NASCAR XFINITY Series News and Notes – Friday, May 12, 2017

The XFINITY Series will be off the next two weekends as the teams regroup and will return to action on May 27th at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 4K TV 300 (on FS1 at 1 p.m. ET). That race will kick-off an 18-week stretch of racing. The next off week won’t be until after series comes back to Charlotte in October.

Front Nine: JR Motorsports Holds Top-Three Spots in XFINITY Standings

Following the first nine races of the XFINITY Series 2017 season, JR Motorsport’s drivers hold the top-three positions in the driver standings – veteran Elliott Sadler is the series leader, followed by Justin Allgaier (-29) in second and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate William Byron (-49) in third. Currently, the JRM drivers are 17 points ahead of their nearest competitor – Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. – in fourth. This is the first season in series history an organization has held the top-three spots in the series standings.

Series standings leader Elliott Sadler has yet to win this season, but continues to eat up stage points by the masses. In nine starts this season, he has posted four top-fives and a series leading eight top-tens. His average finish his season is a solid 8.0. He has held the points lead since Atlanta, the second race of the season.

At this moment, the driver who looks to give Sadler the hardest time this season at securing the title is his teammate Justin Allgaier. The Illinois native is having one of the best starts to a season of his career. Through the first nine races he has posted one win (Phoenix), three top-fives, five top-tens and an average finish of 12.3. Plus, he has won two Dash 4 Cash checks for $100,000 each.

William Byron might be a rookie this season, but he hasn’t driven like one these first nine races. The 19-year-old from Charlotte, North Carolina, is now third in the series driver standings after posting two top-fives and five top-tens. His average finish this season is 13.8.

Consistency is Showing Dividends for Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr.

With the second-most XFINITY Series top-ten finishes (six) through the first nine races of the season, Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. is fourth in points, just 17 markers back from third-place William Byron.

In one of his best starts to a season, Wallace has posted an average finish of 12.8. His six top-tens this season were all sixth-place finishes; five of which he posted consecutively.

Wallace has been on a mission in 2017. Following the season-opener at Daytona he was 27th in points, and over the last eight races he has gained 23 spots to move up to fourth in the driver standings, despite two DNFs.

Wallace’s ascension in the points might continue when the series gets to Charlotte. He has made four starts at CMS, posting one top-five, two top-tens and an average finish of 15.0. 

An Off-Week Look at the XFINITY Series Playoff Picture 

With the first nine XFINITY Series races in the books, the first quarter of the season, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. Here is a quick glance of who would be in position to qualify for the playoffs:

12 drivers will make the playoffs after the 26th race of the regular season at Chicagoland Speedway and now two title-contending drivers are qualifying on wins and hold the top-two seeds heading into this year’s post-season – Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed. Allgaier holds the top-seed because at this point in the season he has more playoff points (seven) than Reed (five).

Sitting in the third seed at the moment is the current regular season points leader Elliott Sadler, who with his two playoff points has an advantage over his teammate and fourth seed William Byron and the fifth seed Daniel Hemric, both of whom only have one stage win playoff point.

The remaining seven drivers have yet to win a race or get a stage win, and have no playoff points and would be seeded by their regular season points – 6. Darrell Wallace Jr., 7. Michael Annett, 8. Matt Tifft, 9. Blake Koch, 10. Brennan Poole, 11. Dakoda Armstrong, 12. Cole Custer.

This season’s playoff picture includes four Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates (Byron, Hemric, Tifft, Custer), and eight different organizations – JR Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, JGL Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing.

Also Noteworthy…

Ross Chastain Wants to Go Truckin’: Florida native and XFINITY Series championship contender Ross Chastain will be attempting to compete this weekend at Kansas Speedway in the Toyota Tundra 250 Camping World Truck Series race (on FS1 at 8 p.m. ET). Chastain will be driving for owner Jeff Bolen with crew chief Paul Clapprood in the No. 66 Bolen Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado.

XFINITY Series in Kansas: Though the series is not competing this weekend at Kansas, the XFINITY Series has competed in the state of Kansas 16 times. All 16 races were held at Kansas Speedway. The first NXS race in the state of Kansas was on Sept. 29, 2001 when the event winner was former series champion Jeff Green (Ford).

Kansas Drivers in the XFINITY Series: Only six drivers with their home state recorded as Kansas have competed in at least one XFINITY Series race – Clint Bowyer (Emporia; 181 starts), Jennifer Jo Cobb (Kansas City; 29 starts), Chase Austin (Eudora; six starts), Rick Beebe (Shawnee; two starts), Ryck Sanders (Leawood; two starts) and Randy Briggs (Kansas City; one start).

 

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