By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
The last time the NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Kentucky Speedway, Ryan Blaney took home the victory. Blaney was not competing full time in any NASCAR series last year. The last time a contender for the Xfinity Series Championship won at Kentucky was Brendan Gaughan in 2014.
Xfinity Series Chase
15 races into the 2016 Xfinity Series Season, there have been 11 different winners, and only three of them, Erik Jones, Elliott Sadler, and Daniel Suarez are currently locked into the Xfinity Series Chase via wins. The reason why these three drivers are the only only ones locked into the Xfinity Series Chase is because they are the only Xfinity Series regulars that are competing in the entire season that have so far reached victory lane. With just 11 races left before the Chase, time may be beginning to run out for other Xfinity Series regulars to score a victory and lock themselves into the Chase.
Currently, the other drivers who would be in the Chase on points are Justin Allgaier, Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Brandon Jones, Brennan Poole, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Reed, Ryan Sieg, and Blake Koch. Koch currently has a seven point lead over Ross Chastain, who is 13th in the series standings, and is currently first driver on the outside, looking in. Dillon, Allgaier, and Gaughan are all over 100 points ahead of the Chase cut-off.
Kentucky Speedway’s Repave and Reconfiguration
Since the last time any of NASCAR’s three national series has been at the 1.5-mile track, a dramatic transformation has taken place. The track went through a repave, while also making alterations to turns one and two. The banking of turns one and two have increased from 14 to 17 degrees.
Another change that has taken place is that the exit of pit road has been increased from a width of 14 feet to 30 feet. This has decreased the racing surface from a width of 74 feet to a width of 56 feet as a result. The changes have made each end of the racetrack unique, giving the track a much different personality than it had before.
What to Watch For
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- Will a Cup Series regular win again, or will an Xfinity Series regular take the win?
- Many Xfinity Series regulars are looking at scoring their first win of the season and to lock themselves into the Xfinity Series Chase.
- Points leader Daniel Suarez is looking extend his six point lead even further over Elliott Sadler.
- Cole Custer makes another appearance in the JRM ‘All-Star No. 88 Car.’ Justin Marks also returns for another start in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro.
- Ryan Blaney will be in the No. 12 Snap-On Ford Mustang for Team Penske.
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars that will be in the field for this weekend’s race are Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Cole Custer are also attempting to make the field for this weekend’s race.
Where and When to Watch
Qualifying: Friday, July 8th, at 4:45pm Eastern on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Race: Friday, July 8th, at 8:30pm Eastern on NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, and the Performance Racing Network.