Golden Opportunity: NXS Regulars Have Chance to Shine
With a limited presence of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series field, this weekend is a golden opportunity for series. Perhaps even one of them could use it to their advantage and to try to earn a win to punch their ticket to the XFINITY Series Playoffs which start at Kentucky in September.
The Cup Series regulars have dominated the last two NXS races. At Atlanta, the Cup Series regulars led all 163 laps with Busch leading 26 to score the victory. At Las Vegas, it was more of the same as Logano dominated throughout leading 106 of the 200 laps. Coming into this weekend’s race at Phoenix, the Cup Series regulars have won the last nine NXS races at the one-mile oval.
With the door of opportunity open, let’s take a look at who could contend for the win this weekend.
Justin Allgaier has proven that he is one of the best when it comes to short track racing. Allgaier scored his first career series win at Bristol in 2010 and has been up front in his last four NXS races at Phoenix, scoring four top-fives with a best finish of second coming in 2013. He has only one finish outside the top-15 in his career at PIR. So far in 2017, Allgaier has one top-five finish coming at Las Vegas this past weekend.
Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler figures to be in the hunt as well once the green flag falls on Saturday. The 2012 Spring race winner has been a picture of consistency in the last eight races at Phoenix, finishing inside the top-10 in six of those races. This year has started out slow for Sadler, finishing 24th at Daytona, but he has rebounded to finish fifth and eighth respectively the last two races.
Darrell Wallace Jr. has found Phoenix International Raceway tough sledding in his first four NXS starts at the one-mile oval. However, Wallace Jr. comes into this weekend off the heels of back-to-back top-10 finishes at Atlanta and Las Vegas.
Series rookie Cole Custer might hold the winning formula at Phoenix. Custer has enjoyed success in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, winning there in 2014, and also has posted a top-five and two top-10 finishes in Truck Series competition there. Saturday’s race at Phoenix will mark Custer’s NXS debut at the track.
Even though the heavy hitters aren’t in the field this week, there is still plenty of competition being offered by the Cup Series regulars led by 2013 NXS champion Austin Dillon and the reigning series champion Daniel Suarez. Erik Jones will also be in the field as will Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon.
While the opportunity is there for the NXS regulars, the competition and intensity will still be ramped up as the Cup regulars look to spoil the party for the third consecutive weekend.
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