After a week off, the NASCAR XFINITY Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for its first of two races at the 1.5-mile oval this season. It will be the first NASCAR race ran on the newly repaved track surface which took place over the offseason, so most teams may as well take their notes and dispose of them because this is a whole new race.
With only six Cup regulars in the field this weekend, it opens up the floodgates for XFINITY regulars to win. The XFINITY drivers will have to beat the likes of Austin and Ty Dillon, Joey Logano, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick to do so.
JR Motorsports holds proud at the top of the point standings with three of their four cars sitting in the top-3. Elliott Sadler holds the points lead over William Byron and Justin Allgaier. Unlike Allgaier though, Sadler and Byron are still in pursuit of their first win of the season, and in Byron’s case, first career victory in the XFINITY Series. Byron was able to gain his second of seven victories last season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Texas in the Rattlesnake 400. Michael Annett finds himself farther behind his JRM teammates in the eighth position.
Sitting behind the three JRM cars in points are a pair of Roush Fenway Racing teammates, Ryan Reed and Darrell Wallace, Jr. Reed opened up the season with a win at Daytona International Speedway, while Wallace currently has four straight sixth-place finishes. Reed has a best finish of 14th in seven previous Texas starts, while Wallace has a best finish of sixth. Odds are, both drivers will try to improve on those results on Saturday.
Brennan Poole sits sixth in XFINITY points and returns home this weekend. The Woodlands, TX native enters his hometrack with momentum having just secured two consecutive top-10 finishes.
Daniel Hemric leads the charge for Richard Childress Racing sitting seventh in points 58 points behind the points leader. Kaulig Racing’s Blake Koch is the only other RCR affiliated driver who sits inside the top-12 in points, which is the cut off line for drivers to make the playoffs come September. Hemric has four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Texas with his best start and finish coming last November where he finished third after starting second. Blake Koch has 12 starts under his belt at Texas and he is in pursuit of redemption from a disappointing spring race last season where Koch was involved in a crash 143 laps into the race.
Matt Tifft and Dakoda Armstrong lead the charge for Toyota in the standings with Tifft sitting ninth, 78 points behind the points lead, and Armstrong sitting 11th in points, 88 points off the lead. Tifft has had a roller coaster season so far, but somehow has managed to find himself having a consistent season netting an average finish of 17th. Armstrong is leading the charge for JGL Racing, which gets some of its equipment outsourced from Joe Gibbs Racing. Tifft drove as a teammate to Armstrong in this race last year where the pair finished 20th and 26th respectfully.
At the moment, Cole Custer is the final driver who would make the playoffs and out of the group. Custer has shown improvement over the last few weekends, and is striving for more this weekend at Texas. Although he’s never driven here in an XFINITY car, Custer has two Truck Series starts at Texas, which includes a best finish of ninth last November.