NASCAR Xfinity Series News & Notes – Talladega Superspeedway

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Unhinged 300
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, June 20
The Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 5 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300.58 miles (113 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 50), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 113)
2019 Winner: Tyler Reddick

Xfinity goes Superspeedway racing in Alabama

The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the Talladega Superspeedway for the Unhinged 300 on Saturday, June 21, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Coming off a double-header weekend in South Florida’s Homestead-Miami Speedway, the series will hit the pavement for 300 miles of excitement and hard racing at the 2.66-mile track.

The first of the two race’s last weekend was won by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Harrison Burton in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The win marked the second of the season for the rookie, the first one coming at Auto Club Speedway.

Then Sunday’s Xfinity race was won by Chase Briscoe. The victory was Briscoe’s third of the season and a nice comeback after suffering a major penalty the day before as well as the ejection of his crew chief, car chief and engineer after dropping a ballast during the race’s pace laps. Greg Zipadelli stepped in as the interim crew chief and got his first Xfinity Series win atop the pit box.

Briscoe’s three wins (Las Vegas, Darlington and Homestead-Miami) are the most in the series.

However, because it was Dash 4 Cash race, Briscoe wasn’t the only winner in Miami. AJ Allmendinger, who runs a part-time schedule for Kaulig Racing, took home the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus for being the highest-finishing driver (fourth) among all four Dash 4 Cash competitors. Briscoe was not in the running for the money.

Noah Gragson dominated both races at Homestead-Miami Speedway but ended up losing the front spot during late race restarts. He was also competing for the Dash 4 Cash on Sunday for the second week in a row.

Briscoe’s win at Homestead puts him in the running for this weekend’s Dash 4 Cash installment at Talladega Superspeedway along with Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain and Allmendinger.

Talladega Superspeedway is always home to some of NASCAR’s most exciting racing. The series was originally supposed to race at the superspeedway on April 25, 2020 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talladega has hosted 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series races dating back to the inaugural event in 1992 won by Ernie Irvan. The 28 races have produced 23 different race winners and 21 different pole winners. Martin Truex Jr. has the most wins at the track with three and Joe Nemechek has the most poles with five. Nemechek is tied with Joey Logano for the most top fives (seven) and leads the way in most top 10s (nine).

Chevrolet has the most wins by a manufacturer at the track with 16 and Joe Gibbs Racing has the most wins by a car owner with five victories.

Talladega has a 4,300-foot frontstretch and 4,000-foot backstretch with 33 degrees of banking in corners. There are 16.5 degrees of banking on the front and two degrees of banking on the back.

Saturday’s race will be 300.58 miles and 113 laps. The first stage will end on 25, second stage on 50 and the final stage will conclude on Lap 113.

 

Dash 4 Cash update
The Dash 4 Cash program is back for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and this time the schedule is a little different compared to past years due to a revised 2020 schedule as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dash 4 Cash kicked off at Atlanta Motor Speedway two weekends ago where Noah Gragson won the season’s first installment.

Last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, AJ Allmendinger grabbed the second $100,000 bonus.

As the Xfinity Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the Unhinged 300 (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Allmendinger, Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Ross Chastain will be the drivers competing for the prize money.

Xfinity is making donation in each Dash 4 Cash race market to reaffirm their companywide commitment of connecting families, veterans and seniors to the digital tools necessary for navigating these challenging times.

At Talladega Superspeedway the donation will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Alabama, which gives young people in need the developmental tools to achieve great futures as productive, responsible citizens in the community. The donation will help with academic and character-building programs to continue through the crisis.

Here’s a brief summary on the Dash 4 Cash initiative so far:

  • NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will compete for four positions in Dash 4 Cash events
    • Atlanta Motor Speedway: Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Harrison Burton
    • Homestead-Miami Speedway (2): AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and Daniel Hemric
    • Talladega Superspeedway: AJ Allmendinger, Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Ross Chastain
    • Pocono Raceway: Four highest-finishing drivers from Talladega
  • Of the four competing for Dash 4 Cash, the highest finisher wins the $100,000 prize, and automatically moves on to defend the title at the next event.
  • The next three highest-finishing NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers, for four total competitors, will join the previous Dash 4 Cash winner to compete for the next week’s event.

Dash 4 Cash Qualifiers for Talladega:

  • AJ Allmendinger (No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) – Allmendinger had never made a start at Talladega in the Xfinity Series so this weekend will mark his debut. However, he’s made 18 starts at the track in the Cup Series and has one top-five and three top 10 finishes.

  • Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) – Briscoe will be making his third start at Talladega in the Xfinity Series this weekend. He finished fourth last season at the track and has an average finish of 10.0. Briscoe also made one start at the track in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2017 and started fifth but finished 22nd.

  • Brandon Jones (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) – Jones has four starts at Talladega and a best finish of runner-up in 2018. Jones also made one start at the track in the in Gander Trucks and finished runner-up in 2015.

  • Ross Chastain (No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) – Chastain will make his sixth Xfinity Series start at Talladega on Saturday. In his previous five starts at Talladega he has put up two top-20 finishes. Chastain also has four starts at Talladega in the Gander Trucks with a best finish of third in 2013.

Burton continues breakthrough season

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton broke another record last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He became the first Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender to finish inside the top-10 in the first 10 races of the Xfinity Series season. His finish at Homestead broke the previous rookie record of nine consecutive races to start the season with top-10 finishes by Carl Edwards in 2005.

Overall, the driver of the No. 20 Toyota, has dominated the rookie standings.

  

This weekend will be Burton’s series track debut at Talladega Superspeedway. Burton made one start at Talladega in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2019 and finished 11th after starting from third.

Burton is currently sitting in third in the series points standings, behind leader Noah Gragson and second-place Chase Briscoe.

Burton also joins them on the list of multi-race winners this season in the Xfinity Series. Combined, Burton, Gragson and Briscoe make up seven wins in the 10 races run so far.

Plus, don’t forget Burton kicked the season off with a runner-up finish at Daytona; right behind Gragson.

Cindric closing in

Austin Cindric is still on the hunt for his first win in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and Talladega Superspeedway could be where he gets it done.

The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has five top fives and seven top 10s so far this season. He has an average start of 7.7 and an average finish of 10.9.

Most recently, he finished second at the first of two races last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Cindric has finished in the top-10 in all but three races so far this season.

He’s led 230 laps and is currently in fourth in the championship points standings for the series – the highest-ranked driver without a win. But he has been upfront, Cindric has led the third-most percentage of laps this season (12.57%) sitting behind a pair of JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier.

This weekend’s Unhinged 300 on Saturday, June 20 (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be Cindric’s third Xfinity Series start at the track. Last season, he finished fifth for Team Penske in this event.

 

Pit selection, starting lineup for Homestead
Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series pit selection order will be based on finishing position from the June 14 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, followed by new entries in order of points.

The started lineup is determined by:

  • Positions 1 – 12:  The first 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up Eligibility will be assigned starting positions 1st – 12th using a random draw.
  • Positions 12 – 24:  The next 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 12th- 24th using a random draw.
  • Starting positions 25 – 36: The next 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 25th -36th using a random draw.
  • Any vehicles that are eligible for the Event in position 37th – 40th will be assigned starting positions based on their order of eligibility.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Kyle Busch keeps adding up wins
Kyle Busch Motorsport’s team owner/driver Kyle Busch was victorious, once again, in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night.

The veteran driver of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota had to start last and take a drive-through penalty due to failing inspection all en route to his series leading 58th Gander Trucks victory. The win brings his NASCAR national series wins total to an astounding 211 victories (most all-time).

Tyler Ankrum finished runner-up to Busch, Ross Chastain was third, Chase Elliott finished fourth and Johnny Sauter came in fifth. It was Ankrum’s first top five of the season.

Hill, the leader of the series driver standings, was able to extend his lead to 44 points over second place Christian Eckes and by 48 points over third place Grant Enfinger.

The Gander Trucks are off this weekend before heading to Pocono Raceway on June 27 for the Pocono Organics 150 to benefit Farm Aid (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). That race will mark the sixth of the season.

Gander Trucks at Pocono

When the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series hits the track in two week at Pocono Raceway, it will be the series’ 11th race at the Pennsylvania track.

Kyle Busch is the only driver to have won twice at Pocono (2015, 2018) and Ross Chastain is the most recent winner (2019).

The inaugural Gander Trucks race at Pocono was on July 31, 2010 and Elliott Sadler took home the victory.

Four of the races were won from the pole but none of the 10 races run were won from a starting position outside of the top six.

Chevrolet has five wins at Pocono while Ford has one and Toyota has four.

There are no current fulltime active drivers in the series with a prior win. Busch and Chastain are the only two drivers that are still running in the Gander Trucks on a part-time schedule and they are both not entered to run Pocono at this time. As a result, the series is guaranteed to crown a new Pocono winner.

Eyeing the Playoff Outlook Following Homestead-Miami

Rank Driver Points Wins Pts From Cutoff
1 Grant Enfinger 161 2 In On Wins
2 Austin Hill 209 0 77
3 Christian Eckes # 165 0 33
4 Ben Rhodes 161 0 29
5 Todd Gilliland 148 0 16
6 Zane Smith # 147 0 15
7 Johnny Sauter 140 0 8
8 Brett Moffitt 137 0 5
9 Sheldon Creed 135 0 3
10 Tyler Ankrum 133 0 1
11 Derek Kraus # 132 0 -1
12 Matt Crafton 132 0 -1
13 Raphael Lessard # 114 0 -19
14 Stewart Friesen 112 0 -21
15 Tanner Gray # 111 0 -22

With five NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in the books it’s time to take a look at the Playoff picture. Grant Enfinger’s two wins so far this season, has him atop the Playoff standings outlook as he is the only driver locked in on wins. That leaves nine spots still up for grabs.

Among the nine vying for a Playoff spot on points, series driver standings leader and Hattori Racing Enterprises driver, Austin Hill, has the most comfortable points cushion heading into the weekend break with 77 points up on the postseason cutoff.

Right behind Hill is Kyle Busch Motorsport’s rookie Christian Eckes, who is 33 points ahead of the Playoff cutoff following Miami. Eckes gained four spots in the standings in South Beach and also took the series Sunoco rookie standings lead in the process.  Zane Smith is the second rookie challenger inside the top 10 in points; currently 15 markers above the Playoff cutline.

Then down in the Playoff bubble hotseat sits Tyler Ankrum, 10th in the driver standings just one point ahead of 11th place Derek Kraus and 12th place Matt Crafton (both have 132 points) the first two spot outside the postseason cutoff. Ankrum scored his first top five (runner-up) of the season last weekend at Homestead-Miami to bounce him up two spots ahead of Kraus and Crafton and into the Playoff discussion.

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