NASCAR XFINITY Series
- Next Race: Ford EcoBoost 300
- The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway
- The Date: Saturday, Nov. 19
- The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Tickets: NASCAR.com/tickets
- TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
- Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
- Distance: 301 miles (200 laps)
For the first time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ 34-year existence, the title will be decided at the culmination of the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase, a four round elimination-style playoff that will name the series’ 27th different champion in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The first of the Championship 4 drivers to cross the finish line at Homestead will become the 2016 series driver champion. Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suárez, Erik Jones and Justin Allgaier are the Championship 4 and have competed all season for the chance at the title in the Ford EcoBoost 300 (Saturday, Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
(No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)
A veteran driver from Emporia, Virginia, Elliott Sadler has the chance this weekend to win his first NASCAR XFINITY Series championship and bring home the second driver title in three years for JR Motorsports (Chase Elliott, 2014). Sadler is no stranger to the championship pressure as he has finished in the top three in the series driver standings in three of the last five seasons; including two runner-ups (2011, 2012).
Sadler and the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro team will be without their crew chief Kevin Meendering this weekend at Homestead. Last weekend at Phoenix the No. 1 car did not pass post-race lug nut inspection, and as a result, Meendering was suspended from participating in the season finale. Instead serving as crew chief this weekend will be JR Motorsports race operations manager Mike Baumgardner.
"We let Kevin (Meendering) ultimately make this decision because it’s his team," said JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. "Kevin chose Mike to sit in the crew chief’s seat and for good reason – he is experienced atop the pit box and very dependable. We have a great deal of confidence in Mike to give Elliott his best opportunity to win on Saturday."
At the age of 41, Elliott Sadler can become the second oldest driver in series history to win the title behind Sam Ard, who won the title in 1985 at the age of 48 years, 9 months, 29 days. If Sadler wins the title this weekend he will be 41 years, 6 months and 20 days. Sadler would join Tommy Ellis (Richmond) as the second series champion from the state of Virginia.
Breakdown by Round of Elliott Sadler’s 2016 Chase:
Round of 12: Sadler quickly locked himself into the Round of 8 by winning the first race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Kentucky. He followed up Kentucky with a seventh-place finish at Dover and a runner-up showing at Charlotte.
Round of 8: Sadler kicked the Round of 8 off with a solid second-place finish at Kansas, and then posted a sixth-place finish at Texas and a 13th at Phoenix last weekend. Sadler accumulated the second most points in the Round of 8 to earn a spot in the Championship 4.
(No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro)
After a two-season stint in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Justin Allgaier returned to the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season, and instantly jumped into title contention form. The Riverton, Illinois, native has a solid shot at the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship for the first time in his career as the series heads into Homestead-Miami. Allgaier’s previous best series standings finish was third in 2011. This season Allgaier, like Sadler, has the opportunity to bring home the second series driver title for JR Motorsports in three years (Chase Elliott, 2014).
"When the news broke in the middle of the off-season that we (NASCAR XFINITY Series) were going to have a Chase format, you know, for me it was something I was super pumped about," said Allgaier. "Going to a new team, new crew chief, new cars, and coming back to the NASCAR XFINITY Series, I felt like the old format lent itself to making sure you were good all season and carrying it all the way through. For us, the new format gave us time to get acclimated to get to know our new guys and our new program, and I think that helped us out tremendously."
Competing alongside Allgaier this season is crew chief Jason Burdett. The 2016 season is just Burdett’s second full season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series; he worked with driver Regan Smith and the No. 7 JRM team last season, finishing fourth in the series standings.
"It doesn’t matter what series you’re in, if you’re in a NASCAR Home Tracks series, or any of the top three national series, it doesn’t matter what you run, to make it and have an opportunity to go for a championship means the world to all of us," said Allgaier.
If Allgaier is to win this season’s title, he will become the first series champion from the state of Illinois.
Breakdown by Round of Justin Allgaier’s 2016 Chase:
Round of 12: Allgaier made it to the Round of 8 on the heels of three solid top 10 finishes. The JRM driver posted a ninth-place finish at Kentucky, a third at Dover and a sixth at Charlotte. Allgaier accumulated the third most series driver points during the Round of 12 and as a result Allgaier advanced to the Round of 8.
Round of 8: Allgaier’s consistency slipped at the beginning of the Round of 8 when he was caught in an accident at Kansas that relegated him to a 14th-place finish. But the No. 7 team’s championship hopes were not deterred as they answered with a 10th-place finish at Texas which put Allgaier in fifth place in the Chase standings just outside the Championship 4 cutoff. Allgaier and team performed well at Phoenix last weekend, posting a fourth-place finish which netted him the fourth and final slot in the Championship 4.
(No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)
The 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Daniel Suárez has the opportunity to become the first international driver to win a national series title. The Monterrey, Mexico, native became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR XFINITY Series race this season when he took the checkered flag at Michigan, and then again during the Chase at Dover. Now the Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next program graduate can not only become the first driver from Mexico to win a series title, but he can also bring home the second series driver title for Joe Gibbs Racing and the first since Kyle Busch, who won it in 2009.
"I’m super excited for my team, and I’m super excited for myself," said Suárez. "Homestead is going to be a race I am going to enjoy a lot. My family is going to be there and a lot of my friends are going to be there. It is going to be a huge party for me. Hopefully we can win the thing and have a good vacation as champions."
One thing working in Suárez’s favor this weekend at Homestead in the championship finale is crew chief Scott Graves. While Suárez doesn’t have any championship race experience, yet, in this series, Graves led his former team and driver Chris Buescher to the series championship last season. Graves now has the opportunity to become the first crew chief since Mike Kelley (2011-2012) to win back-to-back titles. Graves could also become the first crew chief since Steve Bird (1995, Johnny Benson and 1996, Randy LaJoie) to win consecutive titles with two different drivers.
Suárez can also help bring the series Bill France Performance Cup, which is the award given to the manufacturer champion in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. If the top finishing Toyota finishes 17th or better, Toyota will lock up the title for the first time since 2010.
Breakdown by Round of Daniel Suárez’s 2016 Chase:
Round of 12: Suárez quickly ushered himself into contention to make to the Round of 8 by finishing second at the Chase opener in Kentucky. He then sealed the deal on his advancement to the next round by winning the second race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Dover. He followed his win up at Dover with a third-place finish at Charlotte.
Round of 8: Suárez’s championship quest continued in the Round of 8 by posting a solid third-place finish at Kansas, and then back-to-back fifth-place finishes at Texas and Phoenix last weekend.
(No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry)
Erik Jones’ rookie season has been one of the most impressive in series history. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate has set a rookie record for poles with nine this season. The 20-year-old driver has also posted four wins this season – the most for a rookie since Greg Biffle’s five wins in 2001. Now Jones heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway with the opportunity to become the second Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship (Chase Elliott, 2014). Like Suárez, Jones also can bring home Joe Gibbs Racing’s second series driver title and first since Kyle Busch won it in 2009.
Jones also has the opportunity to become the third youngest driver in series history to win the title at the age of 20 years, 5 months and 20 days (on Saturday, Nov. 19); behind Chase Elliott (18 years, 11 months and 18 days) and Brian Vickers (20 years, 0 months and 22 days).
"It’s pretty special for me, having a shot to go to Homestead again this year to win a championship in the NASCAR XFINITY Series," said Jones. "It would be awesome to win back-to-back championships in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series."
If Jones wins the title this weekend he will become the fourth driver in NASCAR national series history to win a title in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (2015) and the NASCAR XFINITY Series; joining Greg Biffle (NCWTS, 2000; NXS, 2002), Johnny Benson (NCWTS, 2008; NXS 1995) and Austin Dillon (NCWTS, 2011; and NXS, 2013). If Jones accomplishes the feat, he will be the only driver of the four to do it in consecutive seasons.
Breakdown by Round of Erik Jones’ 2016 Chase:
Round of 12: Jones’ entire 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase has been an uphill climb. Jones started the Chase with an accident at Kentucky that saw him finish 28th. He then followed that up with a 16th at Dover. The two finishes outside the top-10 had Jones facing elimination heading into Charlotte, but the young rookie standout prevailed, posting a fifth-place finish and enough points to move inside the top eight in the Chase standings and on to the next round.
Round of 8: Jones’s bad luck continued in the first race of the Round of 8 when he finished a lap down at Kansas in 15th. Jones and the No. 20 JGR team mustered up a fourth-place finish at Texas and then for the second time in this season’s Chase, Jones was faced with elimination and he overcame the odds to finish 10th at Phoenix.
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