The NASCAR XFINITY Series head back to the Phoenix International Raceway for the DC Solar 200. Following a dominating performance by Joey Logano last weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, this weekend things will be a little different considering that any driver with more than five years of experience in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will not be able to race because of the new rule that NASCAR implied in Dash 4 Cash races.
The XFINITY Dash 4 Cash returns this weekend, and it has a different twist on it then it has in recent years. Now with stage races, the four drivers racing for the $100,000 cash prize will be decided in the first two stages of the race. Phoenix is the first race of the Dash 4 Cash with Bristol, Richmond and Dover following on the schedule. The top two XFINITY Series regulars in each stage will race for the cash. If a driver wins two Dash 4 Cash prizes, they will be locked into the XFINITY Series Playoffs. If a driver can win all four, they will gain an extra $600,000 bonus making their grand total $1,000,000.
With the new rule of drivers racing for Cup points with more than five years of experience in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the last three race winners at Phoenix dating back to November 2012 aren’t allowed to race on Saturday that being Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Daniel Suarez will pilot the No. 18 in place of Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney will pilot the No. 22 in place of Joey Logano/Brad Keselowski, and Tyler Reddick will pilot the No. 42 in place of Kyle Larson.
The last XFINITY Series regular to gain a victory in the spring race at Phoenix was Elliott Sadler who won in 2012 with Richard Childress Racing. Sadler is also the only driver in the field to have won the spring race at Phoenix, which has to look good for Elliott coming to Phoenix, especially as the points leader. He leads the charge for the three other JR Motorsports drivers. William Byron makes his Phoenix XFINITY Series debut, while Michael Annett makes his return to Phoenix in the XFINITY Series. Justin Allgaier returns to the place that sent him to the final four last season and will look to punch his ticket into the playoffs. Byron had a consistent Fast Friday, and led the JR Motorsports charge finishing third in all three practices.
With Richard Childress Racing being the last team to send a driver to victory lane in the XFINITY Series back in 2012, they have to be seen as the favorites. Brendan Gaughan, Brandon Jones, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon head to Phoenix as veterans as Daniel Hemric makes his Phoenix XFINITY Series debut on Saturday. Gaughan led his youngster teammates in final practice, while Jones was the quickest RCR driver in opening practice finishing fourth. Hemric bested his teammates in second practice by placing ninth.
Blake Koch returns to one of his best tracks this weekend. Last season, he was able to secure his second best career start of fourth, but just missed making it to the championship round in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase after finishing eighth. Pulling momentum from a 12th-place finish last weekend in Las Vegas, he’ll try to return to the top-10 for the first time of 2017.