The penultimate race of the opening round of the 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs will take place on Saturday afternoon at the Dover International Speedway. After two practice sessions on Friday afternoon, here’s who the top five drivers to watch for Saturday’s Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 (2:45 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN).
It all start with Jones and his No. 20 Toyota. He’s made three career XFINITY Series starts at the Monster Mile, one of which was a win in June 2016. He did finish 16th in this very race last year though and with the huge Cup stars not running this weekend, he’s the favorite.
Jones, has made 13 starts in the series in 2017, reaching victory lane twice in those starts (Texas, Bristol). He also has seven top five finishes and eight top 10’s in those races too.
In the first practice Jones was second on the speed charts. He was fourth in final practice.
Now that he’s going to find more XFINITY Series starts the rest of the season, look for Suarez to find his groove back. Last year, he was racing in the series every weekend. This season, his starts have been sporadic. Nine of his 12 starts this season came in the first 12 races. But, Dover is a track that the defending series champion has excelled at in no matter what car he’s driving.
He finished second in each of his two starts in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. In the XFINITY Series, he won this very race last year and has finishes of ninth, 10th, ninth and first respectively. He also finished sixth in the Cup race in June.
He was eighth in practice session No. 1 on Friday and seventh in final practice.
Good luck stopping him on Saturday.
If not for Kyle Busch or Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney would have dominated his few starts that he’s made in the XFINITY Series in 2017. Blaney, has made eight starts this season, five of those he came home second. One of those runner-ups was at Dover in June.
In the other three starts, he has a win and a fifth place effort. If not for a late race incident at Chicagoland, he would have eight top fives in eight starts.
So, I’m not counting him and his No. 22 Ford out on Saturday afternoon.
Blaney, finished fourth in this very race the last two years. This has a top five written all over it.
He was quickest in both of the two practice sessions this weekend.
No one is as hot in the series right now than Allgaier. After a streak that made him look down and out, Allgaier has since recovered and is looking like THE championship favorite. He has six top 10 finishes over his last six starts on the season, four of which were top fives. In the five starts before that, he had just one top 10 finish. The others were 20th or worse.
The JR Motorsports driver has since turned everything around.
He has 13 Dover XFINITY Series starts with coming home fourth and third respectively in the two races last year. He was also 11th in June.
In practice, Allgaier as fourth and eighth respectively.
Here’s another driver with momentum and that’s Tyler Reddick. He earned his first career XFINITY Series victory last weekend at Kentucky and now enters a track where he’s shined at. In three career Truck starts, he has three top 10’s. One of those races though, he won in 2015.