NASCAR XFINITY Series’ TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland Preview

NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are gearing up for their last race of the regular season at Chicagoland Speedway for TheHouse.com 300 on Saturday, September 16th at 3:30 pm ET. Coverage begins at 3 pm ET on NBC Sports Network with radio coverage available on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Drivers will race 300 miles over 200 laps with Stage 1 ending on lap 45, Stage 2 on lap 90 and the last Stage ends on the last lap 200.

What to Watch for:  Three spots remain in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. Right now, the final three berths are held by Blake Koch (51 points ahead of Dakoda Armstrong on the cutoff line), Michael Annett (+26) and Brendan Gaughan (+25).

Elliott Sadler captured the regular season championship at Richmond but is still searching for his first win of 2017.

William Byron attempts to add a series-leading fourth win.

Regular Season Finale: Chicago is Last Chance for Drivers to Make the Playoffs

With the 2017 XFINITY Series regular season coming to a close, all but three spots have been clinched, leaving the drivers currently in the final playoff positions on points – Blake Koch, Michael Annett, and Brendan Gaughan – with one last chance to lock themselves into the postseason.

Nine drivers have already punched their ticket to the XFINITY Series Playoffs – Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed, Cole Custer, Matt Tifft and Jeremy Clements.

That leaves three playoff spots and many drivers still fighting to get in. Below is a look at what each of the three drivers currently holding playoff spots will need to do to clinch their postseason positions. 

Blake Koch (0 Wins, 537 Points, +249 Points Ahead of 21st) – Koch can clinch on points with 30 points and a new winner this weekend.  If there is a repeat winner, Koch would clinch on points with five points.  Koch can also clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win.

Koch has made 11 starts at Chicago posting a best finish of 15th last season. His average finish at Chicago is 29.8. 

Michael Annett (0 Wins, 512 Points, +224 Points Ahead of 21st) – Annett can clinch on points with 54 points and a new winner.  If there is a repeat winner, Annett would clinch on points with 30 points.  Annett can also clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win.

Annett has made eight series starts at Chicago posting one top-five, three top-tens an average finish of 12.7. 

Brendan Gaughan (0 Wins, 511 Points, +223 Points Ahead of 21st) – If there is a repeat winner, Gaughan can clinch on points with 31 points.  Gaughan can also clinch a playoff spot with a win this weekend.  Gaughan could also clinch on points with a new winner and help.

Gaughan has made eight series starts at Chicago posting one top-five, three top-tens and an average finish of 12.8.

XFINITY Playoff Bubble: Outside Looking in with One to Go

The time is here. Chicagoland Speedway is the final race of the XFINITY Series regular season, and for the following drivers on the wrong side of the playoff bubble, it’s the last chance to bounce their way into the playoffs. Below is a look at what the drivers just outside the playoff cutoff line will need to do to make the postseason this weekend: 

Dakoda Armstrong (0 Wins, 486 Points, +198 Points Ahead of 21st) – With a win, Armstrong would clinch a playoff spot on wins.  He could also clinch on points with a new winner and help.

Armstrong has made six series starts at Chicago posting a best finish of 15th in 2015. His average finish at Chicago is a 20.3.

The next five drivers are in a must-win situation; they can only clinch a spot in the XFINITY Series Playoffs with a victory this weekend. 

JJ Yeley (0 Wins, 446 Points, +158 Points Ahead of 21st) – Yeley has made 12 series starts at Chicago, posting two top-tens and an average finish of 21.4

Ross Chastain (0 Wins, 441 Points, +153 Points Ahead of 21st) – Chastain has made four series starts at Chicago, posting a best finish of 16th in 2015. His average finish at Chicago is a 23.0.

Ryan Sieg (0 Wins, 424 Points, +136 Points Ahead of 21st) – Sieg has made five series starts at Chicago, posting a best finish of 12th last season. His average finish at Chicago is a 16.8. 

Brandon Jones (0 Wins, 402 Points, +114 Points Ahead of 21st) – Jones made his series track debut at Chicago last season and did so in impressive fashion, finishing 10th.

Spencer Gallagher (0 Wins, 288 Points, 0 Points Behind of 20th) – This weekend will mark Gallagher’s series track debut at Chicago.

The next batch of drivers could clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win, but would also need help in clinching a spot in the top-20 in points to be eligible for the playoffs, as they are currently outside of the top-20: 

Joey Gase (0 Wins, 275 Points, 13 Points Behind of 20th) – Gase has made nine series starts at Chicago posting a best finish of 23rd. His average finish at Chicago is a 31.5.

Garrett Smithley (0 Wins, 266 Points, 22 Points Behind of 20th) – Smithley made his series track debut last season at Chicago posting a 19th-place finish.

David Starr (0 Wins, 251 Points, 37 Points Behind of 20th) – Starr has made four series starts at Chicago posting a best finish of 18th last season. His average finish at Chicago is a 21.7.

Erik Jones Returns to Defend Last Season’s Chicago Win

Last season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones was battling to make the postseason and did so quite notably when he won the regular season finale at Chicagoland Speedway. This season, Jones returns to the XFINITY Series to defend his win and try to become the first driver in XFINITY Series history to win consecutive races at Chicago. Plus, if he wins this weekend, Jones will tie Kevin Harvick (three wins) for the second-most series wins at Chicago all-time.

Jones will also be joined by six other Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers looking to run double duty this weekend – Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, Corey LaJoie and Kyle Larson.

Jones will the driving the No. 20 JGR Toyota with crew chief Chris Gabehart. Jones has made three series starts at Chicago, posting two wins (2014 and 2016) and three top-tens. His average finish at Chicago is a 3.0.

NASCAR XFINITY Series and Illinois

The XFINITY Series has held 36 races among two different tracks (Chicagoland Speedway – 21  races and Gateway Motorsports Park – 16 races) in the state of Illinois. The very first XFINITY Series race held in the state of Illinois was on July 26, 1997, at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois – the race was won by Elliott Sadler.

Currently, the XFINITY Series only competes at Chicagoland Speedway in the state of Illinois. Chicagoland Speedway has held 21 series events, producing 14 different pole winners, led by Kyle Busch with three poles. It has also produced 14 different race winners, also led by Kyle Busch with four race wins.

A total of 80 drivers with their home state recorded as Illinois have made at least one start in a NASCAR national series race. Of the 80 Illinois drivers, 15 have made at least one start in the XFINITY Series. Justin Allgaier from Riverton leads all Illinois drivers in series starts (232) and series wins (four).

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