By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
The last time the NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Richmond International Raceway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took home the victory in an exciting finish, beating Ty Dillon by only 0.266 seconds. That race was also a Dash 4 Cash race that included heat races. This weekend’s race will not feature heat races.
The last time a NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship contender won at Richmond was Chase Elliott in 2015. Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch are the only past winners in the field this weekend.
Xfinity Series Chase
24 races into the 2016 Xfinity Series Season, there have been 14 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. Also locked in via points are Ty Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Brandon Jones, and Darrell Wallace Jr.
With just two races left before the Chase, time may be beginning to run out for other Xfinity Series regulars to score a victory, or enough points over those behind them, and lock themselves into the Chase. Currently, the other drivers who would be in the Chase on points are Ryan Reed, Black Koch, and Ryan Sieg. Sieg currently has a 18 point lead over Dakoda Armstrong, who is 13th in the series standings, and is currently first driver on the outside, looking in.
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 Elliott Sadler is looking extend his 54 point lead even further over Daniel Suarez.
- Austin Dillon will be in the No. 2 Ruud Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing.
- Brandon Hightower will make his series debut in the No. 13 Dodge Challenger for Carl Long’s MB Motorsports.
- Hermie Sadler returns for another start in the No. 14 Virginia Lottery Toyota Camry for TriStar Motorsports.
- Clint King will make his series debut in the No. 15 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing.
- Kyle Busch will be in the No. 18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
- Brad Keselowski will be in the No. 22 Fleetwood/REV Group Ford Mustang for Team Penske.
- Justin Marks returns for another start in the No. 42 Katerra Chevrolet Camaro for Chip Ganassi Racing.
- Gray Gaulding returns in the No. 60 Krispy Kreme Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing.
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Brandon Brown will attempt to make his Xfinity Series debut in the No. 86 Coastal Carolina University Chervolet Camaro for Brandonbilt Motorsports.
- Alex Bowman returns for another run in the JR Motorsports ‘All-Star No. 88 Car.’
- Alli Owens makes her series debut in the No. 97 Chevrolet Camaro for Obaika Racing.
- Jeb Burton returns in the No. 98 Estes Ford Mustang for Biagi-Denbeste Racing.
- Sunoco Rookie points leader Erik Jones looks to extend his eight point lead over Brandon Jones, Brennan Poole, and the other rookie of the year contenders.
- The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars in the field this weekend are Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, and Matt Dibenedetto.
Where and When to Watch (All Times Eastern)
Practice 1: Friday, September 9th, at 8:00am on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Qualifying: Friday, September 9th, at 4:15pm on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra
Race: Friday, September 9th, at 7:30pm on NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, and the Motor Racing Network.