After a week off, the NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action this weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway. Saturday’s Camping World 300 (3:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) features several big storylines. Here’s the top.
Xfinity’s ‘Big 3’ look to be unstoppable
This season’s NASCAR Xfinity Series ‘Big 3’ – Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer – look to be on another level compared to the rest of the competition.
For starters, 10 of the first 14 races this season have been won by the ‘Big 3’ including the last eight consecutive races – Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell has four wins (Atlanta, Bristol, Dover and Iowa), Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick has three wins (Talladega, Charlotte and Michigan) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer has three wins (California, Richmond and Pocono).
But it’s not that they are just winning – Bell, Custer and Reddick are dominating. Bell has led laps in all 14 races this season, Custer in 11 of the 14 and Reddick in 10 of the 14. But it doesn’t end there, the ‘Big 3’ have also combined to lead 1,619 of a possible 2,587 laps raced this season – that’s 62.5% (Bell with 758 laps led, Custer with 543 and Reddick has 318).
Looking to Chicago this weekend, Custer has performed the best at the 1.5-mile speedway amongst the three drivers. In two starts, Custer has grabbed one top five and two 10s. His average finish at Chicago is an impressive 5.0. Last week’s winner, Bell, has had the next best experience at Chicago, making his series track debut last season starting 11th and finishing 12th. Reddick on the other hand will be looking to rebound from his series track debut at Chicago last season. The RCR driver was caught in a multi-car incident that relegated him to 30th-place finish after starting on the front row (second).
Former Chicago winner Joey Logano returns to the Xfinity Series
This weekend, Team Penske’s Joey Logano will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series 2019 season debut in the Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
When Logano rejoins the fold, the competition takes notice as the Connecticut native is ranked seventh all-time on NASCAR Xfinity Series wins list with 30 victories; including two from Chicagoland Speedway (2009 and 2013). This weekend at Chicago will mark Logano’s 175th series start. In his previous 174, he has put up 30 wins, 94 top fives, 142 top 10s and 35 poles (second-most poles all-time). Additionally, he has led 4,660 laps.
Logano will be piloting the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang this weekend with crew chief Matt Swiderski calling the shots from the pit box. This will be the first time the duo has worked together.
Despite it being his first race of the season in the series and his first race working with Swiderski, expect Logano to challenge for the win. In seven series starts at Chicagoland Speedway, he has posted one pole (2012), two wins (2009 and 2013), four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 5.9.
Other Drivers Return To Seats Too
One driver certainly making headlines this season is former Florida watermelon farmer and current NASCAR driver, Ross Chastain, who will be back in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. Chastain will be pulling triple duty this weekend running in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race Friday, June 28, again on Saturday, June 29, in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and then finally in the Monster Energy Series race on Sunday, June 30. Chastain has made 13 series start this season 11 with JD Motorsports and two with Kaulig Racing (Daytona and Talladega); his average finish this season is 16.2.
XCI Racing & Earnhardt Return Too
XCI Racing and Jeffrey Earnhardt return to the NASCAR Xfinity Series this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. XCI Racing will looking to make the team’s second series start – ever. The organization made its series debut with Earnhardt piloting the No. 81 Toyota at Texas Motor Speedway; he started 14th and finished inside the top-10 (eighth). In total Earnhardt has made six start this season – the other five were with Joe Gibbs Racing – posting one top five, three top 10s and average finish of 13.3.
Illinois native Justin Allgaier has Chicago circled on the schedule
JR Motorsports driver Justin Allgaier from Riverton, Illinois, scored a career-best five wins last season, but 14 races into 2019 is still looking for his first victory. The 33-year-old Allgaier remains poised, and returning to his home track just might be the spark he needs to get him back to Victory Lane.
Currently ranked fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings – the highest ranked contender without a win – Allgaier has posted seven top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 11.1 this season.
His winning hopes should be high, Chicagoland Speedway has been good to Allgaier in the past. In 11 starts on the 1.5-mile track he has picked up two wins (2011, 2017), four top fives and eight top 10s.
Sunoco Rookie race heats up
Things have been looking up for JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson. Not only did the Las Vegas native pick up his third Sunoco Rookie of the Race award of the year at Iowa Speedway two weeks ago, but he also grabbed the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win last weekend at Sonoma Raceway while the NASCAR Xfinity Series was off. Now the 20-year-old Gragson is third in the rookie standings and only nine points back from Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings leader Chase Briscoe and just two points behind second place John Hunter Nemechek.
Heading to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend with only nine points separating the top three in the rookie standings, the competition is starting to heat up. Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi driver Chase Briscoe holds the rookie standings lead with 470 points after posting six top fives and 11 top 10s this season. Right behind Briscoe is GMS Racing’s John Hunter Nemechek in second with 463 points this season. Nemechek has amassed two top fives and 10 top 10s in 14 starts this year.
Momentum is building for Gragson. In the last three races Gragson has closed a 19-point gap between himself and the rookie standings lead down to nine points heading into this weekend at Chicago.
Of the top three in the Sunoco rookie points only Briscoe has made a previous start at Chicagoland Speedway – last season he started 17th and finished ninth – Nemechek and Gragson will be making the series track debuts on Saturday.