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TC Daily Pit Stop: Nemechek Dominates Xfinity Race at Kansas; Bell Scores Second Straight Pole; Saturday Highlights from Kansas
TC Daily Pit Stop: Sunday, September 10th, 2023
John Hunter Nemechek capped off an amazing week for himself professionally, with a dominant victory in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kansas Speedway, leading 154 of 200 laps en-route to his sixth win of the season.
Taking the lead from Justin Allgaier on Lap 40, the 26-year-old never really looked back, defending against challenges from numerous drivers throughout the race, to win by seven-plus seconds over Brandon Jones.
Sheldon Creed made a surge at the end of Saturday’s race to secure a third-place finish, his third top-five result in the last four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts. Parker Kligerman came home with an impressive fourth-place run for Big Machine Racing, while Riley Herbst ended up 25th, two laps down, which allowed the No. 48 Chevrolet to advance to the Playoffs, and the No. 98 to be eliminated.
Just behind Kligerman in the finishing order, was Austin Hill, who managed to bring home the regular-season championship with a fifth-place finish, scoring that accolade by five points over race-winner John Hunter Nemechek.
What was looking like a strong run for Sammy Smith, has come to a crashing halt, after an accident at the mid-way point of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kansas Speedway.
Smith, driving the No. 18 Toyota, was battling for a position inside the top five when Sheldon Creed came up the track and made contact, which, coupled with contact from Josh Berry, sent the Joe Gibbs Racing driver into the outside wall hard.
Justin Allgaier, the race’s polesitter, was running on the outside of Smith when he spun up the track and was collected in the incident, as well, which heavily damaged the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports.
With a fourth-place finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kansas Speedway, Parker Kligerman and Big Machine Racing are officially in the post-season, beating out Riley Herbst.
Entering one point below the cutline, Kligerman was successful in putting together a great run on Saturday, which came in handy when Herbst and Stewart-Haas Racing continued to falter, with multiple flat tires, and issues throughout the race.
“That’s a very satisfying feeling,” Kligerman explained. “I was definitely the biggest John Hunter [Nemechek] fan on that last run there, seeing [Brandon Jones] be so fast that last run. But I’m really proud of this whole Big Machine Racing team. They brought a really good Spiked Light Coolers Chevy, as we showed throughout this race.”
Herbst wasn’t as thrilled about his fate for the rest of the season, but remains optimistic that he and his team can still win races in the final eight races of the season, saying: “I didn’t really care about rounds of the Playoffs, or how far we went,” Herbst said of his season goals. “I wanted to go win races, and I wanted to get better as a race car driver. And I still feel we have 7-8 races left to go do that.”
For the fourth time in the last eight races, Christopher Bell and Joe Gibbs Racing will lead the NASCAR Cup Series field to green, scoring the pole for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Bell, driving the No. 20 DEWALT Toyota Camry TRD, posted a blistering lap in the final round of qualifying on Sunday, breaking down into the 29-second bracket with a time of 29.954 (180.276mph).
The pole position marks the eighth of Bell’s career at NASCAR’s top-level, and his second at Kansas Speedway, after he scored the pole for last year’s Spring race at the 1.5-mile facility.
A native of Norman, Oklahoma, Bell beat out fellow dirt racer Kyle Larson for the top-spot in the final round, as the Hendrick Motorsports driver posted a time of 30.029 seconds (179.826mph), which was good enough to claim second.
In a less-than-ideal start to the NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Busch and the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team will have to start at the rear of the field in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400. Busch suffered a cut tire late in Saturday’s practice session, which caused his Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to go into the outside wall.
This is the second race of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and it’s the second week in a row that Busch has found trouble in practice leading into the weekend.
“Just like every other weekend. Always put in a hole,” Busch said with frustration. “Always behind, and have to come and dig ourselves out. Hate it for all of the guys, the car was really good. Had really good longevity, there. We were just running laps — running some pretty good laps, comparatively to the rest of our group that we were with at that time.
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