo secured the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner’s championship and Byron was bestowed the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award as a result of his record-breaking season with Fugle at the helm.
From 2013 to present, Fugle’s drivers have combined for 17 wins, 10 poles and 35 top-five finishes across his 71 races calling the shots for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Fugle is currently the crew chief for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell. Through three races this season, he and Bell have accounted for one win, two stage wins, two top fives, three top 10s and have led 201 laps.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Young Guns Make The Jump
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has often been viewed at as a talent bed of drivers that have potential to make it to the next level in NASCAR.
Over the last three seasons, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has seen young, talented drivers such as Erik Jones, Darrell Wallace Jr., William Byron, Brandon Jones, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric make the jump to the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
The 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series field has four Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates who all drove full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series a season ago in William Byron, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Spencer Gallagher.
Each driver has shown flashes of greatness in the ‘Series Where Names Are Made’ this season.
Byron has opened his rookie season strong as he currently leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year race and is second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings.
Hemric cleaned up at Bristol Motor Speedway this past weekend where he won the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash and captured his first stage win of the 2017 season.
If the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs began today, Cole Custer would be the last driver in as he currently sits 12th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings. He’s had one top five and two top 10s in seven starts this season.
After having a slow start to the 2017 season, Gallagher has straightened it out but scoring four consecutive finishes of 19th or better. He currently is 17th in the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series remains a talent pool for both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series. With nine Sunoco Rookies in this year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series class, expect to start to see those names make the jump as early as next season.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Countdown: Three Weeks
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is less than a month away from action. The series hits the track next at Kansas Speedway for the Toyota Tundra 250 on Friday, May 12 (8:30 p.m. ET on FS1).
William Byron is the defending race winner. Matt Crafton (second), Christopher Bell (fourth), Ryan Truex (sixth) and Timothy Peters (eighth) all scored top-10 finishes at Kansas last season.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Owner Standings Update
After three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season, GMS Racing (No. 21 Chevrolet) holds a narrow lead of four points over Kyle Busch Motorsports (No. 4 Toyota) in the owner’s standings.
Kyle Busch is going for his fifth-consecutive and sixth all-time owner’s championship in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. Busch’s team broke a series record in 2015 when it earned its third-consecutive and fourth all-time owner’s championship.

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