TC Daily Pit Stop: Hamlin Ends Six-Year Xfinity Winless Streak; Kligerman "Livid Inside" With Mayer; Preece Talks Daytona Incident; Bell on Pole; Playoff Preview; Sunday's TV Schedule
TC Daily Pit Stop: Sunday, September 3rd, 2023
Denny Hamlin has snapped a NASCAR Xfinity Series winless streak that – per NASCAR’s records – has lasted a total of six years, scoring the win in Saturday’s Sport Clips VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway.
The Chesterfield, Virginia native put his annual appearance in the second-tier series to use, utilizing a series of good restarts to make quick passes on series regulars Austin Hill and John Hunter Nemechek, leading the final three laps en route to his 18th Xfinity Series win.
Austin Hill, John Hunter Nemechek, Cole Custer and Josh Berry rounded out the top-five. Riley Herbst made ground on the playoff bubble with a sixth-place finish, with Justin Allgaier, Sheldon Creed, Kyle Busch, and Daniel Hemric completed the top-10.
Over the last 12 races, Parker Kligerman had clawed his way back from being a longshot at making the Playoffs to being 20 points above the cutline heading into Darlington. In the closing laps of Saturday’s next-to-last race of the regular-season, it looked like Kligerman would carry a lead over Riley Herbst for the final Playoff berth heading into Kansas.
That all came to an end after a tap from Sam Mayer sent Kligerman spinning outside the top-30 in the closing laps.
“I was committed to the bottom. I mean, I think I had three car lengths on him by the time we entered the braking zone. He just flat ran us over,” Kligerman said. “He’s a good kid. I thought we were friends. He’s won races this year, but he does dumb stuff like that sometimes. I don’t know. He’s got to clean it up.”
Kligerman would rally to finish 24th, but now he sits one point behind Herbst.
Ryan Preece met with the media on Saturday at Darlington Raceway to talk about his scary crash at Daytona last week, and in the chat, Preece revealed his eyes. Due to the excessive g-forces pulled in the barrel roll crash, Preece’s eyes are blood red this week, and he has bruising below his eyes due to busted capillaries.
Preece will race this weekend, as he starts from the 34th position on Sunday, and he was asked if there would have been any harm in just taking a week off.
“Yeah, but why? As a racer, why,” Preece fired back. “You go talk to a guy that is racing a 410, or a modified, and we love to race. And I feel perfectly fine, so why stop? It’s completely — I get what you’re saying. It’s okay to not race, but it’s okay to race, and I think that’s what really needs to be said here.”
Christopher Bell, who made it into the Championship 4 a season ago due to clutch performances down the stretch, has flown under the radar this year, despite finishing fourth in the regular-season championship standings.
Well, he’s back on the radar as he’ll start from the pole in Sunday’s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington. Bell edged out his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin by 0.026 sec. for his third pole in the last eight races.
The top-nine positions in the starting grid will be filled by Playoff contenders.
Seven months of blood, sweat, and tears all come down to 10 weeks of high-stakes Playoff action to determine the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion. As we head into the Playoff opener at Darlington Raceway, no true No. 1 contender for the championship has emerged, and the title race is wide open.
Joseph Srigley breaks down the Playoffs in this Playoff preview.
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