2016 Season Brings Some Change And Lots Of Excitement
With a new season brings tons of excitement and also some great new ideas to the table for the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Much like the successful NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase, the NASCAR XFINITY Series has now adopted a new version of NASCAR’s playoff system. Also the fan and driver adorned Dash 4 Cash program returns for 2016, but this time with a tweak to the process. Below are details to the biggest changes the NASCAR XFINITY Series will see in 2016.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES CHASE – The seven-race NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase will begin at Kentucky Speedway on Sept. 24, and feature 12 drivers and two elimination rounds, with four drivers competing in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
A win in the first 26 races all but guarantees a driver entry into the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, provided the driver is in the top 30 in points and has attempted to qualify for each race. Drivers who win two Dash 4 Cash bonuses are also all but guaranteed a Chase berth.
The first round, called the Round of 12, consists of the races at Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte. All drivers will start with their points adjusted to 2,000, with three additional bonus points added to their total for each win in the first 26 races. If a driver wins a race in the Round of 12, the driver automatically advances to the next round. The remaining available positions (1-8) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.
Each driver who advances to the Round of 8 (Kansas, Texas, Phoenix) then will have their points reset to 3,000. Drivers who win a race in the Round of 8 automatically advance to the Championship 4. The remaining available positions (1-4) that have not been filled by wins will be filled on points.
The four drivers who advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead will have their points reset to 4,000. The highest finishing Championship 4 driver will be crowned the NASCAR XFINITY Series champion.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES DASH 4 CASH – The NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash will be comprised of Two Heats and a Main at four tracks: Bristol Motor Speedway (April 16), Richmond International Raceway (April 23), Dover International Speedway (May 14) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23).
Qualifying for each Dash 4 Cash event will set the 40-car field and the starting positions for the Two Heats with the fastest qualifier awarded the Coors Light Pole Award. Odd-numbered qualifiers (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc.) will start in the first Heat in respective order, while even-numbered qualifiers (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc.) will start the second Heat in respective order.
The Two Heats will set the starting positions for the Main with the top two NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars in each Heat becoming eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus. The highest finishing driver among the four Dash 4 Cash eligible drivers will be awarded a $100,000 bonus. If any driver wins two of the four Dash 4 Cash bonuses available, he/she is all but guaranteed a spot in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. In short, two Dash 4 Cash bonuses are equivalent to one race win in the new NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase format.
Drivers must have declared to earn NASCAR XFINITY Series points in order to be eligible for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash bonus.
Championship Or Bust For Dillon
Ty Dillon has one goal on his mind for the 2016 – a NASCAR XFINITY Series title.
“It’s winning races or bust for me,” Dillon said. “I know with that will come a championship opportunity. So we get locked in that Chase, you have to win the races, just like they have in the Sprint Cup Series.”
The No. 3 Richard Childress racing driver placed third in the series last year on the strength of 12 top fives and 25 top 10s. In 2014, he finished fifth in the final standings with one win, seven top fives and 24 top 10s.
He begins his title quest in Saturday’s PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET). Dillon placed third in the same race last season and has an average finish of 14.8 in five XFINITY Series starts at DIS.
Ryan Reed Looks To Kick 2016 Off Like Last Year… With A Win
As the NASCAR XFINITY Series field roared down the Superstretch and towards Turn 3 on the final lap at Daytona last season, Ryan Reed faked going into the turn high and dove his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to the bottom of the track and locked it to the double yellow line as he flew into the lead passing Brad Keselowski. Reed was then able to hold off the remaining ensuing efforts at his position as he glided his Ford across the start/finish line and into Victory Lane. It was Reed’s sole win of 2015, but he returns to Daytona looking to become the fifth driver in series history to win back-to-back season-opening races, joining Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip.
Reed has made four career NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Daytona, posting one win (2015), two top fives and an average finish of 9.0.
Moving On Up: Erik Jones Takes Truck Championship And Graduates To XFINITY Series
Most pundits will agree Erik Jones is the next big thing rising through the ranks of NASCAR. After claiming the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title last season, the 19-year-old Michigan native has turned his full attention to the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Jones has been tapped to drive the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with crew chief Chris Gabehart in 2016.
Jones is no stranger to the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He has already made 26 starts over the last two seasons posting two wins (Texas and Chicago), 13 top fives, 20 top 10s and average finish of 8.9.
The young JGR prodigy has made two series starts at Daytona, posting one top 10 and an average finish of 13.0.
Super Sophomores: Suárez, Wallace Go For Championship In Second XFINITY Series Season
A year after battling for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, Daniel Suárez and Darrell Wallace Jr. are both back ready to compete for the championship.
Suárez, who ended up taking home the rookie honors, finished fifth in the final standings, posted eight top fives, 18 top 10s and three Coors Light Pole Awards last season. He had an average start of 8.1 and an average finish of 11.7. He won the pole in last year’s Daytona summer race.
Last season, Wallace finished seventh in the series standings on the strength of three top fives and 14 top 10s. He recorded an average start of 12.7 and an average finish of 11.8. Wallace has a high finish of seventh at Daytona International Speedway.
Suárez and Wallace are alumni of both NASCAR Next and NASCAR Drive for Diversity.
Former Series Champions Are No Slouches In Daytona 500 Qualifying
Last Sunday, 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott added his name to a prestigious list of former series champions who have gone on to win the pole for the Daytona 500. Elliott is the ninth driver in NASCAR History to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship and go on to start on the pole for the Daytona 500, joining Austin Dillon, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle, Jeff Green and Bobby Labonte.
Elliott is just the sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie to win the pole for the Daytona 500 joining Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Loy Allen Jr and Mike Skinner.
Familiar Faces – New Teams In 2016
Don’t be too surprised seeing several drivers wheeling for new teams in 2016. The front offices of several of the race teams were definitely busy during the off-season with roster management. Below is a look at a few drivers who will be competing for a new team in 2016.
Former series champion, Bobby Labonte (1991) will be driving part-time in the No. 18 for Joe Gibbs Racing this season. Labonte will have a full-schedule this weekend as he will be running Saturday with Joe Gibbs Racing before jumping in a car for Go Fas Racing and running his 24th career Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Labonte has made eight series starts at Daytona, posting two top 10s and an average finish of 20.9.
JR Motorsports will be welcoming a whole new cast of drivers. Elliott Sadler will now be in the No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Returning to the series this season is Justin Allgaier in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Sadler has made 13 series starts at Daytona, posting four top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 15.3. Sadler finished second in the July race at Daytona last season. Allgaier, on the other hand, hasn’t driven an NASCAR XFINITY Series car since 2013, but when he did, he made 10 starts at Daytona, posting five top 10s.
Sunoco Rookies to Watch In 2016
Everyone knows the awkward feeling of your first day of school. You don’t know your way around anywhere, and you don’t know very many people, but the excitement of the next stage in your life gets you through it. Many of the 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates will likely feel like that this weekend as they embark on their first season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
As of this week, there are four drivers entered as Sunoco Rookies for 2016: Brandon Jones (Richard Childress Racing), Brennan Poole (Chip Ganassi Racing), Ryan Preece (JD Motorsports) and Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing).
Brandon Jones is from Atlanta, Georgia and turns 19 on Thursday, Feb. 18. He has one top five and two top 10s in five career XFINITY Series starts.
Poole, from The Woodlands, Texas is 24 years old. Poole made 17 XFINITY Series starts last season, logging two top 10s.
Preece is a graduate of the NASCAR Next program. He hails from Berlin, Connecticut is 25 years old. Preece mad three XFINITY Series starts from 2013-14.
Erik Jones, 19, calls Byron, Michigan home. The NASCAR Next alum has made 26 starts over the last two seasons, posting two wins (Texas and Chicago), 13 top fives, 20 top 10s and average finish of 8.9.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Track Facts – Daytona International Speedway
Below is a quick look at some NASCAR XFINITY Series statistics for Daytona International Speedway: Number Races: 48
Number Of Winners: 24
Wins Leader: Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart (7 each)
Number Of Pole Winners: 35
Poles Leader: Joe Nemechek (5)
Most Race Leaders: 20 (2/23/2013)
Most Lead Changes: 41 (07/06/2012)
Most Laps Led (Single Event): 105 (Joe Nemechek, 1998)
Most Cautions: 11 (2/18/2006)
Most Caution Laps: 35 – three times (most recently: 2/25/2012)
Last Season’s Green Flag Passes for the Lead: 56