XFINITY Race Preview: Kentucky

KentuckySpeedway

The NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs gets started Saturday night in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway. (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 VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Radio: PRN, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: NBCSN, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 Ends: Lap 45, Stage 2 Ends: Lap 90, Final Stage Ends: Lap 200

Races: 22
Pole Winners: 16
Youngest Pole Winner: Joey Logano (6/14/2008 - 19 years, 0 months, 21 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Jay Sauter (6/16/2001 - 38 years, 11 months, 25 days)
Race Winners: 13
Youngest Race Winner: Joey Logano (6/14/2008 - 18 years, 0 months, 21 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Elliott Sadler (9/24/2016 - 41 years, 4 months, 25 days)
Races Won from Pole: 8
Last Race Won from Pole: Kyle Busch (7/8/2017)
Race Record: Austin Dillon - 151.643 mph (6/29/2012)
Qualifying Record: Kyle Busch - 187.318 mph (7/8/2016)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Cars: 40 43 - 13 Times 40 - 9 Times
Lead Changes: 7 17 (9/26/2015) 2 (6/16/2001)
Leaders: 4 9 (6/16/2002) 2 (6/16/2001)
Cautions: 8 12 (9/24/2016) 2 (6/29/2012)
Caution Laps: 44 64 (9/24/2016) 12 (6/29/2012)
Lead Lap Finish: 20 22 - Twice 8 (6/29/2012)
Running at the Finish: 31 35 (6/17/2006) 26 (9/22/2012)
Laps Led (Winner): 70 192 (6/29/2012) 3 (6/19/2004)
Margin of Victory*: 1.097 9.828 (6/29/2012) 0.036 (6/16/2002)

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

NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs Are Here – An Overview
The NASCAR XFINITY Series heads to the rolling hills of Kentucky to kick off the second annual NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs Saturday night, September 23 at Kentucky Speedway in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
 
Twelve drivers will slug it out for the title through three rounds in the Playoffs.  The first round of the Playoffs, the Round of 12, is made up of three races – Kentucky, Dover and Charlotte. Four drivers will be eliminated at the conclusion of the Round of 12. A driver can advance to the next round by either winning one of the races in the round or accumulating enough points to be in the top eight of the Playoff standings. 
 
The next round is the Round of 8, and it will consist of the eight Playoff title contenders that have advanced from the Round of 12. The Round of 8 is also made up of three races – Kansas, Texas and Phoenix. Another four drivers will be eliminated from the Playoffs at the conclusion of the Round of 8. A driver can advance to the Championship 4 by either winning one of the Round of 8 races or accumulating enough points to be in the top four after Phoenix.
 
The NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs will then be decided in the Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway as the four remaining drivers battle it out for the title, with the highest finishing championship contender taking home the trophy. 
 
Since its inception in 1982 (35 years ago), the NASCAR XFINITY Series has produced 27 different champions. Only eight drivers have won multiple series titles – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011, ’12), Kevin Harvick (2001, ‘06), Martin Truex Jr. (2004, ’05), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998, ’99), Randy LaJoie (1996, ’97), Larry Pearson (1986, ’87), Jack Ingram (1982, ’85) and Sam Ard (1983, ’84).  
 
Last season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Suarez won the title after starting on the pole and winning the race in Miami. This season we are certain to see another new NASCAR XFINITY Series champion since none of this season’s Playoff contenders are former series champs.
 
The 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff is made up of 12 drivers from eight different organizations – JR Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Kaulig Racing, Jeremy Clements Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart-Haas Racing and Jeremy Clements Racing are making their Playoff debuts this season.
 
A total of seven Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders have made the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs since its inception in 2016. This season, four rookies made the Playoffs: William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt Tifft and Daniel Hemric. Last season three rookies made it: Erik Jones, Brandon Jones and Brennan Poole.  
 
Three different manufacturers have made the 2017 Playoffs – Chevrolet (nine cars), Ford (two cars) and Toyota (one car).
 
The winner of last season’s Playoff-opening race at Kentucky, Elliott Sadler, went on to finish runner-up in the final championship points.
 
Round Of 12: NASCAR Playoff Contenders Rundown By Seeding
Below is a quick look at each of the 12 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff contender’s performances this season, and their performance at the upcoming track (Kentucky):
 
William Byron (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 with the No. 1 seed and 2,025 points; two points ahead of his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier in the second seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Byron has posted three wins (Iowa, Daytona and Indianapolis), eight top fives, 17 top 10s, two Stage wins and has earned 25 Playoff points. His average finish this season is an 11.1 (second best).
 
Byron made his series track debut at Kentucky Speedway, earlier this season; he started fifth and finished seventh.  
 
Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the second seed with 2,023 points; five points ahead of his JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler in the third seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Allgaier has posted two wins (Phoenix and Chicago), seven top fives, 13 top 10s, three Stage wins and has earned 23 Playoff points. His average finish this season is a 13.6 (fourth-best).
 
Allgaier has made 10 series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting two top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 12.3.
 
Elliott Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the third seed with 2,020 points; 11 points ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric in the fourth seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Sadler has posted a series-leading 11 top fives and 19 top 10s, five stage wins and has earned 20 playoff points. His average finish this season is a 9.5 (series best).
 
Sadler has made 12 series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one pole, one win (2016 Playoffs), five top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 7.8.
 
Daniel Hemric (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the fourth seed with 2,009 points; three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Brennan Poole in the fifth seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Hemric has posted one pole, five top fives, 12 top 10s, two stage wins and has earned six playoff points. His average finish this season is a 13.3 (third-best).
 
Hemric made his series track debut at Kentucky Speedway, earlier this season; he started 10th and finished ninth.  
 
Brennan Poole (No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the fifth seed with 2,006 points; one point ahead of Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed in the sixth seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Poole has posted one pole, one top five, 12 top 10s and has earned six playoff points. His average finish this season is a 14.3 (fifth-best).
 
Poole has made five series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting two top 10s and an average finish of 16.8.
 
Ryan Reed (No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the sixth seed with 2,005 points. Ryan Reed (sixth seed), Jeremy Clements (seventh), Cole Custer (eighth) and Blake Koch (ninth) are all currently tied in points at 2,005. 
 
In 26 starts this season, Reed has posted one win (Daytona), two top fives, five top 10s and has earned five playoff points. His average finish this season is an 18.6 (11th-best).
 
Reed has made seven series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one top 10 and an average finish of 19.9.
 
Jeremy Clements (No. 51 Jeremy Clement Racing Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the seventh seed with 2,005 points. Ryan Reed (sixth seed), Jeremy Clements (seventh), Cole Custer (eighth) and Blake Koch (ninth) are all currently tied in points at 2,005. 
 
In 26 starts this season, Clements has posted one win (Road America), one top five, two top 10s and has earned five playoff points. His average finish this season is 21.9 (17th-best).
 
Clements has made 13 series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting a best finish of 12th in this race last season. His average finish at Kentucky is 20.8.
 
Cole Custer (No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the eighth seed with 2,005 points. Ryan Reed (sixth seed), Jeremy Clements (seventh), Cole Custer (eighth) and Blake Koch (ninth) are all currently tied in points at 2,005. 
 
In 26 starts this season, Custer has posted four top fives, 13 top 10s and has earned five playoff points. His average finish this season is 14.9 (sixth-best).
 
Custer made his series track debut at Kentucky Speedway, earlier this season; he started fifth and finished seventh.  
 
Blake Koch (No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the ninth seed with 2,005 points. Ryan Reed (sixth seed), Jeremy Clements (seventh), Cole Custer (eighth) and Blake Koch (ninth) are all currently tied in points at 2,005.
 
In 26 starts this season, Koch has posted one pole, four top 10s, two stage wins and has earned five playoff points. His average finish this season is 17.8 (ninth-best).
 
Koch has made 11 series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting a best finish of 11th in this race last season. His average finish at Kentucky is 26.3.
 
Matt Tifft (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the 10th seed with 2,004 points; one point ahead of Richard Childress Racing’s Brendan Gaughan in the 11th seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Tifft has posted two top fives, seven top 10s and has earned four playoff points. His average finish this season is a 15.0 (seventh-best).
 
Tifft has made three series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 9.7.
 
Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the 11th seed with 2,003 points; two points ahead of JR Motorsport’s Michael Annett in the 12th and final seed.
 
In 26 starts this season, Gaughan has posted two top fives, seven top 10s, one stage win and has earned three playoff points. His average finish this season is a 19.1 (12th-best).
 
Gaughan has made 10 series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one win (2014), four top fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 9.1.
 
Michael Annett (No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) heads into Kentucky and the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff’s Round of 12 as the 12th seed with 2,001 points.
 
In 26 starts this season, Annett has posted one top five, six top 10s and has earned one playoff point. His average finish this season is 17.0 (eighth-best).
 
Annett has made eight series starts at Kentucky Speedway, posting one top five, five top 10s and an average finish of 12.8.
 
NASCAR XFINITY Series Etc.
Angela Ruch Returns:
 B. J. McLeod Motorsports will have Angela Ruch, from Puyallup, Washington, in the No. 78 Chevrolet this weekend in an attempt to make the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300. Ruch will be attempting to make her ninth career start. She has one start this season at Kentucky back in July, where she started 40th and finished 30th. Ruch is one of just 22 females who have competed in the NASCAR XFINITY Series all-time. She also is one of only five female drivers to compete in the NXS at Kentucky, joining Johanna Long, Danica Patrick, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Shawna Robinson. Long and Patrick are tied for the series best finish (12th) by a female at Kentucky.
 
Part-Timers Get To Shine: With the new rules limiting Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver participation during Playoff events, seats have opened up for part-time drivers to showcase their talents this weekend. Richard Childress Racing will feature Ben Kennedy (No. 2 Chevrolet) and Brian Scott (No. 3 Chevrolet) behind the wheel this weekend. Joe Gibbs Racing will have Kyle Benjamin (No. 18 Toyota) and Ryan Preece (No. 20 Toyota) entered this weekend. Plus, Team Penske will have Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 22 Ford) and Chip Ganassi Racing will have Tyler Reddick (No. 42 Chevrolet) strapped in and ready to go this weekend.

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