The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend for the Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the 19th race of the year.
With only eight races left in the regular season, time is of the essence for competitors vying for a spot in the 12-driver Playoff field.
Last weekend the NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Atlanta Motor Speedway for the second time of the season and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch made it a perfect five-for-five this year, grabbing his fifth win in as many starts.
Looking ahead to this weekend, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will host the 34th NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 1.058-mile track. The Xfinity Series didn’t visit the Loudon, New Hampshire track last season due to COVID-19 protocols so this will be the first race back since 2019.
The previous 33 Xfinity races at New Hampshire have produced 26 different race winners and 19 pole winners.
Only nine races have been won from the pole position and that was most recently done by Kyle Busch in 2017.
The last time the series competed at New Hampshire in 2019, Christopher Bell won the race from the second starting position. There were five cautions for 28 laps and five lead changes. The average speed was 104.365 and the race was two hours, one minute and 39 seconds long. There were 1,059 green flag passes and the margin of victory was 4.068 seconds.
The last five Xfinity Series winners at New Hampshire are all from the Joe Gibbs Racing camp and are no longer in the Xfinity Series fulltime. Denny Hamlin won in 2015, Busch won in 2016 and 2017 and Bell won in 2018 and 2019. Bell is the only one of the three that will come back to the series and run this weekend.
This weekend’s Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 will be 211.6 miles and 200 laps. Stage 1 will end on Lap 45 and Stage 2 will end on Lap 90.
This weekend, Kaulig Racing teammates Jeb Burton will start on the pole and Justin Haley will join him on the front row. The starting lineup for the weekend was based on metric qualifying from the previous race. Gragson will start third, Cindric fourth and Allgaier will start fifth.
There are 40 cars in the field, 28 Chevrolets, three Fords and nine Toyotas. Chad Finchum in the No. 13 is the only car that did not qualify.
5 for 5: Kyle Busch wraps Xfinity Series career with win
Kyle Busch just keeps on winning, five times in the Xfinity Series this season to be exact. In his five starts this season – at Circuit of the Americas, Texas Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, Road America and Atlanta Motor Speedway – he took home the win each time, making it a perfect 5-for-5.
Busch, who said that was his final Xfinity Series race on Saturday, is the winningest driver in Xfinity Series history with 102 wins. In 362 starts over 19 years, he has 225 top fives, 263 top 10s and 70 poles. He has led 20,088 laps and has an average start of 7.6 and an average finish of 8.9.
Playoff Bubble: NASCAR Xfinity Series chances dwindling down
With eight races left in the regular season, it is time to take a look at the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff clinch scenarios heading into this weekend’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the Ambetter Get Vaccinated 200 on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. A win gets you in, but drivers must still clinch their spot on points by accumulating enough points that even with a win they do not fall out of the top 30 and become ineligible for the Playoffs.
The following three drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver Xfinity postseason field: Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier. No new drivers clinched a spot at Atlanta.
Can clinch at New Hampshire:
Jeb Burton has already clinched a top-30 spot and with a win, he would clinch a Playoff spot on wins.
Clinching for Regular Season Championship:
Austin Cindric cannot clinch the regular season championship this weekend with his four wins and 748 points because second place has 674 and can still reach 1,154 points.
Outlined below is the current Playoffs standings for the Xfinity Series after Atlanta and heading to New Hampshire this weekend.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Atlanta:
|Rank||Driver||Points||Starts||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|1||Austin Cindric||748||18||4||7||27||In On Wins|
Josh Berry filling in for injured Michael Annett
NASCAR Xfinity Series part-timer, Josh Berry, who ran the beginning portion of the 2021 season for JR Motorsports in the No. 8 Chevrolet, will be back with the organization this weekend at New Hampshire.
Michael Annett, fulltime driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet, has not been cleared to race after an MRI revealed that he has a stress fracture in his right femur. Annett will undergo surgery on Tuesday afternoon.
Berry will replace Annett and JR Motorsports has been approved for a Playoff waiver for Annett so that he can still be Playoff eligible upon his return.
After the race weekend at New Hampshire, NASCAR has a two-week break for the Olympics in Tokyo, which will give Annett some extra time to heal.
Annett was supposed to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Knoxville Raceway last Friday but Chris Windom filled in for him. The following day at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Austin Dillon filled in for Annett in the Xfinity Series race.
Annett is currently in 11th in the Playoff standings, one spot above the cutline. Berry has made 15 of 18 starts this season for JR Motorsports and Jordan Anderson Racing. He leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Saturday’s race will mark Berry’s debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Sunoco Rookie Class Update: Berry still on top
Josh Berry has held off Joe Gibbs Racing’s up-and-coming talent Ty Gibbs in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings for several weeks. Berry has 362 points and five awards while Gibbs has six awards but only 330 points. Ryan Vargas is in third with Jade Buford in fourth and Sam Mayer in fifth.
Berry is entered to run this weekend at New Hampshire, replacing an injured Michael Annett for JR Motorsports. Gibbs is not currently entered to run so it’s likely that Berry will hold onto his lead again post-New Hampshire.
For Berry, who is trying to get a fulltime ride in one of the NASCAR national series, every opportunity and a Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award would just add to his resume. Same goes for Gibbs, who is also trying to move up and into the series fulltime.
|Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings|
Close call: Manufacturer’s championship up for grabs
Chevrolet is still in the lead in the manufacturer’s championship standings but not by much as Toyota is catching up. With last weekend’s Toyota victory by Kyle Busch, Chevrolet and Toyota are now equal with seven wins. Chevrolet has 657 points and Toyota is only behind seven points now with 650. Ford is in third with four wins and 600 points. It’s a close call for the championship and with eight races to go before the Playoffs begin, there are a lot of potential outcomes up for grabs.
Chevrolet has won the last four manufacturer championships. The last time a Ford won was in 2013 and a Toyota won most recently in 2016.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Christopher Bell back in Xfinity Series this weekend – Christopher Bell will return to the Xfinity Series this weekend at New Hampshire in the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bell competed in the Xfinity Series for three seasons, full-time in 2018 and 2019. He has 74 career starts with 16 wins, 41 top fives, 46 top 10s and 12 poles. In his two Xfinity starts at New Hampshire, he won the race and led a total of 279 laps.
Andrew Ranger running NXS race at NHMS – Rick Ware Racing has announced that Andrew Ranger will run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, piloting the No. 17, in addition to fielding a full NASCAR Pinty’s Series entry for 2021. Ranger, the defending Pinty’s Series champion, will pilot the No. 51. Ranger has made 17 Xfinity Series starts, most recently in 2013. Of those starts, he has one top five and two top 10s. Of those starts, none of them were at New Hampshire so this weekend will mark his debut.
Patrick Emerling joining Our Motorsports – Our Motorsports announced the addition of Patrick Emerling to their driver lineup for the No. 23 Chevrolet. He will pilot the car this Saturday at New Hampshire. Emerling, 28, made his Xfinity Series debut in 2020 at Bristol Motor Speedway for Our Motorsports. He started 20th and finished 29th. This weekend will mark his second career start.
Spencer Boyd joining Jimmy Means Racing this weekend – Spencer Boyd will compete in his first Xfinity Series race of the season this weekend at New Hampshire. This will be his first start in the series since 2018. He will pilot the No. 52 Chevrolet for Jimmy Means Racing and will be sponsored by Freedom Warranty. This season, Boyd has run 11 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races for Young’s Motorsports. Gray Gaulding is still Jimmy Means Racing’s primary driver, and this is just a one-race deal based on sponsorship for Boyd. Boyd has made 41 starts in the Xfinity Series and he has a best finish of 17th at Daytona in 2018.