By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
The last time the NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Dayona International Speedway, Chase Elliott took home the victory, beating out Joey Logano in a thrilling finish earlier this year. Elliott is not competing for points in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. The last time a contender for the Xfinity Series Championship won at Daytona was Ryan Reed in February 2015. If the past Daytona races are any indication, this one will be an unpredictable, exciting and wild race.
Xfinity Series Chase
14 races into the 2016 Xfinity Series Season, there have been 10 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 reached victory lane.
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, Blake Koch, and Ryan Sieg. Sieg currently has a nine point lead over Ross Chastain, who is 13th in the series standings, and is currently first driver on the outside, looking in.
Two weeks ago, Matt Tifft was sidelined after injuring a disc in his back. While Tifft was being treated and evaluated for a planned return to NASCAR competition this weekend at Daytona, a low-grade giloma, a slow-growing brain tumor was discovered. Tifft will undergo surgery and rehabilitation for the removal of the tumor. David Ragan will drive the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, filling in for Tifft. Tifft plans to return to racetrack as soon as he receives approval from his physicians.
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 21 point lead even further over Elliott Sadler.
- Sunoco Rookie of the Year Points leader Brandon Jones looks to increase his six point lead over fellow rookies Erik Jones, Brennan Poole, Ryan Preece, and Garrett Smithley.
- Chase Elliott 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.
- ARCA Racing Series regular Bobby Gerhart returns in his No. 85 Chervolet Camaro. Mark Thompson, also an ARCA Racing Series regular will be in the No. 13 Toyota Camry for Carl Long.
- Benny Gordon returns in the No. 14 Toyota Camry for Tri Star Motorsports.
- Corey LaJoie returns in the No. 24 Toyota Camry for JGL Racing.
- Joe Nemechek returns for another start in his No. 87 Toyota Camry.
- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars that will be in the field for this weekend’s race are Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, David Ragan, and Joey Logano. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regulars Spencer Gallagher and John Wes Townley are also attempting to make the field for this weekend’s race.
Where and When to Watch
Practice 1: Thursday, June 30th at 2:00pm Eastern on NBCSN
Practice 2: Thursday, June 30th, at 4:00pm Eastern on NBCSN
Qualifying: Friday, July 1st, at 2:10pm Eastern on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Race: Friday, July 1st, at 7:30pm Eastern on NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, and the Motor Racing Network.