NASCAR Xfinity Series, Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Preview

NASCAR Xfinity Series teams are preparing for the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 3rd at 4 pm ET.  Pre-race coverage is on FOX Sports 1 at 3:30 pm ET along with PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

What To Watch For – Three different Team Penske drivers have won the last six Xfinity Series races and another – Ryan Blaney – will contend this weekend in the No. 22 Ford Mustang to make it four.

Veteran Elliott Sadler has taken over the series points lead but is still looking for his win at Las Vegas.

The track has had nine different winners in the last nine races – the longest such streak in the series.

Las Vegas Riding Longest Current Different Winners Streak in Series

Las Vegas Motor Speedway is currently riding a hot streak of nine different NASCAR Xfinity Series winners in the last nine races, dating back to 2009 – Greg Biffle (2009), Kevin Harvick (2010), Mark Martin (2011), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2012), Sam Hornish Jr. (2013), Brad Keselowski (2014), Austin Dillon (2015), Kyle Busch (2016) and Joey Logano (2017).

The list of winners is currently the longest different winners streak in the series. The tracks with similar current streaks of five or more different winners are Michigan (eight), Road America (eight), Dover (seven), Daytona (six), Homestead-Miami (six), Richmond (six) and Mid-Ohio (five).

With such a dynamic streak hanging in the balance this weekend, the question is – Will we see a tenth different winner?

There is a solid chance the different winner streak continues at Las Vegas this weekend, but it’s not set in stone because both former winners in the streak, Kyle Busch and 2018 Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon, are entered this weekend.

Busch leads the series in wins with an impressive 91 victories. He has made 13 series starts at Las Vegas, posting one win, four top-fives, and five top-tens.

Dillon has made five series starts at Las Vegas, posting one win, three top-fives, and five top-tens. He has never finished worse than seventh at LVMS in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

Familiar Position: Elliott Sadler Takes Points Lead Heading to Vegas

For JR Motorsports driver Elliott Sadler, standing atop the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship points is something he has become quite familiar with. The veteran from Emporia, Virginia, was the points leader for all but two weeks of the regular season last year, and in the process, Sadler took home the first NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship.

Ultimately, Sadler finished as runner-up in the 2017 championship, his fourth runner-up finish in the last seven seasons. With 2017 in his rearview mirror, Sadler has retaken the standings lead after posting a second-place finish at Daytona and a fifth-place finish at Atlanta to start 2018. He is now four points ahead of his JR Motorsports teammate Tyler Reddick (second) in the standings.

Sadler’s standings leading dominance last season began after Atlanta when he rallied off a streak of eight top-tens starting at the famed 1.54-mile track in Georgia.  This season, Sadler hopes to continue his momentum of two top-five finishes to start the season at Las Vegas this weekend. Sadler has made 11 series starts at Vegas, posting two top-fives, five top-tens and an average finish of 11.5.

Elliott Sadler (No. 1) will be joined by his JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier (No. 7), Michael Annett (No. 5) and Tyler Reddick (No. 9) in an effort to bring the organization its first win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend.

Bounce Back: Christopher Bell’s Standings Ascension Didn’t Take Long

After a rough start to the 2018 season at Daytona, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell answered with a solid top-five finish at Atlanta and a jump of 25 positions in the driver championship standings.

The beginning of Bell’s NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time career didn’t go as planned. The 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion came to Daytona for the Xfinity Series season-opener with the wind in his sails and a national series championship under his belt, but unfortunately, he only lasted 11 laps in the race before being caught in an incident that relegated him to a 39th-place finish. As a result, he was ranked 31st in the driver standings heading to Atlanta.

Off the truck at Atlanta, Bell was quick. He won the pole and went on to lead 12 laps in the race and finish third – the highest among series title contenders. The complete turnaround for Bell now has him ranked sixth in the standings as the series heads out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This weekend will be Bell’s series track debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, though the rookie does have some experience at the 1.5-mile track. He has made three NCWTS starts at LVMS, posting two top-fives; including a runner-up finish last season.

Xfinity Series’ Nevada Natives Return to Las Vegas

This weekend in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the Boyd Gaming 300, fans will have the opportunity to see two Nevada natives, Kyle Busch (Las Vegas) and Spencer Gallagher (Las Vegas) compete for the win.

Kyle Busch will be making his series season debut this weekend driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry with crew chief Eric Phillips. Busch has made 13 series starts at Las Vegas posting two poles, one win (2016 from the pole), four top-fives and an average finish of 16.0.

Kyle Busch is the most successful driver to come out of Nevada, having won driver championships in both the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (2015) and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2009). Plus, he has the second-most NASCAR national series wins behind Richard Petty (200 wins) with 183 victories (43 MENCS; 91 NXS; 49 NCWTS).

The latest driver from Nevada to burst on the NASCAR scene is GMS Racing’s Spencer Gallagher, driver of the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro. Gallagher just kicked off his sophomore season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and did so in impressive fashion, finishing sixth at Daytona and 14th last weekend at Atlanta. Now the 28-year-old is fifth in the championship standings, just 22 points back from the standings lead.

Gallagher made his series track debut at Las Vegas last season, starting 24th and finished 23rd while completing all 200 laps.

In total, 26 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Nevada. Of those 26 Nevada drivers, only four have won a NASCAR national series race: Kyle Busch (183 NASCAR national series wins), Kurt Busch (38), Brendan Gaughan (10) and Noah Gragson (1).

Biagi-DenBeste Racing’s Alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing

is Already Bearing Fruit

In just the second race after forming an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing during the NASCAR Xfinity Series offseason, Biagi-DenBeste Racing is already tasting the fruits of victory in 2018 thanks to Kevin Harvick, who drove the No. 98 Ford Mustang to the win last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  This marked the first win for Biagi-DenBeste Racing on a 1.5-mile speedway.

The alliance between the two organizations has the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang team with driver Cole Custer and crew chief Jeff Meendering working with the No. 98 Biagi-DenBeste Ford Mustang team led by crew chief Richard Boswell II and multiple drivers like Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola. The No. 00 team will run the full schedule, while the No. 98 is part-time this season.

“Racing is our passion and to ensure our presence in this sport for years to come, it made sense to partner with an established team that also fields entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series,” said Fred Biagi, co-owner of Biagi-DenBeste Racing.

The win last weekend was the fourth series victory for Biagi-DenBeste Racing. The team’s previous three wins were won by Mike Wallace (Daytona, 2004) and Aric Almirola (Daytona, 2016 and Talladega, 2017).

The No. 98 is not entered this weekend at Las Vegas, but make sure to watch the No. 00 SHR Ford. Cole Custer made his series track debut at Las Vegas last season, starting 20th and finishing 11th.

Team Penske has Found Recent Success in Las Vegas

In the last six NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Team Penske has taken three different drivers to Victory Lane, and this weekend the ‘Captain,’ Roger Penske, is looking to make it four different winners in the last seven races with driver Ryan Blaney piloting the flagship No. 22 Ford Mustang this Saturday, March 3 in the Boyd Gaming 300.

Team Penske is tied with Richard Childress Racing for second on the all-time series wins list at Las Vegas with three victories each. Team Penske’s first win at Las Vegas was in 2013 with driver Sam Hornish Jr., the second came the following season with driver Brad Keselowski (2014) and the third win was last season with driver Joey Logano (2017).

This weekend, rising star Ryan Blaney has been tapped to drive the No. 22. Blaney will be working with crew chief Brian Wilson at Las Vegas. Blaney has made only one series start at Las Vegas in 2015 when he started fourth and finished second.

The No. 22 Team Penske Ford team is competing for the owners’ championship this season and is currently seventh in the owner standings, 22 points behind the standings lead.

Also Noteworthy

West Coasters Stoked about #NASCARGoesWest: This season, nine drivers who have made starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series have their home states located out west. The series will spend the next three weekends out west in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and California. Here are the nine west coast drivers of 2018: JJ Yeley (Phoenix, AZ), Cole Custer (Ladera Ranch, CA), Dylan Lupton (Sacramento, CA), Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA), Ryan Reed (Bakersfield, CA), Tyler Reddick (Corning, CA), Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV), Spencer Gallagher (Las Vegas, NV).

Standings Movers & Groovers: Three drivers made big strides in the championships standings this past weekend at Atlanta  – Christopher Bell left Daytona 31stin points and following Atlanta he had jumped 25 positions to sixth; Austin Cindric left Daytona 32nd in the series points and following Atlanta had moved up 18 positions to 14th; Justin Allgaier left Daytona 22nd in points and following Atlanta had bounced up 15 positions to seventh in the standings.

Sunoco Rookies Update: Just two races into the season and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings are already looking like it will be a fierce battle to the end to decide this season’s winner. Following Atlanta, Tyler Reddick (80 points) continues to hold the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead with a 27-point cushion over second-place Christopher Bell (53 points); followed by Kaz Grala (47), Austin Cindric (38), Alex Labbe (32), Vinnie Miller (23), Spencer Boyd (20), Chad Finchum (11), Matt Mills (1) and Josh Bilicki (0).

Debonair Debuts: This past weekend at Atlanta, John Hunter Nemechek etched his name alongside just 21 other drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to finish in the top-four in their series debut. Nemechek is the second driver this season to accomplish the feat, joining Kaz Grala who also finished fourth at Daytona in the season-opener. Only five drivers have won in their Xfinity Series debut: Dale Earnhardt (Daytona, 1982), Joe Ruttman (Dover, 1982), Ricky Rudd (Dover, 1983), Terry Labonte (Charlotte, 1985) and Las Vegas, Nevada native Kurt Busch (Texas, 2006).

Double Dippers: This weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Boyd Gaming 300 will be five drivers that have elected to run for championships in other series. From the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Ryan Blaney (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) and Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet); from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is Joe Nemechek (No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet).

Las Vegas Motor Speedway Xfinity Quick Facts:

Xfinity Races:  21

Pole Winners: 15 – (2017 Pole Winner: Kyle Busch)

Youngest Pole Winner: Ty Dillon (03/08/2014 – 22 years, 0 months, 9 days)

Oldest Pole Winner: Mark Martin (03/06/1999 – 40 years, 1 months, 25 days)

Race Winners:  15 – (2017 Race Winner: Joey Logano)

Youngest Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr (03/10/2012 – 24 years, 5 months, 8 days)

Oldest Winner: Mark Martin (03/05/2011 – 52 years, 1 months, 24 days)

Races Won from the Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 5

Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Kyle Busch (03/05/2016)

Race Record: Kyle Busch 145.415 mph (03/05/2016)

Qualifying Record: Brad Keselowski 186.220 mph – Round 1 (03/11/2017)

Race Format – Stages 1 & 2: 45 Laps (each); Final Stage: 110 Laps

Xfinity Loop Leaders (2005-2017): Las Vegas

Driver Rating: Joey Logano (140.7)

Average Running Position: Joey Logano (2.545)

Fastest Laps Run: Kevin Harvick (86)

Laps in the top-15: Elliott Sadler (1,540, 96.3%)

Laps Led: Kevin Harvick (257, 18.1%)

Green Flag Passes: JJ Yeley (406)

Quality Passes: Justin Allgaier (304)

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