NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Ag-Pro 300
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, April 24
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 3:30 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)
After break in action, NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Alabama
The NASCAR Xfinity Series was off last weekend as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series took on Richmond Raceway. Prior to that, the NASCAR Xfinity Series was in Martinsville, Virginia for the Cook Out 250. The race was postponed after weather took over during the originally scheduled start on Friday. The race was rescheduled for Sunday, April 11 and the series crowned another first-time winner in JR Motorsport’s driver Josh Berry.
Berry, who drives part-time this season, took the lead from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs on Lap 223 of 250 and held onto it the rest of the way in only his 13th series start.
Berry crossed the finish line 0.590-seconds before his JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson. Gragson had an extra payday of $100,000 as the highest finisher among the four Dash 4 Cash eligible drivers to kick off the initiative.
Berry led a race-high 95 laps and became the first driver to win a Xfinity race in the No. 8 car since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Michigan back in 2006.
Daniel Hemric finished third while Ty Gibbs held onto fourth. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones finished fifth. Series leader Austin Cindric finished sixth, followed by Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett rounding out the top 10.
All four of the JR Motorsports Chevrolets and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Toyotas finished in the top 10.
Berry is now eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus at the next event at Talladega Superspeedway along with Gragson, Hemric and Jones.
The Xfinity Series gets back on track this Saturday, April 24 at Talladega Superspeedway at 4 p.m. ET for the Ag-Pro 300 on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The race will be 300 miles and 113 laps.
The starting lineups for this weekend’s race were determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Austin Cindric will start on the pole with Daniel Hemric joining him on the front row. Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley won this event last season from the first starting position; the third driver all-time to accomplish the feat joining Tony Stewart (2008) and Joe Nemechek (1998).
Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley looks to make it three straight wins at Talladega
Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley swept both Talladega Superspeedway race weekends last season in the No. 11 Chevrolet, and this weekend he’s definitely one to keep an eye on as he tries to become just the second driver in series history to win three consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Talladega Superspeedway; joining Martin Truex Jr. (2004-2006).
The spring race at Talladega last season was 2 hours, 12 minutes and 22 seconds long with an average speed of 136.249 mph. There were six cautions for 22 laps and 22 lead changes. The Margin of Victory was .299 seconds.
There were 4,184 green flag passes (46 per green flag lap). Ross Chastain finished second in this race last year, making it a Kaulig Racing 1-2 sweep. Jeb Burton, who is now piloting the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig in 2021, finished third then driving for JR Motorsports.
Haley has as a good shot as any this weekend at Talladega, the pre-race Loop Data has him listed with the best driver rating at Talladega at 103.0 and Noah Gragson has the second-best driver rating at 97.1.
In total, Haley has made three series starts at Talladega posting two wins, three top 10s and an average finish of 3.0 (series-best).
Taking on ‘Dega
Talladega Superspeedway has had 30 NASCAR Xfinity Series races starting with the inaugural race on July 25, 1992 won by Ernie Irvan. Dale Earnhardt won the second Xfinity Series race run at Talladega in 1993 after starting 22nd.
The 30 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Talladega have produced 21 different pole winners and 24 different race winners. The youngest winner was Haley last season at 21 years, 1 month, 23 days. The oldest winner was Max McLaughlin in 2001 at 44 years, 6 months and 15 days.
Mark Martin holds the race record at Talladega from 1997 at 168.937 mph and Joe Nemechek holds the qualifying record at 193.517 mph also in 1997.
Nemechek holds the record for the most races (22), poles (five), top fives (seven), top 10s (nine), lead lap finishes (14), laps completed (2,153) and laps led (202) at Talladega.
Martin Truex Jr. has the most wins at Talladega in the Xfinity Series with three victories (2004,2005, 2006) and Joey Logano is tied with Nemechek with seven top fives. Clint Bowyer still holds the best average start at Talladega in the series at 5.375 and Logano has the best average finish at 5.125.
This weekend’s race, the Ag-Pro 300, will be 113 laps (300.58 miles) and broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 25 laps each and the final stage will be 63 laps.
Justin Haley is the only active NASCAR Xfinity Series Talladega winner entered in this weekend’s event.
Show Me The Money: Gragson wins first Dash 4 Cash prize, Talladega on deck
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).
The March 20 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the initial qualifier for 2021 Dash 4 Cash program. The top four full-time finishers in the Atlanta race qualified for the first round of the Dash 4 Cash at Martinsville – Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson and AJ Allmendinger. JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson ultimately won the first $100,000 bonus at Martinsville and is eligible again this week at Talladega Superspeedway with his teammate Josh Berry, and Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Daniel Hemric and Brandon Jones.
The Dash 4 Cash winner and next three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers at Talladega will then qualify for the next round of the Dash 4 Cash program at Darlington. That format will continue to Dover.
Dash 4 Cash Qualifiers at ‘Dega:
Noah Gragson will make his fifth start at Talladega on Saturday. He has two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 7.0. He’s led 40 laps and his best finish came at the second race at the Alabama track last season.
Daniel Hemric will make his fourth start at Talladega this weekend. He has one top-five finish and one top 10. His best finish also came last season in the second race at Talladega in fifth. He has an average start of 3.0 and an average finish of 22.0.
Brandon Jones has the most starts at Talladega among all four Dash 4 Cash qualifiers with six starts. He will make his seventh start on Saturday. He has two top fives, two top 10s, has led 38 laps and has an average start of 10.8 and average finish of 15.8. His best finish was runner-up in 2018.
Josh Berry will make his first Xfinity Series start at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend with JR Motorsports.
Keeping Tabs on the Rookies, Manufacturers
Ty Gibbs continues to lead the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings with 128 points and two awards. But Josh Berry is only eight points behind him with 120 and two awards after his victory at Martinsville. Ryan Vargas is in third with 61 points and three awards. Jordan Anderson and Sam Mayer have still not made a start in the Xfinity Series in 2021 so they have no points accounted for at this time.
Chevrolet is leading the manufacturers championship standings right now with four wins and 261 points. Myatt Snider, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry got Chevrolet their four wins. Toyota is second in the manufacturer standings with one win and 249 points. Ford’s one win came from Ty Gibbs at the Daytona Road Course. Ford is currently in third place in the manufacturer standings with 242 points and two wins. Their two wins came from Austin Cindric in the season-opener and at Phoenix Raceway.
Xfinity Playoff Bubble: Who’s in, Who’s out?
With six different race winners so far in 2021 and four drivers already locked in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, there are a lot of shakeups each week in the Playoff picture.
With Josh Berry’s win two weeks ago at Martinsville and Berry not running a fulltime season, he is not locked into the Playoffs. As a result, the standings were shaken up in another way.
Daniel Hemric has stayed consistent and keeps the highest Playoff spot without a win. He’s 117 points above the cutline and has three stage wins and three Playoff points. He finished third at Martinsville.
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 40 points above the Playoff cutline and finished 14th at Martinsville.
The biggest jump in the standings that is notable is Noah Gragson. Gragson, who won the Dash 4 Cash prize at Martinsville as well as finishing second, had been sitting below the Playoff cutline prior to Martinsville. But, with a solid finish at the track, he’s now above the cutline in 11th. His JR Motorsports teammate Michael Annett also jumped ahead of the cutline as the last driver in the top-12, only 10 points to the good.
Brandon Brown fell below the cutline after finishing 27th at Martinsville. He is just 10 points back from Annett.
Of the drivers inside the Playoff outlook top 12 that are still looking for a win this season, Justin Haley has the best average finish at Talladega Superspeedway with a 3.0; followed by Noah Gragson (7.0), Jeb Burton (10.0), Brandon Jones (15.3), Jeremy Clements (21.7), Daniel Hemric (22.0), Michael Annett (23.0) and Harrison Burton (27.5).
NASCAR Xfinity Series Etc.
Harrison Burton making Cup debut at Talladega: Xfinity Series regular Harrison Burton will hit the big stage and make his NASCAR Cup Series debut on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in the GEICO 500 for Gaunt Brothers Racing. Burton will pilot the No. 96 DEX Imaging Toyota in his first ever Cup start. Burton, who is in his sophomore season in the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, won four races last season and will also be making his 50th career Xfinity Series start on Saturday before heading to the Cup race on Sunday. Burton has made two Xfinity Series starts at Talladega finishing 32nd in the first due to a crash and finished 23rd most recently.
Natalie Decker back in Xfinity Series this weekend: Natalie Decker will make the first of four total starts scheduled with Our Motorsports in the Xfinity Series starting this Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway. She made her Xfinity debut in February at the Daytona Road Course with RSS Racing and Reaume Brothers Racing. Originally, that was going to be the first of five races for her in that car. However, Our Motorsports acquired the No. 23 car and now Decker will run her remaining races with the team. She will be behind the wheel at Nashville Superspeedway, Road America and Martinsville, too. Decker will become the ninth different Xfinity Series female competitor to race at Talladega Superspeedway; joining Patty Moise, Tina Gordon, Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Shawna Robinson, Kim Crosby, Chrissy Wallace and Jennifer Jo Cobb.
The best finish by a female competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega Superspeedway was seventh by Patty Moise on July 22, 1995. Moise started 13th. Tina Gordon (10th) is the only other female competitor to finish in the top-10 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega Superspeedway (April 5, 2003).
Natalie Decker will start from the 38th starting position on Saturday.
LS Tractor sponsoring Jeb Burton at ‘Dega: LS Tractor, a longtime partner of Jeb Burton, will be the primary partner on the Kaulig Racing No. 10 Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway. LS Tractor has been voted best tractor manufacturer for the last five consecutive years. The company offers subcompact, compact and utility tractors and has been in business for more than 35 years. LS Tractor will serve as an associate partner for the rest of the season on the No. 10, too.
Allgaier honoring Dale Earnhardt at Darlington: Justin Allgaier always has a throwback paint scheme that stands out for the Darlington Throwback Weekend and he will do it again this season with Good Humor as the sponsor. Allgaier will run a throwback scheme honoring Dale Earnhardt and the GM Goodwrench Service/Tasmanian Devil paint scheme that was run in the 2000 Daytona 500. In that race, Earnhardt started and finished 21st.
Sam Hunt Racing sporting Kyle Petty’s Hot Wheels paint scheme at Darlington: Brandon Gdovic and Sam Hunt Racing will honor Kyle Petty’s 1997 Hot Wheels paint scheme for Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway. Petty accumulated two top-five and nine top 10 finishes in 32 races that season and had a best finish of third. Gdovic, who will be making his first start at Darlington that weekend, will be sponsored by SnapMobil.Shop.
Tommy Joe Martins running Rich Bickle throwback: Martins Motorsports announced that Tommy Joe Martins will run a Rich Bickle throwback scheme for the Darlington Throwback Weekend. Martins will run the 1999 Lucky Dog 10-10-345 paint scheme in the Steakhouse Elite 200 on May 9 with the No. 44’s primary sponsorship coming from Capital City Hauling. Martins has six starts at Darlington with an average finish of 28.3 and a best finish of 22nd in 2018.
COURTESY NASCAR INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS