NASCAR XFINITY Series News & Notes – Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Next Race: Boyd Gaming 300
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, February 22
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3:30 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)
2019 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

Bright lights of Las Vegas are next for NASCAR Xfinity Series

Just north of all the casinos and bright lights sits one of the jewels in the desert, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile facility set to host this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race – the Boyd Gaming 300 (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted 25 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, one race per season from 1997 to 2017 and two races per season since 2018. The 1.5-mile oval has 20 degrees of banking in its four turns and nine degrees of banking on the front and backstretch. This weekend’s Boyd Gaming 300 will be 200 laps broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 45 laps each with the final stage 110 laps.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 25 Xfinity races have produced 17 different pole winners and 18 different race winners. Five drivers are tied for the series lead in poles at Las Vegas with two each – Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Cole Custer. NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin leads the series wins at Las Vegas with four victories (1999, 2005, 2008 and 2011). None of the former 17 pole winners are entered this weekend, guaranteeing an 18th different pole winner on Saturday. However, two of the former Xfinity Vegas race winners are entered this weekend. Joe Nemechek won in the Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas back in 2003. This weekend Nemechek will be piloting the No. 47 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet. Ross Chastain is the other former winner active this weekend at Las Vegas. Chastain grabbed his first Xfinity Series career win at Las Vegas in 2018 driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.  This weekend he will wrestling the No. 11.

Las Vegas’s Noah Gragson locks up Playoff spot with Xfinity season-opening win

Atop the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings and locked into the Playoffs for the first time in his career, JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson comes swinging into his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada for the Boyd Gaming 300 on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I always look forward to coming back to Las Vegas because it allows me to visit with family and friends.,” said Gragson. “It adds a little pressure because I want to perform in front of my hometown crowd, but coming off the win in Daytona and our streak of runs here, I feel like the No. 9 Camaro could be celebrating in Victory Lane for the second straight week.”

Following his first Xfinity Series career win at Daytona International Speedway last weekend the 21-year old is looking to become just the fourth different driver to win the first two races of a Xfinity season; joining Dale Earnhardt (1986: Daytona, Rockingham), Chad Little (1995: Daytona, Rockingham) and Tony Stewart (2008: Daytona, California). Gragson has made two series starts at Las Vegas posting one top five (third in this race last season) and two top 10s. His average finish at LVMS is a stout 4.5 – series-best among drivers entered this weekend.

Harrison Burton jumps out front of Xfinity Sunoco Rookie Class

To kick off the 2020 season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s rookie candidate Harrison Burton put up his Xfinity Series career-best finish (second at Daytona) and took the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead. Now with a 20 point edge over second place Jesse Little, Burton and the rest of the 2020 rookie class turn their attention to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Boyd Gaming 300 this Saturday (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings
Rookies Points
Harrison Burton 38
Jesse Little 18
Riley Herbst 5
Joe Graf Jr. 1

Gaining experience will be key for the rookies this weekend, Riley Herbst is the only one of the four rookies with a prior start at the 1.5-mile speedway. Burton, Little and Graf will be making their series track debuts this weekend.

A Las Vegas native, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Riley Herbst, made his series track debut last season, starting 15th and racing his way up to a ninth-place finish. Herbst started the season with a 32nd-place finish and is looking to bounce back at Vegas and close the 33 point gap on rookie standings leader and JGR teammate Harrison Burton.

Loop Data stats point to Justin Allgaier at Las Vegas

After finishing a disappointing 30th at Daytona to start the 2020 season, JR Motorsport’s veteran Justin Allgaier isn’t faded by the team’s slow start to the year. He is currently 13th in points, 24 back from series standings leader and JRM teammate Noah Gragson.

“We may not have had the finish we wanted last weekend in Daytona, but we had a fast Chevrolet and that makes me excited for the rest of the season,” said Allgaier.

Las Vegas is the next stop in the Xfinity schedule, and it is a particularly good one for Allgaier. He has made 11 starts at the 1.5-mile facility in Nevada posting five top fives and nine top 10s.

“Las Vegas is a track that has been good to me and this No. 7 team. We’ve led laps and I feel like we have come close to winning, so I’m really looking forward to getting there and seeing what we can do this weekend.”

Pre-Race Loop Data says Allgaier isn’t just good but one of the best in the field this weekend at Las Vegas.  He leads all active drivers this weekend in the following Xfinity statistical categories at Las Vegas – Driver Rating (105.3), Average Running Position (7.598), Fastest Laps Run (70 laps), Green Flag Passes (470), Quality Passes (424) and Laps in the Top 15 (2,087 laps, 93.9%).

Names are made here in the Xfinity Series

The youth movement in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is strong in 2020, with the top five in points the youngest contingent of drivers to come out of the first race of the season in series history with an average age of 21.6.

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Top Five In Points Following Race #1
Points Pos. Drivers Driver’s Age Driver’s Date Of Birth
1 Noah Gragson 21 Wednesday, July 15, 1998
2 Justin Haley 20 Wednesday, April 28, 1999
3 Harrison Burton 19 Monday, October 9, 2000
4 Brandon Jones 22 Tuesday, February 18, 1997
5 Brandon Brown 26 Tuesday, September 14, 1993
Average Age: 21.6

The previous youngest top five in points following the first race of the season was 24.2 in 2012. Below is a chart of the average age of the drivers in the top five in NASCAR Xfinity Series points following the first race of the season:

Kaulig Racing’s tale of two teams

Kaulig Racing has started the 2020 season with two full-time teams and already through the first race of the season they are on two vastly different championship paths.

Running for a title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in his first full season with Kaulig Racing is Florida native and third-generation watermelon farmer Ross Chastain. Unfortunately, Chastain didn’t get his 2020 season off to the start he would have preferred finishing 22nd – his worst finish at Daytona since 2016 (22nd). Now the rising star is 20th in the series points, 30 markers back from the standings lead with lots of work to do.

His teammate on the other hand, Justin Haley from Winamac, Indiana, returns for his second season with the organization looking to build on his Playoff making performance of last year. Haley won the NASCAR Cup Series the rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona last season and used that confidence to race his No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish in last Saturday’s Xfinity Series season-opener giving Kaulig Racing’s its best series points position.

Prior to last Saturday, Kaulig Racing’s best position in NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings was fourth following the 2018 season-opener with driver Ryan Truex. But all that changed last weekend, when Justin Haley scored valuable points in both of the first two stages of the race and finished sixth at Daytona International Speedway. Now the 20-year old sits an organizational best second in the driver standings a mere three points back from the standings lead.

This weekend, Haley gears up for Las Vegas with crew chief Alex Yontz looking to climb into the Xfinity driver standings lead. Haley has made two career series starts at Las Vegas with an average finish of 12.5; he posted his best finish at Las Vegas in this race last season (10th).

And for Haley’s teammate Ross Chastain, Las Vegas comes at the perfect time. He is a former winner at the track (Sept. 2018) and is looking to rebound quickly in the points. The 27-year old has made six starts at Las Vegas posting one win, two top 10s and an average finish of 14.2.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Daniel Hemric returns to Xfinity for JRM – 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Daniel Hemric returns to the NASCAR Xfinity Series on a part-time basis with series powerhouse JR Motorsports. This weekend’s Boyd Gaming 300 will be his first start in the series since 2018.

“I’m really optimistic heading to Las Vegas. I am looking forward to knocking the rust off since it’s been a while since I’ve been in a Xfinity Series car,” said Hemric. Hemric has made three series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-10 finish.

Timmy Hill to Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 61 at Vegas – Career-best finishes open doors. Just ask Timmy Hill, who recently ran the race of his career at Daytona International Speedway finishing third. Now the driver from Port Tobacco, Maryland has been tapped to pilot the No. 61 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hill has made five starts at Las Vegas in the Xfinity Series posting a best finish of 24th in 2011.

Nevada well represented this weekend at LVMS – NASCAR Xfinity Series points leader and JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson hails from Las Vegas, Nevada. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Riley Herbst also calls Las Vegas home.

Milestones Worth Noting – This weekend in the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a couple milestones can be achieved:

  • Ryan Sieg (No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet) will have the opportunity to make 200th consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series start second-most among active drivers behind Jeremy Clements (229) and ninth all-time.
  • Ray Black Jr. will attempt to make his 100th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start, he is ranked 140th on the all-time series starts list.

Parade Laps: Insight to the drivers participating in the media breakouts

Five drivers will participate in this weekend’s media breakouts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. JR Motorsport’s Daniel Hemric will be available in the Deadline Room at 10:45-11 a.m. (local time). Then his JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson (series standings leader) and Justin Allgaier along with Team Penske’s Austin Cindric and Joe Gibbs Racing’s rookie Riley Herbst will hold their breakout session at 11-11:15 a.m. (local time) in the Deadline Room.

Daniel Hemric (No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Birthdate: Jan. 27, 1991

Hometown: Kannapolis, N.C.

Resides: Mooresville, N.C.
Wife: Kenzie

Hobbies: Golf, Snowboarding

Career Highlights:

  • Won NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2019.
  • Earned Championship 4 berths in both of his full-time Xfinity Series seasons (2017-18) with Richard Childress Racing.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Will be making season debut this weekend at Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Performance:

  • Has made three series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-10 finish (sixth in 2018).
  • Average start, 15.3 and average finish, 16.0.

Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Birthdate: July 15, 1998

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Resides: Mooresville, N.C.
Hobbies: Downhill mountain biking

Career Highlights:

  • Won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race in the 2020 season-opener at Daytona locking himself into the postseason.
  • In 2019, his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series resulted in a Playoff berth and ultimately an eighth-place finish in the championship points standings.
  • In 2018, he finished runner-up in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship after winning at Kansas from the pole position and posting career highs in top-fives (eight), top-10s (17), poles (six) and laps led (625). Gragson also was named the Truck Series most popular driver.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.
  • Is the current points leader by three points over second place Justin Haley

Las Vegas Performance:

  • Has made two series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-five and two top-10 finishes.
  • Average start, 20.0 and average finish, 4.5 – series-best among drivers entered this weekend.

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Birthdate: June 6, 1986

Hometown: Riverton, Ill.

Resides: Mooresville, N.C.

Wife: Ashley

Children: Harper Grace
Hobbies:
R/C cars, wakeboarding, graphic design, dirt racing

Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, Justin Allgaier made his fourth consecutive appearance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, and third Championship 4 in the four years of the format.
  • In 2018, won the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season championship and made the Playoffs for the third consecutive season after posting a career-high five wins on the season.
  • In 2016 and 2017, made the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
  • In 2011, 2016 and 2017, scored career-best third-place finish in NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.
  • Won first career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in 2010, at Bristol in March.
  • Won 2009 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Finished 30th in the season-opener at Daytona and now is 13th in points; 24 markers back from the series standings lead.

Las Vegas Performance:

  • Has made 11 series starts at Las Vegas posting five top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
  • Average start, 9.1 and average finish, 8.5.

Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford)

Birthday: September 2, 1998

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Resides: Mooresville, N.C.

Hobbies: Mountain biking, water sports and music

Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, captured first two Xfinity Series career victories (Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio) and made the Playoffs finishing the season a career-best sixth in points.
  • Ran a full season in 2018, splitting time with Roush Fenway Racing and Team Penske, making the Playoffs and ultimately finishing eighth in the championship standings.
  • In 2017, he ran full-time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing posting one win (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) and making it all the way to the Championship 4 round of the Playoffs: ultimately finishing third in the standings.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Caught in an incident Cindric finished 25th at Daytona and is 16th in points.

Las Vegas Performance:

  • Has made four series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-10 finish (ninth in 2018).
  • Average start, 6.7 and average finish, 19.2.

Riley Herbst (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

Birthday: February 24, 1999

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada

Resides: Huntersville, N.C.
Hobbies:
Snow skiing

Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, competed in nine Xfinity races for Joe Gibbs Racing and finished the season with three top-10 finishes.
  • Competed in three NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races earning a career-best finish of third at Talladega Superspeedway.
  • Made his Xfinity Series debut at Iowa Speedway on June 17, 2018 where he earned a career-best sixth-place finish.
  • On June 23, 2018, he made his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut at Gateway and with four starts during the year, earned one top-10 finish.
  • 2017 ARCA Menards Series Rookie of the Year.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Finished 32nd in the season-opener at Daytona and is 30th in points.

Las Vegas Performance:

  • Made series track debut at Las Vegas last September; he started 15th and finished ninth.

(NASCAR Media PR)

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