By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
This week marks the first time that the NASCAR Xfinity Series will make a trip to Pocono Raceway. However, just over half of those attempting the race have some sort of experience at the track known as ‘The Tricky Triangle.’
Some have competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the track, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, and Justin Allgaier. Others have competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the track, like Darrell Wallace Jr., Ross Chastain, and Ty Dillon. A few drivers only have experience at Pocono in the ARCA Racing Series, like Brennan Poole and Ryan Reed. Points leader Daniel Suarez is one of several who have no experience at the track.
Xfinity Series Chase
11 races into the 2016 Xfinity Series Season, there have been seven different winners, however, only two of them, Erik Jones and Elliott Sadler are Xfinity Series regulars. Both Erik Jones and Sadler have most likely secured their spot in the 2016 Xfinity Series Chase. Currently, the other drivers who would be in the Chase on points are Saurez, Allgaier, Dillon, Brendan Gaughan, Brandon Jones, Poole, Wallace, Reed, Jeb Burton, and Ryan Sieg.
Richard Petty Motorsports
On Wednesday of this week, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that it was suspending operations of its No. 43 Xfinity Series team due to missed payments from primary sponsor J. Streicher. As a result, Jeb Burton is left without a ride, ending his bid for the Xfinity Series Championship, and effectively taking him out of the Chase. This will likely move those behind him, Ryan Sieg, Blake Koch, Ross Chastain, as well as others into contention to make the Xfinity Series Chase.
What to Watch For
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- Will a Cup Series regular win the first ever Xfinity Series race at Pocono Raceway, 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.
- Brandon Jones and Ryan Reed are also entered in this weekend’s ARCA Racing Series General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200. Ty Dillon will be piloting the No. 95 Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400. Will their extra seat time pay off in the Xfinity Series race?
- Will the rubber build up from the ARCA Racing Series General Tires alter the handling of the Xfinity Series cars early in the race? Will the cars act differently with the changing rubber in practice and qualifying as well?
- How long will it take those who do not have experience at Pocono Raceway, like Daniel Suarez, to get up to speed.
- Points leader Daniel Suarez is looking to extend his championship points lead over Elliott Sadler.
- Sunoco Rookie of the Year Points leader Brandon Jones looks to increase his four point lead over fellow rookies Erik Jones, Brennan Poole, Ryan Preece, and Garrett Smithley. Meanwhile, Erik Jones looks to take back the points lead in the Rookie Standings.
- Alex Bowman makes his second appearance in the JRM ‘All-Star No. 88 Car’ in the field.
- Sprint Cup Series regulars Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, Josh Wise, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Paul Menard, Matt Dibenedetto, will be in the field.