NASCAR Xfinity Series News & Notes – Martinsville Speedway

Tyler Reddick continues to remind the series why he’s the champ

Atop the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings following the fifth race of the season at Auto Club Speedway last weekend, sits the 2018 Xfinity champion, Tyler Reddick, with a seven-point lead over second-place Cole Custer. For the second straight week the Richard Childress Racing driver holds the coveted first position in the points, reminding everyone his title last season wasn’t a fluke.

Through the first five races of this season, Reddick has put up two poles, three top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 7.0 – second only to Custer’s 6.0 average finish this season. Plus, Reddick has spent more time out front this season (85 laps led) than compared to the first five races of his championship-winning season (20 laps led) last year.

Reddick will have an extra week to relish in his early success as the series takes its first break of the season, but the Californian will be back at it next week in Texas as the series prepares for the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on Saturday, March 30, at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: My Bariatric Solutions 300
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 30
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2018 Winner: Ryan Blaney

Cole Custer’s big win has him Playoff bound

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer put on a display of talent this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway that not only delayed Kyle Busch’s 200th NASCAR national series win to the next day, but secured the checkered flag and locked himself into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs for third consecutive season of his career.

It was a big win indeed, and the third victory of his Xfinity Series career (2017 Homestead-Miami, 2018 Fall Texas and now Auto Club). Now Custer heads into the off-week in second, just seven points back from series standings leader Tyler Reddick and seven points ahead of third-place Christopher Bell.

Custer has been lights out this season. In five starts he has a win, three top fives, four top 10s and a series-leading average finish of 6.0.

Next week at Texas will be particularly special for Custer as he will look to build off of his Playoff win there last season, where he captured the victory at the 1.5-mile track on his way to the Championship 4.

Christopher Bell back to form, holding tight in third

After being caught in an incident at ISM Raceway two weeks back, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell rebounded nicely this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway to finish third. Now the Oklahoma native sits third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings, 14 points behind standings leader Tyler Reddick.

Bell had already secured his spot in the Playoffs this season with his victory at Atlanta back in February. Through five races, Bell looks to be poised to contend for the title this season, amassing one pole, one win, two top fives and three top 10s. His average finish this season, despite a DNF at Phoenix, is still a solid 10.6.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff outlook following Auto Club Speedway

Below is the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs outlook following the fifth race of the season at Auto Club Speedway. Three title contenders have won this season locking themselves into the postseason – Michael Annett (Daytona), Christopher Bell (Las Vegas) and Cole Custer (Auto Club Speedway) – leaving nine spots still up for grabs. Justin Haley currently holds the final Playoff transfer position just eight points ahead of Ross Chastain in 13th – the first position outside the cutoff.

Below is the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff outlook following Auto Club Speedway:

Rank Driver Points Pts From Cutoff Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts
1 Cole Custer 213 In On Wins 5 1 1 6
2 Christopher Bell 206 5 1 3 8
3 Michael Annett 178 5 1 0 5
4 Tyler Reddick 220 85 5 0 1 1
5 Brandon Jones 183 48 5 0 0 0
6 Austin Cindric 179 44 5 0 1 1
7 Justin Allgaier 171 36 5 0 0 0
8 Noah Gragson 161 26 5 0 0 0
9 Ryan Sieg 153 18 5 0 0 0
10 John Hunter Nemechek 149 14 5 0 0 0
11 Chase Briscoe 145 10 5 0 0 0
12 Justin Haley 143 8 5 0 1 1
13 Ross Chastain 135 -8 5 0 1 1
14 Brandon Brown 107 -36 5 0 0 0
15 Gray Gaulding 91 -52 5 0 0 0
16 Jeremy Clements 89 -54 5 0 0 0
17 Ray Black II 86 -57 5 0 0 0
18 Garrett Smithley 85 -58 5 0 0 0
19 David Starr 71 -72 5 0 0 0
20 BJ McLeod 69 -74 5 0 0 0
21 Josh Williams 64 -79 5 0 0 0
22 Vinnie Miller 54 -89 5 0 0 0
23 Joey Gase 53 -90 5 0 0 0
24 Matt Mills 49 -94 5 0 0 0
25 Stephen Leicht 44 -99 5 0 0 0
26 Jeff Green 41 -102 5 0 0 0
27 Josh Bilicki 37 -106 5 0 0 0
28 Mike Harmon 36 -107 5 0 0 0

Class of 2019: Sunoco Rookie update

YTD Rookie Standings
Rookie Points
Noah Gragson 161
John H. Nemechek 149
Chase Briscoe 145
Justin Haley 143
Brandon Brown 107

There are some big changes in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following the fifth race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season at Auto Club Speedway.

First, Noah Gragson capitalized on John Hunter Nemechek’s misfortunes at Auto Club Speedway (28th-place finish), to take the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead by 12 points over Nemechek, who is in second with his 12th-place finish last weekend. Gragson now has one top-five and two top-10 finishes this season and an average finish of 9.2 through five races.

Next, Chase Briscoe won the Sunoco Rookie of the Race award for the second consecutive week and, as a result, accumulated enough points to move up a spot to third in the rookie standings – two points ahead of fourth-place Justin Haley. Briscoe finished fifth at Auto Club Speedway driving the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi Ford Mustang. Through five races, Briscoe has accumulated one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 9.2.

Crew Chief Spotlight: Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ben Beshore

Joe Gibbs Racing made a focused move when they tapped Ben Beshore to be the next crew chief of the organization’s flagship No. 18 Toyota Camry team in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Beshore, who had previously been serving as car chief on the No 18 JGR team in the Monster Energy Series, has already directed aspiring part-time driver Jeffrey Earnhardt to lead laps at Daytona and worked with veteran Kyle Busch to add wins 197 and 198 to his 200 NASCAR national series win total.

Beshore has some big shoes to fill as several well-known, winning crew chiefs have come before him atop the No. 18’s pit box, such as Eric Phillips, Chris Gayle, Adam Stevens and Jason Ratcliff, to name a few. Phillips was the most recent crew chief for the No. 18 and led the team to eight series wins among four drivers (Kyle Busch, Ryan Preece, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell). This season, Phillips made the move to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to be the car chief on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry alongside crew chief Chris Gabehart and driver Denny Hamlin.

This season, through five races, Beshore has the No. 18 Toyota team headed in the right direction; posting two wins (Las Vegas and ISM Raceway), three top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 7.0. The No. 18 Toyota Camry team is also currently leading the NASCAR Xfinity Series owner standings, 16 points ahead of second-place Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro team.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Etc.:

Racing This Weekend – NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers Ross Chastain and DJ Kennington will be competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. Chastain will be driving the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet and Kennington will be in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet. … Xfinity Series drivers Ross Chastain and Timmy Hill will also be competing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on Saturday.  Chastain will pilot the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet and Hill will be in his own truck, the No. 56 Hill Motorsports Chevrolet.

(NASCAR PR)

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