NASCAR at Dover notebook: Xfinity Series to bring elimination excitement to Dover

Brad Keselowski signs an autograph for a race fan in the garage before practice. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The Xfinity Series is often overshadowed by all the hoopla that comes with the high-profile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on a race weekend at Dover International Speedway.

Today promises to be different as the Bar Harbor 200 (3 p.m., NBCSN) takes the spotlight and marks the Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 12 elimination race at Dover International Speedway.

High drama is set as only the top eight drivers of the 12 remaining championship contenders will advance to the next round, but only seven spots are still up for grabs as Christopher Bell won the postseason opener at Richmond, securing his passage to the Round of 8.

Chase Briscoe won last week on the new Charlotte road-course layout, but he is not competing for the Xfinity Series title, meaning no driver automatically advanced to the Round of 8.

Consider that there have been seven different winners in the last seven Xfinity races at Dover and it becomes evident that the race will be wide open with winning possibilities.

There will be only three former winners at Dover entered in today’s race – playoff challenger Justin Allgaier (2018 spring race), Jeff Green (2001) and Morgan Shepherd (1986).

Clint Bowyer signs autographs before the Monster Energy Cup practice at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Daniel Hemric, who just last week announced he will be racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next year for Richard Childress Racing, enters today’s race second to Bell in the point standings and is still looking for his first win of the year. He has a 30-point edge over ninth-place Austin Cindric.

Childress believes Hemric is ready to take that next step.

“Daniel has won championships in just about everything he’s raced, and I hope we can add an Xfinity Series title before season’s end,” said Childress. “He battled for the championship right t o the end last year.”

Tyler Reddick, who won the season-opener at Daytona, moved up four positions in the standings after Charlotte and is ranked third with a 21-point edge over the cutoff. His best showing in two Dover starts was fifth place this spring.

Cole Custer was the biggest mover after Charlotte, advancing five crucial positions in the standings to fourth. He holds a 14-point edge over Cindric.

Matt Tifft, Elliott Sadler, regular-season champ Justin Allgaier and Las Vegas winner Ross Chastain round out the top-eight heading into Dover. Chastain holds a nine-point edge on ninth-place Cindric.

“Sitting below the cutoff line I still don’t think of it as a must-win,” Cindric said. “I’ve still got to have a perfect race, still got to get really good stage points, still got to be able to finish and put myself in a position at the end of the race.”

K&N Pro Series East race postponed until today

The Crosley 125 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race was postponed to a pesky rain that began to fall at Dover International Speedway at around 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

The race will be run at 9 a.m. this morning.

The rest of today’s racing action, which includes a pair of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup practice sessions (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and the Bar Harbor 200 Xfinity Series race (3 p.m.) will remain on schedule.

Harrison Burton, son of former Cup Series driver Jeff Burton, will start from the pole position in today’s Crosley 125 after posting a lap of 157.143 mph on Friday afternoon. It was the fourth pole of his K&N Pro Series East career.

Burton went to Victory Lane at Dover last fall as he captured the K&N Pro Series East title.

Bubba says ‘put that phone down’

Bubba Wallace talks with the media about distracting driving at Dover International Speedway on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace is teaming up with the National Auto Body Council to put the brakes on distracted driving.

Distracted driving, particularly related to cell phone use, has become one of the most significant factors in motor vehicle crashes in the United States.

As a result, many states are enacting tough laws banning phone use in the car with stiff fines attached.

“I love being on my phone and sharing what I’m doing with my friends, family and followers,” Wallace said. “But as a NASCAR driver, I know that even the slightest distraction that takes your focus off what is in front of you can put you in the wall.

“When I get in my race car, I take the time to focus my attention and make sure everything is set before I fire up the engine. It’s the same when I get in my daily drive – I check my directions and set my GPS, line up my music and make sure my phone is put up where I can’t see it and am not tempted to answer it.”

Xfinity driver to salute America’s Heroes

Xfinity driver Brandon Brown’s Chevrolet will showcase a patriotic design featuring the logo of the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes in today’s Bar Harbor 200 at Dover International Speedway.

The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes in a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to rebuilding the lives of severely wounded veterans of the War on Terror.

Several veteran ambassadors of the organization will be recognized during the race.

“I am very excited and honored to work with the Coalition and to have this special opportunity to honor our nation’s heroes in the best way I know how,” Brown said.

The race track’s proximity to Dover Air Force Base and its large population of military personnel was a key reason the race was chosen for the partnership’s debut.

Senior Airman Daniel Acosta, USAF (Ret.) will be joined at the race by fellow Coalition ambassador Jorge De Leon, U.S. Army (Ret.).
“We’re thrilled that Brandon will be sporting our logo this weekend in Dover and we’ll be rooting for him to finish under the checkered flag,” said David Walker, president and CEO of the Coalition. “We’re looking forward to getting the word out about the many ways the Coalition serves our wounded heroes, and we welcome the support of freedom-loving race fans coming out to Dover this weekend to cheer on Brandon and their other favorite drivers.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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