NASCAR Xfinity Series News & Notes – Darlington Raceway

After another off week for the NASCAR Xfinity Series last weekend, the series is back in action this weekend for the Steakhouse Elite 200 at Darlington Raceway (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on Saturday, May 8.

AJ Allmendinger will start from the pole with Austin Cindric joining him on the front row. Jeb Burton, Justin Haley and Noah Gragson will round out the top five starters on Saturday.

There have been 61 NASCAR Xfinity Series races held at Darlington Raceway producing 33 different race winners and 29 different pole winners.

The youngest pole winner is Kyle Busch in 2004 at age 18 years, 10 months, 18 days and the oldest pole winner was Harry Gant in 1991 at 51 years, 7 month, 21 days.

There have been 33 different race winners. The youngest winner is Chase Elliott in 2014 at age 18 years, 4 months, and 14 days. The oldest winner was Dick Trickle in 1998 at 56 years, 10 months, and 9 days.

A total of 15 of the 61 races have been won from the pole or first starting position. The last race won from the pole was in 2017 by Denny Hamlin.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin holds a bunch of records for the Xfinity Series at Darlington. He has the most poles (eight), most wins (eight), most top fives (14), and most top 10s (18). He’s also led the most laps at 972.


NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Steakhouse Elite 200

The Place: Darlington Raceway

The Date: Saturday, May 8

The Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 200.1 miles (147 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 147)


Another First: Jeb Burton wins first career Xfinity Series race at Talladega

Time was of the essence on Saturday as a thunderstorm was barreling toward Talladega Superspeedway in the middle of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. The competition was fierce but as the skies opened up, it was Kaulig Racing’s Jeb Burton that was able to hold onto the lead just before the final caution came out before the race was red-flagged and ultimately called because of weather securing his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.

Burton’s win marked the third straight win at Talladega Superspeedway for Kaulig Racing as Justin Haley swept both races at the Alabama track last season.

The first two stages had no incidents. Haley won the first stage and JR Motorsport’s driver Noah Gragson won the second stage.

Series standings leader and Team Penske driver Austin Cindric finished second at Talladega followed by AJ Allmendinger, Riley Herbst and Ryan Sieg rounding out the top five.

Not only did Gragson grab a stage win at Talladega, but he also pocketed another $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus as the highest finisher among the four eligible drivers. He won the money at the previous Dash 4 Cash event at Martinsville Speedway as well bringing his 2021 Dash 4 Cash bonus total to $200,000.

Jeb Burton, Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger and Noah Gragson have all qualified for the next round of the Dash 4 Cash that will take place at Darlington Raceway on May 8 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Doubled Up: Gragson wins back-to-back Dash 4 Cash checks, Darlington is next
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program was designed to add elements of unpredictability and drama leading up to and during four designated races, increase on-track competition, engage fans and reward and recognize NASCAR Xfinity Series regular competitors.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash will take place at four tracks in 2021 – Martinsville Speedway (April 9), Talladega Superspeedway (April 24), Darlington Raceway (May 8) and Dover International Speedway (May 15).

JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson took home both Dash 4 Cash prizes so far this season at Martinsville and Talladega bringing his Dash 4 Cash bonus total to $200,000.

Gragson and the next three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers (Allmendinger, J. Burton, and Cindric) have qualified for the next round of the Dash 4 Cash program at Darlington Raceway this weekend (May 8).

The format will then continue to Dover International Speedway as the finale, with the Dash 4 Cash winner and the highest three finishing NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers at Darlington qualifying for the final round.

Dash 4 Cash Qualifiers at Darlington:


Noah Gragson will make his fourth start at Darlington on May 8. He has finished in the top-10 in all three of his previous starts at the track and has a best finish of fifth in this race last season. He started on the pole, too. Gragson has led 46 laps at the track and has an average start of 7.7 and an average finish of 6.7.

Jeb Burton and AJ Allmendinger will make their Xfinity Series debuts at Darlington on May 8.

Austin Cindric will be making his fifth start at Darlington this season. He has one top five and two top 10s in those four previous starts at the track. He also, has an average start of 7.8 and an average finish of 16.5.

Xfinity Sunoco Rookie Update

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco rookie standings tighten up after Talladega Superspeedway.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Rookies Points Awards
Ty Gibbs 128 2
Josh Berry 126 2
Ryan Vargas 68 4
Jordan Anderson 0 0
Sam Mayer 0 0

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs still leads the way in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings after only starting three of the eight races this season. He has 128 points and has scored two Sunoco Rookie of the Race awards in his three starts. He has also collected a win in his debut at the Daytona RC and hasn’t finished outside of the top-five in all three starts.

JR Motorsport’s Josh Berry is two points behind Gibbs in second in the rookie standings. Berry scored his first career Xfinity Series win at Martinsville Speedway a few weeks ago. Berry is also running a part-time schedule, having made seven starts this season posting a win and three top 10s.

JD Motorsport’s Ryan Vargas is still sitting in third in the rookie standings with 68 points. In eight starts so far this season for JD Motorsports, Vargas has a best finish of 18th from the season-opener at Daytona.

Jordan Anderson and Sam Mayer have still not made any starts this season, so they are fourth and fifth respectively with no points or awards, yet.

Xfinity Playoff Bubble: Who’s in, Who’s out?

With seven different race winners so far in 2021 and five drivers already locked in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, there are a lot of shakeups each week in the Playoff picture.

Jeb Burton’s win in the rain-shortened race at Talladega Superspeedway put Burton and the No. 10 Kaulig Racing team in the Playoffs. He became the second Kaulig Racing driver to punch their Playoff ticket.

Daniel Hemric has stayed consistent and keeps the highest Playoff spot without a win. He’s 132 points above the cutline and has three stage wins and three Playoff points.

In terms of biggest surprises in the Playoff outlook so far, two drivers are standing out. Jeremy Clements has been in the top 12 for most of the season and has shown speed all year. Clements is currently 45 points above the Playoff cutline in ninth in the Playoff standings.

The biggest jump in the standings that is notable is Noah Gragson. Gragson, who won the Dash 4 Cash prize for back-to-back weeks has made his way up to 10th in the standings.

Brandon Brown jumped ahead of the cutline after his performance at Talladega, he was below the cutline but swapped places with Michael Annett heading into this weekend.

Of the drivers inside the Playoff outlook top 12 that are still looking for a win this season, Gragson has the best average finish at Darlington Raceway with a 3.7; followed by Harrison Burton (7.5), Riley Herbst (11.0), Justin Haley (11.3), Brandon Jones (12.0), Michael Annett (17.6), Daniel Hemric (18.0) and Josh Williams (18.3).

NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Talladega-1:

Rank Driver Points Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 367 2 4 14 In On Wins
2 Jeb Burton 270 1 0 5
3 AJ Allmendinger 257 1 1 6
4 Myatt Snider 239 1 0 5
5 Justin Allgaier 217 1 0 5
6 Daniel Hemric 308 0 3 3 132
7 Harrison Burton 275 0 0 0 99
8 Justin Haley 269 0 1 1 93
9 Jeremy Clements 221 0 0 0 45
10 Noah Gragson 217 0 2 2 41
11 Brandon Jones 198 0 1 1 22
12 Brandon Brown 191 0 0 0 15
13 Riley Herbst 176 0 0 0 -15
14 Michael Annett 175 0 0 0 -16
15 Tommy Joe Martins 140 0 0 0 -51
16 Josh Williams 135 0 0 0 -56

Throwback Weekend Paint Schemes
This weekend is the highly anticipated Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway and the Xfinity Series drivers are ready to show off their schemes on the track that’s “Too Tough To Tame.” Check out all of the throwback schemes that have been announced for this weekend so far:

  • Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 0 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet is throwing back to Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s Olympics paint scheme.
  • Michael Annett, No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet is running a Gatorade throwback scheme.
  • Ryan Vargas, No. 6 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet honoring Mark Martin with throwback scheme.
  • Justin Allgaier, No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet resembles Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s Tazmanian Devil look from the 2000 Daytona 500.
  • Josh Berry, No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet honoring Dale Jr. with a throwback scheme.
  • Jeb Burton, No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet honoring his dad, Ward Burton, with throwback scheme.
  • Justin Haley, No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet honoring LeafFilter’s first ever paint scheme.
  • Matt Jaskol, No. 13 MBM Motorsports Toyota honoring early NASCAR diversity and paying tribute to the late Thee Dixon.
  • Harrison Burton, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota honoring his dad, Jeff Burton, with throwback.
  • Brandon Gdovic, No. 26 Sam Hunt Racing Toyota honoring Kyle Petty’s 1997 Hot Wheels paint scheme.
  • Tommy Joe Martins, No. 44 Martins Motorsports Chevrolet paying tribute to Rick Bickle with throwback scheme.
  • Jade Buford, No. 48 Big Machine Racing Chevrolet honoring Dan Gurney.
  • Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet running Dale Jarrett tribute scheme.
  • Timmy Hill, No. 66 MBM Motorsports Toyota running Rusty Wallace throwback.
  • Bayley Currey, No. 74 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet running “Gray Ghost” tribute scheme.
  • Josh Williams, No. 92 DGM Racing Chevrolet honors late team member Rusty Crews, who died before the start of the 2021 season.
  • Riley Herbst, No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford throwing back to 1999 Tony Stewart rookie-year classic scheme.
  • Ryan Ellis, No. 99 BJ McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet honoring his grandfather at Darlington.
  • AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet throwing back to this 2014 NASCAR Cup Series win at Watkins Glen.
  • Colby Howard, No. 15 JD Motorsports with Gary Keller Chevrolet will honor his father, Rodney Howard, and his 1980’s styled late model.
  • Daniel Hemric, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will honor Red Farmer for Throwback Weekend.
  • Kyle Weatherman, No. 47 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet is teaming up with Pit Viper Sunglasses for a Richard Petty throwback scheme.
  • Brandon Brown, No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet will honor Dale Jarrett with a Darlington throwback paint scheme.
  • Myatt Snider, No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet will honor his grandfather at Darlington.

Tanner Berryhill joining Our Motorsports

Our Motorsports announced that Tanner Berryhill will join their 2021 driver lineup piloting the No. 23 Chevrolet for three races beginning with this weekend’s Steakhouse Elite 200 at Darlington Raceway.

Berryhill, who is a native of Bixby, Oklahoma, will have sponsorship from Realty Connect. Berryhill will also be behind the wheel of the No. 23 at Texas Motor Speedway in June and October.

This weekend will mark Berryhill’s 41st Xfinity Series start. His first was in 2012 and his most recent start was in 2018 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He has a series career best finish of 17th at Mid-Ohio in 2014.

This will be his third start at Darlington Raceway. The first was in 2013 and second was in 2014.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. back behind the wheel at Richmond in ‘21

NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that his yearly NASCAR Xfinity Series start will take place at Richmond Raceway this season on September 11.

This year’s start will come on the 20th anniversary of the 2001 attacks on September 11 and he will drive a special United for America paint scheme to honor the 9/11 victims. His longtime partner Unilever will be on board the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

In the spirit of remembering the victims, his paint scheme will mirror that of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum’s Tribute in Light. The scheme will be blue and white and have four spotlights representing the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the Flight 93 Memorial site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The words “Never Forget” will also be displayed on the lower-rear quarter panel to honor those who lost their lives during the attacks.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since that terrible day,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “The spirit of unity and togetherness our country felt on Sept. 11 is just as relevant now as it was then. I’m honored to be driving this car, and championing Unilever’s United for America program.”

“On the 20th anniversary of a day we will never forget, we are grateful to welcome Dale Earnhardt Jr. back to Richmond Raceway to recognize 9/11 victims and first responders,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “As the Xfinity Series and Cup Series compete on one day in Richmond, we will unite and stand together to remember that fateful day.”

Earnhardt has won seven NASCAR national series races at Richmond Raceway in his career. He is a three-time Cup race winner at America’s Premier Short Track with victories in the Crown Royal 400 in 2006, Chevy American Revolution 400 in 2004 and Pontiac Excitement 400 in 2000. Earnhardt has also won four Xfinity Series races at Richmond with his last career victory coming in the 2016 ToyotaCare 250.

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