After a two-week hiatus in the midst of the inaugural Xfinity Chase, the series returns to action at Texas Motor Speedway for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge (300 miles, 200 laps) this Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET from the 1.5-mile quad-oval from Fort Worth, Texas.
The Round of 8 has two races remaining in it, as the field will race for the final four spots to be determined at Texas and Phoenix next weekend. Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, Blake Koch, Justin Allgaier, Erik Jones, Ryan Reed, Brendan Gaughan and Darrell Wallace Jr. make up the Chase field. Jones, Reed, Gaughan and Wallace Jr. occupy the bottom four spots and would be eliminated if the rounded ended right now. However, we have some more racin’ to do.
Even though NASCAR announced that no Cup regulars would be allowed in Xfinity Series races in the Chase beginning next season, there are still a handful of them in the race this weekend. They include Austin Dillon (No. 2 for RCR), Brad Keselowski (No. 22 for Penske), Kyle Larson (No. 42 for CGR) and Kevin Harvick (No. 88 for JRM).
There are also a handful of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers running double-duty this weekend. They include Matt Tifft, Austin Theriault, and Timmy Hill.
However, Kyle Busch will not be in this race. He won the Kansas Lottery 300 back on October 15 over Sadler and Suarez. However, the championship favorite, Jones, holds a series-best 2.3 average finish at Texas. He has run into trouble the past few weeks and narrowly made it into this round. If the No. 20 is able to avoid bad luck, he’s almost a lock to finish top five.
“After a few weeks off, I’m really looking forward to getting to Texas this weekend,” Jones said in a NASCAR press release. “Texas is a track I really enjoy and have had success in both the Truck Series Xfinity Series. It’s a fun place, a place where we can put on a show for the fans and that makes it a lot of fun for the drivers.”
But the field is most likely going to be Chasing Keselowski. He has won this race in 2013 and 2015—the last two times he competed in it. With being eliminated from the NSCS Chase and coming off a second place finish last weekend at Martinsville, the Rochester Hills, Mich. native is hungry to find victory lane once again before 2016 concludes.
Practice sessions for the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge will take place Friday afternoon (2:30-3:25 p.m. ET and 5:00-6:25 p.m. ET) with qualifying taking place on Saturday morning at 11:45 a.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled to fly just past 2:30 p.m. ET from TMS.