XFINITY Race Preview: Auto Club

XFINITY Series

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of the XFINITY Series Service King 300 from Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, beginning at 3:30 p.m. (ET) - with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App. (Photo: Getty Images)

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NASCAR XFINITY Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Saturday's Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

Radio: MRN, 3:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FS1, 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 300 miles (150 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 (Ends on lap 35), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)

Races: 27
Pole Winners: 17
Youngest Pole Winner: Erik Jones (3/21/2015 - 18 years, 8 months, 50 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Dave Blaney (2/24/2007 - 44 years, 4 months, 0 days)
Race Winners: 15
Youngest Race Winner: Joey Logano (10/10/2009 - 19 years, 4 months, 16 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Mark Martin (2/26/2005 - 46 years, 1 months, 17 days)
Races Won from Pole: 5
Last Race Won from Pole: Kyle Busch (3/23/2013)
Race Record: Hank Parker Jr. - 155.957 mph (4/28/2001)
Qualifying Record: Tony Stewart - 185.947 mph (2/26/2005)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Cars: 40 43 - 19 Times (3/24/2012) 40 - 4 Times
Lead Changes: 12 23 (2/25/2006) 6 (2/21/2009)
Leaders: 8 12 (4/28/2001) 3 (2/21/2009)
Cautions: 4 10 (10/10/2009) 2 (4/28/2001)
Caution Laps: 16 43 (2/26/2005) 8 (4/28/2001)
Lead Lap Finish: 12 30 - (2/24/2007) 5 (10/19/1997)
Running at the Finish: 32 39 - 2 Times (9/2/2006) 26 (9/1/2007)
Laps Led (Winner): 1 144 (8/30/2008) 7 (3/19/2016)
Margin of Victory*: 0.714 15.903 (10/19/1997) 0.051 (2/20/2010)

*Since 1993 (advent of digital timing and scoring); does not include races completed under caution

Allgaier, Reed Are The First Two Title Contenders Playoff Bound; Who’s Next? 
In the first four races of 2017, the NASCAR XFINITY Series has seen two series championship contenders win races – Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed at Daytona International Speedway and last weekend’s victor, JR Motorsports’ driver Justin Allgaier at Phoenix Raceway. The two drivers not only have scored playoff points (five each), but also guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs provided they attempt to qualify for the remaining regular season races and stay inside the top 30 in points.  
 
The only way to a championship is through the playoffs. Both Reed and Allgaier have accumulated five playoff points each with their wins; which can help them advance through the playoffs later this season. Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate and current driver standings leader Elliott Sadler is the only other title contender to earn playoff points through the first four races – Sadler won the first two stages of the season-opening race at Daytona to earn two playoff points.  
 
Who will be the next title contender to secure their spot in the playoffs with a win this weekend at Auto Club Speedway? 
 
The last NASCAR XFINITY Series championship contender to win at Auto Club Speedway was in 2010, when Kyle Busch swept both races that season. The past six races have been won by drivers that have elected to compete for a championship in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Kyle Busch leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with six victories.  
 
Despite all that, NASCAR’s Loop Data points to Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. as this season’s series title contender with a solid chance to visit Victory Lane this weekend. He has the best Auto Club Speedway pre-race driver rating among series contenders (102.2) and the best average running position (7.2). He also spent 99.3% of his two starts at Auto Club Speedway in the top 15.  He finished in the top-five of this event last season.  
 
“We had a solid run last season here in Fontana, finishing third,” said Darrell Wallace Jr. “I’m definitely looking forward to getting back there this weekend and try to follow that up and maybe get a couple spots better. We’ve gotten off to a great start in 2017, and I’m confident we can keep that momentum going on Saturday.” 
 
JR Motorsport’s Fleet A Force To Be Reckoned With In 2017
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s organization, JR Motorsports, is fielding four full-time cars this season, and through the first four races of 2017, they have been quite good.  
 
How good? Well, JR Motorsports entrants occupy three of the top four spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings, and all four of the organization’s full-time championship contending teams are inside the top 10. 
 
Elliott Sadler – No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – Sadler is the current NASCAR XFINITY series driver standings leader. The Emporia, Virginia, native continues to impress upon the field his veteran mastery as he has an 11-point lead over second-place William Byron. Sadler and crew chief Kevin Meendering have posted two stage wins and three top 10s in the first four starts of 2017. Sadler has made 12 series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting one pole, four top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 12.5. 
 
William Byron – No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – Byron is the 19-year old Sunoco rookie rocket. He is currently second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings, 11 points behind his teammate Elliott Sadler. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native and crew chief David Elenz have posted one pole and three top 10s in the first four races of the season. Byron is also on top of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Byron will be making his series track debut this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. 
 
Justin Allgaier – No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – Allgaier snapped an 80-race winless streak last weekend at Phoenix Raceway to become the second NASCAR XFINITY Series title contender to win this season. Allgaier and crew chief Jason Burdett are currently fourth in the series standings, 29 points back from teammate Elliott Sadler. This season, the Riverton, Illinois, native has posted one win (Phoenix-1), two top fives and an average finish of 16.2. Expect Allgaier’s recent success to continue this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, a track he has made eight starts posting three top 10s and an average finish of 14.0.
 
Michael Annett – No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro – Annett is currently ninth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings, 55 points back from his teammate Elliott Sadler. Annett and crew chief Jason Stockert have posted one top 10 and an average finish of 14.8 in the four races of 2017.   

If all four teams maintain their position in the standings throughout the regular season, then JR Motorsports could possibly become the first organization in series history to field four teams in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs. 
 
Youth Movement Makes Waves In NASCAR XFINITY Series
The youth movement has once again arrived in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Following the fourth race of the season, the average age of the top 12 in the series driver standings is 26 years old. The average age of the four Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders, William Byron (19), Daniel Hemric (26), Matt Tifft (20) and Cole Custer (19) is just 21 years old. 
 
Over the last 30 years of competition in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the drivers ranked in the top 12 of driver standings following the fourth race of the season have, on average, become younger and younger. In 1987, the average age of the drivers ranked in the top 12 in points following the fourth race of the season was 34.6 years old. In 1997, the average age dropped to 32.1 years old, while it was 32.6 years old in 2007. Finally, this season the average age of the drivers ranked in the top 12 in points following the fourth race of the season is 26 years old - eight years younger than the average age of the 1987 drivers.
 
The youngest XFINITY Series race winner at Auto Club Speedway was Joey Logano in 2009 at 19 years, 4 months and 16 days. If William Byron (19 years 3 months) or Cole Custer (19 years 1 month) were to win this weekend, they would break the track record. 
 
NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.

I Wish They All Could Be California.… Drivers: Several native Californians will be returning to their home state this weekend for the Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, March 25. Ryan Reed (Bakersfield), Cole Custer (Ladera Ranch), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove), and Casey Mears (Bakersfield) are entered to compete this weekend. Here is what some of the drivers are saying about going back to Cali. 

Cole Custer – “It means a lot. I’ve never raced there (Auto Club) before, so it will be cool. I’ve had some friends come out for a couple of races on the West Coast swing and we’ll have a lot of family in California, so it will be cool having a lot of support there. I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like out at my hometown track.”

Ryan Reed – “It’s always fun to be home and see family and friends and the fact that we get to race here (Auto Club Speedway), too, makes it a great weekend.” …
 
Casey Mears Returns To The Series For Biagi-DenBeste Racing: Not since 2010 has veteran Casey Mears competed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but this weekend at Auto Club Speedway he will return to pilot the Biagi DenBeste Racing No. 98 Ford Mustang. Mears’ NASCAR XFINITY Series career has seen 93 starts, posting one win (2006), 16 top fives, 32 top 10s and four poles. Mears has made five series starts at Auto Club Speedway with two top fives.
 
Sunoco Rookie Update Following Phoenix: William Byron (JR Motorsports) has opened a 10-point lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following Phoenix over second-place Daniel Hemric (Richard Childress Racing). Cole Custer (Stewart-Haas Racing) is 10 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Matt Tifft (Joe Gibbs Racing) is one point behind Custer and Spencer Gallagher (GMS Racing) is three points back from Tifft in fourth. 
 
Team Penske Generate Large Lead In Owner Points:  Team Penske’s No. 22 team has opened up a 44-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series car owner points following the race at Phoenix. 

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of the XFINITY Series Service King 300 from Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, beginning at 3:30 p.m. (ET) - with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.

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