NASCAR Xfinity Series News & Notes – Auto Club Speedway

Next Race: Production Alliance 300
The Place: Auto Club Speedway
The Date: Saturday, February 29
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3:30 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 150)
2019 Race Winner: Cole Custer

California Dreamin’: Auto Club Speedway up next for NASCAR Xfinity Series

After a wild season-opener at Daytona and a rain-delayed contest in Las Vegas, the NASCAR Xfinity Series competitors gear up for the Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, this Saturday at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Auto Club Speedway has hosted 30 NASCAR Xfinity Series races (1997-2019) producing 19 different pole winners and 17 different race winners.

Back in 1997, Dale Earnhardt Inc. driver Steve Park won the inaugural pole at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with a speed of 175.157 mph. Todd Bodine took home the first win at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driving for car owner Scott Welliver.

Currently, Team Penske’s Joey Logano owns the record for the most Xfinity poles at Auto Club Speedway with four (2009, 2010, 2012, 2017). Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch has the most Xfinity wins at Auto Club Speedway with six victories (Fall 2008, Spring 2009, 2010 sweep, Spring 2011, 2013).

This weekend at Auto Club Speedway we are guaranteed to crown a first-time pole winner and race winner as none of the former winners are entered in Saturday’s event.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe is second to punch his ticket to the Playoffs

With his win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Chase Briscoe is the latest driver to punch his ticket to the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, but what is even more impressive is in the process he grabbed the series standings lead for the first time in his career – up seven points over second-place Noah Gragson.

Briscoe is a serious title contender this season. With a win and two top fives to start the year, the wind is in Briscoe’s sails.

This weekend at Auto Club Speedway could be another successful outing for the 25-year-old from Mitchell, Indiana. In his series track debut last season at the 1.5-mile speedway, he started sixth and finished fifth.

Noah Gragson’s notable start to 2020 isn’t slowing

Despite slipping one spot in the driver standings following Las Vegas, JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson is having an impressive start to his 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

The 21-year old Gragson is one of just three drivers (Chase Briscoe and Harrison Burton) to finish in the top-five in the first two races of the year. Now the Las Vegas native is just seven points behind the Xfinity standings lead as he turns his attention to Auto Club Speedway this weekend.

Gragson made his series track debut at Auto Club Speedway last season; he started fifth and finished 12th.

Sunoco Rookie Update: Burton continues to maintain lead in 2020 rookie points

Two weeks into the season and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton holds a large lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings after posting two top-five finishes in as many races.

NXS Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Rookies Points
Harrison Burton 80
Jesse Little 41
Riley Herbst 37
Joe Graf Jr. 18

Burton, 19, from Huntersville, North Carolina, is currently third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 12 points back from Chase Briscoe in the points lead. As a result, Burton has command of the 2020 Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, 39 points up on second-place Jesse Little.

All four 2020 Sunoco Rookie contenders will be making their NASCAR Xfinity Series track debuts at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.

Big moves in the Xfinity point standings following Vegas

After tough starts to their 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship campaigns, several drivers made big improvements in the driver standings following Las Vegas including Riley Herbst, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s rookie Riley Herbst made the biggest jump of the three title contenders last weekend, leaping 14 spots from 30th to 16th in the Xfinity driver standings. The big gain was due to his ninth-place performance at Las Vegas. Herbst’s uphill climb could get a little steeper this weekend though, as he will be making his series track debut Auto Club Speedway.

The next biggest mover in the points this last weekend was Team Penske’s Austin Cindric, who jumped 10 spots following his runner-up finish at Las Vegas. After Daytona, Cindric was in 16th but now sits sixth in points, 17 markers behind the series lead. Expect Cindric’s standings ascension to continue this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, as the 21-year-old from Mooresville, North Carolina, has two starts at the two-mile facility posting a career-best finish of sixth last season.

Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain catapulted nine spots in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings from 20th to 11th following his 10th-place finish at Las Vegas last weekend. Chastain’s slow start at Daytona (22nd-place finish) put him behind the eight ball, but the eighth-generation Florida watermelon farmer is chipping away at his competitors’ points lead. This weekend at Auto Club Speedway might be a challenge for Chastain, he has made five series starts at the speedway posting an average finish of 20.2. He scored his career-best finish in Fontana in 2018 (10th).

Ryan Sieg has RSS Racing heading in the right direction

Starting last season, RSS Racing began its alliance with Richard Childress Racing and the partnership is already bearing fruit. Ryan Sieg made the Playoffs in 2019 and finished the season 11th in points. Now after the first two races of the 2020 season, Sieg is again running up front and having his career-best start to a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship season, currently sitting seventh in the standings.

Sieg kicked off 2020 with a top-10 finish (ninth) at Daytona International Speedway, then followed it up last weekend with a third-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – which was a series career-best finish on 1.5-mile tracks for the Georgia native.

Looking to Auto Club Speedway this weekend, Sieg has made six series starts at the two-mile track posting an average finish of 20.5. He posted his series-best finish (11th) at Auto Club last season.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Anthony Alfredo to make season debut with RCR – After waiting a long two weeks, Ridgefield, Connecticut’s Anthony Alfredo will get to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series season debut with Richard Childress Racing. Alfredo is splitting time with Myatt Snider in the No. 21 Chevrolet as the two drivers work with crew chief Andy Street in 2020. Alfredo will be making his series track debut as well this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Myatt Snider to make debut with RSS Racing – After competing in the first two races of the season with Richard Childress Racing, Myatt Snider, son of TV analyst Marty Snider, will attempt to make his first series start with RSS Racing this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Snider is currently 23rd in the Xfinity driver standings. This weekend will be Snider’s series track debut at Auto Club Speedway as well.

Ross Chastain continues double duty – Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain will be pulling double duty this weekend competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race the Production Alliance Group 300 on Saturday in the No. 10 Chevrolet and then on Sunday, he will compete in the NASCAR Cup Series race the Auto Club 400 for Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 6 Ford. Chastain will be filling in for driver Ryan Newman as he recuperates following a crash at the Daytona season-opener.

Quick Improvements – Seven of the top-10 finishers at Las Vegas posted their best finish of the season – Chase Briscoe (first), Austin Cindric (second), Ryan Sieg (third), Michael Annett (seventh), Justin Allgaier (eighth), Riley Herbst (ninth) and Ross Chastain (10th).

Out Front Early – Three drivers have double-digit laps led percentages after just two races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series season (320 total laps run) – Chase Briscoe has led 94 laps (29.38%), Justin Allgaier has led 86 laps (26.88%) and Austin Cindric has led 39 laps (12.19%).

Consistency Counts – After two races just six drivers have completed all 320 of the scheduled laps – Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, Noah Gragson, Brandon Brown, Chase Briscoe and Ryan Sieg.

 

Playoff Standings Bubble following Las Vegas – Taking a look at who sits on the Playoff bubble, SS Green Light Racing’s Ray Black Jr. currently holds the hot seat, just one point up on Alex Labbe in 13th – the first spot outside the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff cutoff.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Bubble Standings
Rank Drivers Points Points From Cutoff
12 Ray Black II 49 0
13 Alex Labbe 48 -1
14 Jesse Little 41 -8
15 JJ Yeley 40 -9
16 Riley Herbst 37 -12
17 Josh Williams 35 -14
18 Robby Lyons II 34 -15
19 Chad Finchum 33 -16
20 Vinnie Miller 32 -17
21 David Starr 32 -17

Parade Laps: Insights into the drivers participating in the media breakouts

Four drivers will participate in this weekend’s media breakouts at Auto Club Speedway. Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe (Xfinity driver standings leader and Las Vegas winner), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton (Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings leader), Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain (former watermelon farmer) and JD Motorsports Jesse Little (son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Chad Little) will hold their breakout session at 10-10:15 a.m. (local time) in the Media Center.

Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)

Birthdate: December 15, 1994

Driver’s Age: 25

Hometown: Mitchell, Indiana

Hobbies: Spending time with family, online racing, watching sports

Team: Stewart-Haas Racing

Crew Chief: Richard Boswell II

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2019 — his first fulltime Xfinity Series season – Briscoe made a huge statement in the series with one win, 13 top fives, 26 top 10s and two poles. He also made it into the Playoffs and competed for a spot in the Championship 4 before being eliminated in the Round of 8.
  • In 2018, he ran 17 races for Roush Fenway Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi and won the inaugural race at the Charlotte Road Course.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in 2018 at Atlanta.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Currently the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings leader, up seven points on second place Noah Gragson.
  • In two series starts he has posted a win (Las Vegas), two top fives, two top 10s and an average finish of 3.0.

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Made his series track debut last season – he started sixth and finished fifth.

Harrison Burton (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)

Birthday: October 9, 2000

Driver’s Age: 19

Hometown: Huntersville, N.C.

Hobbies:  Playing Lacrosse, Hunting, Fishing, Avid Duke, Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Hornets Fan

Team: Joe Gibbs Racing

Crew Chief: Ben Beshore

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, made his Xfinity Series debut competing in nine races for Joe Gibbs Racing. His best finish was fourth at Iowa Raceway. He had five top-10 finishes.
  • Made NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in 2019 at Bristol; he started fifth and finished 10th.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Currently third in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings 12 points behind the standings lead.
  • In two series starts he has posted two top fives, two top 10s and an average finish of 3.5.

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Will be making his series track debut at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.

Ross Chastain (No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet)

Birthdate: December 4, 1992

Driver’s Age: 27

Hometown: Alva, Florida

Hobbies: Farming watermelons

Team: Kaulig Racing

Crew Chief: Alex Yontz

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • In 2019, he completed 19 races in the Xfinity Series and posted a win at Daytona with Kaulig Racing.
  • In 2018, he made the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and won his first career race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway; he ultimately finished a career-best 10th in championship standings.
  • In 2016 and 2017, Chastain ran full seasons finishing 16th and 13th, respectively.
  • In 2015, he ran his first full NASCAR Xfinity Series season, finishing 15th in points.
  • In 2014, he made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 11th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, 32 markers behind the standings lead.
  • In two starts this season he has posted one top-10 finish and an average finish of 16.0.

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Has made five series starts at Auto Club Speedway posting a best finish of 10th in 2018 race.
  • Average start, 19.8 and average finish, 20.2.

Jesse Little (No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet)

Birthdate: April 15, 1997

Driver’s Age: 22

Hometown: Sherrill’s Ford, NC

Hobbies: Anything Outdoors, skiing, hiking, fishing

Team: JD Motorsports

Crew Chief: Bryan Berry

Xfinity Career Highlights:

  • Competing in his first full season of competition in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020 with JD Motorsports after selling his family owned team.
  • Has made 31 career starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and scored seven top-10 finishes.

2020 Season Highlights:

  • Currently 14th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series points, 51 markers behind the standings lead.
  • In two starts this season he has posted two finishes of 35th.

Auto Club Speedway Performance:

  • Will be making his series track debut at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.

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