(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
In the first four races of 2017, the NASCAR XFINITY Series has seen two series championship contenders win races – Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed at Daytona International Speedway and last weekend’s victor, JR Motorsports’ driver Justin Allgaier at Phoenix Raceway. The two drivers not only have scored playoff points (five each), but also guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining regular season races and stay inside the top 30 in points.
This weekend, on the last stop of the #NASCARGoesWest part of the schedule, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will head to Auto Club Speedway for the Service King 300 on Saturday, March 25, at 4 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The only way to a championship is through the playoffs. Both Reed and Allgaier have accumulated five playoff points each with their wins; which can help them advance through the playoffs later this season. Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate and current driver standings leader Elliott Sadler is the only other title contender to earn playoff points through the first four races – Sadler won the first two stages of the season-opening race at Daytona to earn two playoff points.
Who will be the next title contender to secure their spot in the playoffs with a win this weekend at Auto Club Speedway?
The last NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender to win at Auto Club Speedway was in 2010, when Kyle Busch swept both races that season. The past six races have been won by drivers that have elected to compete for a championship in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Kyle Busch leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with six victories.
Despite all that, NASCAR’s Loop Data points to Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. as this season’s series title contender with a solid chance to visit Victory Lane this weekend. He has the best Auto Club Speedway pre-race driver rating among series contenders (102.2) and the best average running position (7.2). He also spent 99.3% of his two starts at Auto Club Speedway in the top 15. He finished in the top-five of this event last season.
“We had a solid run last season here in Fontana, finishing third,” said Darrell Wallace Jr. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting back there this weekend and try to follow that up and maybe get a couple spots better. We’ve gotten off to a great start in 2017, and I’m confident we can keep that momentum going on Saturday.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!