NASCAR Xfinity Series, ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Preview

With two-straight short track venues in the books, the  NASCAR Xfinity Series teams are now ready for more short track action in the ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on Friday, April 20th at 7 pm ET. Pre-race coverage starts at 6:30 pm on FOX Sports 1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Distance: 250 laps (187.5 miles); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 75),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)


What to Watch For: Championship leader Elliott Sadler leads Daniel Hemric by six points heading into his native Virginia and leads the series in average finish (5.142), top-fives (five) and has finished in the top-ten in all seven races this season. He’s led the points standings for all but two weeks. Sadler has never won at Richmond however he’s finished eighth or better in 11 of the last 14 races there.

There have been seven different winners in as many races in 2018. A new winner Friday in Richmond would tie a mark (also set in 1998 and 2006) that is third best in the series all-time. In 1988 there were a record 13 different winners to open the season.

Daytona winner Tyler Reddick is the only racer entered this weekend with a victory already.

Joe Gibbs Racing welcomes Noah Gragson to the seat of the No .18 Toyota this weekend. The 19-year old Las Vegas native will make his series debut. He is a former Camping World Truck Series race winner.

Xfinity Dash 4 Cash Round Two: Richmond Raceway

Fighting through some great short track action last weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ryan Preece banked the first $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus at Bristol Motor Speedway when he grabbed his second NASCAR Xfinity Series win of his career.

This weekend, the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program continues at Richmond Raceway for some more short track beatin’-and-bangin’ as Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Elliott Sadler and Spencer Gallagher will compete for the second $100,000 bonus of the season in the ToyotaCare 250 on Friday, April 20th.

The highest finisher at Richmond between Allgaier, Hemric, Sadler, and Gallagher will win the $100,000 prize, and that winner and the three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers, for a total of four contenders, will qualify for the next week’s Dash 4 Cash event at Talladega. Last weekend’s winner, Ryan Preece, would have qualified for the second round of the Dash 4 Cash at Richmond, but was not scheduled to run this weekend due to his part-time schedule and the spot went to the next-highest finisher – Spencer Gallagher.

The Dash 4 Cash races are being held at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14), Richmond Raceway (April 20), Talladega Superspeedway (April 28) and Dover International Speedway (May 5) this season. This is the first year Talladega has participated in the Dash 4 Cash program.

Comcast is also donating a total of $40,000 to local organizations within race markets on behalf of the Internet Essentials program. Comcast’s Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest program for getting low-income households online, having connected 4 million low-income Americans since 2011. Comcast’s $10,000 Internet Essentials donation during the Bristol race weekend went to the Quest Foundation for Washington County Schools in Tennessee.

All four of the Dash 4 Cash qualifiers for Richmond Raceway this weekend have run well, but none have won, at the 0.75-mile raceway. Daniel Hemric (3.5) has the best average finish of the four qualifiers at Richmond; followed by Sadler (13.5), Allgaier (14.6) and Gallagher (16.3).

Last season, Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in this event; just like they did this past weekend at Bristol. Allgaier took home the check at Richmond in 2017 and in doing so became the only driver to win at least one round in the Dash 4 Cash program the past two seasons (2017 Phoenix, Richmond; 2016 Indianapolis).

Series Different Winners Streak is Still Rolling

Through the first seven races of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season there have been seven different winners, which has all eyes on Richmond Raceway this weekend to see if the streak can stay alive and give the series its eighth different winner in as many races. If an eighth different winner happens this weekend, the 2018 season will tie the 1998 and 2006 seasons for the third longest different winner streak to start the season in series history.

Since the series inception in 1982, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has had seven different winners in the first seven races just seven times; including 2018.

The record for the highest number of different winners to start a NASCAR Xfinity Series season is 13 back in 1988; followed by 1987 with ten different winners, then 1998 and 2006 with eight, and then 1989, 2004 and 2018 with seven.

The 1988 and 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series seasons are tied for the series-most different winners for the entire season with 18 each.

This season’s winners include Tyler Reddick (Daytona), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas), Brad Keselowski (Phoenix), Joey Logano (California), Ryan Blaney (Texas) and Ryan Preece (Bristol). Reddick is the only driver with a win this season entered this weekend at Richmond Raceway. Reddick made his series track debut at Richmond last fall; starting 25th and finishing 17th.

Don’t Look Now Sadler, Hemric is Closing in on the Standings Lead 

NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings points leader Elliott Sadler has a rearview mirror full of second place Daniel Hemric as the series heads to Richmond Raceway for the ToyotaCare 250 on Friday, April 20th.

In what started out to be a JR Motorsports-dominated season in the standings, Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric has proven he plans to shake up the championship hunt. The 27-year old is just six points back from Elliott Sadler following his third-place finish at Richmond, and now the rising star is looking to take the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings lead for the first time in his career.

Emporia, Virginia’s Elliott Sadler has been the class of the field this season. He has led the points for all but two weeks, and among championship contenders, he leads the series in average finish (5.142), average running position (8.099), top-fives (five) and top-tens (seven). Through seven races he holds a six-point lead in the championship standings over second-place Daniel Hemric and a 14-point lead over his JR Motorsports teammate Tyler Reddick in third.

While Sadler has been Superman-like this season, Hemric just might be the Kryptonite to his title run. The Richard Childress Racing driver has been stellar this season, posting the second-best average finish (8.5), second-best average running position (8.113), fourth-most top-fives (three) and second-most top-tens (five). And his 2018 season accolades don’t end there, he is also tied with Sadler in driver rating (102.4, second-best) and has bested him in percentage of laps run in the top-15 (Hemric 95%, Sadler 86.9%) and percentage of laps completed on the lead lap (Hemric 95.35%, Sadler 94.32%).

Without a doubt, these two will be formidable contenders this weekend at Richmond. Sadler has made 29 series starts at his home track, posting five top-fives, 14 top-tens and an average finish of 13.5. In Sadler’s last four starts his average finish at Richmond has been a 4.75. Hemric made his series debut at Richmond last season and in just two series starts has posted a pole, two top-fives and an average finish of 3.5.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Latest Xfinity Series Addition: Noah Gragson 

Lots of new faces climbing into the driver seat this season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and this weekend will be no exception as Joe Gibbs Racing has tapped Kyle Busch Motorsport’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series contender Noah Gragson to pilot the No. 18 Toyota Camry this weekend at Richmond Raceway in the ToyotaCare 250 on Friday, April 20th.

In total, five other drivers have made their NASCAR Xfinity Series career debuts this season. Gragson will attempt to be the sixth, joining Kaz Grala (Daytona), Chase Briscoe (Atlanta), John Hunter Nemechek (Atlanta), Bayley Currey (Texas) and Shane Lee (Bristol).

Noah Gragson has worked his way up the ranks of NASCAR to get to this point in his career.

Since 2015, Gragson has competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West as well as the ARCA Racing Series. He made his NASCAR national series debut in 2016 at ISM Raceway (Phoenix) for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. From there he jumped to full-time competition in the NCWTS for KBM last season, and as a rookie, he posted a win (Martinsville-2), four top-fives and 13 top-tens. He finished the season tenth in the championship standings.

This weekend the 19-year old from Las Vegas, Nevada, will be paired with veteran crew chief Eric Phillips and the No. 18 JGR Toyota team, who just led Ryan Preece to a win last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Gragson will be the fifth different driver in the No. 18 this season, joining Kyle Busch, Kyle Benjamin, Ryan Preece and Daniel Suarez.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team is currently second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series owner standings just 24 points back from the Team Penske No. 22 team in the series lead.

Joe Gibbs Racing has been a pillar in the series at farming up-and-coming talent for the sport. Since 2008, Joe Gibbs Racing has given 11 different drivers the opportunity to make their series debuts – Joey Logano (2008), Marc Davis (2008), Matt DiBenedetto (2009), Darrell Wallace Jr. (2012), Justin Boston (2014), Erik Jones (2014), Daniel Suarez (2014), Ross Kenseth (2015), Matt Tifft (2015), Kyle Benjamin (2017) and Christopher Bell (2017). 

Note: Tony Mrakovich will also be attempting to make his series career debut this weekend for JGL Racing in the No. 28. If Mrakovich makes the event, it will bring the total of drivers making their series debuts this season to seven.

NASCAR Xfinity Series and the State of Virginia

The ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on Friday, April 20th will be the 156th time the state of Virginia has hosted a NASCAR Xfinity Series race. The previous 155 Xfinity Series races in Virginia were held at five different tracks – Richmond Raceway (68), South Boston Speedway (35), Martinsville Speedway (34), Langley Field Speedway (14) and New River Valley Speedway (4).

The first NASCAR Xfinity Series race held in the state of Virginia was at Richmond Raceway on February 20, 1982, and won by Tommy Houston in a Pontiac. The event was just the second race ever run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series following the season-opener at Daytona of the 1982 season.

Richmond Raceway has held 68 series races producing 36 different pole winners and 33 different race winners. Kyle Busch leads the series in poles at Richmond with six and Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins at Richmond with seven.

A total of 180 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Virginia. Of the 180 drivers from Virginia, 19 have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series. Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield) leads all drivers from Virginia in NASCAR national series wins with 50 (MENCS 31, NXS 17 and NCWTS 2). Jeff Burton leads all Virginia drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series wins with 27. Denny Hamlin and Elliott Sadler (Emporia) are the only two drivers from Virginia to win in all three NASCAR national series.

The following drivers from the state of Virginia are entered this weekend at Richmond Raceway – Elliott Sadler (Emporia) and Jeb Burton (Halifax).

Also Noteworthy…

Jeb Burton to Make Season Debut with RCR  One driver extra eager to get back behind the wheel this weekend is Jeb Burton, who will be making his series season debut in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at his home track Richmond Raceway. Burton will be piloting the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro this weekend with crew chief Nick Harrison on the pit box. Burton hasn’t made a series start since August 18, 2017, at Bristol Motor Speedway. Burton has 22 series starts to his name, having posted one top-five and three top-tens. He has two series starts at Richmond, he finished 19th in both. 

Sunoco Rookie Update – Tyler Reddick opened up his Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead to 21-points after he posted his fifth top-ten finish of the season. Second-place Christopher Bell struggled at Bristol and for the third time, this season finished outside the top-20. Sunoco Rookie points following Bristol: Tyler Reddick (247), Christopher Bell (226), Austin Cindric (136), Kaz Grala (131), Alex Labbe (116), Spencer Boyd (59), Vinnie Miller (55), Josh Bilicki (37), Chad Finchum (22) and Matt Mills (13).  

Joe Nemechek Nears Historic National Series Start –  The 1992 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Joe Nemechek is entered in this weekend’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway, and it will be his 1,141st NASCAR national series race (667 MENCS, 431 NXS, 42 NCWTS), just one start shy of tying NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin (1,142) for the second-most NASCAR national series starts all-time. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the record for the most NASCAR national series starts at 1,182. In Nemechek’s 431 Xfinity Series starts he has posted 16 wins, 74 top-fives, 126 top-tens, 18 poles and an average finish of 18.5.