NASCAR XFINITY Series, Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Preview

NASCAR XFINITY Series teams are gearing up for the Drive for The Cure 300 Presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 7th at 3 pm ET. Coverage is on NBCSN at 2:30 pm ET with radio coverage available on PRN, 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 ending on the last lap 200.

What to Watch For: The four drivers lowest in points who are winless in the Round of 12 following Saturday’s race will face elimination from the XFINITY Series Playoffs. Right now, Ryan Reed sits two points above Brendan Gaughan for the last spot. Michael Annett (eight points behind Reed) ranks tenth, followed by 11th-place Blake Koch (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-20) in 12th.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney are on the entry list to take part in Saturday’s race.

Round of 12 Cutoff Race: Last Chance for Contenders to Move on in the Playoffs

As the Round of 12 of the XFINITY Series Playoffs comes to a close this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, time is of the essence for the 12 contenders to either win their way into the next round or score as many points as possible to secure a spot. Below is the current XFINITY Series Playoff standings heading into this weekend for the Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

Playoff Contenders in Position to Advance to the Round Of 8

Eight drivers are in the position to move on to the XFINITY Series Playoffs Round of 8. Below is a quick look each driver’s performance at Charlotte and what they will need to do to advance this weekend.

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)  holds the Playoff standings lead with 2,107 Points; 54 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings).  Allgaier can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 on points with three points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with one point scored.  He can also clinch a spot with a win this weekend. Allgaier has made 14 series starts at Charlotte, posting three top-fives, eight top-tens and an average finish of 11.8.

William Byron (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) is second in the Playoff standings following Dover with 2,104 points; 51 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Byron can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 on points this weekend with seven points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with five points. Byron can also clinch a spot in the next round with a win this weekend. Byron made his series track debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier this season; he started 13th and finished 14th.

Elliott Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) sits third in the Playoff standings with 2,094 points; 41 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Sadler can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 this weekend on points with 17 points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with 15 points.  He can also advance with a win this weekend. Sadler has made 21 series starts at Charlotte, posting five top-fives, nine top-tens and an average finish of 17.1.

Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) sits fourth in the Playoff standings with 2,093 points; 40 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Custer can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 this weekend on points with 18 points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with 16 points. He can also advance to the next round with a win this weekend. Custer has made two series starts at Charlotte, posting one top-five and two top-tens. His average finish at Charlotte is 5.5.

Daniel Hemric (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) is now fifth in the Playoff standings following Dover with 2,090 points; 37 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Hemric can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 this weekend on points with 21 points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with 19 points. Hemric can also advance to the next round with a win this weekend. Hemric made his series track debut at Charlotte earlier this season; he started fourth and finished 13th.

Brennan Poole (No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) is sixth in the Playoff standings with 2,082 points; 29 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Poole can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 this weekend on points with 28 points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with 26 points. Poole can also clinch a spot in the next round with a win this weekend. Poole has made four starts at Charlotte, posting two top-tens and an average finish of 14.0.

Matt Tifft (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is now seventh in the Playoff standing with 2,067 points; just 14 points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Tifft can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 this weekend on points with 44 points and a new winner, otherwise, he would clinch on points with 42 points.  Tifft can also advance to the next round with a win this weekend. Tifft has made two series starts at Charlotte posting one top-ten and an average finish of 17.0.

Ryan Reed (No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) is now in the eighth and final transfer spot in the Round of 12 Playoff standings with 2,055 points; just two points ahead of Brendan Gaughan in the first cutoff spot (ninth in the standings). Reed’s best chance to clinch a spot in the Round of 8 this weekend is with a win. Otherwise, he can clinch a spot in the Round of 8 on points with 53 points.  He could also clinch on points with a new winner and help. Reed has made eight series starts at Charlotte posting an average finish of 13.9.

Contenders Outside Playoff Cutoff and Looking in

Charlotte Motor Speedway is the host of the XFINITY Series Playoff Round of 12 cutoff race, making this weekend an ‘all or nothing’ scenario for the following Playoff contenders that are outside the cutoff to advance to the next round. Below is a quick look at what they will need to do to advance to the Round of 8, and their series career performance at Charlotte.

Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) is now the first Playoff contender outside the cutoff to advance to the Round of 8, in ninth, with 2,053 points. Gaughan is only two points behind eighth-place Ryan Reed in the last transfer position.  Gaughan can advance with a win, but can only clinch on points with help. Gaughan has made 11 series starts at Charlotte posting one top-five, three top-tens and an average finish of 14.4. He finished ninth at Charlotte earlier this season.

Michael Annett (No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) sits tenth in the XFINITY Series Playoff standings with 2,048 points; seven points behind eighth-place Ryan Reed. Annett can advance to the Round of 8 with a win, but can only clinch on points with help. Annett has made 11 series starts at Charlotte posting two top-tens and an average finish of 20.0. 

Blake Koch (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) is 11th in the XFINITY Series Playoff standings with 2,043 points; 12 points behind eighth-place Ryan Reed in the last transfer position. Koch can advance to the Round of 8 with a win but will need help to clinch on points.  Koch has made eight series starts at Charlotte posting an average finish of 23.9. Koch posted his career-best finish at Charlotte (12th) in last season’s Playoff race, ultimately advancing him to the next round.

Jeremy Clements (No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet) is now ranked 12th in the XFINITY Series Playoff standings with 2,035 points; 20 points behind eighth-place Ryan Reed in the last transfer position. Clements is not out of it yet, he can advance with a win, and still could clinch on points with help. Clements has made 18 series starts at Charlotte posting an average finish of 21.8.

Also Noteworthy…

Angela Ruch Returns: Angela Ruch is the only female competitor to make a start in the XFINITY Series this season and is returning this weekend to attempt to qualify for the Drive for the Cure 300 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will be her third start of the season for B.J. McLeod Motorsports in the No. 78 Chevrolet. Though Ruch’s average finish is a 31.0, in each of her first two starts at Kentucky earlier this season she has posted positive place differentials of +10 and +3. Ruch is one of seven women all-time to compete at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the XFINITY Series; the other six female competitors were Patty Moise, Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Shawna Robinson, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Tammy Jo Kirk.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings Update Following Dover: William Byron holds the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead with 286 points, and has a 40-point gap between himself and Daniel Hemric in second with 246 points. Cole Custer is now third in the rookie standings with 229 points; followed by Matt Tifft (200), Spencer Gallagher (137) and Ben Kennedy (134). This weekend the rookies will showcase their skills at Charlotte where Custer leads the young pack with an average finish of 5.5; followed by Hemric (13.0), Byron (14.0), Tifft (17.0), Kennedy (25.0) and Gallagher (30.0).

Monster Energy Drivers to Watch for: This weekend there will be eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers attempting to qualify for the Drive for the Cure 300  – Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Reed Sorenson, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Corey LaJoie, and Alex Bowman are all entered. Ryan Blaney will be looking to make it two in a row after winning at Dover last weekend. The Drive for the Cure 300 will be Alex Bowman’s series season debut this weekend, and his team debut with Chip Ganassi Racing; driving the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

 

NASCAR XFINITY Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway

No. of NXS Races at Charlotte: 71

No. of NXS Pole Winners at Charlotte: 46

Youngest NXS Charlotte Pole Winner: Chase Elliott (10/10/2014 – 18 years, 10 months, 12 days)

Oldest NXS Charlotte Pole Winner: Harry Gant (10/08/1988 – 48 years, 8 months, 28 days)

No. of NXS Charlotte Race Winners: 34

Youngest NXS Charlotte Winner: Kyle Busch (05/29/2004 – 19 years, 0 months, 27 days)

Oldest NXS Charlotte Winner: Harry Gant (10/05/1991 – 51 years, 8 months, 25 days)

NXS Charlotte Races Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 11

Last NXS Charlotte Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Austin Dillon (10/09/2015)

NXS Charlotte Race Record: Mark Martin 155.799 mph (05/25/1996)

NXS Charlotte Qualifying Record: Jimmie Johnson 187.735 mph (10/14/2005)

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