NASCAR XFINITY Series Mid-Ohio Challenge Preview

Up next on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the second of three road courses this season. Action for the Mid-Ohio Challenge is on Saturday, August 12th at 3:30 pm ET. Coverage begins at 3 pm ET on NBC Sports Network, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Drivers will race 169.35 miles over 75 laps with Stage 1 ending on lap 20, Stage 2 on lap 40 and the last stage will end on the last lap 75. 



What to Watch for – Mid-Ohio marks the second of three road course races for the XFINITY Series this month.

Four different drivers have won the four XFINITY Series races held at Mid-Ohio. Former winners in Saturday’s field include Regan Smith (2015) and defending Victor Justin Marks.

William Byron attempts to add to his series-leading 17 playoff points, and cap off a week that includes his announced promotion to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018 to the driver the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Mid-Ohio: The Next Road Racing Test For The XFINITY Competitors

In the four XFINITY Series races held at Mid-Ohio, the series has seen four different winners – the 2013 winner was Team Penske’s, A.J. Allmendinger, 2014 went to Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher, the 2015 winner was JR Motorsport’s Regan Smith and last season’s victory went to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Justin Marks.

The series has also seen four different pole winners at Mid-Ohio in the four events held on the 2.258-mile course – 2013 Michael McDowell, 2014 Sam Hornish Jr., 2015 Alex Tagliani and 2016 Sam Hornish Jr.

This time around, the XFINITY Series will be running the Mid-Ohio Challenge with the new stage racing format. The event will be broken up into three stages – the first two stages are 20 laps each, with the final stage being the last 35 laps of the race.

Former Mid-Ohio race winners Justin Marks, Regan Smith and former pole winner Sam Hornish Jr. are all entered this weekend to take on the 13-turn course. Marks returns to the Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Mike Shiplett. Last season, the duo set the series track record at Mid-Ohio for winning from the furthest starting position (16th). Smith will be driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota Camry with crew chief Eric Phillips, and Sam Hornish Jr. will be strapped into Team Penske’s No. 22 Ford Mustang with crew chief Greg Erwin.

New Winners are a Norm at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

NXS First-Time Winner Track Date
Michael McDowell Road America 8/27/2016
Justin Marks Mid-Ohio 8/13/2016
Chris Buescher Mid-Ohio 8/16/2014
Brendan Gaughan Road America 6/21/2014
AJ Allmendinger Road America 6/22/2013
Nelson Piquet Jr Road America 6/23/2012
Boris Said Montreal 8/29/2010
Marcos Ambrose Watkins Glen 8/9/2008
Juan Pablo Montoya Mexico City 3/4/2007
Denny Hamlin Mexico City 3/5/2006
Ron Fellows Watkins Glen 6/28/1998
Bill Elliott Watkins Glen 6/26/1993

In two of the four XFINITY Series races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the victor was a first-time winner in the series; including last season’s winner Justin Marks and the 2014 winner and eventual series champion Chris Buescher.

Road course racing in the XFINITY Series is no stranger to first-time winners – 12 different drivers have posted their first series win on a road course; including two last season (McDowell and Marks).

Of the 41 drivers entered this weekend at Mid-Ohio, only 11 have previously won in the XFINITY Series; meaning one of 30 drivers (73% of the drivers entered) could be the next first-time winner in the series.

Road Course Ringers in the XFINITY Series

A total of thirty different XFINITY Series competitors have won a road course race, led by Marcos Ambrose with five victories (four at Watkins Glen and one at Montreal).

Since the inception of the XFINITY Series (1982), only nine drivers have multiple road course wins – Marcos Ambrose (5),

Ron Fellows (4), Terry Labonte (4), Carl Edwards (3), AJ Allmendinger (2), Joey Logano (2), Kevin Harvick (2), Kurt Busch (2) and Kyle Busch (2).

The record for the series most road course wins at a single track is four, held by Marcos Ambrose and Terry Labonte at Watkins Glen International.

The XFINITY Series has competed on six different road courses through the years, currently, just three are active – Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Road America – the three inactives are Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal, 2007-2012) Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (Mexico City, 2005-2008) and Road Atlanta (1986-1987).

Playoff Points will Payoff Come Post-Season Time

With just a handful of races left in the regular season, accumulating playoff points should be top of mind for the XFINITY Series competitors, especially those with a win or who are inside the top-12 in the championship driver standings. Once the playoffs start, drivers will be seeded by their playoff points, making stage and race wins that much more significant.

Currently, seven drivers have scored playoff points this season, led by William Byron with 17. Byron also has the series-most wins (three) and therefore will be the No. 1 seed in the XFINITY Series playoffs when they kick off on Sept. 23 at Kentucky Speedway. Byron’s JRM teammate Justin Allgaier with a win and eight playoff points will be seeded second and Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed will be seeded third due to his win and five playoff points.

For the drivers without race wins this season, playoff points are even more crucial to their playoff success. Of the nine winless title contenders, only four have playoff points, led by Elliott Sadler with five – all from stage wins – the series-most this season. Sadler’s five playoff points will have him seeded fourth, just behind the drivers with wins. The other three winless drivers with playoff points (Daniel Hemric, Blake Koch, and Brendan Gaughan) each have one point and will be seeded ahead of the drivers without playoff points.  Theoretically, Koch would jump from tenth in points to the seventh seed (+3 spots), and Gaughan would go from 12th in points to the eighth seed (+4 spots) just because of playoff points.  The remaining five drivers will be seeded by their regular season points.

With six races left in the regular season, that means 42 playoff points are still on the table – 12 from Stage 1 and 2 wins and a total of 30 playoff points from race wins.

Ryan Sieg Still has a Shot, But the Playoff Window is Closing

Ryan Sieg Brendan Gaughan
Upcoming Tracks Average Finish Average Finish
Mid-Ohio 17.3 13.3
Bristol 20.1 16.4
Road America 19.3 6.6
Darlington 23.0 21.5
Richmond 22.6 18.0
Chicago 16.8 12.9

Only six races are left in the regular season for drivers to secure their spot in the XFINITY Series playoffs, and with only three title contenders with wins, nine spots are up for grabs on points. Ryan Sieg is currently 13th in the championship standings, the first spot outside the playoff cutoff, 36 points back from Brendan Gaughan in 12th – the final playoff spot.

RSS Racing’s Ryan Sieg moved up to 13th in points following Watkins Glen last weekend. Sieg has made 20 starts this season, posting one top five and an average finish of 20.2.

Sieg will have his work cut out for him if he wants to pass Gaughan in the standings over the next six races, Gaughan has a better average finish than him at all six tracks.

Sieg has made three starts at Mid-Ohio, posting an average finish of 17.3. His best finish at Mid-Ohio was a 14th in 2015.

NASCAR and Ohio

For the second-time this year, NASCAR will be competing in the state of Ohio. The Camping World Truck Series was at Eldora Speedway a few weeks ago, and this weekend the XFINITY Series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Mid-Ohio Challenge on Saturday.

In total, NASCAR has held 28 national series events among nine tracks in the state of Ohio. The very first NASCAR national series race held in the state of Ohio was a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event on July 25, 1950, at Dayton Speedway in Dayton, Ohio – the race was won by Cleveland, Ohio’s Jimmy Florian – the only win of his career.

Track Name City MENCS NXS NCWTS Total Races
Dayton Speedway Dayton 6 0 0 6
Eldora Speedway Rossburg 0 0 5 5
Mansfield Motorsports Park Mansfield 0 0 5 5
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington 0 4 0 4
Canfield Fairgrounds Canfield 3 0 0 3
Ft. Miami Speedway Toledo 2 0 0 2
Bainbridge Fairgrounds Bainbridge 1 0 0 1
Powell Motor Speedway Columbus 1 0 0 1
Sharon Speedway Hartford 1 0 0 1
TOTALS   14 4 10 28

The NASCAR XFINITY Series has competed four times in the state of Ohio; all at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

A total of 123 drivers who have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series race has their home state recorded as Ohio. Of the 123 drivers from Ohio, only 19 (15.4%) made at least one start in the XFINITY Series, led by Dave Blaney (Hartford) with 121 series starts.  Of the 19 NXS competitors from Ohio, only three have won, led by Sam Hornish Jr from Defiance (four wins), Tim Richmond from Ashland (two wins) and Dave Blaney from Hartford (one win).

Three drivers from Ohio have competed this season – Matt Tifft from Hinckley, Sam Hornish Jr. from Defiance and Matt Mills from New Philadelphia. Hornish and Tifft are entered this weekend.