XFINITY Race Preview: Homestead-Miami

XFINITY Series

For the second year in a row, the NASCAR XFINITY Series title will be decided at the culmination of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, a four-round elimination-style postseason that will name the series’ 28th different champion in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Schedule of Events | Driver Averages  

NASCAR XFINITY Series news, notes and fast facts in advance of Saturday's championship-deciding Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Radio: MRN, 3 p.m. (ET)
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. (ET)
Race Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Stage Lengths: Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

Races: 22
Pole Winners: 18
Youngest Pole Winner: Casey Atwood (11/15/1998 - 18 years, 2 months, 21 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Mike McLaughlin (11/9/1997 - 41 years, 1 month, 3 days)
Race Winners: 16
Youngest Race Winner: Kyle Larson (11/21/2015 - 23 years, 2 months, 21 days)
Oldest Race Winner: Matt Kenseth (11/15/2014 - 42 years, 8 months, 5 days)
Races Won from Pole: 3
Last Race Won from Pole: Daniel Suarez (11/19/2016)
Race Record: Joe Nemechek - 132.191 mph (11/10/2001)
Qualifying Record: Casey Mears - 177.936 mph (11/20/2004)

  Last Race Most/Largest Fewest/Smallest
Cars: 40 43 - 17 Times(11/17/2012) 40 - 4 Times(11/19/2016)
Lead Changes: 21 21 (11/19/2016) 6 (11/11/2000)
Leaders: 11 11 - 2 Times(11/19/2016) 5 - 3 Times (11/21/2015)
Cautions: 7 13 (11/5/1995) 1 (11/10/2001)
Caution Laps: 39 60 (11/5/1995) 9 (11/10/2001)
Lead Lap Finish: 18 28 (11/15/2014) 9 - 3 Times  (11/10/2001)
Running at the Finish: 34 37 - 2 Times (11/18/2006) 25 (11/5/1995)
Laps Led (Winner): 133 153 (11/20/2010) 1 (11/15/1998)
Margin of Victory: 0.968 2.35 (11/3/1996) 0.010 (11/15/1998)

For the second year in a row, the NASCAR XFINITY Series title will be decided at the culmination of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, a four-round elimination-style postseason that will name the series’ 28th different champion in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The first of the Championship 4 drivers to cross the finish line at Homestead-Miami will become the 2017 series driver champion.

Justin Allgaier, William Byron, Daniel Hemric and Elliott Sadler are the Championship 4 and have competed all season for the chance at the title in the Ford EcoBoost 300 this Saturday.

The Championship 4 features a pair of veterans in Allgaier and Sadler facing off against two Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders. There has only been one Sunoco Rookie who has taken home the championship – Chase Elliott in 2014.

JR Motorsports drivers make up three of the four championship contenders (Allgaier, Byron and Sadler) while all four cars are powered by Chevrolet.

Championship 4 (By car number):

Elliott Sadler (No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Emporia, Virginia’s Elliott Sadler has the chance this weekend to win his first NASCAR XFINITY Series championship and secure the second driver title in four years for JR Motorsports (Chase Elliott, 2014). Sadler is no stranger to the championship pressure as he has finished in the top four in the series driver standings in five of the last six seasons; including three runner-up finishes (2011, 2012 and 2016).

Sadler closed out the first 26 races of 2017 as the NASCAR XFINITY Series regular season champion, and now has turned his attention to bringing home the title. Since its inception last season, Sadler and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier are the only two drivers to make the Championship 4 round in the postseason both seasons of its existence.

Sadler’s career in the NASCAR XFINITY Series started back in 1995, nearly 22 years ago. Since then, the talented veteran has made 361 series starts, posting 13 wins, 92 top fives (11th-most all-time), 201 top 10s (fourth-most all-time) and 17 poles.

Leading Sadler and the No. 1 JR Motorsports team from the pit box this season is crew chief Kevin Meendering. In 32 starts this season, Sadler and Meendering have amassed the series-most top fives (12) and top 10s (24) with an average finish of 9.4. Plus, Sadler led the series in accumulating stage points this season with 232 points.

In addition, if he claims the title this weekend, Sadler would join Tommy Ellis (Richmond) as the second series champion from the state of Virginia.

Breakdown by Round of Elliott Sadler’s 2017 Playoffs:

Round of 12: Sadler had a solid Round of 12, posting three top-10 finishes at Kentucky (sixth), Dover (ninth) and Charlotte (10th). He ended the Round of 12 fourth in the series Playoff driver standings. 

Round of 8: Sadler had a stout beginning to the Round of 8, finishing seventh at Kansas, and then posting a fourth-place finish at Texas, but only managed an 18th at Phoenix last weekend. Despite the poor finish at Phoenix, Sadler accumulated the third-most points in the Round of 8 to earn his spot in the Championship 4.

Elliott Sadler Fast Facts:

  • In 2017, Sadler has posted 12 top fives and 24 top 10s (both are series-most).
  • Sadler’s average finish during the 2017 season is a 9.4 (best among Championship 4).  
  • During the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff, he has posted one top five and five top 10s.
  • Sadler’s average finish during the 2016 Playoffs is 9.0.
  • During the Playoffs, Sadler posted a driver rating of 96.4 and an average running position of 9.3.
  • At Homestead, Sadler has made 11 series starts, posting two top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 15.1.

Justin Allgaier (No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

Justin Allgaier returns to the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship 4 for the second consecutive season, and the Riverton, Illinois, native has a solid shot at the title this time around. Allgaier’s previous best series standings finish was third twice; last season and in 2011. This season, like Sadler, Allgaier has the opportunity to bring home the second series driver title for JR Motorsports in four years (Chase Elliott, 2014).  

Allgaier’s NASCAR XFINITY Series career started back in 2008, and since then he has made 239 starts, posting five wins, 52 top fives, 128 top 10s and five poles. In 32 starts this season, he has posted two wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s and an average finish of 13.1. Plus, Allgaier accumulated the second-most stage points throughout season with 230.

JR Motorsports named veteran car chief Billy Wilburn as crew chief for Justin Allgaier's No. 7 team for the season finale.

Wilburn, who has served as car chief since 2014, steps into the role normally occupied by Jason Burdett, who's serving a one-race suspension for a rule violation that was found during post-race inspection last weekend at Phoenix Raceway. JR Motorsports is not appealing the penalty.

If Allgaier wins this season’s title, he will become the first series champion from the state of Illinois.

Breakdown by Round of Justin Allgaier’s 2017 Playoff:

Round of 12: Allgaier skated into the Round of 8 on the heels of two top fives and a DNF. The JR Motorsports driver posted a third-place finish at Kentucky, a runner-up finish at Dover, but dropped out early in the Charlotte race due to overheating, resulting in a 33rd-place finish. Allgaier accumulated the fifth-most series driver points during the Round of 12 and, as a result, advanced to the Round of 8. 

Round of 8: Allgaier found his footing in the Round of 8, and in the process posted three solid finishes at Kansas (fifth), Texas (11th) and Phoenix (10th). Allgaier’s stellar performance in the Playoff Round of 8 netted him a spot in the Championship 4.

Justin Allgaier Fast Facts:

  • In 2017, Allgaier has posted two wins, 10 top fives and 17 top 10s.
  • Allgaier’s average finish during the 2017 season is a 13.1 (fourth-best among Championship 4). 
  • During the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, he has posted three top fives and four top 10s.
  • Allgaier’s average finish during the 2017 Playoffs is 10.7.
  • During the Playoffs, Allgaier posted a driver rating of 103.1 and an average running position of 10.1.
  • At Homestead, Allgaier has made seven series starts posting a career-best finish of sixth (last season) and an average finish of 15.4. 

William Byron (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet)

In just his rookie season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the JR Motorsports driver from Charlotte, North Carolina, William Byron, has tallied four series wins, qualified for the Playoffs and made the Championship 4. Now the 19-year-old driver has the opportunity to become just the second series Sunoco Rookie to win a title in series history; joining the first rookie to accomplish the feat, former JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott (2014).  

After working with multiple drivers during the last two seasons (2015-2016), David Elenz took the reins of the No. 9 JR Motorsports team to help cultivate Byron’s talent during his rookie season.  The pairing has produced. In 32 starts this season, Byron and Elenz have posted four wins (Iowa, Daytona, Indianapolis and Phoenix), 11 top fives and 21 top 10s.    

At the age of 19, Byron has the chance to become the second-youngest champion in NASCAR national series history at the age of 19 years, 11 months and 20 days; behind record-holder Chase Elliott, who won the series title at the age of 18 years, 11 months, 18 days.

If Byron wins this season’s title, he will become the sixth series champion from the state of North Carolina, joining Austin Dillon (2013 champion, from Welcome, N.C.), Brian Vickers (2003, Thomasville, N.C.), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998, 1999, Kannapolis, N.C.), Jack Ingram (1985, 1982, Asheville, N.C.) and Sam Ard (1983, 1984, Asheboro, N.C.).

Breakdown by Round of William Byron’s 2017 Playoff:

Round of 12: Byron’s Round of 12 had its ups and downs. The JR Motorsports driver kicked off the postseason with an 18th-place finish at Kentucky, then bounced back with a third-place finish at Dover, but only managed a 16th-place finish at Charlotte. Despite only one good run in the Round of 12, Byron advanced to the Round of 8 as the series leader in the standings; in large part due to the series-leading 25 playoff points he carried into the postseason

Round of 8: Byron cemented his name at the top of the list of favorites to win the title this season in the Round of 8. The youngster posted a fourth-place finish at Kansas (fifth), then a ninth at Texas and a career-defining Playoff win at Phoenix to lock himself into the Championship 4. Byron is one of just three rookies to make the Championship 4 since the inception of the elimination-style Playoff format last season; joining Erik Jones (2016) and Daniel Hemric (2017).  

William Byron Fast Facts:

  • In 2017, Byron has posted four wins (most among championship contenders), 11 top fives and 21 top 10s.
  • Byron’s average finish during the 2017 season is a 10.6 (second-best among Championship 4). 
  • During the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, he has posted one win, three top fives and four top 10s.
  • Byron’s average finish during the 2017 Playoffs is an 8.2.
  • During the Playoffs, Byron posted a driver rating of 106.3 and an average running position of 7.6.
  • Byron will make his series track debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend. Last season, Byron made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Homestead, winning from the pole.

Daniel Hemric (No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)

The one driver standing between the JR Motorsports camp and the championship this season is Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.  The Sunoco Rookie from Kannapolis, North Carolina, has built his championship run on consistency and, in the process, has pointed his way into not only the Playoffs but the Championship 4, as well. Now the 26-year-old driver has just one race left to become the second series Sunoco Rookie to win a driver title in series history; joining the first rookie to accomplish the feat, Chase Elliott (2014).  

Alongside Hemric this season has been veteran crew chief Danny Stockman Jr. In 32 starts this season, the duo has posted seven top fives, 16 top 10s and an average finish of 12.5.

Hemric is the first NASCAR XFINITY Series driver from Richard Childress Racing to make the Championship 4 since its inception last season.  Richard Childress Racing has won four NASCAR XFINITY Series driver championships (second-most) with Austin Dillon (2013), Clint Bowyer (2008) and Kevin Harvick (2001, 2006).  

If Hemric wins this season’s title, he will become the sixth series champion from the state of North Carolina, joining Austin Dillon (2013 champion, from Welcome, N.C.), Brian Vickers (2003, Thomasville, N.C.), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998, 1999, Kannapolis, N.C.), Jack Ingram (1985, 1982, Asheville, N.C.) and Sam Ard (1983, 1984, Asheboro, N.C.).

Breakdown by Round of Daniel Hemric’s 2017 Playoff:

Round of 12: Hemric started the postseason strong with three top-10 finishes at Kentucky (seventh), Dover (fourth) and Charlotte (seventh). Hemric’s consistency in the Round of 12 moved him all the way up to second in the standings and advanced him to the Round of 8.

Round of 8: Hemric’s Round of 8 started off rough with an 18th-place finish at Kansas, but over the following weeks he was able to rebound, finishing 14th at Texas and then fifth at Phoenix to secure the fourth and final Championship 4 spot. Hemric is one of just three rookies to make the Championship 4 since the inception of the elimination-style Playoff format last season; joining Erik Jones (2016) and William Byron (2017). 

Daniel Hemric Fast Facts:

  • In 2017, Hemric has posted seven top fives and 16 top 10s.
  • Hemric’s average finish during the 2017 season is a 12.5 (third-best among Championship 4). 
  • During the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs, he has posted two top fives and four top 10s.
  • Hemric’s average finish during the 2017 Playoffs is a 9.2.
  • During the Playoffs, Hemric posted a driver rating of 99.7 and an average running position of 8.4.
  • Hemric will make his series track debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend. Hemric has made three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Homestead, posting one top five and two top 10s. 

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Dec. 19, 2017 7:00 PM ET

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