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John Hunter Nemechek Paces Xfinity Series Practice from Phoenix

John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing have been among the fastest throughout the entire NASCAR Xfinity Series campaign in 2023. Friday’s 50-minute practice from Phoenix Raceway was no exception.

Carrying the colors of long-time sponsor Pye-Barker Fire & Safety, Nemechek put his Toyota GR Supra at the top of the time sheets in the final practice session of the year, with a lap time of 27.679 seconds (130.062mph).

In doing so, the driver with a series-high seven victories this season, established himself as quite possibly the favorite to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship on Saturday, being the fastest of the four eligible drivers.

Also competing for the Xfinity Series title, Cole Custer was second-quickest in Friday’s practice session from the one-mile oval, albeit more than a tenth of a second behind the session leader.

Riley Herbst, a teammate to Custer at Stewart-Haas Racing, was the third-fastest driver in practice. Justin Allgaier and Sammy Smith finished the session in fourth and fifth, rounding out a strong top-five.

Jeb Burton, who confirmed on Thursday he would return to Jordan Anderson Racing in 2024, was sixth-quickest in the session, with Brandon Jones in seventh, Josh Berry in eighth, and Sheldon Creed in ninth.

Sam Mayer, a teammate to Jones and Berry, clocked in 10th, the lowest of the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet will have some work to do if he hopes to hoist the championship trophy after the 200-lap contest.

All 40 drivers entered in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race from Phoenix Raceway were able to make a lap on-track in practice, the slowest of which was Jeffrey Earnhardt in the No. 45 for Alpha Prime Racing.

Chandler Smith (13th) ran 56 laps during the 50-minute practice session of Friday, the most of any driver entered. Running just nine laps, Brad Perez ran the fewest number of laps in the CHK Racing No. 74 Chevrolet.

There were only two brief stoppages in Friday’s session, with both Joey Gase and JJ Yeley running into issues, albeit minor ones, during the session.

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