NASCAR Xfinity Series News & Notes – ISM Raceway

After a spectacular event in Las Vegas last weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Phoenix, Arizona for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway this Saturday, March 9 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio for the fourth race of the 2019 season.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at ISM Raceway
The Place: ISM Raceway
The Date: Saturday, March 9
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2018 Winner: Brad Keselowski

Through three races the series has seen three different winners – Michael Annett (Daytona), Christopher Bell (Atlanta) and Kyle Busch (Las Vegas). Which is appropriate because the NASCAR Xfinity Series is on a different winner streak at ISM Raceway as well, which has reached five different winners – Kyle Busch (Playoff race 2016), Justin Allgaier (Spring 2017), William Byron (Playoff race 2017), Brad Keselowski (Spring 2018) and Christopher Bell (Playoff race 2018). Allgaier, Bell and Busch are all entered this weekend and are the only former winners in the field.

Kyle Busch currently leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with 10 victories (Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, 2013 sweep, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, 2016 sweep). If Kyle Busch were to win this weekend at ISM Raceway, he would tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin for the NASCAR Xfinity Series wins record at a single track. Martin currently holds the record for the most wins at single track with 11 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Rockingham Speedway (Spring 1988, Fall 1992, 1993 sweep, Fall 1994, 1996 sweep, 1997 sweep, Fall 1999 and Spring 2000).

ISM Raceway has hosted 34 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, dating back to inaugural event on  November 6, 1999. The race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon in his own No. 24 Chevrolet. Heading to ISM Raceway this weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has produced 18 different poles winners and 18 different race winners at the track.

Lots of competitive action through three Xfinity races this season

With three different winners in the first three races of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, the on-track competition looks to be in full force. Which has been the norm in this series as 27 of the 37 Xfinity seasons (since 1982) have started with three different winners in the first three races.

Another stat advocating for this season’s action as standing out is the average Margin of Victory through the first three races has been 0.166 seconds – the closest average MOV through the first three races of the season since 1998. That’s two decades! All three races this season have had an MOV of less than a second – it’s just the sixth time that’s happened since the series started measuring the margin of victory electronically in 1996.

Additionally, through the first three races of the 2019 season, the series has seen 13 different drivers lead laps with an average of 7 different leaders and 12 lead changes per race. Christopher Bell has currently led the most laps this season with 149 (30.04%).


Every Race Counts: Playoff outlook following Las Vegas

Just three races into the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and the Playoff picture is starting to take shape. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell (Atlanta) and JR Motorsport’s Michael Annett (Daytona) have already secured their spots in the 2019 Playoffs with early wins, leaving 10 spots still up for grabs as the series heads to Phoenix, Arizona, for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at ISM Raceway this Saturday, March 9 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Below is the 2019 Playoff outlook following Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

Rank Driver Starts Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts. From Cutoff
1 Christopher Bell 3 139 1 2 7 In on Wins
2 Michael Annett 3 111 1 0 5
3 Cole Custer 3 121 0 1 1 40
4 Tyler Reddick 3 121 0 1 1 40
5 Brandon Jones 3 117 0 0 0 36
6 John H. Nemechek 3 107 0 0 0 26
7 Justin Allgaier 3 96 0 0 0 15
8 Ryan Sieg 3 96 0 0 0 15
9 Ross Chastain 3 96 0 1 1 15
10 Noah Gragson 3 94 0 0 0 13
11 Austin Cindric 3 94 0 0 0 13
12 Justin Haley 3 89 0 1 1 8
13 Chase Briscoe 3 81 0 0 0 -8
14 Brandon Brown 3 63 0 0 0 -26
15 Josh Williams 3 52 0 0 0 -37
16 Garrett Smithley 3 52 0 0 0 -37
17 Gray Gaulding 3 49 0 0 0 -40


Fast Start: Joe Gibbs Racing is a Xfinity Series powerhouse

Off to a hot start this season, winning two of the first three races of the NASCAR Xfinity Series 2019 season, has the spotlight turned squarely on Joe Gibbs Racing. And when talking about which organization is the clear-cut powerhouse in the NASCAR Xfinity Series over the last decade or so (2009-2019), Joe Gibbs Racing is at the top of most lists. And rightfully so.

Since 2009, the season Kyle Busch brought Joe Gibbs Racing its first Xfinity Series driver championship, the team has won 127 of 338 races run – that’s an astounding winning percentage of 37.5% (2009-present). To put that into perspective, during that time JGR won more than double (68 more wins) the next highest organization – Team Penske with 59 victories. And to boot, JGR’s winning percentage is also more than double that of their next highest competitor as well.

Organizations Xfinity Wins (2009-Present) Winning %
Joe Gibbs Racing 127 37.6%
Team Penske 59 17.5%
JR Motorsports 42 12.4%
Roush Fenway Racing 39 11.5%
Richard Childress Racing 31 9.2%

What might be most impressive of the recent dominance is how pivotal a role Kyle Busch played in the organization’s success. Of 338 races run from 2009-present, Kyle Busch ran 208 races and won 71 of them, making his winning percentage 34.1%.

 Joe Gibbs Racing leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with 11 victories – 10 from Kyle Busch and one from Christopher Bell in the Playoff race last fall.

In total, Joe Gibbs Racing has accumulated 154 NASCAR Xfinity Series wins since first competing in the series back in 1997 with driver Bobby Labonte. Joe Gibbs Racing has been able to win so many Xfinity races they now hold the series record for the most wins at 16 of 25 different tracks the series competes on actively – here is the list of tracks and number of Xfinity wins by JGR:

Auto Club Speedway (eight), Bristol Motor Speedway (12), Chicagoland Speedway (six), Dover International Speedway (12), Homestead-Miami Speedway (four), Indianapolis Motor Speedway (three), Iowa Speedway (six), ISM Raceway (11), Kansas Speedway (eight), Kentucky Speedway (six), Michigan International Speedway (five; tied with Roush Fenway Racing for lead), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (nine), Pocono Raceway (three-way tie for the lead with Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske; each have one), Richmond Raceway (nine; tied with Roush Fenway Racing for lead), Talladega Superspeedway (five) and Texas Motor Speedway (11).


GMS Racing’s John Hunter Nemechek, a rookie and a rising talent to contend with

YTD Rookie Standings
Rookies Points
John H. Nemechek 107
Noah Gragson 94
Justin Haley 89
Chase Briscoe 81
Brandon Brown 63

One thing John Hunter Nemechek has been good at is getting up to speed quickly, and this season is no different. The 2019 Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and GMS Racing rising star is currently sixth in the series driver points standings heading to ISM Raceway. Nemechek’s recent success had moved him up six spots in the standings this past weekend following his runner-up finish to Kyle Busch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Thick in the Xfinity Series Playoff conversation and atop the series Sunoco Rookie standings, Nemechek has the wind at his back heading to Phoenix this weekend. The North Carolina native has made just one start at ISM Raceway, last season, where he won the pole and finished in the top-10 (ninth).

Nemechek is currently in the Xfinity Series rookie standings lead following Las Vegas by 13 points over second-place Noah Gragson and 18 points ahead of third-place Justin Haley.


Championship Focus: Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick tied for second in points 

Two California kids looking like they are poised to make it back to the Championship 4 in 2019, are 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick and 2018 driver championship runner-up Cole Custer, as both are now tied for second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings following Las Vegas – just 18 markers back from series standings leader Christopher Bell.

Tyler Reddick made the jump from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing this season and hasn’t stumbled once. The returning champ has been quite impressive this season, posting one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 9.3.

Custer, on the other hand, continues to validate the investment Stewart-Haas Racing has made in him. Through three races, Custer has been neck-n-neck with Reddick as he, too, has posted one top five and two top 10s. But Custer slightly bests Reddick (9.3) in average finish this season with an 8.3.

ISM Raceway has been good to Custer. In four starts he has amassed three top 10s and an average finish of 11.0. Reddick has also fared well at ISM Raceway, putting up two top-10 finishes in three starts; including an average finish of 10.0.


NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.:

Milestone for Morgan – NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, Morgan Shepherd, will attempt to break the tie for sixth on the NASCAR national series combined starts lists with NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte this weekend at ISM Raceway. Both drivers currently have 1,117 national series starts. If Shepherd makes the race, he will move solely into sixth on the NASCAR national series combined starts list with 1,118 national series starts. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the record for the most NASCAR national series starts with 1,182. Shepherd already holds the record for the oldest driver to make a start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the age of 77. He has made two starts this season with an average finish of 34th.


Ole’ Reliable Ryan (Sieg) – Through three races this season, only five drivers have finished on the lead lap of every race and completed 100% of their laps attempted and RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg is one of them. Sieg is currently eighth in the driver championship standings following his three consistent finishes – the best start to a season in his Xfinity career. The four other drivers that have completed 100% of the laps this season are Cole Custer, Michael Annett, Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson.


Double The Action, Double The Fun – Make sure to catch all the action this weekend as several drivers will be pulling double duty at ISM Raceway participating in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 9 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and then again Sunday, March 10 in the TicketGuardian 500 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The drivers attempting to pull off such a feat are Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain and BJ McLeod.

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