Saturday’s Sparks 300 (4:30 p.m. ET, NBCS, MRN) race preview with my predictions on who wins

Race Day Schedule

7:30 am: Garage Opens

4:05 pm: Drivers To Cars

4:10 pm: Driver Intros

4:30 pm: Invocation

4:31 pm: National Anthem

4:38 pm: Command

4:50 pm: Green Flag


Race Details

Coverage: 4;30 p.m. ET

Green Flag: 4:50 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN

Radio: MRN (Local Affiliates here)

Computer: NASCAR.com

Phone: NASCAR App

Race Distance: 113 Laps/300.58 Miles

Stage Lengths: 25-25-63

Playoffs: Round 1, Race 2

Track: Talladega Superspeedway


Starting Lineup



Expect the Unexpected: Talladega Superspeedway Up Next for Xfinity Series Playoffs

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs kicked off last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the 12-driver field took the stage at the Nevada track and the opening act provided a lot of excitement as well as a lot of drama for the Playoff drivers.

JR Motorsports’ Josh Berry, who is not competing in the Xfinity Series Playoffs and was filling in for an injured Michael Annett in the No. 1 Chevrolet, was victorious – leading a 1-2-3 sweep for the JR Motorsports camp on Saturday night at Las Vegas. The win marked Berry’s second of the season with the first coming at Martinsville Speedway earlier in the year.

Berry’s JRM teammates, Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson, finished in the top three, respectively, while Austin Cindric, Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, Justin Haley and Harrison Burton rounded out the top-10 finishers. Playoff drivers Riley Herbst, Jeb Burton and Jeremy Clements were all taken out of the race early on due to incidents and finished 33rd, 36th, and 39th, respectively.

Saturday’s Xfinity Series Playoff race at Las Vegas saw 13 lead changes with six cautions for 32 laps. The Margin of Victory was a whopping 4.398 seconds.

This weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series continues their Playoff run at Talladega Superspeedway, the track that produces some of the wildest and craziest racing on the schedule. The Sparks 300 at Talladega will be on Saturday, October 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio as the second leg of a doubleheader Saturday that will start at 1 p.m. ET with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race the Chevrolet Silverado 250 (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The Xfinity Playoff race will mark the second-time the series heads to the Alabama track this season. Kaulig Racing’s Jeb Burton took home his first career Xfinity Series win in a rain-shortened event at Talladega earlier this season.

Saturday’s Playoff race will be 300.58 miles (113 laps) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will end on Lap 25 and the second stage will end on Lap 50.

This week’s starting lineup was decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier will lead the field to green with Team Penske’s Austin Cindric joining him on the front row.


Xfinity By The Numbers: Talladega Style

There have been 31 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Talladega Superspeedway with the inaugural race being won by Ernie Irvan on July 25, 1992.

The 31 Xfinity Series races have produced 21 different pole winners and 25 different race winners. Only three races have been won from the pole (or first starting position). The last time it happened was in 2020 when Justin Haley won from the pole. Haley is also the youngest winner in series history at Talladega at 21 years, 1 month, 23 days.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin holds the race record at 168.937 mph in 1997 and Joe Nemechek holds the qualifying record for the same year at 193.517 mph.

The most recent race at Talladega Superspeedway was earlier this season. There were 40 cars in the field and 22 lead changes among 12 different leaders. There were four cautions for 15 laps and only 31 cars finished on the lead lap. There were 34 cars still running at the end of the race.

The race winner, Jeb Burton, led 20 laps en route to victory and the race ended under caution due to weather.



Clinch Scenarios: Xfinity’s Round of 12 at Talladega

Just two races left in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 12 for the postseason contenders to lock-up a spot in the Round of 8. With Josh Berry, a non-Playoff driver, winning at Las Vegas all eight spots are still up for the taking as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.

Already Clinched

No drivers have clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 8th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley or Harrison Burton.

  • Austin Cindric: Would clinch with 51 points (needs 52 points if Justin Haley wins, needs 53 points if Harris Burton wins)
  • AJ Allmendinger: Would clinch with 55 points (needs help if Justin Haley or Harris Burton win)
  • Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley and Harrison Burton: Could only clinch with help.

If there is a new winner from Brandon Jones or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings.

  • Austin Cindric: Would clinch with 55 points.
  • AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley and Harrison Burton: Could only clinch with help.

Can Clinch Via Win

All 12 Xfinity Playoff drivers can clinch on their win alone this weekend at Talladega: Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, Myatt Snider, Jeb Burton, Riley Herbst, Jeremy Clements

Scouting the 2021 Xfinity Playoff Drivers at ‘Dega
We are one race into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs after the series competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend. Josh Berry, a non-Playoff driver was victorious, meaning that none of the 12 drivers in the Playoffs have punched their ticket to the next round. Below is a look at the Playoff drivers’ past performances at Talladega Superspeedway.

Austin Cindric: The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has made five starts at Talladega. His first start was in 2018. Most recently, earlier this season, he started on the pole and finished runner-up to Jeb Burton. He has three top fives and three top 10s at the track in his five starts. He’s led 35 laps and has an average start of 7.8 and an average finish of 15.0.

AJ Allmendinger: The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet and the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Champion has made three Xfinity Series starts at Talladega. He has one top five and two top 10s in those three starts. Most recently, he started 11th and finished third earlier this season. He has an average finish of 11.3 at the superspeedway.

Justin Allgaier: The driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has three top fives and six top 10s in 12 starts at Talladega. He has an average start of 12.3 and an average finish of 16.2. He has led 79 laps of 1,369 completed. He has had five DNFs due to crashes and an engine issue. His best finish of second came in 2016. Most recently, Allgaier has struggled at Talladega. He has not finished better than 28th in the last four races at the track.

Noah Gragson: The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet will make his sixth start at Talladega on Saturday. He has two top fives and four top 10s in those starts with 48 laps led. He has an average start of 9.0 and an average finish of 6.8. Most recently, he finished sixth earlier this season after starting fourth. His best finish of third came at this race in 2020.

Jeb Burton: The driver of the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet will make his fourth start at the Alabama track on Saturday. Talladega is the home of Burton’s first career Xfinity Series victory earlier this season. He has one win, two top fives and two top 10s at the track. He’s led 28 total laps and had an average start of 9.7 and an average finish of 7.0.

Daniel Hemric: The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will make his fifth Xfinity Series start at Talladega on Saturday. He has one top five and one top 10 along with one pole award at the track. His best finish of fifth was at this race in 2020 and most recently, he started second and finished 12th at ‘Dega earlier this season. He has led 157 laps and has an average start of 2.8 and an average finish of 19.5.

Harrison Burton: The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has only one top 10 to his name at Talladega. In three starts, he has a best finish of 10th that came earlier this season. He has an average start of 8.3 and an average finish of 21.7.

Myatt Snider: The driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has made three starts at Talladega. Earlier this season, he finished runner-up after started ninth. He has an average start of 20.0 and an average finish of 20.7. His first two starts at Talladega ended early due to an incident.

Brandon Jones: The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has seven starts at the track. He has two top five and two top 10s in those starts with 39 laps led. He has an average start of 10.3 and an average finish of 18.9. Earlier this season, he was involved in a crash and finished 37th. His best finish of runner-up came in 2018.

Justin Haley: The driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet has been extremely good at Talladega in his four starts. He has two wins, two top fives and four top 10s in his four starts. He has an average start of 4.8 and an average finish of 4.3. Earlier this season, he finished eighth, which is the worst he’s ever finished at the track but is still a top-10 result. He swept both races in 2020 and has led a total of 20 laps.

Riley Herbst: The driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford will make his fourth Talladega start on Saturday. He has one top five and one top 10 in three starts and the best finish of fourth came earlier this season. He has an average start of 17.7 and an average finish of 25.3. In his first two starts, he ended up not finishing the races due to incidents.

Jeremy Clements: The driver of the No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet has made 12 starts at Talladega Superspeedway. In those starts, he has one top five and two top 10s. His best finish of fourth was in 2016 and earlier this season, he finished 14th.

Playoff Bubble: Only two races left in Round of 12

Taking a look at the Playoffs standings as we head into this weekend’s racing at Talladega, most of the drivers stayed in the same position they entered the Playoffs in at Las Vegas.

However, the same can’t be said for Jeb Burton, who was involved in an incident early on at Las Vegas which results in a 36th-place finish. He entered the race above the cutline but now since in 10th, 27 points behind Brandon Jones in eighth – in the final Round of 8 transfer spot.

Jones entered the Playoffs below the cutline but jumped up to eighth, the last driver above the cutline. He is only 10 points above, battling Myatt Snider who is sitting in ninth.

Daniel Hemric jumped up a spot in the standings as well to fifth. Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson stayed in the same position that they entered the race in, and each have a pretty decent buffer from the Playoff cutline.

Jeremy Clements is 36 points out of the Playoffs after a rough weekend at Las Vegas and he is currently sitting last in the standings.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Las Vegas-2:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 2,093 5 9 44 66
2 AJ Allmendinger 2,086 4 10 45 59
3 Justin Allgaier 2,065 2 3 21 38
4 Noah Gragson 2,064 2 3 17 37
5 Daniel Hemric 2,061 0 7 14 34
6 Justin Haley 2,044 1 5 15 17
7 Harrison Burton 2,040 0 2 8 13
8 Brandon Jones 2,037 0 1 3 10
9 Myatt Snider 2,027 1 0 5 -10
10 Jeb Burton 2,010 1 1 9 -27
11 Riley Herbst 2,005 0 0 1 -32
12 Jeremy Clements 2,001 0 0 0 -36

2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule Unveiled

The 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule has been released featuring new and old significant adjustments to the schedule, including the addition of a new track back on the schedule.

For the first time since 2000, a NASCAR national series will return to the twists and turns of Portland International Raceway, when the series heads to the Pacific Northwest on June 4. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the only national series that visited the track (1999 and 2000) in the track’s long history.

Texas Motor Speedway will kick off the Playoffs for the Xfinity Series on September 24 and the cutoff races for the series will mirror the Cup Series as the Charlotte ROVAL and Martinsville are set to cut the field from 12 to 8 to 4. The series will kick off at Daytona International Speedway, as usual, in February.

A total of 15 tripleheader weekends will make up the 2022 schedule. Broadcast times and networks for all three series have not been announced yet and will be at a later date.

To view the press release from this week and a printable version of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule, please click the following link: 2022 NXS Schedule.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Hemric moving to Kaulig Racing in ’22: Daniel Hemric and Kaulig Racing announced that Hemric will join the team’s NASCAR Xfinity Series lineup in 2022. Hemric, who currently pilots the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, will transition to Kaulig and back to a Chevrolet for the 2022 season. He will pilot the No. 11 full-time to compete for the 2022 championship title. Partnerships for Hemric and the No. 11 will be announced at a later date.

Ferrucci returning to Sam Hunt Racing at ‘Dega: Santino Ferrucci will return to Sam Hunt Racing for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. Ferrucci will make his superspeedway debut at Talladega. He made his Xfinity Series debut earlier this season at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sam Hunt Racing and will be back behind the wheel of the Toyota this weekend with sponsorship from Hy-Vee/Palermo’s Screamin’ Sicilian Pizza Co. He has made six starts in the series and has accumulated four top-15 finishes in those starts.

Carquest and Team Penske representing America Heart Association this weekend: Carquest Auto Parts and Team Penske will represent the American Heart Association at the Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Talladega, with Austin Cindric, the reigning NXS champion. The American Heart Association logo will be featured on the TV Panel of Cindric’s No. 22 Carquest Ford during the race. This partnership is part of Carquest’s ongoing initiative with the American Heart Association. From now until October 15 at participating locations, customers and race fans are encouraged to donate. The campaign donations will fund lifesaving research on heart disease and stroke.


Who Wins The Sparks 300?

The second race of the opening round is here and it should be a wild one. After a treacherous playoff opener last week in Las Vegas, three drivers really need to win at this point forward to get their ways in. The question is, can they?

It’s going to be hard to be the Kaulig Racing and JR Motorsports cars. Josh Berry is filling in for Michael Annett once again in the No. 1 Chevrolet and he enters coming off of a win in Vegas. Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson are always threats on these tracks as well.

Then you have the odds on favorites in Kaulig. They’ve won six of the last eight superspeedway races including 2-for-3 this year and five of the last six in general. They went 1-2-3 in both stages at the end of August in Daytona as well as finishing there too.

2020:

Daytona – Noah Gragson (JRM)

Talladega- Justin Haley (Kaulig)

Daytona – Justin Haley (Kaulig)

Talladega – Justin Haley (Kaulig)

2021:

Daytona – Austin Cindric (Penske)

Talladega – Jeb Burton (Kaulig)

Daytona – Justin Haley (Kaulig)

So, who wins?

  1. 11 Haley – Why pick against the guy that’s won 4 of the last 6 speedway races all by himself. Plus, Haley has 10 top 10’s in his last 11 starts on the season and four top sixes in his last five.
  2. 10 Allmendinger – He’s scored five top two’s in his last eight on the year and was third not only back in the spring race here but also runner-up in Daytona.
  3. 22 Cindric – I don’t think Kaulig goes 1-2-3 again as I believe Austin Cindric breaks that party up. He was runner-up in April and won the February Daytona race for a pair of top two’s in his last three superspeedway starts. Also, Cindric has three top fives in his last four Talladega tries.
  4. 10 Burton – While I don’t think Kaulig goes 1-2-3, I do think they put all three cars in the top four. Burton, won the spring race, was fourth and third respectively this year in Daytona as well as third in this very race a year ago too.
  5. 54 – Nemechek – 7th in his first NXS start at Talladega. 6th in his second. His third…fifth?

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