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XFINITY

PREVIEW: LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway

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After seeing the NASCAR Xfinity Series thrill on previous intermediate events thus far this season, it’s not a surprise there’s excitement surrounding Saturday’s LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway.

In a series that says “names are made here,” it’s certainly been able to showcase the young talent thus far with Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and Cole Custer leading the way.

Reddick enters the weekend leading the standings by 77 points as he is currently the only driver to score more than seven top-five finishes this season with 10 in the 12 events thus far. He enters this weekend at Michigan International Speedway with momentum, following a runner-up at Pocono Raceway. 

The driver that beat him to the flag, was Custer, which is no surprise as Stewart-Haas Racing has been fast on a weekly basis this season. However, he has fallen behind Reddick in the standings due to three finishes outside of the top-20, all due to crashing. 

Last season, Custer was stronger than Reddick at Michigan International Speedway finishing third, compared to Reddick placing seventh. No doubt the pair will be battling in the top-five this weekend.

At the same time, though, you cannot forget about Bell despite an 11th-place finish at Michigan International Speedway last year. The Joe Gibbs Racing competitor has shown speed on the intermediate tracks this year, as evident with his victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway after leading 142 of 163 laps. He also is looking to rebound as he was frustrated at Pocono Raceway following a fifth-place finish after failing to show speed throughout the event.

Ideally, it has been strange to see JR Motorsports not have a competitor right up there with these three after leading Reddick to the championship in 2018. While Michael Annett won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, the organization has yet to return to victory lane again in 2019.

Justin Allgaier has shown the most speed out of their four cars, with five top-five finishes in the 12 events, including three runner-up finishes. However, he has been lacking the consistency that he has been known for in the series as a result of a couple wrecks and an engine failure. Experience may lead to him finding the groove necessary to turn himself into a solid contender over the summer.

Meanwhile, the JRM’s rookie of the year contender Noah Gragson appears to be finding some consistency, with his sixth-place finish at Pocono Raceway being his fifth top-10 finish of 2019. 

Team Penske also has been trying to throw a name in the mix, with Austin Cindric currently ranked fourth in the standings following a top-10 finish in each of the last six races, including a runner-up at Richmond Raceway. Notably, he did not run well last year at Michigan with a 23rd-place finish.

Richard Childress Racing found victory lane last year with Austin Dillon, and has a good chance to do so once again with Reddick. Their other entry will be driven by Joe Graf Jr., who will be making his Xfinity Series debut following four top-10’s in eight ARCA Menards Series starts this season. He was able to gain experience at Michigan through ARCA, with a fifth-place finish in 2018. 

When it comes to drivers hoping to find some luck in the Irish hills, look no further than Brandon Jones. The Joe Gibbs Racing competitor scored a last-place finish at Pocono Raceway after being involved in an early crash, which certainly doesn’t help when he’s right now sitting 12th in the standings as the last driver to make the playoffs. Notably, he has done well at Michigan before with two top-10’s in his three previous starts.

John Hunter Nemechek could also use a good run after scoring back-to-back 12th-place finishes following eight top-10 finishes in the first 10 races this season. Notably, he scored a 13th-place finish at Michigan last season.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.