Bright lights, big casinos, world-class accommodations and Las Vegas Motor Speedway welcome the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET on FS1). For the second-straight week Elliott Sadler has held command of the standings lead as the series embarks on the three-race NASCAR Goes West swing. Following LVMS, the series where names are made will head to Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway (Fontana).
Sadler holds a three-point edge over second-place Daniel Suárez and he has a five point advantage over third-place Ty Dillon.
The JR Motorsports veteran Sadler has made nine starts at Las Vegas, posting two top fives, three top 10s and a pole. His average finish at Las Vegas is a 12.3.
NASCAR’s Loop Data dives deeper into Sadler’s success at Las Vegas. He’s ranked seventh in average running position (8.5), eighth in driver rating (97.6) and third in percentage of laps in the top 15 (97.8%).
Suárez On The Bumper Of The Standings Lead
Standings leader Elliott Sadler currently has a mirror full of second-place Daniel Suárez, who is just three points behind him after the first two races of the season. This is Suárez’s career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series points position.
Suárez launched 2016 off with a great run at Daytona, finishing eighth and then backed that up with a seventh at Atlanta, propelling him from fourth in the standings to second just three points back from the lead.
The 24-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver has made just one start at Las Vegas. Last season, he started 15th and finished 10th.
Jones & Dillon Make Moves In The Points
Two drivers made titanic moves in the points this past weekend. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones climbed 11 spots and Richard Childress Racing’s Ty Dillon jumped five spots following their top-five finishes at Atlanta.
Jones, last year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, was caught in an accident at Daytona that ultimately had him finish 31st to open the season. He then rebounded at Atlanta with a solid third-place that vaulted him from 22nd in points to 11th. Jones is now 22 points behind standings leader Elliott Sadler.
Jones has made one NASCAR XFINITY Series start at LVMS. It resulted in a 29th-place finish due to an accident. The NASCAR Next alum won the NCWTS race at Las Vegas in 2014.
Ty Dillon is picking up where he left off last season – in the center of the championship conversation.
Dillon vaulted five spots in the series standings following his fifth-place finish at Atlanta. He is now third in points just five markers back from the series lead.
Dillon has made three starts at Las Vegas, posting a pole, one top 10 and an average finish of 10.0.
Close Competition: Top Six Drivers In The Standings Separated By 10 Points
The NASCAR XFINITY Series is seeing some tight competition just two races into the 2016 season.
The top six drivers in the standings are separated by only 10 points – the most in the last five seasons following the second race of the year.
2016: Six drivers: Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suárez (-3), Ty Dillon (-5), Brandon Jones (-6), Justin Allgaier (-7) and Brendan Gaughan (-10)
Below are the last five seasons and how many drivers were separated by 10 points following the second race of the season:
2015: Three drivers – Chris Buescher, Ty Dillon (-0), Ryan Reed (-8)
2014: Three drivers – Regan Smith, Trevor Bayne (-5), Elliott Sadler (-6)
2013: Four drivers – Sam Hornish Jr., Justin Allgaier (-0), Brian Scott (-6), Elliott Sadler (-10)
2012: Two drivers – Elliott Sadler, Austin Dillon (-10)
2011: Three drivers – Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (-5), Jason Leffler (-7)
Sunoco Rookie Update: Jones Is The Man To Catch, Erik That Is
Last week Brandon Jones led the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. This week it’s Erik Jones. A slim two points separate the young rising stars in the rookie standings as the series rides out to Las Vegas this weekend.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones looked stellar this past weekend at Atlanta finishing third and moving into the rookie standings lead ahead of Brandon Jones. Erik Jones was caught in an accident at Daytona, finishing 31st, but rebounded quickly at Atlanta, finishing third.
Last season at Las Vegas, Erik Jones, 19, started third and led seven laps before getting in an accident and finishing 29th. Prior to his accident at LVMS, Jones posted a driver rating of 99.9. The 29th at Las Vegas is his worst finish on a 1.5-mile speedway. In 12 series starts on 1.5-mile tracks, he has two wins (Chicagoland, Texas) and an average finish of 7.3.
Richard Childress Racing’s newest standout is Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Brandon Jones. Jones currently sits second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
Brandon Jones, 19, is also fourth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings just six points back from the standings lead, the highest ranked Sunoco Rookie candidate. Jones’ season has been consistent through the first two races. He finished seventh in the season opener at Daytona and 11th at his home track last weekend.
This weekend will be Jones’ series track debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jones has limited series experience on 1.5-mile tracks. He’s only made two series starts at the distance – at Kentucky last season (fifth), and Atlanta last weekend (11th).
Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following Atlanta: E. Jones (27 points); B. Jones (-2 points, behind the leader), Brennan Poole (-9), B.J. McLeod (-11), Ryan Preece (-13), Ray Black Jr. (-16), Garrett Smithley (-20) and Cody Ware (-22).
Austin Dillon Looks To Become First To Repeat At LVMS
Las Vegas Motor Speedway has had 13 different winners in 19 NASCAR XFINITY Series races, and none have visited Victory Lane in consecutive events. Austin Dillon plans to change that this weekend. As the defending winner of the Boyd Gaming 300, Dillon looks to become the first driver to win back-to-back series races at Las Vegas.
Dillon has made three starts at Las Vegas posting one win (2015), three top 10s and an average finish of 4.7.
He leads the series in LVMS driver rating (122.7) and average running position (3.895).
Competitive Balance: Seven Different Winners Last Seven Races At LVMS
In the last seven NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway there have been seven different winners, boding the question – Who will be number eight?
There have been 13 different NXS winners at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, led by Mark Martin with four victories (1999, 2005, 2008 and 2011). Jeff Burton (three) and Kevin Harvick (two) are the only other drivers with multiple series wins at LVMS.
The last seven winners at Las Vegas are Austin Dillon (2015), Brad Keselowski (2014), Sam Hornish Jr. (2013), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2012), Mark Martin (2011), Kevin Harvick (2010) and Greg Biffle (2009).
NASCAR In Nevada: Gaughan & Busch Come Home
NASCAR national series have been competing in the state of Nevada consistently since 1996. The first NASCAR race held in Nevada was in 1955 at Las Vegas Park Speedway won by Norm Nelson (Chrysler, 44.449 mph, 2:29:50). There have been a total of 57 NASCAR national series races held in Nevada at two tracks – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (18 NSCS, 19 NXS and 19 NCWTS) and Las Vegas Park Speedway (one NSCS).
Twenty-four different drivers with their home state recorded as Nevada have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series race. This weekend two drivers from the state of Nevada are entered in the Boyd Gaming 300 – Kyle Busch and Brendan Gaughan (both are from Las Vegas).
Kyle Busch added to his legend last weekend by extending his series record of most wins to 77 after capturing the checkered flag at Atlanta.
Busch has made 11 starts at Las Vegas, posting three top fives and an average finish of 18.2.
Brendan Gaughan is currently sixth in the standings just 10 points back from the standings lead. Gaughan’s family owns South Point Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and the company is the primary sponsor on his No. 62 Chevrolet.
Gaughan has made five series starts at Las Vegas, posting one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 9.4.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.
Air Force Thunderbirds Take Reed up: Roush Fenway Racing driver of the No. 6 Ford, Ryan Reed, will be taking a ride with the famous Air Force Thunderbirds in Las Vegas on Thursday, March 3 at 1 p.m. PT.
Double The Action, Double The Fun: The following NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars are entered in this weekend’s Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race: Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola. …
Series Milestones: Mike Harmon will attempt to make his 200th series start. He is 58th on the all-time list. … Blake Koch will attempt to make his 150th series start. He is 85th on the all-time list. … Austin Dillon will attempt to make his 100th series start. He is 123rd on the all-time list. … Ryan Reed will attempt to make his 75th series start. He is 166th on the all-time list.