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XFINITY

Aric Almirola has a Fast New Ride

Aric Almirola hasn’t disclosed where he’s driving next year, but he knows he won’t be back at the Richard Petty Motorsports Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team.

But in the meantime, his NASCAR XFINITY Series team owners are showing Almirola plenty of love.

Biagi DenBeste Racing co-owners Bill and Lori DenBeste were so happy with Almirola’s victory in the XFINITY race at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this year that they gave him a very cool bonus, a 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra CSX 6086. Trimmed out in black paint with a red racing stripe Almirola’s new Cobra looks fast sitting still.

Of course it helps that his team owners also own the world’s largest Cobra dealership, Windsor, Calif.-based DenBeste Motorsports.

“Aric has done a great job for us in our No. 98 car, and we are happy to reward that effort in a tangible way with the 1965 Cobra,” said Lori DenBeste, president of Biagi-DenBeste Racing.

Almirola has competed in 26 XFINITY Series races for the Biagi DenBeste Racing, winning at Daytona in 2016 and Talladega in May.

“The significance of the Shelby in the car world is huge and to have one from the first year they started making them is really special,” said Almirola. “What makes it even more special is that it signifies the wins we have together.”

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XFINITY

Mears on 2017 Debut: “It Was Fun Being Back”

FONTANA, Calif. — Casey Mears made his first start of the 2017 NASCAR season on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway, finishing 14th in the Service King 300.

Mears, running a 12-race schedule for Biagi-DenBeste Racing in the XFINITY Series, started 19th and immediately caught the attention of the broadcast booth, as he jumped eight positions in the first 10 laps of Stage 1.

Did four months out of the racecar amp the Bakersfield, California native up enough to navigate through the field as quick as he did?

“I don’t know,” Mears told POPULAR SPEED. “Maybe everyone was just not ready to go, and I was? It was weird … I just kind of shot all the way up through there.”

He lost a few positions as the opening stage winded down, but his No. 98 Geico Military Ford was flirting in the top 15 virtually the entire race.

“I just did what I normally do on restarts, and I just happened to go by everybody,” Mears said. “But we were too tight also. That’s probably why guys were loose to start, and we shot up through … then we lost some positions towards the end of that run.”

The 300-mile event marked his first XFINITY start in seven years. His last race in the series came at Phoenix International Raceway in April 2010, where he finished 31st for Braun Racing.

He also gave the No. 98, which is usually driven by Aric Almirola, its best finish of the season after the team sat out last week’s race at Phoenix.

Mears ran full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with Germain Racing from August 2010 through 2016 but was replaced by Ty Dillon, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors in the No. 13 Chevrolet.

“It was fun being back. We struggled a little in practice and got a little behind,” Mears said. “But in the race, just about halfway through, we started to get it really close, and the car got a lot better.”

His next start for Biagi-DenBeste will be at Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks, and Geico will continue to support him in his 11 remaining races.

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News

Mears Slated for 12 Races With Biagi-DenBeste Racing

Biagi-DenBeste Racing is looking to build off a successful 2016 season as they announced on Monday that Casey Mears will drive the No. 98 Ford Mustang with primary sponsorship from GEICO in 12 NASCAR XFINITY Series races this season.

Mears, who has one NASCAR XFINITY Series win coming at Chicagoland Speedway in 2006 while driving for Chip Ganassi Racing is looking forward to continuing his longtime partnership with GEICO this season.

“I’m thankful for GEICO’s continued support and I’m happy we were able to get this deal put together with Biagi-DenBeste Racing,” Mears said. “Fred Biagi and Bill and Lori DenBeste are great people and I’ve always respected them and how committed they’ve been to NASCAR and building their team over the years. I’m honored to be able to drive the #98 GEICO Military Ford and pay tribute to our military and their families. GEICO does a terrific job of supporting the military and I appreciate the opportunity to play a small role in honoring our service members.”

Biagi-DenBeste Racing gave GEICO their first NASCAR win in 2004 at Daytona with Mike Wallace behind the wheel.  Team co-owner Fred Biagi looks to continue the success from last season where Aric Almirola scored a win for the team in the July race at Daytona.

“It’s great to have GEICO back onboard after experiencing success together early on,” Biagi said. “GEICO is a first class company that has high standards and cares about its customers. Our philosophies line up well and we look forward to working together to have a successful year with Casey and the GEICO Military Ford.” He continued, “I’ve always had a lot of respect for Casey and his family and it excites me to have him in our racecar. I believe this new partnership will not only help us improve our race program, but also result in elevated awareness and generate the interest of potential sponsors.”

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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XFINITY

Jeb Burton Strong At Indy After Two-Month Hiatus

When Richard Petty Motorsports announced in late May that its No. 43 Ford no longer had adequate funding to compete in the XFINITY Series, it left Jeb Burton without a ride.

Burton was a Chase contender at the time, sitting 11th in the standings with four top-15 finishes in 11 races. But now he’s missed six races in the last two months and has dropped to 19th, 114 points behind the 12th-place cutoff.

Although the 23-year-old likely won’t be able to compete for the 2016 XFINITY championship, a two-race deal with Biagi-DenBeste Racing to drive the No. 98 Ford was announced earlier this month.

Burton made his debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the part-time team on Saturday. The No. 98, which won the Daytona night race on the July 4th weekend with Aric Almirola behind the wheel, made its first start since the victory, lining up 11th in the Lilly Diabetes 250.

As he did with RPM in the first third of the season, Burton ran in the top 15 and ended up 12th in the 63-lap event.

“It was a good day,” Burton told CATCHFENCE.COM. “We struggled early in the race but Jon [Hanson] (crew chief) made a good adjustment, and the team had a nice stop which gave me what I needed to get up on the wheel a little more.”

On the final caution after a wreck involving Ray Black Jr. and Harrison Rhodes, Burton was one lap down, but thanks to the free pass, he finished the day on the lead lap.

“When the caution came out there at the end, I was able to get up to the lucky dog spot which locked us in twelfth,” Burton said. “I really appreciate the support from Estes and the opportunity from Biagi-DenBeste Racing.”

Burton will pilot the No. 98 for Biagi-DenBeste at Richmond in September. After Saturday’s event, he tweeted:

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Fred Biagi Sees Daytona Win as Validation

NASCAR XFINITY Series owner Fred Biagi waited a long time for career win No. 2. In fact, it had been exactly 4,382 days, just one day short of 12 years, since Biagi made the trip to Victory Lane until Aric Almirola won the Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. 

Almirola, driving the No. 98 Ford Mustang for Biagi-DenBeste Racing, was declared the winner after a wreck on the final lap brought out the caution before the leaders made it to the finish line. JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and Almirola were in a dead heat through Turns 3 and 4 before the caution flew. It was so close that NASCAR officials needed several minutes of video review to decide who the first-place car was at the moment of caution.

“From our angle, it was very hard to see exactly who won the race,” Biagi told POPULAR SPEED. “It looked like we led most of the way around, but we really couldn’t tell. It was very close and then when we finally got the word, to say that we were excited would be an understatement.”

It was Almirola’s first NASCAR victory since the rain-shortened 2014 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in the Sprint Cup Series. It was also his second career win in the XFINITY Series, although the first came after he was relieved by Denny Hamlin at the Milwaukee Mile in 2007. Biagi last celebrated a win at Daytona in the 2004 Winn-Dixie 250 with Mike Wallace in the No. 4 Ford.

Biagi-DenBeste is a single-car team running a part-time schedule but has been consistent all season. The No. 98 has finished outside the top 15 only once and has six lead-lap results in eight races — quite an accomplishment for any XFINITY team not affiliated with the larger Cup organizations.

“It’s very difficult and to be honest, it’s an honor to be on the racetrack with owners like [Roger] Penske, [Chip] Ganassi, [Rick] Hendrick and [Richard] Childress,” Biagi said. “Those guys are all amazing, but we try to stay focused when we’re not racing. The crew is dedicated, and we’ve had most of them for years. It’s Aric, it’s Jon Hanson the crew chief, our engineers in the shop and we’ve also had a little help from Richard Petty Motorsports.”

For Biagi, the victory demonstrated that he can still field a winning car, despite a 130-race drought. Of the two victories, he feels that this one was slightly more meaningful.

“They’re both wonderful [wins], but maybe this one a little bit more,” Biagi said. “It just proves that you could do it again. It’s been a long time since we won a race and Aric did a magnificent job.”

Biagi said Almirola has improved the organization as a whole. The No. 98 has been a multi-driver, part-time car since 2012 with a previous best result of fourth at Talladega by David Ragan in 2014. Although Almirola has been the only wheelman for the team in 2016, Biagi hinted that there might be new faces in the cockpit later this season.

“We’d like to have Aric point us in the right direction, which I think he has done,” Biagi said. “I think we’re going to have two young men drive a couple of races — I’d rather not say who yet because sponsorship hasn’t been decided. But the plan is to put a few young guys in the car.”

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.