Due to a recent NASCAR rule, for any driver who’s competing for points in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in any given year, they’re not eligible to compete in the final eight NASCAR XFINITY Series races. That means from this weekend’s DC Solar 300 (5 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on, we won’t see the likes of Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin and others.
Despite that, the rides that they normally vacate will still be running. Those rides are going after the owners championship. So, the No. 22 Ford with Team Penske, the No. 18 Toyota with Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing will still be on the entry list for the eight remaining races on the schedule. The only kicker is we won’t see a Cup driver in them.
So, that leads to a very good opportunity for some up and coming drivers to shine. Take this weekend for example, those three rides have been very strong on 1.5-mile tracks in 2018. Out of the six races on 1.5-mile tracks, those rides have won four of them. Another race (Atlanta) was won by Kevin Harvick in his Stewart-Haas Racing/Biagi Racing entry. That car isn’t running this weekend.
So, Austin Cindric (Penske), Ryan Preece (JGR) and Ross Chastain (Ganassi) have great opportunities at hand on Saturday.
The No. 22 Ford with Penske has finishes of second, fourth, first, first, eighth and ninth respectively on 1.5-mile tracks this year. Cindric, has had some bad luck lately with three straight finishes of 34th or worse. He’s fallen to the bubble. But, with the ride that he’s in, he’s more than capable of winning Saturday’s race.
What about Chastain? He passed Cindric in the standings and is running with Ganassi. It’s the same car that he led the most laps in at Darlington and arguably should have won. It’s also the same car that Kyle Larson won with at Vegas back in March too. This No. 42 Chevrolet has five top seven finishes and two wins in six starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season.
Then there’s Preece. The No. 18 Toyota has five top eight finishes in six starts on 1.5-mile tracks this year. Preece, has five top 10’s in seven tries in 2018 including a win at Bristol.
The time is now for these guys to shine and I have no doubt that they will.