XFINITY Race Preview: Dover

XFINITY

Dover marks the second race in the playoffs for the NASCAR XFINITY Series. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Entry List | Schedule of Events | Driver Averages | Driver Stats 

NASCAR XFINITY Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Saturday's Use Your Melon. Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway.

Radio: MRN, 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 200 miles (200 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 (Ends on lap 60), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

Races: 67
Pole Winners: 43
Youngest Pole Winner: Darrell Wallace Jr. (9/29/2012 - 18 years, 11 months, 21days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Dick Trickle (6/5/1999 - 19 years, 1 months, 0 days)
Race Winners: 45
Youngest Race Winner: Casey Atwood (9/25/1999 - 19 years, 1 months, 0 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Harry Gant (9/14/1991 - 51 years, 8 months, 4 days)
Races Won from Pole: 8
Last Race Won from Pole: Kyle Larson (6/3/2017)
Race Record: Joey Logano - 131.219 mph (9/28/2013)
Qualifying Record: Erik Jones - 158.318 mph (10/2/2016)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Cars: 40 43 - 30 Times (9/29/2012) 21 (5/15/1982)
Lead Changes: 7 19 (5/19/1984) 1 (6/5/1999)
Leaders: 6 9 (6/4/1988) 2 (6/5/1999)
Cautions: 10 13 - 2 Times (9/22/2007) 1 (5/30/1998)
Caution Laps: 45 61 (9/22/2007) 7 (5/30/1998)
Lead Lap Finish: 11 20 - 5 Times (6/1/2013) 1 - 2 Times (5/18/1985)
Running at the Finish: 28 39 (5/30/1998) 11 (5/19/1984)
Laps Led (Winner): 137 193 (9/24/2005) 2 (5/30/2009)
Margin of Victory*: 1.173 23.28 (6/3/1995) 0.146 (9/19/1998)

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

Custer Musters Strong Opening Playoffs Performance
2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer opened his 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs campaign with a statement-like start at Kentucky Speedway.
 
Custer started the race from the third position, but won Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 – his first two stages wins of the 2017 season.
 
He would go on to finish the race in fifth place, but set himself up well for the remaining races in the Round of 12. Custer sits second in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs standings heading to Dover International Speedway this weekend. He finished fourth at Dover, after starting the race 14th, in his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series start there earlier this year.
 
Custer has run well as of late and is poised to make a strong run at the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. He’s finished in the top 14 or better in six consecutive races, which includes five top-10 finishes.
 
Byron Looking For Bounce Back At Dover
JR Motorsports driver and 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender William Byron will be looking for a bounce back performance when the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs head to Dover this weekend.
 
Byron – who entered the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs at Kentucky as the top seed – made an unscheduled pit stop early in the final stage of the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 to address a loose wheel and fell down a lap.
 
He rejoined the race in 27th, but worked his way back up to an 18th-place finish.
 
Heading into Dover, Byron currently sits fifth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs standings, but has some experience on his side at the one-mile track. Byron finished sixth there earlier this season after starting the race eighth.
 
He is having a terrific Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign with three wins, eight top fives, 17 top 10s and 160 laps led in 27 starts this season for JR Motorsports. He leads Cole Custer in the Sunoco Rookie standings by 40 points, 278-238.

As They Stand
Here’s a look at the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs leaderboard heading into the second race of the postseason at Dover International Speedway:

Rank

Driver

Points

Race Wins

Playoff Points

Pts from Cutoff

1

Justin Allgaier

2057

-

23

-

2

Cole Custer

2057

-

7

-

3

Elliott Sadler

2055

-

20

-

4

Daniel Hemric

2052

-

9

-

5

William Byron

2051

-

25

-

6

Brennan Poole

2047

-

6

-

7

Matt Tifft

2036

-

4

-

8

Ryan Reed

2034

-

5

-

9

Brendan Gaughan

2026

-

3

8

10

Blake Koch

2025

-

5

9

11

Michael Annett

2022

-

1

12

12

Jeremy Clements

2020

-

5

14

 

Bouncing Around The Bubble

After the opening race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, the drivers who sit in spots 7-12 on the leaderboard have but 16 points separating them.

 

Matt Tifft (Seventh, 10 points ahead of ninth place) – The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender has a pair of starts at the Monster Mile, posting top-10 finishes each time. So far this season, Matt Tifft has two top fives and eight top 10s to his credit, including a ninth place finish in the opener of the Playoffs last weekend.

 

Ryan Reed (Eighth, eight points ahead of ninth place) – Although his average finish in The First State is 15.6, Ryan Reed has tallied top-10 finishes in his last two starts here. Last fall, he crossed the line 10th and then followed that up with a fifth place finish this spring. In seven starts at Dover, Reed has posted one top-five and two top-10 finishes. Reed opened the season with a win in the first race at Daytona and has since added another top 5 and put together six top 10s.

 

Brendan Gaughan (Ninth, eight points out of eighth place) Earlier this season, Brendan Gaughan drove to a 20th-place finish at the Monster Mile. Overall, Gaughan has just two top 10s and an overall finish of 15.2 in 11 races at Dover – and he’ll have to do better than that to have a shot of moving on to the Round of 8. Thus far in 2017, Gaughan has two top fives and seven top 10s.

 

Blake Koch (10th, nine points out of eighth place) – Miles the Monster has not been kind to Blake Koch over the years, as his best finish at the track was 12th back in the spring, 2016 race. Overall, Koch has an average finish of 28.5 in 13 starts at Dover – and needs to find a way to tame the beast in order to leapfrog into the top eight of the Playoff contenders.

 

Michael Annett (11th, 12 points out of eighth place) – The JR Motorsports driver has just one NASCAR XFINITY Start at Dover since his return to the series, and that resulted in a 14th-place finish earlier this season. From 2009-13, Michael Annett competed at the Monster Mile 10 times and posted just one top 10, a third-place effort in the 2012 fall race. Overall in his 11 starts at Dover, Annett has an average finish of 13.5 with just the one top five. This season, he has one top five and six top 10s through 27 races.

 

Jeremy Clements (12th, 14 points out of eighth place) – If the underdog of the Playoffs is going to make a move to advance to the next round, Dover is actually the place where he could do it. Jeremy Clements’ pair of top 10s and an average finish of 20.5 through 14 starts at the mile-long facility are among the top track performances in his portfolio. This season, he has a win at Road America and an additional top-10 finish to bring his average finish through 27 races to 22.0.

 

Another Mile Closer To A Championship

Miles has greeted six different race winners in Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway in the past six races (Kyle Larson – spring, 2017; Daniel Suarez – fall, 2016; Erik Jones – spring, 2016; Regan Smith – fall, 2015; Chris Buescher – spring, 2015; and Kyle Busch – fall, 2014).

 

Of those drivers, just Suarez and Jones are entered in Saturday’s Use Your Melon. Drive Sober 200.

 

But the most important note for drivers in this year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs may be that the last two series champions won at the Monster Mile on the way to the title. Buescher’s spring 2015 win was one of this two victories during his championship run, while Suarez used a fall Dover victory to secure a spot in the Round of 8 en route to the 2016 crown.

 

None of the 2017 Playoff contenders have visited Victory Lane at Dover International Speedway – in any series. So a win to advance would be a very special one, indeed.

 

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