Storylines For Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 (4 p.m. ET/FS1/PRN)

Just north of all the casinos and bright lights sits one of the jewels in the desert, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile facility set to host this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race – the Boyd Gaming 300 (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

Las Vegas Motor Speedway has hosted 25 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, one race per season from 1997 to 2017 and two races per season since 2018. The 1.5-mile oval has 20 degrees of banking in its four turns and nine degrees of banking on the front and backstretch. This weekend’s Boyd Gaming 300 will be 200 laps broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 45 laps each with the final stage 110 laps.

Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 25 Xfinity races have produced 17 different pole winners and 18 different race winners. Five drivers are tied for the series lead in poles at Las Vegas with two each – Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Cole Custer. NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin leads the series wins at Las Vegas with four victories (1999, 2005, 2008 and 2011). None of the former 17 pole winners are entered this weekend, guaranteeing an 18th different pole winner on Saturday. However, two of the former Xfinity Vegas race winners are entered this weekend. Joe Nemechek won in the Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas back in 2003. This weekend Nemechek will be piloting the No. 47 Mike Harmon Racing Chevrolet. Ross Chastain is the other former winner active this weekend at Las Vegas. Chastain grabbed his first Xfinity Series career win at Las Vegas in 2018 driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.  This weekend he will wrestling the No. 11.   

Las Vegas’s Noah Gragson locks up Playoff spot with Xfinity season-opening win

Atop the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings and locked into the Playoffs for the first time in his career, JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson comes swinging into his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada for the Boyd Gaming 300 on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I always look forward to coming back to Las Vegas because it allows me to visit with family and friends.,” said Gragson. “It adds a little pressure because I want to perform in front of my hometown crowd, but coming off the win in Daytona and our streak of runs here, I feel like the No. 9 Camaro could be celebrating in Victory Lane for the second straight week.”

Following his first Xfinity Series career win at Daytona International Speedway last weekend the 21-year old is looking to become just the fourth different driver to win the first two races of a Xfinity season; joining Dale Earnhardt (1986: Daytona, Rockingham), Chad Little (1995: Daytona, Rockingham) and Tony Stewart (2008: Daytona, California). Gragson has made two series starts at Las Vegas posting one top five (third in this race last season) and two top 10s. His average finish at LVMS is a stout 4.5 – series-best among drivers entered this weekend.

Harrison Burton jumps out front of Xfinity Sunoco Rookie Class

To kick off the 2020 season, Joe Gibbs Racing’s rookie candidate Harrison Burton put up his Xfinity Series career-best finish (second at Daytona) and took the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead. Now with a 20 point edge over second place Jesse Little, Burton and the rest of the 2020 rookie class turn their attention to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Boyd Gaming 300 this Saturday (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings

Rookies

Points

Harrison Burton

38

Jesse Little

18

Riley Herbst

5

Joe Graf Jr.

1

Gaining experience will be key for the rookies this weekend, Riley Herbst is the only one of the four rookies with a prior start at the 1.5-mile speedway. Burton, Little and Graf will be making their series track debuts this weekend.

A Las Vegas native, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Riley Herbst, made his series track debut last season, starting 15th and racing his way up to a ninth-place finish. Herbst started the season with a 32nd-place finish and is looking to bounce back at Vegas and close the 33 point gap on rookie standings leader and JGR teammate Harrison Burton.

Loop Data stats point to Justin Allgaier at Las Vegas

After finishing a disappointing 30th at Daytona to start the 2020 season, JR Motorsport’s veteran Justin Allgaier isn’t faded by the team’s slow start to the year. He is currently 13th in points, 24 back from series standings leader and JRM teammate Noah Gragson.

“We may not have had the finish we wanted last weekend in Daytona, but we had a fast Chevrolet and that makes me excited for the rest of the season,” said Allgaier. 

Las Vegas is the next stop in the Xfinity schedule, and it is a particularly good one for Allgaier. He has made 11 starts at the 1.5-mile facility in Nevada posting five top fives and nine top 10s.  

“Las Vegas is a track that has been good to me and this No. 7 team. We’ve led laps and I feel like we have come close to winning, so I’m really looking forward to getting there and seeing what we can do this weekend.”

Pre-Race Loop Data says Allgaier isn’t just good but one of the best in the field this weekend at Las Vegas.  He leads all active drivers this weekend in the following Xfinity statistical categories at Las Vegas – Driver Rating (105.3), Average Running Position (7.598), Fastest Laps Run (70 laps), Green Flag Passes (470), Quality Passes (424) and Laps in the Top 15 (2,087 laps, 93.9%).

Names are made here in the Xfinity Series

The youth movement in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is strong in 2020, with the top five in points the youngest contingent of drivers to come out of the first race of the season in series history with an average age of 21.6.

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Top Five In Points Following Race #1

Points Pos.

Drivers

Driver’s Age

Driver’s Date Of Birth

1

Noah Gragson

21

Wednesday, July 15, 1998

2

Justin Haley

20

Wednesday, April 28, 1999

3

Harrison Burton

19

Monday, October 9, 2000

4

Brandon Jones

22

Tuesday, February 18, 1997

5

Brandon Brown

26

Tuesday, September 14, 1993

Average Age:

21.6

The previous youngest top five in points following the first race of the season was 24.2 in 2012.  

Kaulig Racing’s tale of two teams

Kaulig Racing has started the 2020 season with two full-time teams and already through the first race of the season they are on two vastly different championship paths.

Running for a title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in his first full season with Kaulig Racing is Florida native and third-generation watermelon farmer Ross Chastain. Unfortunately, Chastain didn’t get his 2020 season off to the start he would have preferred finishing 22nd – his worst finish at Daytona since 2016 (22nd). Now the rising star is 20th in the series points, 30 markers back from the standings lead with lots of work to do.

His teammate on the other hand, Justin Haley from Winamac, Indiana, returns for his second season with the organization looking to build on his Playoff making performance of last year. Haley won the NASCAR Cup Series the rain-shortened Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona last season and used that confidence to race his No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet to a sixth-place finish in last Saturday’s Xfinity Series season-opener giving Kaulig Racing’s its best series points position.

Prior to last Saturday, Kaulig Racing’s best position in NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings was fourth following the 2018 season-opener with driver Ryan Truex. But all that changed last weekend, when Justin Haley scored valuable points in both of the first two stages of the race and finished sixth at Daytona International Speedway. Now the 20-year old sits an organizational best second in the driver standings a mere three points back from the standings lead.  

This weekend, Haley gears up for Las Vegas with crew chief Alex Yontz looking to climb into the Xfinity driver standings lead. Haley has made two career series starts at Las Vegas with an average finish of 12.5; he posted his best finish at Las Vegas in this race last season (10th).

And for Haley’s teammate Ross Chastain, Las Vegas comes at the perfect time. He is a former winner at the track (Sept. 2018) and is looking to rebound quickly in the points. The 27-year old has made six starts at Las Vegas posting one win, two top 10s and an average finish of 14.2. 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Daniel Hemric returns to Xfinity for JRM – 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Daniel Hemric returns to the NASCAR Xfinity Series on a part-time basis with series powerhouse JR Motorsports. This weekend’s Boyd Gaming 300 will be his first start in the series since 2018.

“I’m really optimistic heading to Las Vegas. I am looking forward to knocking the rust off since it’s been a while since I’ve been in a Xfinity Series car,” said Hemric. Hemric has made three series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-10 finish.

Timmy Hill to Hattori Racing Enterprises No. 61 at Vegas – Career-best finishes open doors. Just ask Timmy Hill, who recently ran the race of his career at Daytona International Speedway finishing third. Now the driver from Port Tobacco, Maryland has been tapped to pilot the No. 61 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hill has made five starts at Las Vegas in the Xfinity Series posting a best finish of 24th in 2011.

Nevada well represented this weekend at LVMS – NASCAR Xfinity Series points leader and JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson hails from Las Vegas, Nevada. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Riley Herbst also calls Las Vegas home. 

Milestones Worth Noting – This weekend in the Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway a couple milestones can be achieved:

  • Ryan Sieg (No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet) will have the opportunity to make 200th consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series start second-most among active drivers behind Jeremy Clements (229) and ninth all-time.
  • Ray Black Jr. will attempt to make his 100th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start, he is ranked 140th on the all-time series starts list.

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