The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be heading to “The Last Great Coliseum” to run in Friday’s Food City 300 at 7:30 p.m. ET on the USA Network, the NBC Sports App, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio.
This will be the 79th running of a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Tennessee short track. The previous 78 races have produced 49 different pole winners and 51 different race winners. Erik Jones holds the track’s record for being the youngest pole winner at 18 years, nine months and 19 days old in 2015 and the youngest race winner at 19 years, nine months and 17 days old in 2016. Harry Grant sits as the oldest pole winner at 54 years, seven months and 16 days old in 1994 and also the oldest race winner at 52 years, two months and 25 days old in 1992.
Cup Series regular Kyle Busch is the last driver to have won a race from the pole or first starting position, a feat he accomplished in 2017. He also holds the record for most poles (six), wins (nine), top fives (17), and lead lap finishes (26). Kevin Harvick is also etched in the Bristol Motor Speedway record book as having posted the most top 10s (24) and lead lap finishes (26).
Elliott Sadler holds the race record from 2012 at 94.74 mph and Kyle Larson holds the qualifying record from 2017 at 127.988 mph.
Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger is the most recent Xfinity Series winner at the track, but he is not the only previous winner entered for this Friday’s Food City 300. Noah Gragson snagged the win in 2020 and Justin Allgaier snagged his first-ever Xfinity Series win 10 years prior in 2010.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will kick off its regular season finale weekend with practice at 2:35 p.m. ET followed by qualifying at 3:10 p.m. ET on Friday, September 16 on the NBC Sports App.
Gragson and Gibbs tied with five wins each
For the second time in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career, JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson won back-to-back races – two weeks ago at Darlington and then again, this past weekend at Kansas Speedway. His first back-to-back win accomplishment was last season when he took the checkered flags at Darlington and Richmond. This win marked the 10th of his Xfinity Series career – five this season, three wins in 2021 and two wins in 2020. With this fifth victory, he is now tied with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs for most wins this season.
With only one race left in the regular season, the pair is sure to duel it out at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 300 in hopes of posting that sixth win.
Gragson could very well get the job done, considering he already has one win under his belt at the 0.533 short track. In his five starts at Bristol, he’s posted one win, one top five and three top 10s.
Gibbs, on the other hand, is still a newbie when it comes to racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, but no one should question his ability to land his car in Victory Lane on Friday. In his one start at Bristol, he posted an 11th-place finish and has done well on other short tracks on the circuit this season. At Richmond Raceway, he won the pole and went on to win the race then at Martinsville Speedway, he finished in the eighth position.
This is it: two spots, one shot
Before the Xfinity Series drivers took the field at Kansas Speedway last weekend, only seven drivers were clinched for the 2022 Playoffs. Since then, three drivers have been added and can take a breather heading into the race this Friday in Bristol – Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst and Jeremy Clements.
Clements clinched his spot in the Playoffs after taking the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway last month but after receiving an L2 penalty, was considered ineligible to compete in the Playoffs. The No. 51 team sought to appeal the penalty and it was announced on September 13 that the team won the appeal, putting Clements back in Playoff contention.
With Mayer, Herbst and Clements locked in, the clinch scenarios now go as follows:
The following 10 drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Josh Berry, Austin Hill, Brandon Jones, Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Jeremy Clements.
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 ahead of the 5th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric or Landon Cassill.
- Daniel Hemric: Would clinch with 19 points
- Landon Cassill: Would clinch with 37 points
- Ryan Sieg: Could only clinch with help
- Sheldon Creed: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Ryan Sieg or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 4th winless driver in the standings.
- Daniel Hemric: Would clinch with 38 points
- Landon Cassill: Could only clinch with help
- Ryan Sieg: Could only clinch with help
- Sheldon Creed: Could only clinch with help
Can clinch via win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Daniel Hemric, Landon Cassill, Ryan Sieg, Sheldon Creed, Brandon Brown, Anthony Alfredo, Myatt Snider, Jeb Burton
The following drivers could clinch with a win:
- Bayley Currey: Could only clinch with help
Can clinch Regular Season Championship
Additionally, the Regular Season Championship could be clinched by the following drivers:
- AJ Allmendinger: Would clinch with 23 points
- Ty Gibbs: Could only clinch with help
- Justin Allgaier: Could only clinch with help
Along the Cutline: Pressure builds for the regular season finale
In a high-pressure setting, anything can happen but there is sure to be added pressure for the drivers who currently hold the final two Playoff spots and for the drivers just outside the cutline. Let’s take a look at how these drivers have performed at “The Last Great Coliseum”.
Last season’s Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric has stayed above the cutline all season long and will be fighting to make sure it stays that way following the Food City 300. In his six starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, he’s posted two top fives and five top 10s. His only finish outside of the top-10 was in 2018 when he fell victim to an incident on Lap 300 of the scheduled 300-lap race that went to 310 laps due to overtime.
Landon Cassill, who is currently in the final Playoff position, hasn’t had the best of luck at Bristol, having only posted one top 10 in his eight starts at the track but he did post a runner-up finish earlier this season at Martinsville, proving he can find his way around a short track.
Right outside the cutline is Ryan Sieg who will have his work cut out for him this weekend if he’s looking to clinch his spot in the Playoffs with a win. In his 15 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, he has a best finish of 11th.
Richard Childress Racing rookie Sheldon Creed will be looking to join fellow rookie and teammate Austin Hill in the Playoffs. He currently sits in the 14th position in the standings and will be posting his first Xfinity Series start at Bristol this Friday. Creed is currently 32 points back from Cassill in the final transfer spot on points.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Manufacturer standings following Kansas – As we head into the regular season finale, Chevrolet holds the lead in the manufacturer’s championship with an impressive 18 wins accumulated by Austin Hill, Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger, Josh Berry, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Larson and Jeremy Clements.
Toyota comes in next with 810 points and six wins by Ty Gibbs and Brandon Jones.
Ford has 713 points and one win by Cole Custer.
Rookie standings following Kansas – As he’s done all season long, Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill still leads the 2022 Sunoco Rookie of the Year class. He sits with 769 points, two wins, nine top fives and 15 top 10s.
Hill’s RCR teammate Sheldon Creed comes in next with 565 points, three top fives and 10 top 10s.
Kyle Sieg, in third, has 204 points and has 14 starts this season, posting one top-10 finish last month at Daytona.
Jesse Iwuji slides in next with 85 points and 10 starts.
- The last 2 winners each started 10th
- 15 of the last 16 winners all started in the top 10
- Toyota has 1 win in the last 6
- 10 straight different winners: Austin Dillon (Aug. 2016), Jones, KyBusch (2017), Preece, Larson (2018), Bell, Reddick (2019), Gragson, Briscoe (2020), Allmendinger (2021).
- 6 straight different teams to win: Ganassi, JGR, RCR, JRM, SHR, Kaulig respectively
- Stage 1 finishes of eventual race winners: 3rd, 1st, 4th, 1st, 7th, X, 1st, 3rd, 6th
- Stage 2 finishes of eventual race winners: X, 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 6th
- Night Race Stage 1s: 1st, 1st, X, 3rd, 6th
- Night Race Stage 2s: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th
- Just 2 times in the last 9 races did the driver to lead the most laps actually win (2017, 2018 night races)
- Justin Allgaier has led the most laps in 5 straight Bristol races. He’s 0-for-5 in them.
- 54 Gibbs – He may have been 11th in his lone Bristol start but he also has 6 top 8 finishes in his last 8 starts on the season including improvement in each of the last 4 starts on the season: 27th, 7th, 6th, 3rd…1st?
- 19 Jones – 3 straight top 8 finishes, (3rd, 8th, 5th) at Bristol and coming off of a 4th place run last week. Jones was also 2nd in Phoenix, won in Martinsville and was 7th at Dover.
- 9 Gragson – He’s won each of the last 2 races on the season and a past Bristol winner (2020). His last 2 finishes here after though was 7th and 12th respectively.
- 7 Allgaier – He has 6 top 8 finishes in his last 8 starts at Bristol including 5 of which being in the top 5. He’s led the most laps in 5 straight races here too. He’s not won any. He was 2nd at Dover back in May.
- 16 Allmendinger – Not one of his best tracks. He won last year but only led the final lap doing so. Was also 10th in 2020. He does have 7 top 7’s in the last 8 including 5 of the 7 in the top 4. He was 6th at Dover earlier this season as well as 7th in Phoenix and 4th in Richmond and 3rd in Martinsville.