NXS Mid-Ohio Challenge Preview

Photo Credit: Noel Lanier/OnPitRoad.com

The NASCAR XFINITY Series goes road course racing for the second straight weekend as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, OH for the Mid-Ohio Challenge. It will be the fifth time the series has visited the track. Unlike last weekend where the race was littered with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers, this week’s race features more road course ringers as the Cup Series is in the Irish Hills of Michigan.

Ford and Chevrolet are tied for the most victories at Mid-Ohio with two apiece, but Toyota still hasn’t found victory lane at Mid-Ohio. A few Toyota drivers should have a decent shot at securing them their first win, especially considering a former winner of this race will pilot the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing. Regan Smith returns to the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the first time since Kansas Speedway last season for his first start with Gibbs. Smith has a total of 205 starts in the XFINITY Series with six victories, 30 top-fives, and 79 top-tens.

Smith isn’t the only previous winner entered in the race tomorrow with Justin Marks, the defending race winner, driving the No. 42 Katerra Chevrolet Camaro SS for Chip Ganassi Racing. Marks will make his 31st start in the series tomorrow returning to the site of his first career victory. It was a wet situation last year and Marks rose to the occasion with his rain racing experience to win. Marks hasn’t raced an XFINITY Series car since Phoenix Raceway last fall, and will have to shake off the dust as he looks to send the No. 42 to victory lane for the fourth time this season.

Sheldon Creed will make his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 01 United Rentals Chevrolet Camaro for JD Motorsports. On top of two Camping World Truck Series starts, both coming at Eldora Speedway, he has 12 starts in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. He has experience on road courses behind the wheel of a stock car competing at New Jersey Motorsports Park in ARCA last season where he finished 11th and another start at Sonoma Raceway in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West where he finished ninth. Between competing in the SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks Series and countless NASCAR series, Creed has a wealth of racing experience at just 19 years old that he’ll add to this weekend.

Just 126 miles away from home, Sam Hornish Jr. will pilot the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang for Team Penske. He has raced in three XFINITY Series races at Mid-Ohio and has a best finish of second last year. The former Indianapolis 500 winner has won the pole in two straight Mid-Ohio starts and is really seeking redemption after two disappointing finishes at Iowa Speedway. What better place for Hornish to return to than to his home track?

NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series will be represented this weekend at Mid-Ohio as Belgian driver Anthony Kumpen will drive the No. 46 LeasePlan Chevrolet in his sixth XFINITY Series start. The Hasselt, Belgium native last competed in the XFINITY Series at Daytona International Speedway in February where he finished 22nd. Mid-Ohio marks his first road course start in the XFINITY Series, but Kumpen has plenty of road racing experience as five out of the six tracks the Whelen Euro Series visit are road courses. He has three victories this season in the Euro Series most recently at Hockenheimring in Germany.

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship regular Andy Lally returns to the NASCAR XFINITY Series this weekend behind the wheel of the No. 07 Branson Supply/Motorcrush Chevrolet for Bobby Dotter. Last season, Lally drove for Mario Gosselin where he finished seventh in this race. While he has plenty of oval experience after competing for the 2011 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year award, Lally has been a road course ringer lately only running seven races in the XFINITY Series since 2007, all being road courses. His seventh place finish last year at Mid-Ohio tied his best career finish that he gained at Road America in 2014.

Matt Bell will pilot the No. 90 for Gosselin this weekend where he returns to the series for the first time since 2012. A sports car standout, he will make his third career start in the XFINITY Series in his debut at Mid-Ohio. His two previous starts came at Road America and Watkins Glen with a best finish of 34th with JD Motorsports at Road America. Bell has one career victory in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Road Atlanta.

 

About Christian Koelle 177 Articles
My name is Christian and I am a contributing writer here at OnPitRoad. I have been writing about NASCAR since July of 2015 but I've been around the sport my whole life. I attended my first race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in October of 2005. I made my at-track writing debut at the Bristol Motor Speedway in 2015 and made my Media-Center Debut at Iowa Speedway in 2016.

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