NXS Heads To South Beach

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. & Trevor Bayne

The good news for the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers is that no former Homestead-Miami Speedway drivers will be contending in the highly-anticipated weekend doubleheader, but one of the sport’s most talented – and definitely most popular – racers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., will be racing for one of the two trophies up for grabs in what should be an exciting showcase of this series’ competitive flair.

Earnhardt, a two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, is making his only scheduled 2020 series start in Saturday’s Hooters 250 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). And the series answers with the Consumer Boats 250 on Sunday (12 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) where $100,000 is on the line in the Dash 4 Cash incentive program.

The racing has been intense, the finishes close and there are no drivers in either Saturday’s or Sunday’s field that have ever won an Xfinity Series race at the 1.5-mile South Florida track, which previously hosted the championship weekend.

Tyler Reddick, now a NASCAR Cup Series rookie contender, is the two-time defending Homestead race winner. But there is plenty of talent ready to hoist one or both of the trophies available in this unprecedented track doubleheader.

The top six in the Xfinity Series driver standings have proven themselves the class of the field weekly – keeping the competition close on-track and statistically. Two-race winner Chase Briscoe holds a four-point edge on two-race winner Noah Gragson atop the championship – each winning a race prior to the COVID-19 pandemic break in action and each winning a race after the return to competition.

Neither has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway, however. Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, has a best showing of third place last year. Gragson, who drives the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, finished fourth in his only Xfinity Series race at the track in 2019.

Series rookie, 19-year old Harrison Burton, who earned his first career Xfinity Series victory at California in early March, is ranked third, 32 points off Briscoe’s pace, followed closely by veteran Justin Allgaier (-43 points), South Florida native Ross Chastain (-45 points) and Austin Cindric (-55 points).

Gragson arrives in Homestead $100,000 richer having earned the first Xfinity Dash 4 Cash prize money last weekend in Atlanta. That makes race winner and former NASCAR Cup Series standout A.J Allmendinger, runner-up Gragson, third place Justin Haley and fourth place Daniel Hemric eligible for the big payout in Sunday’s race.

“Homestead is a track that I have circled on the schedule every year and the fact that we get to run a doubleheader this year makes me even more excited,” Gragson said. “I love being able to run up on the wall and this is the epitome of that.”

And, he added, “Thanks to Xfinity, we will be running for the $100K again on Sunday after winning it last weekend, so that gives us extra incentive to go out there and win this race.”

Storylines – from the tight championship chase, to the Dash 4 Cash bonus money, to beloved and familiar drivers on the grid – are in no shortage for the busy South Florida weekend of competition.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel,” said Earnhardt, who will drive the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. “It’s definitely going to be interesting having not been in a car in almost a year to jump back in and go race without having any practice. I’m excited to get back and to get to work with [crew chief] Taylor [Moyer] and all of the guys on this team.

“We’ve been working toward this race with Hellmann’s for a while now and I’m happy it’s finally here.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

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