Friday nights Wawa 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN) race preview

Four to go until the Xfinity Series Playoffs, Daytona is up next 

There are only four races remaining in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season and a lot can happen to shake up the standings. And what better place to shakeup the standings than Daytona International Speedway? The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to the World Center of Racing for the second time this season on Friday night under the lights for the Wawa 250. The race will be at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

 

AJ Allmendinger continued his winning ways last weekend at Michigan International Speedway, capturing his third victory of the 2021 season in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Allmendinger’s win came in triple overtime beating Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones by .163 seconds. With another win for Allmendinger, all the spots up for grabs in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs standings still remain.

 

This weekend’s Wawa 250 at Daytona will be the 60th NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the superspeedway. In the season-opener in February, Austin Cindric was victorious. There were 16 lead changes and nine cautions for 42 laps. Cindric won over Brett Moffitt by .104 seconds.

 

There the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race was on February 13, 1982 and won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt.

 

The 59 Xfinity Series races at Daytona have produced 42 different pole winner and 34 different race winners. William Byron is the youngest winner in 2017 at 19 years, six months and one day. Bobby Allison holds the record for the oldest winner in 1988 at 50 years, two months and 10 days.

 

Only five races in history have been won from the pole or first starting position (2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2021) including Cindric’s win earlier this season. Geoff Bodine still holds onto the race record from 198 at 157.137 mph.

 

Joe Nemechek has the most starts at Daytona in the Xfinity Series with 37 as well as the most poles with five. NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart are tied with the most wins at seven each and Kevin Harvick has the most top fives at 12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick are tied with 14 top 10s and Earnhardt Jr. holds the record for the most lead lap finishes at 19. Nemechek has completed the most laps at 3,526 and Earnhardt Jr. has led the most laps at 560. Daniel Hemric is the only full-time active Xfinity Series driver that holds a record at Daytona. Hemric has the best average start at 5.500.

 

Michael Annett, Noah Gragson and Ryan Reed all captured their first wins at Daytona, most recently Gragson in 2020.

 

Aside from the first Daytona race in 2020, the last five races have had a Margin of Victory less than 0.253-second, in the first 2020 race, the race was won under caution.

 

This weekend’s race will be 250 miles and 100 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 30 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 60. Allmendinger will start on the pole with Gragson joining him on the front row. Brandon Jones will start third, Justin Allgaier fourth and Harrison Burton will round out the top-five starters.

 

Clinch Scenarios: Time is running out in the regular season

Seven Playoff positions are still up for grabs, as just five drivers have secured their spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason heading into this weekend’s race at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Already Clinched

The following five drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Jeb Burton and Myatt Snider.

 

Can Clinch via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 166 points above the fifth winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley or Noah Gragson.

  • Daniel Hemric: would clinch with 44 points
  • Harrison Burton: could only clinch with help
  • Justin Haley: could only clinch with help

 

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend: Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst, Brandon Brown, Ryan Sieg, Tommy Joe Martins, Alex Labbe, Landon Cassill, Josh Williams.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Michigan:

Rank

Driver

Points

Starts

Race Wins

Stage Wins

Playoff Pts

Pts From Cutoff

1

Austin Cindric

907

22

5

9

34

In On Wins

2

AJ Allmendinger

872

22

3

8

23

3

Justin Allgaier

757

22

2

1

11

4

Jeb Burton

665

22

1

0

5

5

Myatt Snider

486

22

1

0

5

6

Daniel Hemric

743

22

0

5

5

264

7

Harrison Burton

726

22

0

2

2

247

8

Justin Haley

684

21*

0

4

4

205

9

Noah Gragson

674

22

0

2

2

195

10

Brandon Jones

566

22

0

1

1

87

11

Jeremy Clements

545

22

0

0

0

66

12

Riley Herbst

520

22

0

0

0

41

13

Michael Annett

479

18*

0

0

0

-41

14

Brandon Brown

438

22

0

0

0

-82

15

Ryan Sieg

424

22

0

0

0

-96

 

Austin Cindric still leads the way with 907 points but with AJ Allmendinger’s win on Saturday closed the gap on Cindric.

 

Daniel Hemric is still the highest ranked winless driver with a 264-point buffer over the cutline. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Harrison Burton is in seventh, the second ranked winless driver with 247 points above the cutline.

 

Riley Herbst is the 12th and final driver in the Playoff outlook standings, only 41 points above the cut off. Michael Annett is holding onto 13th, 41 points below the cutline. Annett has been granted a waiver to still be eligible for the Playoffs. 

 

Austin Cindric hopes to grab Daytona season sweep

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and Team Penske driver Austin Cindric heads to Daytona International Speedway this weekend looking to grab his sixth win of the season and sweep both series’ races at Daytona this season. If Cindric accomplishes the feat, he will become just the second driver all-time to win both NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Daytona in a single season; joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003). 

 

If Cindric wins this weekend he would also become the fourth different driver to win consecutive races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Daytona; joining Darrell Waltrip (1983-1984), Dale Earnhardt (1990-1994: four straight), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003-2004: three straight).

 

Cindric will have his work cut out for him though, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is currently on a different winners streak at Daytona that has reached 12 different drivers and dates back to 2015 – Austin Dillon (July 2015), Chase Elliott (Feb. 2016), Aric Almirola (July 2016), Ryan Reed (Feb. 2017), William Byron (July 2017), Tyler Reddick (Feb. 2018), Kyle Larson (July 2018), Michael Annett (Feb. 2019), Ross Chastain (July 2019), Noah Gragson (Feb. 2020), Justin Haley (Aug. 2020) and Austin Cindric (Feb. 2021).

 

The ultimate goal over these last few weeks for the former series champ, Austin Cindric, is to lock-up the regular season title and the 15 additional Playoff points that go with it. Cindric has already accumulated 34 Playoff points – most of any driver this season. If he accomplishes the feat, he will become the first driver in the Xfinity Series to win multiple Regular Season Championships.

 

Regular Season Champions

Rank

Titles

Drivers

Years

1

1

Austin Cindric

2020

Tyler Reddick

2019

Justin Allgaier

2018

Elliott Sadler

2017

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith teaming up with Jesse Iwuji for NXS team: Jesse Iwuji has partnered with NFL Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith to form Jesse Iwuji Motorsports for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

 

Iwuji and Smith will use esports and STEM to connect with lower income communities to empower individuals and show them that anything is possible. Iwuji has always had a focus on racial equality and inclusion in NASCAR as well as a passion to run fulltime in the series.

 

Iwuji serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves currently and was active duty in the Navy from 2010-2017. Iwuji has competed in five Xfinity races, including Pocono Raceway this season for Mike Harmon Racing. He also has 14 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts over four years.

 

Smith and Iwuji share a lot of the same goals with this new partnership. Manufacturer and car number as well as sponsorships will be announced at a later date.

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