By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The NASCAR Series that says, “Names are made here,” will be back in action this weekend. The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to track this weekend with the title up for grabs. With 2017 Champion William Byron ascending to the Premier Series, NASCAR’s Second Series will have a new Champion for the seventh consecutive season. New faces in new places, new teams, and manufacturer changes are just some of the storylines heading into the season-opener.
Coverage for the PowerShares QQQ 300 is scheduled to start Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET. The ‘World Center of Racing’ has held the season opener for the Xfinity Series since its’ inception in 1982. In 52 races at the 2.5-mile Restrictor Plate track, 28 drivers have claimed victory. The last five races at Daytona have produced five different winners.
The last time the Xfinity Series visited Daytona International Speedway, Byron took the victory after being ahead of the inevitable ‘big one.’ The race ended under caution and in part lead NASCAR to change the Overtime Line. In this race last year, Ryan Reed took the checkered flag after being one of the few to survive the entire race with little-no damage.
By the Numbers
What: NextEra Energy Resources 250, NASCAR Xfinity Series Season Opener
Where: Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, Florida (Opened: 1959)
TV/Radio: Fox Sports 1, 2:30 p.m. ET / MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90
Track Size: 2.5-mile Tri-Oval
Banking: 31 degrees in turns, 18 degrees in tri-oval, 6 degrees on straightaways
Race Length: 120 Laps, 300 Miles (Three Stages, 30/60/120)
2017 Race Winner: Ryan Reed – No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang (Started on the second, nine laps led).
Track Qualifying Record: Tommy Houston (46.298 seconds, 194.389 mph – 1987).
Storylines Heading Into the PowerShares QQQ 300:
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- JGL Racing has switched from Toyota Racing to Ford Performance, fielding at least one full-time Ford Mustang for Kaz Grala. Dylan Lupton will also drive multiple races for the team in a second car.
- JP Motorsports debuts with two full-time Toyota Camrys for Josh Bilicki and Stephen Leicht.
- Go Green Racing returns to the series full-time with Joey Gase behind the wheel of the No. 35 Sparks Energy Chevrolet Camaro SS.
- DGM Racing will field a full-time Chevrolet Camaro SS entry for Alex Labbe.
- Richard Childress Racing will shrink to field just three full-time Chevrolet Camaros will Daniel Hemric and newcomer Matt Tifft competing full-time.
- Roush Fenway Racing will once again field two full-time Ford Mustangs, one for Ryan Reed, and the other for Ford Performance Developmental Drivers. This week Austin Cindric will drive the No. 60 Ford Mustang.
- JD Motorsports expands to four teams with Ross Chastain, Joe Nemechek, and Garrett Smithley returning to the organization. The team also welcomes newcomer Vinnie Miller.
- Christopher Bell will officially take the green flag as an Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year contender after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last year. Bell will pilot the No. 20 Rheem Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Friday, February 16
- NXS Practice 1 (12:05 a.m. – 12:55 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)
- NXS Practice 2 (2:05 p.m. – 2:55 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)
Saturday, February 17
- NXS Qualifying (9:35 a.m., on Fox Sports 1)
- NXS PowerShares QQQ 300 (2:30 p.m. – 120 laps, 300 miles – on Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM Channel 90, and the Motor Racing Network)