XFINITY Series, Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Preview



Next Race: Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200

The Place: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

The Date: Saturday, Aug. 15

The Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. (ET)

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

Distance: 169.35 miles (75 laps)

Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher Returns to Defend Win at Mid-Ohio

Chris Buescher’s win last season at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was the first of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career. This weekend the 2015 series points leader returns to defend his win at the 13-Turn course and further extend his standings lead over second-place Chase Elliott (-24) and third-place Ty Dillon (-24).

Roush Fenway Racing’s hottest driver, Chris Buescher posted his series leading ninth top-five finish this past weekend at Watkins Glen, finishing third.

In his track debut last season Buescher started fifth and drove to victory at Mid-Ohio.

“I really like road racing, but it’s not my background at all,” said Buescher. “It’s enjoyable. It’s something we get to come do that is different and we really get to learn a lot.”

Buescher is a quick study. In the last two seasons his average finish on road courses in the XFINITY Series is 12.8 – tied with Ty Dillon fourth-best among his championship contenders.

Dillon Ties Elliott, as Both Try to Cut into Buescher’s Points Lead

Following his fifth top-five of the season last week at Watkins Glen, third-place Ty Dillon has tied second-place Chase Elliott in the XFINITY Series standings as both are now 24 points back from standings leader Chris Buescher.

Next up is Mid-Ohio, a 2.258-mile, a 13-turn road course that was the site of standings leader Chris Buescher’s first career win.

Cutting into Buescher’s 24-point lead will be difficult – but not impossible – this weekend. Elliott, in his series debut at Mid-Ohio in 2014, started ninth and drove to a fourth-place finish. In Dillon’s track debut last season at Mid-Ohio, he started fourth and finished 19th.

Both Elliott and Dillon have momentum on their side following Watkins Glen. Elliott managed to post his 16th top-ten finish of the season this past weekend, a series-high and two more than second-best Ty Dillon’s 14. Dillon also has hit a hot streak, posting his fourth consecutive top-ten finish in the last four races, including consecutive top-five finishes the past two weeks.

Over the last two seasons, Chase Elliott has had the best average finish on road courses among series championship contenders with a 5.3, followed by Elliott Sadler (7.8), Brian Scott (8.8), Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher (12.8 each).

Team Penske Going For Three In A Row

Team Penske heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 looking to capture their third consecutive XFINITY Series win after triumphs at Iowa with Ryan Blaney, and Watkins Glen with Joey Logano, the past two weeks. Penske also now leads the XFINITY Series car owner standings by 81 points over second-place Richard Childress.

This week Penske has called in Alex Tagliani to drive the No. 22 Ford with crew chief Greg Erwin. Tagliani made his Mid-Ohio debut with Penske last season, starting second and finishing fifth.

Joe Gibbs Racing Sticking With The Road Course Specialists

A specialist is, ‘a person who concentrates primarily on a particular subject or activity; a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field.’ This week at Mid-Ohio several drivers specializing in road course type racing will grace the field in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Boris Said, a veteran road racer, will be back in the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing after starting seventh and finishing fourth last weekend at Watkins Glen. Said, a California native, has made three series starts this season for Joe Gibbs Racing, posting an average finish of 15.3. This will be Said’s series track debut at Mid-Ohio.

Kenny Habul will be joining Said as his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate for the second consecutive week. Habul piloted the No. 20 Toyota last weekend at Watkins Glen starting 18th but was in an accident and finished 29th. Habul ran at Mid-Ohio last season for Joe Gibbs Racing starting tenth but ultimately finishing 31st due to an expired engine.

Sunoco Rookie Update: Suarez Still On Top Of Rookie Standings

Joe Gibbs Racing’s rising star Daniel Suarez continues to lead the XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings over Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. by 24 points.

The Sunoco rookie standouts have both set themselves apart from the rest of the class, and below is a small snapshot of their XFINITY Series seasons.

Driver: Daniel Suarez               Driver: Darrell Wallace Jr.

Starts: 20                                 Starts: 20

Wins: 0                                     Wins: 0

Poles: 2                                    Poles: 1

Top Fives: 4                             Top Fives: 1

Top 10s: 9                                Top 10s: 7

Laps Led: 64                             Laps Led: 81

Laps Completed: 3,575           Laps Completed: 3,603

Average Start: 9.3                    Average Start: 11.7

Average Finish: 13.1                Average Finish: 13.0

Driver Rating: 92.3                   Driver Rating: 91.8

Both drivers will be making their series track debuts this weekend at Mid-Ohio.

Special Grand Marshalls This Week

Ten Patients Champions from the renowned Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus will serve as Grand Marshals for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 – and all are with an XFINITY Series driver to design their paint schemes, one of many special experiences that the children have been a part of leading up to and during the event.

Roush Fenway Racing Swaps Crew Chiefs

Roush Fenway Racing announced this week that the crew chiefs for the No. 6 and 16 cars will be swapping teams. Seth Barbour will move from the No. 16 team to now serve as crew chief for the No. 6 team with driver Darrell Wallace Jr., and crew chief Chad Norris will move from the No. 6 team to the No. 16 team with driver Ryan Reed.