NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are gearing up for the Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway, Friday, September 8th at 7:30 pm ET. Coverage begins on NBC Sports Network at 7 pm ET along with radio coverage on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Drivers will race 187.5 miles over 250 laps with Stage 1 ending on lap 75, Stage 2 on lap 150, and the last Stage ending on the last lap 250.
What to Watch For: Brendan Gaughan attempts to increase his 20-point lead over Dakoda Armstrong for the last XFINITY Series playoff spot.
Virginia native Elliott Sadler can clinch the regular-season championship at his home track if he has a 61-point lead over second-place at the end of the race. He is currently 91 points ahead of second-place William Byron.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will run both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup and XFINITY Series races this weekend.
Two Races to Go and Plenty of XFINITY Playoff Spots to Fight for
Following the 24th race of the 2017 XFINITY Series season at Darlington Raceway, six drivers – William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Reed, Elliott Sadler, Brennan Poole and Daniel Hemric – have all clinched a spot in the postseason on either wins or points.
Though Jeremy Clements has a win, he has not yet clinched a Playoffs spot because he hasn’t clinched a top-20 spot in the standings. Clements is currently 18th in the standings, 101 points ahead of 21st, and can still possibly fall out of top-20 in the next two races. If Clements was to fall out of the top-20 in the standings, even though he has a win, he would be ineligible for the postseason. Clements can lock himself into the top-20 and the playoffs with 17 points this weekend.
With two races to go and several XFINITY Series playoff spots still up for grabs in Friday night’s Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway and here are the clinch scenarios for this weekend.
Cole Custer (0 Wins, 590 Points, +316 Points Ahead of 21st) – Custer can clinch on points with 11 points and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would then clinch on points with eight points. He can also clinch a playoff spot with a win.
Custer has made two series starts at Richmond, posting one top-ten and an average finish of 9.5.
Matt Tifft (0 Wins, 558 Points, +284 Points Ahead of 21st) – Tifft can clinch on points with 43 points and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, he would then clinch on points with 40 points. He can also clinch a playoff spot with a win.
Tifft has made two series starts at Richmond, posting a best finish of 14th earlier this season. His average finish at RIR is 23.5.
Blake Koch (0 Wins, 511 Points, +237 Points Ahead of 21st) – Koch can clinch a spot with a win. He could also clinch on points but would need help.
Koch has made 12 career starts at Richmond posting one top-ten and an average finish of 24.2.
Michael Annett (0 Wins, 490 Points, +216 Points Ahead of 21st) – Annett can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win. He can also clinch on points with a repeat winner and help.
Annett has made ten series starts at Richmond posting one top-five, three top-tens and an average finish of 16.6.
Brendan Gaughan (0 Wins, 487 Points, +213 Points Ahead of 21st) – Gaughan can only clinch a spot in the playoffs this weekend with a win.
Gaughan has made 11 series starts at Richmond posting two top-tens and an average finish of 18.0.
The remaining drivers in contention to make the XFINITY Series playoffs can only clinch a spot in the postseason this weekend with a win:
- Dakoda Armstrong (0 Wins, 467 Points, +193 Points Ahead of 21st)
- Ross Chastain (0 Wins, 432 Points, +158 Points Ahead of 21st)
- JJ Yeley (0 Wins, 429 Points, +155 Points Ahead of 21st)
- Ryan Sieg (0 Wins, 413 Points, +139 Points Ahead of 21st)
- Brandon Jones (0 Wins, 388 Points, +114 Points Ahead of 21st)
Impossible to Clinch: Joey Gase (0 Wins, 274 Points, 13 Points Behind 20th In Points) – Even with a win, he would not clinch a top-20 spot, so he cannot clinch a Playoff berth at Richmond. If he can’t clinch a top-20 with a win, no driver below him in the standings could clinch either.
Outside Looking In:
JGL Racing’s Dakoda Armstrong Has Two Races Left To Make The Playoffs
JR Motorsport’s Michael Annett and Richard Childress Racing’s Brendan Gaughan have no room for mistakes in the next two races as JGL Racing’s Dakoda Armstrong is within striking distance of knocking one of two from the Playoffs in the upcoming final two races of the regular season (Richmond and Chicago).
Armstrong is currently 13th in the series driver standings, the first spot outside the Playoffs, a mere 23 points back from Michael Annett and just 20 points behind Brendan Gaughan in the final postseason spot heading into this weekend’s race the Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond Raceway.
Armstrong has made seven series starts at Richmond, recording one top-ten. Richmond is one of Armstrong’s better tracks and battling for the final Playoff spot could get interesting this weekend as all three drivers have fairly similar average finishes at RIR – Annett (16.6), Armstrong (16.8) and Gaughan (18.0).
Virginian Elliott Sadler Comes Home to Lock-Up Regular Season Title
JR Motorsport’s Elliott Sadler, from Emporia, Virginia, returns to his home state hoping to not only get his first win of the 2017 season but also lock up the XFINITY Series Regular Season championship this Friday at Richmond Raceway in the Virginia529 College Savings 250. To clinch the regular season title, Sadler will need a 61-point lead over second-place in the driver standings following Richmond; he is currently 91 points ahead of second.
The XFINITY Series Regular Season championship is more than just an accomplishment with a title, it also comes with 15 playoff points; which equals three wins’ worth of playoff points to take to the postseason.
Though Sadler has yet to win in 2017, he has been a dominant competitor on the track. Not only has he posted the series-most in top-fives (9) and top-tens (17), but he has also been the points leader following every race but two this season.
Sadler is not only looking for his first win of the season but also his first win of his career at Richmond Raceway. In 28 series career starts at Richmond, he has posted four top-fives, 13 top-tens and an average finish of 13.8. He finished seventh in the spring race earlier this season.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Leads a Cavalcade of Stars Competing
in the Virginia529 College Savings 250
The sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and five other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competitors – Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Reed Sorenson, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski – will be pulling double duty this weekend at Richmond Raceway in the Virginia529 College Savings 250.
Earnhardt Jr. has been quite successful at Richmond in the XFINITY Series. In six series career starts, he has four wins (2016 spring, ’02 fall, ’99 fall and ’98 fall), five top-fives and an average finish of 6.3. Among drivers with multiple series wins at Richmond, Earnhardt Jr. has the highest winning percentage at 66.7%; followed by Harry Gant with a 36.4% winning percentage after winning four races in 11 starts at Richmond. Earnhardt will be driving the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet with crew chief Scott Radel.
Joining Earnhardt this weekend is the series’ all-time winningest driver and defending Richmond Fall race winner, Kyle Busch (91 wins), who returns to Richmond Raceway looking to tie Kevin Harvick (seven victories) for the series-most wins at the track. In 21 series starts at Richmond, Busch has posted six wins (2016 fall, 2014 fall, 2011 fall, 2009 spring, 2007 fall and 2004 spring), 15 top-fives, 18 top-tens and an average finish of 5.5. Three of his six wins came from the pole. He hasn’t finished worse than fourth in his last seven series starts at Richmond.
Brad Keselowski is also a former Richmond Raceway winner who will be pulling double duty this weekend. He has made 16 starts at Richmond posting three wins (2013 sweep, 2010 Spring), eight top-fives and nine top-tens.