Phoenix NXS Preview

There are 42 drivers on the entry list for race No. 4 of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the 12th Annual Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200. at Phoenix International Raceway. Four are racing double-­duty ­- the Xfinity race on Saturday and the Sprint Cup series race on Sunday. After the qualifying session, two will be eliminated and 40 will start the 200-­lap, 200-­mile race on the mile-­long Arizona speedway.

Joey Logano is last year’s race winner but he will be in the TV booth to help call the action. Brad Keselowski will pilot the defending winner’s No. 22 Discount Tire Ford for Penske Racing. Logano went to Victory Lane by leading 26 out of 200 laps. Keselowski has made 17 Xfinity starts at Phoenix, with one win and 10 top-­five finishes.

Joining Keselowski for double duty are three other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon are all former series champions.

Ones To Watch

Like last week, let’s focus on just the Xfinity favorites:

  • After his second­place finish last week in Las Vegas, Daniel Suarez currently holds the championship lead in the Xfinity Series. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing is just three points ahead of Elliott Sadler. According to loop data, Suarez has made two Phoenix starts, posting one top­five and an average finish of 7.5.

  • Elliott Sadler will make his 15th start on the desert track, winning this race back in 2012. The driver of the No. 1 One Main Chevrolet for JR Motorsports also boasts four top fives, seven top 10’s and an average finish on 12.4 at Phoenix.

  • Erik Jones gained four point positions in the standings and currently sits 7th. Despite an early pit road penalty, the driver of the No. 20 Reaser Fine Foods Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing finished third last week in Vegas. At Phoenix, Jones has made three Xfinity starts and posted two top­fives. His current average finish is 4.7. 
  • Spencer Gallagher comes over from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to make his Xfinity debut. He is driving the No. 21 Kingman/Allegiant Chevrolet for GMS Racing. This also marks the first start for the race team.

  • JJ Yeley is a Phoenix native. The driver of the No. 14 Toyota for Tri­-Star Motorsports will be making is 13th series start on his home turf. He has three top 10s and an average of 19.4 at Phoenix.

Coverage of the three­round group qualifying session begins tomorrow morning at 9:45 AM MT (track time), 11:45 AM ET on FS1. Switch over to local FOX, MRN or Sirius XM Channel 90 for the race starting at 12:30 PM MT, 2:30 PM ET.

Katie Williams
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