So far, the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series season has gone about as good as it can for the entire JR Motorsports group. For the third consecutive week, Elliott Sadler enters this weekend’s race at Fontana (4 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN) as the XFINITY Series points leader. Sadler, has four top fives and eight top 10’s in 12 career XFINITY Series starts at the 2-mile D-Shape California oval.
He finished fifth in this very race a year ago.
This season, the No. 1 OneMain Financial team has earned two top-eight efforts and an average finish of 6.5 during NASCAR’s West Coast swing. Now, he hopes to continue that momentum with another stout effort on Saturday afternoon.
“Fontana is an awesome racetrack. (Turns) 1 and 2 provide a lot of options to try and find grip,” Sadler said ahead of this weekend’s event. “It has become one of the best surfaces on the schedule. I’ve had some success there in the past and feel it’ll be a great opportunity for the OneMain Financial team this weekend.”
But, Sadler will have stiff competition from his teammates as rookie William Byron is hoping to carry his pole from last weekend at Phoenix over to a solid run in his first career start at Fontana this weekend. Byron, has one XFINITY Series start on a track greater than one mile, capturing his first top-10 finish at Daytona earlier this season.
The Rookie of the Year contender is currently leading the rookie standings and is second in the NXS championship standings, 11 markers behind leader, and teammate, Elliott Sadler.
Despite not ever racing at Fontana before, Byron credits a new wave of technology as to why he’s so comfortable racing at a track he’s never been at before.
“With systems like iRacing and the simulator, I am more prepared to go to a track where I haven’t raced at before,” Byron said via a team release. “I already have an idea of the track and if I didn’t, I know that it would be a big shock going into the weekend just knowing how big it is. The track is definitely racy and there are a lot of places to go, so just trying to maximize what you can on restarts and keeping your momentum up are important. If you lose your momentum on restarts you just fall like a rock in the Xfinity Series. This Axalta/Dura Coat team is bringing a great car to Fontana and I am just ready to get back on track this weekend.”
These two will have their hands full with another JR Motorsports teammate in Justin Allgaier. He’s gained 22 spots in the XFINITY Series standings the last two weeks to fourth, as he’s just 29 points out of the lead. That gives JR Motorsports three drivers in the top four of the standings.
Plus, Allgaier ended his winless drought last weekend at Phoenix, taking his No. 7 Chevrolet to victory lane on Saturday afternoon. He’d love to do it for a second week in-a-row at Fontana.
“I’m very much looking forward to going to Auto Club Speedway with our BRANDT Professional Agriculture team,” said Allgaier. “It’s fun, it’s fast and it’s slick. I think that when you add those three words together it makes for great racing. Even if you’re not having a great day, you still have fun there. It’s one of those places though where you better be on your A game. You better makes sure that when practice is over, you’re happy, because if not it can be a long afternoon.”
The Illinois native has three top 10’s in eight career Fontana starts including a 10th place run last March. Mix that, with his win last weekend as well as leading the most laps (85) than any other XFINITY Series regular so far this season, and you have reason to believe that Allgaier will be a driver to watch this weekend.
Then, there’s the fourth member of the team Michael Annett. He’s currently ninth in the XFINITY Series point standings after coming off his first top-10 finish of the 2017 season last weekend in Phoenix. In six Fontana starts, Annett has completed all but two laps attempted and has a best finish of sixth in the fall of 2009. He also has an average finish of 14.8 thus far in 2017 which ranks him fifth among full-time XFINITY competitors.
“California is a wide track with multiple grooves and high speeds,” said Annett. “Our Pilot Flying J team really came together last weekend and we figured some things out. Every week is a another opportunity for us to continue growing and learning as a team. Jason (Stockert, crew chief) and the group have been busting it getting the car ready for this weekend and we are all eager to get out there.”