Friday’s Circle K Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Storylines

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – The NASCAR XFINITY Series will be back in action this weekend for Friday night’s Circle K Firecracker 250 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Here’s the top storylines.

Dominant ‘Big 3’ look to continue to hold down the competition

Stewart-Haas Racing’s rising star Cole Custer added another win to the stats column last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, bringing the NASCAR Xfinity Series Big 3’s  – Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell – combined win total to 11 of the first 15 races of the 2019 season, including the last nine consecutive events. Now the three Xfinity championship contenders head to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway for the Circle K Firecracker 250 presented by Coca-Cola on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to keep the winning streak alive.

Cole Custer and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell are tied for the series most wins this season with four each, but Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick is right behind them with three victories this season.

Interestingly heading into this weekend, of the three drivers, Reddick is the only one to have won at Daytona before; when he captured the closest win in NASCAR national series history (margin of victory of 0.0004 sec.) over his then-teammate Elliott Sadler in last year’s season-opener. In total Reddick has made five series starts at Daytona, posting one pole, one win (2018), one top five and two top 10s. Bell has made three series starts at Daytona grabbing one top five and two top 10s; his best finish on the 2.5-mile track came in this event last season when he finished third.

Last weekend’s winner Custer, on the other hand, has struggled at Daytona in his career, making five series starts with an average finish of 22.4. He scored his career-best series finish at Daytona earlier this season (14th).

Michael Annett goes for the Xfinity Series’ Daytona single season sweep

The NASCAR Xfinity Series started competing at Daytona International Speedway twice a year in 2002, and since then the only driver who has been able to sweep both series races in a single season is Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2003. What’s interesting is Earnhardt Jr. is the owner of JR Motorsport, the team Michael Annett races for as he’ll be looking to match his boss’s feat this weekend in the Circle K Firecracker 250 presented by Coca-Cola on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Annett grabbed his first NASCAR Xfinity Series career win in the season-opener at Daytona back in February. Now the Iowa native returns to Daytona looking for the sweep. In total, Annett has made 15 series starts at the 2.5-mile speedway posting one win (2019), two top fives and three top 10s.

Annett should be confident this weekend at Daytona, JR Motorsports has won six of the last 11 Xfinity Series races at Daytona – Annett (Feb. 2019), Tyler Reddick (Feb. 2018), William Byron (July 2017), Chase Elliott (Feb. 2016), Kasey Kahne (July 2014) and Regan Smith (Feb. 2014).

New winner at Daytona could shake up Playoff picture

With the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff picture starting to take shape, getting in on points is going to take a lot of work for any of the drivers outside the top 12. RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg is now 12th in the series driver standings with a 98-point cushion between himself and 13th place Gray Gaulding.  But a win this weekend in the unpredictable Circle K Firecracker 250 presented by Coca-Cola on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) would be the automatic bid to the postseason several drivers are in need of this late into the season.First-Time WinnersDateMichael Annett2/16/2019Ryan Reed2/21/2015James Buescher2/25/2012Tony Stewart2/19/2005Chad Little2/18/1995Dale Earnhardt2/13/1982

Daytona has been the location for six drivers to get their first NASCAR Xfinity Series career win; unfortunately, they were all in the February races. But that shouldn’t discourage this season’s winless drivers this weekend, because several of them posted their best finish of the season at Daytona earlier this year – Justin Allgaier (second), Brandon Jones (third), Ryan Sieg (fourth), Jeff Green (seventh), Joey Gase (16th).

The NASCAR Xfinity Series summer race was added to the schedule in 2002. Since then, 10 of the 17 July Daytona races were the first win of the season for the driver – July 2016 (Aric Almirola), July 2014 (Kasey Kahne), July 2013 (Matt Kenseth), July 2011 (Joey Logano), July 2010 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), July 2009 (Clint Bowyer), July 2007 (Kyle Busch), July 2006 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), July 2004 (Mike Wallace) and July 2002 (Joe Nemechek).

There are three former NASCAR Xfinity Series Daytona winners in the field this weekend – Michael Annett (2019), Tyler Reddick (2018) and Joe Nemechek (2002, 1998).

Superspeedway studs

Daytona International Speedway can chew up talent fairly quickly, which makes it that much more impressive to see those that have succeeded at managing the enormous challenges the 2.5-mile speedway demands.

Three former series winners are entered this weekend, Michael Annett (Feb. 2019), Tyler Reddick (Feb. 2018) and Joe Nemechek (July 2002, Feb. 1998). But there are a pair of drivers who haven’t won at Daytona, yet, who are worth noting.

JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier has made 17 series starts at Daytona, and in the process has put up the most top fives (four) and top 10s (eight) among all active series drivers at the track. Plus, he finished runner-up at Daytona earlier this season.

RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg has also seen some success at Daytona International Speedway. He has the next highest top-five finishes among active drivers at Daytona posting three top fives in 11 starts; including a season-best fourth in the 2019 opener.

Close finishes are the norm at Daytona International Speedway

It’s no surprise that close racing and great action are the norm at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and this weekend should be more of the same. Looking at the Xfinity Series history books, six of the 12 closest margins of victory at Daytona were a result of the July races; including last season’s July race which finished with the series second closest margin of victory at Daytona when Kyle Larson beat Elliott Sadler to the line by 0.005 second.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Top 12 In Margins Of Victory at DaytonaRankMargin of VictoryRace WinnersDate10.0004Tyler ReddickFebruary 17, 201820.0050Kyle LarsonJuly 6, 201830.0070Tony StewartFebruary 19, 201140.0130Regan SmithFebruary 22, 201450.0200Kasey KahneJuly 4, 201460.0400Joey LoganoJuly 1, 201170.0430Chase ElliottFebruary 20, 201680.0540Kurt BuschJuly 6, 201290.0680Tony StewartFebruary 14, 2009100.0890Ryan ReedFebruary 21, 2015110.0940Dale Earnhardt JrJuly 2, 2010120.1030Kyle BuschJuly 7, 2007

Xfinity Series welcomes the return of Hattori Racing Enterprises

Keep an eye out in the NASCAR Xfinity Series garage this weekend for Hattori Racing Enterprises and driver Austin Hill as they will be attempting to make their 2019 season debut at Daytona International Speedway.

Much like their NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series program, Hattori Racing Enterprises will have crew chief Scott Zipadelli calling the shots from the pit box in the Xfinity Series for the team’s No. 61 Toyota Supra.

Hattori Racing Enterprises returns to the series after a four-year hiatus. The organization owned by Shigeaki Hattori has made nine previous Xfinity Series starts (2014-2015) with four different drivers – Alex Bowman, Ross Chastain, Johnny Sauter and Ross Kenseth. Chastain, in 2014, brought the team its best finish of the nine starts with a 10th-place finish at Kentucky Speedway.

This weekend will also mark Austin Hill’s NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut. The full-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver burst onto the Gander Trucks championship scene this year after winning the season-opener at Dayton

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