The NASCAR X-FINITY Series also runs on the three-quarter-mile Fairgrounds oval with tonight’s Virginia529 College Savings 250. Junior Motorsports has won the last two races contested there, with Chase Elliott last fall and Dale Earnhardt Junior earlier this season. Neither driver is entered this weekend, with Elliott concentrating on his Sprint Cup duties and Earnhardt still recovering from a concussion. Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman and regular-season points leader Elliott Sadler make up the Junior Motorsports lineup for this weekend. With just two races remaining in the regular season, Sadler is battling rookie Erik Jones for the top seed in the inaugural X-FINITY Series Chase. He has two victories thus far, one less than Jones … Earlier this season, Sadler finished third at Richmond while Jones was sidelined by an accident and settled for thirty-fourth place in the forty-car field.
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Justin Marks got the best of his thirty-nine X-FINITY Series rivals on Saturday by mastering a soggy circuit and driving to victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Marks, widely known as a road racing specialist but making just his twenty-fifth career series start, led a race-high forty-three laps in his Number-42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet – including the final ten, beating pole sitter Sam Hornish Junior to the checkered flag by more than three-and-a-half seconds. Ryan Blaney took third place with Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier completing the top five. It was a banner day for Chevrolet as the manufacturer grabbed four of the five top finishing positions. Marks started sixteenth in the forty-car field but charged forward at the drop of the green flag. He took his first lead just eleven laps into the race as rain soaked the two-point-two-mile natural road course. It did subside and the track began to dry at the mid-point of the race. But the skies opened up again in the second half, which opened the door for Marks to claim his first career win. Darrell Wallace Junior had the lead on the day’s final restart fourteen laps from the finish but went off the course in the wet conditions, surrendering the top spot to Dillon with Marks in hot pursuit. Dillon slid off the track himself a short time later, giving Marks the opening he needed to reclaim the lead and drive on to victory … Series leader Elliott Sadler started fourth and finished ninth, which was enough for him to stretch his advantage to twenty-five points over second-place Daniel Suarez, who labored to a twenty-third-place finish … Erik Jones was the highest-finishing rookie, coming home in sixth place.
THE NASCAR X-FINITY SERIES … also competes at Watkins Glen with Saturday’s Zippo 200. Teams got two practice sessions on the newly paved road course on Thursday with Kyle Busch posting the fastest overall speed, 123.006 miles per hour. Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and defending race winner Joey Logano followed on the speed chart as Sprint Cup drivers took the top four spots. Justin Allgaier completed the top five … Larson had the fastest average speed over ten consecutive laps, 122.552 miles per hour. Allgaier, Trevor Bayne, rookie Erik Jones and Darrell Wallace Junior took positions two through five.
With the 2016 season now well into its second half, X-FINITY Series drivers are heading into their first road-course weekend of the season as they set their sights on Saturday’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International. This year marks the first time the elimination-style “Chase” format that’s been used by the Sprint Cup Series the past two seasons will also be implemented in the X-FINITY Series. Twelve drivers will qualify and if the post-season began today, the field would consist of rookies Erik Jones, Brandon Jones and Brennan Poole … Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Darrell Wallace Junior, Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg and Blake Koch … who leads Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements by twenty-four points in the fight for the final “playoff” spot with seven races remaining in the regular season. The post-season Chase will begin September 24th in Sparta, Kentucky … Erik Jones leads all series regulars with three wins while Sadler currently sits atop the regular-season standings, fourteen points ahead of second-place Suarez.
Forty drivers started Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway, but it was just a two-horse race with rookie Erik Jones and Ty Dillon combining to lead all but thirteen of the laps run. When the dust settled, it was Jones parked in Victory Lane with his Number-20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He passed Dillon for his final lead of the night sixteen laps from the finish and stayed there the rest of the way, notching his third victory of the season and giving J-G-R a sweep of the two 2016 races run on the Newton oval. Sam Hornish Junior won the front half of the Midwestern twin bill last month. Jones’ margin of victory over Dillon was three-and-a-half seconds with Elliott Sadler, rookie Brennan Poole and Dakoda Armstrong completing the top five. Jones started second, jumped past pole sitter Daniel Suarez at the drop of the green flag and led a race-high 154 laps. Suarez failed to lead a lap and retired with engine failure in the second half of the race, finishing thirtieth. As a result, he slipped to second in the regular-season standings and is now fourteen points behind Sadler.
The 2016 season marks the first time the elimination-style “Chase” format that’s been used by the Sprint Cup Series the past two seasons will also be implemented in the NASCAR X-FINITY Series. Twelve drivers will qualify and if the post-season began today, the field would consist of rookies Erik Jones, Brandon Jones (no relation) and Brennan Poole … Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Ty Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Darrell Wallace Junior, Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg and Blake Koch … who leads Ross Chastain by nineteen points in the fight for the final “playoff” spot with eight races remaining in the regular season. The post-season Chase will begin September 24th in Sparta, Kentucky … Next stop for the X-FINITY Series will be Saturday night’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway. Suarez leads the standings by fourteen points over second-place Sadler with Dillon, Allgaier and Erik Jones completing the top five … Ryan Blaney won last year’s race in Iowa but is not entered this time around. Brad Keselowski is scheduled to drive the Number-22 Team Penske Ford.
Recap of Last Year’s Race: Brad Keselowski darted past race lead Erik Jones nine laps from the finish and kept the Number-22 Team Penske Ford in front the rest of the way, beating Jones to the checkered flag by a quarter-second with Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler completing the top five. J-J Yeley, who had been awarded the pole position based on practice speeds after qualifying was rained out, failed to lead a single lap and finished eighteenth – two laps down to Keselowski. Brendan Gaughan rode home in ninth place on a day he celebrated his fortieth birthday.
Busch led a race-high eighty-eight laps, including one stretch of twenty-six midway through the second half of the race before the final caution sent drivers to pit road.
Keselowski and Jones opted for two tires while Busch took four, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver never regained the lead … Points leader Chris Buescher finished eleventh but still managed to stretch his advantage to thirty- six points over Chase Elliott, who finished thirteenth in the race.
Track Position at Kentucky: All but three of the nineteen X-FINITY Series races run have been won from a starting position of sixth or better. The exceptions are 2001 winner Kevin Harvick, who qualified eleventh; Keselowski in 2013, nineteenth; and Harvick again in 2014, who started seventh … Winning From the Pole in Kentucky: Six of nineteen X-FINITY Series races have been won from the pole position, most recently by Austin Dillon in 2012 …
Track Qualifying Record: Carl Edwards (Ford) … 181.287 miles per hour … 29.787 seconds … June 2005 …
Track Record, Race Speed: Keselowski (Ford) … 131.162 mph … 1 hour, 56 minutes, 39 seconds … June 2013 …
The NASCAR X-FINITY Series runs at Daytona this weekend with tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola. The weather also impacted practice for the XFINITY series. Drivers took the track for about twenty-five minutes before lightning sent the cars back to the garage. Erik Jones was the fastest of the twenty-nine cars that made a lap with a speed of 193.353. David Ragan, who is replacing Matt Tifft this weekend, is the only other driver to top 193 miles per hour with a speed of 193.307.
Ty Dillon (192.102), Brandon Jones (192.045) and Justin Marks (192.004) rounded out the top five. The second of two practices was canceled due to persistent thunderstorms in the area. Thursday also saw Chevrolet announce that the sixth-generation Camaro SS will serve as the model for Chevrolet racecars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, starting next season in 2017. The fifth-generation Camaro was introduced into the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2013.
Sam Hornish Junior made his return to NASCAR competition a memorable one Sunday afternoon with a dominating drive at Iowa Speedway to claim his fourth career victory.
On Tuesday of last week, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Hornish would sub for Matt Tifft, who was being treated for a disc condition in his back. Five days later, Hornish had the Number-18 Toyota in Victory Lane after leading 183 of the 250 laps contested. Before Sunday, the last time Hornish competed in one of NASCAR’s national series was last fall’s Sprint Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On Sunday, he started third, had his first lead twenty-four laps into the race and led the final 111 trips around the Newton oval – beating runner-up Ty Dillon to the checkered flag by a second-and-a-half. Brad Keselowski, points leader Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman completed the top five.
Erik Jones qualified on the pole but was forced to start at the rear of the field after unapproved body modifications to his Number-20 J-G-R Toyota. Jones never led a lap and placed twenty-seventh in the forty-car field, seven laps down to Hornish at the finish.
How dominant was Hornish? There were just sixteen cars running on the lead lap at the end of the day … Sunday’s race kicked off the second half of the 2016 regular season, which is the first year for the X-FINITY Series post-season Chase.
Just one day before celebrating his 29th birthday, Ryan Sieg finished twenty-first and holds onto the final provisional “playoff” spot – by nine points over Ross Chastain with twelve races left before the Chase opens.
Last Year’s Race: Erik Jones ended the night the same way he started it – at the front of the field. The then-19-year- old Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie led a race-high 112 laps, including the final forty-four trips around Iowa Speedway’s seven-eighths- mile oval. Jones’ margin of victory over runner-up – and fellow rookie – Brandon Jones was nearly six full seconds. Tyler Reddick finished third with points leader Matt Crafton fourth. Christopher Bell, one of Jones’ K-B- M teammates, came home fifth in his first Truck Series start. With the win, Jones became the first driver with back-to- back victories on the Newton oval since the track first hosted the Truck Series in 2009. He and Timothy Peters are now tied at the top of the track’s win list with two apiece. Peters rallied from his Number-16 starting spot to finish sixth, helping Toyota grab four of the top six finishing positions.
Crafton’s fourth-place finish kept him atop the series standings in his bid for a third straight title … The race included six lead changes among five drivers: Crafton, rookie Cameron Hayley, Johnny Sauter, Erik and Brandon Jones … There were six cautions for thirty-eight laps.
Track Position in Iowa: All nine of the Camping World Truck Series races run have been won from a starting position of eleventh or better … Winning From the Pole at Iowa: Four of nine races have been won from the pole, most recently by Jones in 2015 … Track Qualifying Record: German (air-MONN) Quiroga Junior (Toyota) … 138.620 miles per hour … 22.724 seconds … July 2013 … Track Record, Race Speed: Jones (Toyota) … 110.429 mph … 1 hour, 35 minutes, 5 seconds … July 2014 … Friday’s Practice Schedule: From 2 to 3:25 p.m. and 5 to 5:55 p.m. … Qualifying: Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
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