The NASCAR XFINITY Series will return to action this weekend at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway. Last weekend, Ryan Blaney took his No. 22 Ford to victory lane at the Texas Motor Speedway. Now, the series will get back to work with a short track affair in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 (1 p.m. ET/FS1/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Here are five storylines for the race.
Joe Gibbs Racing Domiance
Will JGR get back to victory lane for another year at Bristol? If they are going to do so, it’s going to have to happen with a new driver. JGR swept both Bristol races last year, with Erik Jones winning the spring race and Kyle Busch in August. In fact, Jones and Busch have combined to win four of the last five XFINITY Series races on the concrete half-mile track. Neither though will be racing this weekend.
JGR has also won 11 of the last 15 XFINITY races at Bristol too with Busch taking the checkered flag first eight of those times since 2010.
Furthermore, JGR drivers have won six poles over the last seven Bristol races and seven of the last nine.
Will Ryan Preece, Brandon Jones or Christopher Bell keep the streak going this weekend?
Fourth Straight Win For Team Penske’s No. 22 Entry
Trends show that Austin Cindric, who will be driving the No. 22 Ford with Team Penske this weekend, will win. The reason? That car has won three straight races on the season and have done so with three different drivers. Brad Keselowski won with it in Phoenix. Then, Joey Logano took the car to victory lane at Fontana. Last weekend, it was Ryan Blaney’s turn at Texas. Now, can Cindric earn his first career XFINITY Series win this weekend for a fourth straight win with four different drivers?
During JGR’s dominance, Penske has actually won twice at Bristol. Blaney won in this car in 2014 and Logano in 2015.
6 Races 6 Different Winners
Through the first six races of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season there have been six different winners, which has everyone wondering if Bristol Motor Speedway can keep the streak alive and give the series its seventh different winner in as many races.
Since the series inception in 1982, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has had six different winners in the first six races 12-times; including 2018.
This season’s winners include Tyler Reddick (Daytona), Kevin Harvick (Atlanta), Kyle Larson (Las Vegas), Brad Keselowski (Phoenix), Joey Logano (California) and Ryan Blaney (Texas). Reddick is the only driver with a win this season entered this weekend at Bristol.
The record for the highest number of different winners to start a NASCAR Xfinity Series season is 13 different winners back in 1988; followed by 1987 with 10 different winners, 1998 and 2006 with eight, and then 1989 and 2004 with seven.
The 1988 and 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series seasons are tied for the series-most different winners for the entire season with 18 each.
Dash 4 Cash
Bristol serves as the first Dash 4 Cash race of the season. With that being said, that means Cup regulars can’t race. It allows the series to showcase their stars. Christopher Bell, Daniel Hemric, Cole Custer and Ryan Preece will give it a go with weekend to cross the finish line first among the four and get the bonus at the end of the day too.
The highest finisher between Bell, Hemric, Custer and Preece will win the $100,000 prize, and that winner and the three highest finishing full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers, for a total of four contenders, will qualify for the next week’s event.
In addition to the $100,000 awarded to each Dash 4 Cash winner, Comcast will also donate a total of $40,000 to local organizations within race markets on behalf of the Internet Essentials program.
Comcast’s Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest program for getting low-income households online, having connected 4 million low-income Americans since 2011.
The Dash 4 Cash races are being held at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 14), Richmond Raceway (April 21), Talladega Superspeedway (April 28) and Dover International Speedway (May 5). This is the first year Talladega has participated in the Dash 4 Cash program.
Of the four drivers qualified for the Bristol Dash 4 Cash bonus, Hemric is the only one who is a previous Dash 4 Cash winner, taking home the big check from Bristol last season with a fifth-place finish. He also has the best average finish amongst the four drivers at Bristol with a 6.0; followed by Brandon Jones’ 14.6 and Ryan Preece’s 17.0. Bell has yet to compete at Bristol in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and will be making his series track debut this weekend.
A few XFINITY Series regulars head to Bristol with some hot streaks. Justin Allgaier has four top six finishes over his last five starts on the season, two of which were runner-ups. Christopher Bell has four top four finishes in his last five starts. Two of those were runner-ups too. Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer have both improved their finishes each of the last four races. Hemric, went from sixth, to sixth again, to fifth to third. Custer, he went from ninth, to eighth, to sixth, to fourth himself. Matt Tifft has three straight top 10 finishes too.