Friday night’s Wawa 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN) race preview, with favorites, sleepers and fades

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will share the Daytona International Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series drivers this weekend with Friday night’s Wawa 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, USA, MRN).

Odds Against A Sweep For Hill

Austin Hill won February’s Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 and is looking for a rare Daytona sweep on Friday night. However, odds aren’t on his side.

Despite having 2 wins and 3 top 2 finishes in 4 superspeedway starts this season, just one other time has someone swept the year at Daytona in this series as that came from Dale Earnhardt Jr. back in 2003. In fact, only three other drivers have ever won at least two straight starts for them in Xfinity Series competition on the high banked 2.5-mile track with two of them being named Earnhardt. They were Darrell Waltrip (1983-1984), Dale Earnhardt (1990-1994, all in February) and Earnhardt Jr. (2003-2004, 3 straight). Can Hill really join that list?

We’ve had 13 different winners in the last 14 Daytona Xfinity Series races.

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), Haley (Aug. 2021), Austin Hill (Feb. 2022).


Nemechek’s To Race Together

Sam Hunt Racing will show up with 2 cars on Friday night with John Hunter Nemechek in one of them and 1992 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) champion Joe Nemechek in the other. The father-son combo will compete as teammates for the first time since 2019. John Hunter Nemechek will pilot the No. 26 Freedom 13 Toyota GR Supra with Crew Chief Allen Hart while Joe Nemechek will contend in the No. 24 FleetWing Toyota GR Supra with Eric Phillips atop the pit box.

“Running multiple cars at Daytona is always special, but even more so now having a father and son combo driving for us as teammates,” said Sam Hunt. “John Hunter has been a big part of SHR’s growth, and to now have Joe join us at the tail end of his accomplished career is something I’ll cherish for a long time. At the end of the day, family is everything to me. I’m honored to be a part of this memorable moment for the Nemechek family and hope they both take the time to enjoy the weekend.”

In 2017, at the Daytona International Speedway, John Hunter Nemechek competed against his father for the first time in a NASCAR event. It was the first time a father and son competed in the same NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race since 2013 and the first time a father and son competed in any of NASCAR’s top three series at the Daytona International Speedway since 2006.

The duo has competed against each other in 29 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events, 13 NASCAR Xfinity Series events and three NASCAR Cup Series events in their careers. The duo has a single NASCAR Xfinity Series start together at the Daytona International Speedway on July 5, 2019. The last time the father-son duo competed as teammates was on November 8, 2019, at Phoenix Raceway for NEMCO Motorsports.

“If this is to be my last time to race in a NASCAR event, I am looking forward to being a teammate again with my son,” said Joe Nemechek. “I am excited to race for Sam Hunt Racing as it shares many qualities with the foundation that NEMCO Motorsports was built upon. I see Sam Hunt Racing as a very strong team, and the wins and championships are coming soon. Racing with my son again is special, and my expectation is to be on the lead lap in the mix with John Hunter. I’m excited to see what happens.”

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ (NCWTS) winningest crew chief Eric Phillips will call the shots for Joe Nemechek and the No. 24 team at Daytona International Speedway. Phillips, who credits his opportunity in NASCAR to Joe’s late brother John Nemechek, has a career history of working with the Nemechek family. Phillips’ first career NXS victory, as crew chief, was at Texas Motor Speedway in 2003 with Joe Nemechek. Phillips is currently the full-time crew chief for John Hunter Nemechek and the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports team in the NCWTS.

For Joe Nemechek, he has the most starts at Daytona in the Xfinity Series with 37 as well as the most poles with five. Nemechek also has completed the most laps at 3,526 


Kaulig The Team To Beat? Haley Eyeing 4th Straight Summer Win

What we’re witnessing out of Kaulig Racing hasn’t been seen since DEI’s plate success in the early 2000s. Last year’s win for Kaulig was their sixth in the last eight speedway races including 2-for-3 during that season. In fact, that was their fourth win in the last five races at either Daytona or Talladega.

They went 1-2-3 in both stages last August and nearly went 1-2-3 in the end with being 1-2-4 instead. Also, they led 43 of the 100 laps run as well.

Kaulig Racing enters this Friday night’s race with 4 cars in the field. They have to be the team to beat despite being 0-for-4 this year.

2019:

Daytona in July – Ross Chastain (Kaulig)

2020:

Daytona – Noah Gragson (JRM)

Talladega- Justin Haley (Kaulig)

Daytona – Justin Haley (Kaulig)

2021:

Daytona – Austin Cindric (Penske)

Talladega – Jeb Burton (Kaulig)

Daytona – Justin Haley (Daytona)

Talladega – Brandon Brown (Brandonbuilt)

2022:

Daytona – Austin Hill (RCR)

Atlanta – Ty Gibbs (JGR)

Talladega – Noah Gragson (JRM)

Atlanta – Austin Hill (RCR)

Justin Haley returns and eying his 4th straight summer race weekend win at Daytona. He won the 2019 ‘400 in Cup as well as the 2020 and 2021 NXS summer races. Can he pick up a 2022 win either Friday night or Saturday? He’s also won two races at Talladega too with 5 of his 8 career NASCAR national touring series wins being at either Daytona or Talladega.

AJ Allmendinger has 4 straight top 7 finishes on the season including 2 top 2’s in the last 3. He was runner-up here back in February.

Landon Cassill was 14th in February but 5th at both Talladega and Atlanta 1 and 8th in Atlanta 2.

Daniel Hemric has had worst luck with being 28th (February), 35th (Atlanta 1), 34th (Talladega) and 5th (Atlanta 2) in 4 speedway starts this season. He also has just 1 top 5 in his last 19 starts on the season too including 5 of his last 8 being 17th or worse.


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 28: Justin Haley, driver of the #11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway on August 28, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Close Finishes

Ever since the inception of electronic scoring in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 1996, close finishes of less than a second have been the norm at Daytona International Speedway.

Since 1996, the Xfinity Series has competed at Daytona 46 times. 33 of the races ended under green and all 33 finished with a margin of victory of less than a second; including the closest finish in NASCAR national series history (0.0004 second) in the 2018 Xfinity season opener.


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – AUGUST 28: Jeb Burton, driver of the #10 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet, Christopher Bell, driver of the #54 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota, Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, and Justin Allgaier, driver of the #7 BRANDT Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway on August 28, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Chevy The Manufacturer To Beat

Chevrolet has won 9 times in the last 10 races at Daytona including 2 straight. Ford is the only other manufacturer to have won since February 2014 here. Toyota’s last Xfinity Series win at Daytona came via Matt Kenseth in this race in 2013. Joey Logano did so too in July 2011. Those are their only wins since 2009 at Daytona.


Top Stat

  • Only five races in history have been won from the pole or first starting position (2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2021) including Austin Cindric’s win last year. 2 of the last 3 winners however came from the front row with Austin Hill starting 2nd this past February. The last two summer races were won from the 9th starting spot. Each by Justin Haley.
  • 10 of the last 11 races here were won from the top 9.
  • Only five races in history have been won from the pole or first starting position (2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2021).
  • In the 61 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Daytona International Speedway, eight have granted drivers their first series career win and with just four races left in the 2022 regular season, several drivers entered this weekend would like to add their name to the winner’s column.
  • NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt (1982) and Tony Stewart (2005) are joined by Chad Little (1995), James Buescher (2021), Ryan Reed (2015), Michael Annett (2019), Noah Gragson (2020) and Austin Hill (2022) as the eight competitors that earned their first career Xfinity Series win at Daytona.
  • This weekend, 27 of the 43 drivers entered are looking for their first NASCAR Xfinity Series career victory.

Favorites

  • Justin Allgaier – Was 3rd last year, 5th in February and has 5 top 7 finishes in his last 6 starts including 3 top 3’s in his last 5. He’s 0-for-23 here in the Xfinity Series but he’s been closer than ever to ending that stretch. He’s also 0-for-4 in the Cup Series here as well.
  • Noah Gragson – Finished 3rd in February but won Talladega and has 3 top 4’s in his last 4 starts. He also has 3 top 7’s in his last 5 Daytona starts as well.
  • AJ Allmendinger – He’s finished 2nd in each of his last 2 Daytona starts and 5th in the one prior. Also, Allmendinger has 3 top 4 finishes in the last 4 races on the season too.
  • Justin Haley – 2 top 6’s in 4 Cup starts here as well as 4 top 6’s in 7 Xfinity Series starts including 3 top 2’s in his last 5. Was also runner-up in the 2018 Truck Series season opener. That equates out to 5 top 2’s and 6 top 6’s in 12 Daytona starts.
  • Austin Hill – Trends say to avoid him but he’s been too good on superspeedway’s this year to fully stay away. Hill has 2 wins and a runner-up in 4 starts on them this season.

Sleepers

  • Jeb Burton – He was 4th in both races last year to go along with a Talladega win in 2020.
  • Anthony Alfredo – Was 7th in February.
  • Sheldon Creed – 9th and 6th in 2 of his 3 Truck Series starts as well as 6th in February here. He also has 3 top 8 results in the last 5 races on the year too.
  • Myatt Snider – He has 2 top 8’s in his last 3 Xfinity Series starts here as well as a 10th place run in 1 of his 3 Truck Series tries too.

Fades

  • Ty Gibbs – Was 11th in February 35th in Talladega and 35th again in Atlanta 2.
  • Brandon Jones – 2 top 5’s in 13 Daytona tries including his last 4 finishes being 13th, 38th, 40th and 17th respectively.
  • Josh Berry – 27th and 16th are his 2 Daytona starts.
  • Sam Mayer – While he has 3 top 7 finishes over the last 4 starts on the season, 12th and 30th are his 2 Daytona finishes too.
  • Landon Cassill – 1 top 10 in 28 NASCAR starts at Daytona and 0 top 5’s in his last 13 tries on the season.
  • Jeremy Clements – 0 top 5’s and 2 top 10’s in 24 Xfinity Series starts at Daytona.

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