XFINITY Race Preview: Talladega

Talladega Superspeedway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to superspeedway racing with Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega. (Photo: Getty Images)

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NASCAR Xfinity Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Radio: MRN, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 300.58 miles (113 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 (Ends on lap 25), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 50)

Races: 25
Pole Winners: 18
Youngest Pole Winner: Brad Coleman (4/28/2007 - 19 years, 2 months, 2 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Ken Schrader (4/24/1999 - 43 years, 9 months, 26 days)
Race Winners: 20
Youngest Race Winner: Joey Logano (5/5/2012 - 21 years, 11 months, 11 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Mike McLaughlin (4/21/2001 - 44 years, 6 months, 15 days)
Races Won from Pole: 2
Last Race Won from Pole: Tony Stewart (4/26/2008)
Race Record: Mark Martin - 168.937 mph (4/26/1997)
Qualifying Record: Joe Nemechek - 193.517 mph (4/26/1997)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Cars: 40 43 - 16 Times (5/5/2012) 36 (7/25/1992)
Lead Changes: 20 56 (4/16/2011) 7 - 3 Times (4/5/2003)
Leaders: 13 20 (4/28/2007) 5 - 2 Times (4/20/2002)
Cautions: 7 11 (4/16/2011) 1 (4/26/1997)
Caution Laps: 29 40 (4/25/1998) 7 (4/26/1997)
Lead Lap Finish: 26 29 (4/29/2006) 3 (4/20/2002)
Running at the Finish: 33 35 (4/29/2006) 18 - 2 Times (4/25/1998)
Laps Led (Winner): 1 81 (4/26/2008) 1 - 2 Times (4/30/2016)
Margin of Victory*: Caution 0.302 (4/26/2008) 0.002 (4/24/1999)

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

Points Leader Elliott Sadler Returns to Talladega
With a little more than a race win’s worth of points (41) between himself and second-place Justin Allgaier in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings following Richmond, Elliott Sadler can go all out in defending his 2016 win at Talladega Superspeedway in the Sparks Energy 300 this Saturday, May 6 (1 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

If Sadler can successfully defend his win this weekend, he will tie Martin Truex Jr. for the series-most wins at Talladega with three each. Sadler’s two Talladega wins have him tied with Joe Nemechek and Joey Logano for the second-most NXS Talladega wins all-time. He will also become just the second driver in series history to win consecutive races at Talladega, joining Martin Truex Jr. who won three straight (2004-2006).

Sadler has been one of the best at restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega) over the last three seasons. During that time, the NASCAR XFINITY Series has run 10 restrictor plate races and Elliott Sadler (two) and Ryan Reed (two) are the only two drivers with multiple wins. Plus, earlier this season Sadler dominated the Daytona season-opener, winning the first two stages and leading a race-high 40 laps before being caught in a multi-car incident late in the race.

Sadler has made eight series starts at Talladega, posting two poles, two wins (spring of 2014 and 2016), three top fives and five top 10s. His average finish on the famed 2.66-mile track is an 11.5.

Justin Allgaier Moves to Second in Points
Well one thing is for sure, Justin Allgaier’s pockets are lined with cash, Dash 4 Cash that is, as the JR Motorsports driver took home his second $100,000 dollar check of the season this past weekend at Richmond International Raceway, following a dominating performance in which he led 157 laps and finished second.

As a result of the stellar performance, Allgaier jumps to second in the series standings, 41 markers back from his JR Motorsports teammate and standings leader Elliott Sadler.

Allgaier will look to close the points gap between himself and the standings lead this weekend at Talladega. Allgaier has made six starts on the 2.66-mile track, posting two top fives and four top 10s. He also has the third-best average finish among championship contenders on restrictor-plate tracks over the last three seasons.

Daniel Hemric Continues to Climb the Standings
Richard Childress Racing might have found themselves a diamond in the rough with Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Daniel Hemric, who, since Daytona (last seven races), has moved up 22 spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings from 26th to fourth heading into Talladega this weekend.

A Kannapolis, North Carolina, native, Hemric is amidst a great comeback in the series points. After being caught in an incident in the season-opener at Daytona that relegated him to a 31st-place finish and a 26th-place ranking in the points, he has rallied to post two top fives, four top 10s and won a Dash 4 Cash bonus at Bristol in the process. Now the RCR youngster sits fourth in points after coming off his best finish of the season (third).

This weekend will be Hemric’s series track debut. Though he does have some Talladega track experience, he made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the superspeedway; posting a best finish of 11th last season.

Ben Kennedy Makes Season Debut This Weekend at Talladega
The great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and grandson of Bill France Jr., Ben Kennedy, will return to NASCAR XFINITY Series competition this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway after signing a multi-race deal with Richard Childress Racing (nine races) and GMS Racing (12 more races).

Kennedy has been working for months to line the two deals up and is supremely focused on the development of his driving career.

"I'm very ready to go," said Kennedy. "It's been a long offseason for me, so it's great to know Talladega is around the corner and even better to know we’re going to Charlotte after and will have a pretty busy schedule," Kennedy said. "I'm looking forward to it."

Kennedy will strap into the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro this weekend with crew chief Justin Alexander calling the shots from the pit box. His first start with GMS Racing will not be until May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. GMS Racing will be expanding to a second car to accommodate Kennedy, who will be working with his former NCWTS crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz.

Kennedy has made just one NASCAR XFINITY Series start in his career at Iowa Speedway, where he started sixth and finished 10th.

NASCAR XFINITY Series, Etc.
Monster Energy Series Drivers to Watch on Saturday: Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, and Kasey Kahne make up the six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars that will be competing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race this weekend.

Restrictor-Plate Kings In the NXS: NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt and former driver/current car owner Tony Stewart lead the NASCAR XFINITY Series in wins on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega) with eight wins each. Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with three; followed by Elliott Sadler and Ryan Reed with two each.

Whoa, That Was Close!: The 1999 Talladega Superspeedway race is tied with the 1996 Milwaukee event as the two closest finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series since the inception of electronic scoring in 1993 at 0.002. Here are the five closest margin of victory finishes at Talladega Superspeedway in the NXS: 1999 (0.002); 1994 (0.008); 2009 (0.030); 2012 (0.034) and 2007 (0.052).

Sunoco Rookie Of the Year Update: William Byron continues to hold the rookie standings lead following Richmond, but Daniel Hemric closed Byron’s points lead from 17 markers following Bristol down to just five after Richmond. Cole Custer (-28) in third, Matt Tifft (-32) in fourth and Spencer Gallagher (-37) in fifth have their work cut out for them if they want to catch Byron.

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