NASCAR Xfinity Series News & Notes – Auto Club Speedway

Saturday is Kyle Busch’s first chance at the 200th NASCAR national series win

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch will have his first crack at winning his 200th NASCAR national series race in this Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Production Alliance Group 300
The Place: Auto Club Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 16
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 4:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (150 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 300)
2018 Winner: Joey Logano

Busch currently has 199 NASCAR national series combined wins (52 Monster Energy Series, 94 NASCAR Xfinity Series and 53 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series).

NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty currently holds the all-time lead in NASCAR national series combined wins with 200 – but, of note, all of his came in the Monster Energy Series.

Busch could actually reach 201 combined NASCAR national series wins if he were to sweep the weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races – a feat he accomplished back 2013.

Top Five in All-Time Combined NASCAR National Series Wins
Rank Driver Total Monster Energy Xfinity Gander Outdoors
1 Richard Petty 200 200 0 0
2 Kyle Busch 199 52 94 53
3 David Pearson 106 105 1 0
Kevin Harvick 106 45 47 14
5 Jeff Gordon 98 93 5 0

The Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway has a pretty good shot at being the event that gets Busch his 200th win. Busch leads the NASCAR Xfinity Series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with six victories and three of them were from the pole. Though he hasn’t visited Victory Lane in his last three series starts at the track, he has led laps and battled for the win, finishing no worse than third during those contests. In total, Busch has 18 series starts at the track, six wins (2008, Spring 2009, 2010 sweep, 2011, 2013), 12 top fives, 15 top 10s and an average finish of 6.1.

The veteran from Las Vegas also leads several of the series’ key pre-race loop data statistical categories at Auto Club Speedway; including driver rating (124.9), fastest laps run (432), quality passes (510), green flag passes (689), laps in the top 15 (2,192 laps; 91.2%) and laps led (800).

California drivers Reddick and Custer are off to hot start in 2019

California is known for producing some of racing’s top talent and this season the NASCAR Xfinity Series has been blessed by several of those West Coasters competing for the driver championship title. Two California natives that stand above the rest this season are Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick (Corning) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer (Ladera Ranch).

The 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series champ and current standings leader Reddick is racing at a very high level this season. Reddick didn’t even spin the tires when he launched from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing in the offseason, as it only took him four races this year to retake the top spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver points standings.

Now the 23-year old is heading to his home state this weekend after accumulating two top fives and three top 10s on the year; as well as leading the third-most laps this season (75).

Reddick was born about eight to nine hours north of Auto Club Speedway (Fontana), and the RCR driver has taken to the 2-mile track quite well. In his series track debut last season driving for JR Motorsports, he started 16th and finished inside the top-10 (seventh). Reddick is currently holding the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings lead by a slim four points over Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell following the race at Phoenix last weekend.

Hailing from Ladera Ranch, California, is Stewart-Haas Racing’s driver, Cole Custer. The 21-year-old rising star is ranked third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings, 11 points behind Tyler Reddick in the standings lead and seven points back from second-place Christopher Bell heading into this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Custer has been solid this season, racking up two top fives and three top 10s in the first four starts of the season; including a runner-up finish at Atlanta. He has also banked the second-best average finish this season with a 7.2.

This weekend will be a homecoming party for Custer, as Ladera Ranch is just over an hour drive from Fontana, where Auto Club Speedway is located. Custer has made two starts at the two-mile raceway, posting one top-10 finish (sixth-place, last season).

Custer and Reddick are not the only California natives that have competed in the series this season, Zane Smith (Huntington Beach) and Ja Junior Avila (Los Angeles) have also made starts this season; neither are entered this weekend.

Sunoco Rookie Update: Chase Briscoe finds his footing

YTD Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings
Rookie Points Ldr Nxt
John H. Nemechek 140 0 0
Noah Gragson 130 -10 -10
Justin Haley 116 -24 -14
Chase Briscoe 112 -28 -4
Brandon Brown 85 -55 -27

After a slow start to the season, Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi’s rookie driver, Chase Briscoe, grabbed a gear and scored his first Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors at ISM Raceway with a sixth-place finish last weekend.

Piloting the No. 98 Ford Mustang this season, Briscoe is ranked fourth in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings but has made strides to cut into John Hunter Nemechek’s points lead and is now only 28 points back following back-to-back top-10 finishes in his last two starts. Plus, he has posted an average finish of 10.2 this season.

Briscoe now sets his eyes on Auto Club Speedway, where he will be making his series track debut this weekend, but he will not be alone. Fellow rookies Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and Brandon Brown will also be making their track debuts. John Hunter Nemechek is the only rookie this season with Xfinity Series experience at Auto Club Speedway – he made his track debut last season, and after qualifying third and running towards the front in Stage 1, he was caught in an incident on Lap 69 that relegated him to a 29th-place finish.

Of note, Chase Briscoe is also ranked 13th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 57 points back from the standings lead.

RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg is making consistency his calling card

One driver finding consistency to be key to his success this season is RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg, who is currently having his best NASCAR Xfinity Series career start to a season following his third top-10 finish in the first four races of year.

Ryan Sieg has RSS Racing mixing it up with some of the best in the sport. The 31-yeard old from Tucker, Georgia is ranked 10th in the series driver championship standings just 43-points behind the series standings lead.

Sieg busted out of the 2019 gate with one top five and three tops 10s; that included a fourth-place finish at Daytona, a sixth at Las Vegas and a 10th at ISM Raceway. Sieg has an impressive average finish of 7.8 this season – tied with series standings leader Tyler Reddick for third-best this season behind Michael Annett (6.5) and Cole Custer (7.2).

Sieg has made five series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting an average finish of 22.4.

Xfinity Team Spotlight: SS Green Light Racing 

This week we turn the spotlight on a team out of Mooresville, North Carolina, that is kicking the season off well in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – SS Green Light Racing – with drivers Ray Black Jr. in the No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro and Gray Gaulding in the No. 08 Chevrolet Camaro.

SS Green Light Racing was founded and is operated by Bobby Dotter, a second-generation driver who began his racing career as a teenager in the Chicago area. Dotter and SS Green Light Racing have prided themselves on developing young drivers in the sport. Over the years, several talented drivers have been with Dotter at SS Green Light Racing including, most recently, Ross Chastain, Joey Gase, and Spencer Boyd.

After the first four races of the season, SS Green Light Racing has Gray Gaulding sitting 16th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings and his teammate Ray Black Jr. just behind him in 18th.

This season, Gaulding, 21, from Colonial Heights, Virginia, has posted one top-15 and two top-20 finishes; including a career-best finish of 12th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a few weeks back. Working with crew chief Patrick Donahue, Gaulding has an average finish of 19.5 through four races this season.

Gaulding’s SS Green Light Racing teammate, Ray Black Jr., from Palm Coast, Florida, is having the best start to a season in his Xfinity Series career. The 27-year-old, in four starts this season, has collected one top-15 and two top-20 finishes; including his series career-best finish of 11th at Las Vegas. Black Jr., working with crew chief Jason Miller, has also grabbed an average finish of 20.5 through the first four races of the season.

Heading to California this weekend, Black Jr. has only made two starts (2016-2017) at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series posting a best finish of 27th in 2017. His teammate, Gaulding, will be making his series track debut this weekend on the 2-mile track.

Auto Club Speedway: Quick stats to know

Below is a quick statistical look at the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Auto Club Speedway:

Races/Starts:

Auto Club Speedway has hosted 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series races. The first Xfinity Series race held at Auto Club Speedway was on October 19, 1997 and the event was won by Todd Bodine driving the Scott Welliver-owned Pontiac. In total, 332 different NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers have made starts at Auto Club Speedway, 205 drivers have competed in more than one. Kevin Harvick leads the series in starts at Auto Club Speedway with 20 starts.

Poles:

In total, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has seen 18 different drivers win the pole award at Auto Club Speedway; led by Joey Logano with four poles (2009, 2010, 2012, 2017). Steve Park won the series’ first pole at Auto Club Speedway in 1997 and Christopher Bell won the most recent Xfinity pole at Auto Club Speedway last season. The youngest Xfinity pole winner at Auto Club Speedway is Erik Jones (March 21, 2015, at 18 years, 8 months and 50 days). Dave Blaney is the oldest series pole winner at Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 24, 2007 at 44 years, 4 months, 0 days). Tony Stewart holds the NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying record at Auto Club Speedway with a speed of 185.941 mph (Feb. 26, 2005).

Wins:

In total the NASCAR Xfinity Series has seen 16 different drivers win the race at Auto Club Speedway; led by Kyle Busch with six victories (2008, 2009, 2010 sweep, 2011, 2013). Todd Bodine won the series’ first race at Auto Club Speedway in 1997 and Joey Logano won the most recent Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway last season. The youngest Xfinity race winner at Auto Club Speedway is Joey Logano (Oct. 10, 2009 at 19 years, 4 months, 16 days). The oldest series winner at Auto Club Speedway is Mark Martin (Feb. 26, 2005 at 46 years, 1 month, 17 days). Hank Parker Jr. holds the race record in the series at Auto Club Speedway with an average speed of 155.957 mph (April 28, 2001).

Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media breakouts

Three drivers from the NASCAR Xfinity Series – Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer and GMS Racing’s standout rookie John Hunter Nemechek – will be participating in this week’s media rotations at Auto Club Speedway. All three drivers are currently in the top 10 of the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver points standings as they prepare for the Production Alliance Group 300 this Saturday, March 16 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: January 11, 1996

Driver’s Age: 23

Hometown: Corning, California

Hobbies: Riding ATVs, gaming, working on cars

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion and Sunoco Rookie of the Year
  • Became just the third driver in series history to win the title in his rookie season, joining Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017).
  • Has three career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins; including closest finish in the history of NASCAR last season at Daytona International Speedway with a margin of victory of 0.0004 sec.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently the driver championship standings leader by four points over second-place Christopher Bell
  • In four starts this season, has posted two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 7.8.
  • Has led the third-most laps (75) this season behind Kyle Busch (217) and Christopher Bell (214).

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Made series track debut at Auto Club Speedway last season; he started 16th and raced his way to a seventh-place finish.

Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang)

Birthdate: January 23, 1998

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Ladera Ranch, California

Hobbies: Watching sports

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2018, he made the Playoff’s Championship 4; ultimately finishing runner-up in final driver standings while his No. 00 car won the owner’s title
  • Made the Playoffs and finished fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings in his rookie year (2017).
  • Has two career NASCAR Xfinity Series wins; including last season’s Playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway to win his way into the Championship 4.

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently third in the driver points standings, 11 points back from the series standings leader Tyler Reddick and just seven points behind second-place Christopher Bell.
  • In four starts this season, has posted two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 7.2.
  • Has led the fourth-most laps (51) this season.

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Auto Club Speedway, starting fourth in both of his starts. But in his series track debut, he was involved in an incident on Lap 106 and finished 35th, and then last season redeemed himself by finishing inside the top-10 (sixth).

John Hunter Nemechek (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro)

Birthdate: June 11, 1997

Driver’s Age: 21

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Hobbies: Snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking and cycling

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Competed part-time in 2018 for Chip Ganassi Racing, posting his first NASCAR Xfinity Series career win (Kansas Speedway) and first pole (ISM Raceway).

2019 Season Highlights:

  • Currently seventh in the driver points standings, 29 points back from series standings leader Tyler Reddick.
  • Current Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings leader by 10 points over second-place Noah Gragson following ISM Raceway.
  • In four starts this season, has posted one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 9.8.

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Made series track debut at Auto Club Speedway last season; after qualifying third and running towards the front in Stage 1, he was caught in an incident on Lap 69 that relegated him to a 29th-place finish.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.:

Truex Making Most Of Part-Time Schedule – Last weekend at ISM Raceway, Ryan Truex finished an impressive runner-up to Kyle Busch while driving the JR Motorsport’s No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro – tying his series career-best finish (second at Dover in 2012). Truex is scheduled to run a part-time schedule with JR Motorsports this season to showcase his talents in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The 26-year old from Mayetta, New Jersey will be returning to the series in July at Kentucky.

Ryan Preece Returns To Xfinity – JR Motorsports has fielded four different drivers in the first four starts of the season in the No. 8 this season – Chase Elliott (Daytona), Ryan Preece (Atlanta), Zane Smith (Las Vegas) and Ryan Truex (Phoenix). This weekend JR Motorsports will have Ryan Preece back in the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro; his second series start of 2019. Preece made his season debut at Atlanta a few weeks back, grabbing a seventh-place finish for JRM. This weekend, he returns to compete in the Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway, where he has made two series starts, posting one top-10 finish (ninth-place finish last season). The No. 8 is currently ranked 12th in the owner points standings.

(NASCAR PR)

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