The NASCAR Xfinity Series buckeyes their way into Ohio to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the fourth annual Mid-Ohio Challenge. This is the second of three road course races for the Xfinity Series in 2016. 40 drivers will be competing for 40 spots in the Saturday afternoon spectacular.
The Mid-Ohio Challenge is the third standalone weekend for the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. While most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers enjoy their final off weekend of 2016, only one driver will be competing on Saturday. Ryan Blaney will be in the Discount Tire Ford entry from Team Penske. Alon Day, member of the NASCAR Next program, will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend in Mid-Ohio. Owen Kelly, who is filling in for the recovering Matt Tift, will pilot the Tunity Toyota entry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located in Lexington, Ohio. The course is 2.08-mile road course. The race will be a total of 75 laps for 169.35 miles.
Goodyear will be running the same tire code as last year this weekend. Teams will have a total of six sets of tires for the event. However, rain is in the forecast for Mid-Ohio. Goodyear will be bring wet weather radials, in the event of rain. The last time the Xfinity Series ran the wet weather radials was at Road America in 2014.
Sam Hornish Jr. is the driver to watch this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Cornish has an average finish of 16.5. However, he has the highest driver rating among all the drivers in the field on Saturday at an average of 111.8. He will be competing in his third event of the season in the Rheem Chevey, the Richard Childress Racing entry.
There have only been three races run at Mid-Ohio. With each visit to Ohio, there have been three different pole winners. Also, there have been three completely different winners. No races at Mid-Ohio have been won from the pole position. AJ Allmendinger holds the race record set in 2013 at a speed of 77.724 mph. Michael McDowell holds the qualifying record set in 2013 at a speed of 96.256 mph.
There have been two practice sessions held at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Ty Dillon led the first practice with a speed of 96.087 mph followed by Sam Hornish Jr. with a speed of 94.865 mph, Brandon Jones with a speed of 94.564 mph, Brendan Gaughan with a speed of 94.553 mph, and Ryan Blaney rounds out the top five with a speed of 94.207 mph. Justin Allgaier was the only driver to post a 10 consecutive lap average at 92.361 mph.
In the second and final practice session of the season, Hornish Jr. posted the top speed at 95.977 mph followed by Ryan Reed with a speed of 95.596 mph, Nelson Piquet Jr. with a speed of 95.255 mph, Blaney with a speed of 95.225 mph, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five with a speed of 94.959 mph. Three drivers ran 10 consecutive laps in final practice. Allgaier tops Brandon Jones and Reed with the best consecutive lap average at 93.828 mph.
“Mid-Ohio is another new track for me and one that will take some time for me to get comfortable with during practice on Friday. The road courses are different and definitely challenge me. Watkins Glen didn't go as well as we’d like as a team, but we learned some things that hopefully we can take with us this weekend to Mid-Ohio for the second road course of the year. I’m looking forward to getting back to the track this weekend and excited to see what we can do as a team to get our DEWALT FLEXVOLT Camry where it needs to be to be in contention at the end,” said Erik Jones about this weekend in Ohio.
“I’ve only raced at Mid-Ohio once, but I’m looking forward to going back. After getting our first road-course race of the season under our belt last weekend at Watkins Glen, I feel really confident in our equipment as well as our strategy. Jason Burdett (crew chief) and the guys have done a great job on our road-course program. I feel like we can head to Mid-Ohio with a solid chance of running up front and competing for the win with our BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevy,” said Allgaier.
“We had a solid run at Mid-Ohio last season. Hopefully we can duplicate that this weekend and keep our Roush Performance Products Mustang on course all race long and come home with a strong finish,” said Darrell Wallace Jr.
Qualifying from Mid-Ohio will air Friday evening at 6:00 pm on USA Network, due to NBC’s Olympic Coverage. Coverage of the Mid-Ohio Challenge will also be on USA Network and Motor Racing Network starting at 3:30 pm. eastern.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Xfinity Series wrapped up a double-header weekend at Watkins Glen International for the Zippo 200 and the Cheez-It 355. Here are five takeaways from the weekend in Upstate New York:
·Crowd: Watkins Glen was able to have their second consecutive sell-out for their NASCAR weekend. With a strong crowd attendance, it is obvious what NASCAR can continue to work on to bring fans to the track, that is on-track product. Watkins Glen provided one of the better races in 2016. Watkins Glen did not disappoint.
·Carousel: Over the past few years, the carousel at Watkins Glen has brought some of the most vicious wrecks in NASCAR history. Safety has to be the number one priority. However, with other racing series racing at Watkins Glen and using “The Boot”, this will provide a challenge.
·Cup drivers in Xfinity: When Joey Logano won Saturday’s Zippo 200, there seemed to be no outrage among fans about a Sprint Cup driver racing in the Xfinity Series. The issue with most fans seems to be when Kyle Busch wins the race. If fans are going to complain about Cup drivers in Xfinity, it needs to be for all Cup drivers, not just one.
·Road-course racing: Road courses once used to be a drag to drivers, crew chiefs, and fans when it was their turn on the schedule. However, over the past couple years, there has been a renaissance among road course racing. I am a firm believer that a road course should be placed in each chase for the championship. Why? A driver must have the prowess on every type of speedway on the NASCAR schedule. It will be interesting to see where road course racing will go within the next couple years.
·Rivalries: I am a huge proponent and believer that NASCAR needs a good rivalry like Petty/Pearson. Watkins Glen produced the potential of a couple new rivalries among Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski and among Kyle Larson and AJ Allmendinger. Truex and Larson were dumped by Keselowski and Allmendinger on the last lap. My hope is that these spur into new rivalries because that is what NASCAR desperately needs.
What are your takeaways from this weekend in Watkins Glen?
Kyle Busch dominates the Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for his third straight win of 2016. Justin Allgaier pulled a maneuver on Elliott Sadler in the first turn of the last lap to win the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus. Kevin Harvick finished second followed by Paul Menard, Kyle Larson, and Allgaier rounded out the top-five. Busch holds off two late race restarts on older tires to clinch his sixth victory of 2016.
“Man, these guys are so good, but you’ve got to drive the car to make it happen too, so I give the driver a little bit of credit, but overall, man, just a great day. Joe Gibbs Racing obviously does a great job for me – Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Joe Gibbs Racing Engines – and it’s fun to run here and get some more experience for tomorrow. I feel like this car’s really helped me in the last few years at being excel here at the Brickyard and I’m looking forward to what we’ve got for them tomorrow,” said Kyle Busch in a post race interview in victory lane.
Busch also dominated his first heat. Larson finished second followed by Joey Logano in third, Daniel Suarez in fourth, and Elliott Sadler in fifth. This heat went caution free.
Erik Jones dominated the second heat. Harvick finished second, Allgaier finished third, Paul Menard finished fourth, and Brennan Poole finished in fifth. The heat went caution free.
The main event saw three lead changes among two different drivers. Busch led 62 laps and Brendan Gaughan led one lap under green flag pit stops. The caution flag flew twice for a total of 10 laps. The first caution was for a spin by Erik Jones, and the second caution was brought out by an accident between Harrison Rhodes and Ray Black Jr. The average speed of the race was 136.298 mph. The time of the race was 1 hour, 9 minutes, and 20 seconds. The margin of victory was 0.411 seconds.
Allgaier was able to hold off Sadler, Jones, and Daniel Suarez to win the Dash4Cash bonus. Jones was the suspected winner of the bonus, but contact with the wall resulted in tire failure causing Jones to spin. Suarez assumed the lead in the race for the bonus, but a late race restart led to his demise giving Sadler the lead. Sadler lost the lead to Allgaier assumed the lead by passing Sadler in turn one on the last lap to clinch his first Dash4Cash Bonus in 2016.
“Just a solid weekend for us. We had speed right off the truck. They (the team) just pushed me through to the end of the race and put us in a good position. God parted the seas for us with the 19 (Suarez) and 20 (E. Jones) having their bad luck, I was able to bail it out,” said Allgaier of his victory.
Daniel Suarez maintains a 14-point lead over Elliott Sadler followed by Ty Dillon (-50), Justin Allgaier (-66), and Erik Jones (-69). The chase grid remains the same after today’s event. Jones holds the top seed with three wins and Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez hold the second and third seed with one win each.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to Iowa Speedway for the US Cellular 250 on Saturday night. NBCSN and Motor Racing Network will have all the action from Iowa Speedway.
Kyle Busch clinches the pole for the Lilly Diabetes 250 by two thousandths of a second over Erik Jones at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. However, Busch and Jones will start on the pole in their respective heat races. This is the sixth pole for Busch in the 2016 season.
In the first round of single car qualifying, drivers were battling the sun and cloud cover on the speedway. Despite the weather challenges, Erik Jones toppled the track record with a speed of 182.271 mph. Kyle Larson qualified second with a speed of 181.926 mph, Kyle Busch with a speed of 181.899 mph, Daniel Suarez with a speed of 180.242 mph, and Blake Koch with a speed of 179.978 mph. Notable drivers who did not advance include Blake Koch (P13), Darrell Wallace Jr. (P14), Ty Dillon (P16), Brendan Gaughan (P18), and Elliott Sadler (P19). Sadler’s qualifying run was plagued by being too loose. TJ Bell is the lone driver to not qualify for today’s event.
The second round of qualifying saw drivers on a hot and slick racetrack baking in the sun. Kevin Harvick edged out Daniel Suarez for the fourth position by one thousandths of a second. Ryan Sieg, who snuck his way into the second round, qualified 12th.
Drivers who qualified in odd-numbered positions will be in the first heat race, and drivers who qualified in even numbered positions will be in the second heat race. The heat races will be 20 laps each, with the main even being 60 laps.
The Lilly Diabetes 250 will begin at 3:30 pm eastern with the first heat. The second heat will begin at approximately 4:25 pm, and the main event will begin at approximately 5:05 pm. NBCSN and IMS Radio Network in collaboration with Performance Racing Network will have coverage beginning at 3:00 pm.
The NASCAR Xfinity rolls back home again to Indiana for the fifth annual Lilly Diabetes 250 at the historic 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is the fourth and final installment of the Dash4Cash, a heat race spectacular. Officially 41 cars are competing for 40 spots in Saturday’s qualifying session.
There have only been four races at Indianapolis due to the recent move from Lucas Oil Raceway. Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne are the only two drivers to have won a pole at the speedway. Three different drivers have made their way into victory lane. In 2014, Ty Dillon became the youngest winner. In 2015, Kyle Busch became the oldest winner at Indianapolis for the Xfinity series. Two races have been won from the pole position. The last race to be won from the pole was in 2015 by Busch. Dillon holds the race record sarin 2014 with a speed of 137.153 mph. Busch holds the qualifying record set in 2015 at 180.527 mph.
Goodyear is giving teams six sets of tires for the race weekend. Tire codes will be the same as the Cup series. Tires will align for what was run at Pocono Raceway in early June.
The Lilly Diabetes 250 will feature two heats at 20 laps each. The first two NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars in each heat will move to race for the $100,00 bonus in the 60 lap main event.
“I think the biggest thing about the Brickyard is the prestige, the track’s history and quality of racing – all the historic finishes it’s had over the years, whether it has been IndyCar or NASCAR. To me, it’s a special place to go to because of its heritage of being Indianapolis. Every guy in NASCAR and, especially every guy in IndyCar, they want to win there. Getting our Skittles Camry to victory lane there two years in a row would be special for a lot of reasons,” stated Kyle Busch about what it means to race at Indianapolis in his weekly press release.
Paul Menard, who is pulling double duty this weekend, talks about the prestige of racing in Indiana in a weekly press release. "Indy has a special meaning to me for sure. It's the greatest race track in the world. It's the one I circle every year, even before I won there. I spent a lot of time there as a kid watching IndyCar races. I was at the inaugural Brickyard 400. At one point I could name every Indy 500 winner from 1911 through probably the mid-90's. I've forgotten most of them now but could still probably name quite a few. I was and still am a big history geek. I love history, especially at Indianapolis. I'm looking forward to another shot at a win this weekend with Danny (Stockman, crew chief) and the Richmond/Menards team. It should be fun."
"Indy just brings a lot of excitement. It's so historical and when you drive in the track, it's a pretty big deal. I'll never forget my first time at Indy; I wanted to lift a lot earlier in the corners. Most places we go to, you can see the exit. At Indy, it looks like you're driving straight into a wall. You turn and see another wall. You turn one more time and then you have a huge straightaway,” said Blake Koch, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular.
In the only two practice sessions of the weekend, Busch was the fastest in each. Qualifying for the Lilly Diabetes 250will begin at 11:40 am on NBCSN. The race will begin at 3:30 pm on NBCSN and IMS Radio Network, in conjunction with Performance Racing Network.