Tag Archives: Xfinity Series

Chicagoland Speedway NASCAR XFINITY Practice Notes

The NASCAR XFINITY Series held two practice sessions for Saturday nights Owens Corning AttiCat® 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Here is some of the highlights of what happened.

Friday’s on track activities was not open to Fans unless they happened to be staying in the infield or campground on the back stretch.

The first practice was 1 hour and 25 minutes. Austin Dillon (#33) and his brother Ty Dillon (#3) were the first to go out followed by the current point’s leader Chris Buescher (#60). They each made 3 laps setting the pace for the first 30 minutes of practice at #33 176.702 MPH, #60 176.114 MPH 60 and #3 176.056MPH.

#22 Ryan Blaney made a lap 30 min into practice and went right to the top 176.876MPH.

With 29 min. left in practice Ross Kenseth in his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start got loose coming off of turn four to bring out the one and only Caution of the practice. Until that point his fastest lap was 173.589 MPH 13th on the chart. Four new tires and he was back out with 12 minutes left in practice.

Ty Dillon made a mock qualifying run with 10 min to go in practice improving his time to 177.392 to lead first practice. The end of the first practice session is about the same time of the day that qualifying will be tomorrow.

The top ten of first practice is 3, 22, 33, 60, 2, 28, 54, 18, 62, and 6.

The second session of practice is actually the last practice session of the whole weekend. There will only be qualifying on Saturday before the race. As such most every car on the track ran in race trim multiple laps, some racing one another. It showed on the speed chart.

All of the drivers in the top swapped positions multiple times. Austin Dillon went to the top on his first lap of 34 with a speed of 177.340.

The rest of the top ten were #28 JJ Yeley, #22 Ryan Blaney, #54 Drew Herring subbing for Erik Jones, #3 Ty Dillon, #60 Chis Buescher, #25 Dylan Lupton subbing for John Wes Townley, #62 Brendan Gaughan, #9 Chase Elliott and last year’s pole winner #2 Brian Scott.

Although the top ten cars in the second session is significantly different than the first they all were on very different agendas and tires. The weather will also be significantly different when they qualify on Saturday. Over all the fast cars appear to be the Richard Childress Racing cars of Austin and Ty Dillon and Brian Scott. Ryan Blaney in the Hertz Ford for Penske Racing was also fast throughout both sessions.

Qualifying will be Saturday at 5:00 PM ET.

If you cannot get to the Chicagoland Speedway for the Owens Corning AttiCat® 300 it will be broadcast live on Saturday June 20th at 9:30 PM ET on Fox Sports 1.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: Brian Berg Jr.

Ross Kenseth Jumps Right Into the NASCAR XFINITY Series

The NASCAR XFINITY Series has the spot light at Chicagoland Speedway. Ross Kenseth is also making his first start in any of NASCAR’s national series. Ross Kenseth is the son of Former Sprint Cup Champion Matt Kenseth which in itself puts on the pressure but this being his first start also focuses the spot light on him. Having his dad here also is a big help.

We talked quite a bit about different lines here and kind of what you’re going to feel through a tire run here and through practice versus the race in the cars.” Ross Kenseth added, “Kind of where and where not to be. It’s been really helpful and defining where the edge is at and to not go too far – what to do and not to do.

He started his first practice ever in an XFINITY car making laps and learning about the handling of the car. With the help of his father along the way he was running pretty decent with a high lap of 31.108 or 173.589 MPH on his third lap of the session putting him 13th on the speed chart.

With 29 min. left in practice Ross Kenseth got loose coming off of turn four. He was sideways several times, kept it off the wall until he finally spun out onto the apron in front of the grand stands. It was one incredible save to keep that car off the wall. Considering it was his first time in this car makes it even more impressive.

Kenseth said, “We worked on it quite a bit. We were pretty free there for most of the session on throttle. Spent a lot of time working on that and got in the gas pretty hard off of (turn) four and started stepping out and got to the point I thought I had it and it got really loose and then from there it was hanging on, not trying to hit the wall or get into the grass and knock the front off it.

When Kenseth got back to the garage he went up on top of the hauler to confer with this father. When asked what his father said Ross Kenseth said “He asked if I got it out of my system or not.”

The number 20 Dollar General Toyota team put four new tires on and he was back out with 12 minutes left in practice. He wasn’t able to improve on his time even with those fresh tires but he was able to shake it off and make sure he was ready for the second and final practice session.

During the break between practice sessions he was asked if having his father at the track helped him.

Kenseth said, “It’s real helpful. He’s been real fast at a lot of these tracks and I think he’s one of the better ones at these mile-and-a-half tracks and that kind of racing. Having him there for questions and advice, that’s obviously a huge help and I feel like it’s going to get us up to speed in this session. Hopefully it goes as smooth as last weekend did.

In the second qualifying session Ross Kenseth took advantage of the extra practice and ran the second most laps of 47. Only fellow rookie Brennan Poole ran more, 52 laps. He finished the session with a top speed of 173.166 that he posted on his 28th lap to put him 14th on the speed chart.

All in all, Ross Kenseth had a pretty solid day of practice at the track. It will be interesting if he can continue that and qualify well for the race on Saturday.

If you cannot get to the Chicagoland Speedway for the Owens Corning AttiCat® 300 it will be broadcast live on Saturday June 20th at 9:30 PM ET on Fox Sports 1.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 309982 Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images

The NASCAR XFINITY Series Stars Get to Shine at Chicagoland Speedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is off for this Father’s day weekend but that doesn’t mean there is no NASCAR racing. The XFINITY Series is racing has the spotlight on Saturday night at Chicagoland Speedway.

There is only one Sprint Cup Series regular interloping in this race and that is 2013 XFINITY Series Champion Austin Dillon driving the No. 33 Rheem Chevy for Richard Childress Racing. With nine out of 13 races in the Series won by Sprint Cup Drivers this year, including two by Austin Dillon, will he spoil the XFINITY Series Regulars Saturday night party?

Will Austin Dillon spoil his Brother Ty Dillon’s quest for his XFINITY Series Championship? Ty Dillon is currently second in the points, 25 points behind the leader. They also happen to be teammates.

Brian Scott, last year’s pole winner, has shown lots of speed all season. Will he be able to hold off his teammates Austin and Ty Dillon and finally seal the deal to get his first XFINITY Series win?

Last year’s winner and XFINITY Series Champion, Chase Elliott is also back driving the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports. He is currently third in the standings, ten points behind leader Chris Buescher, can he repeat?

Speaking of Chris Buescher, the XFINITY Series point’s leader driving the famed No. 60 for Roush Fenway Racing has won two races this season. The only other XFINITY Series drivers to win are Ryan Reed and Erik Jones. Can any of these drivers repeat with a win here at Chicagoland?

Part time Sprint Cup and XFINITY driver Ryan Blaney will be back in the No. 22 Penske Racing car that is currently leading the Owner’s points in the XFINITY Series. They lead the No. 60 by 26 points and are looking to keep that lead. Joey Logano has won three of the 13 races in this car. Blaney came close finishing second at Las Vegas, can he add to that total with a win at this 1.5 mile speedway?

Ross Kenseth, last weekend’s ARCA series winner at Michigan will make his first XFINITY Series start driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing car. He is not entered in the accompanying ARCA race here. How will his first stint go in one of the best XFINITY team cars in the series?

There is a whole lot to watch on Saturday Night and there is a whole lot of other good drivers not mentioned who can equally race for the win. That is why this Saturday the XFINITY Series has the spotlight and is a must watch.

If you cannot get to the Chicagoland Speedway for the Owens Corning AttiCat® 300 it will be broadcast live on Saturday June 20th at 9:30 PM ET on Fox Sports 1.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 300031 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rk. Car Number Driver Average Finish High Rating Average Driver Rating
1 9 Chase Elliott 5.5 145.2 126.9
2 3 Austin Dillon 4 127.1 119.4
3 22 Ryan Blaney 6.5 118.7 113.5
4 3 Ty Dillon 6 110.9 104.6
5 20 Erik Jones 7 99.5 99.5
6 2 Brian Scott 9.3 117.4 98.3
7 11 Elliott Sadler 14.3 138.1 94.7
8 60 Chris Buescher 10 95 94.2
9 33 Cale Conley 12 87.5 87.5
10 62 Brendan Gaughan 16.2 86.9 80.3
11 29 Daniel Suarez 15 78.9 78.9

Note: Drivers listed may only have a few starts at this track!

Paul Menard is Sneaking Up on Two Mile Speedways

Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 Moen/Menards Chevrolet SS for Richard Childress Racing has been doing quite well on the two mile speedways of Michigan International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California. The big question is will he be able to improve on that and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway this Sunday, June 14th 2015.

The statistics for Paul Menard at Michigan are not that great. He is 22nd in driver ratings of 71.9 in the past ten years. His average finish of 18.4 is only worthy of a yawn as is his average running position of 19.2.

What is eye catching is the fact he has finished 4th in each of the last three Sprint Cup races at Michigan. He also finished in the top ten the last three years at Auto Club including 4th this year.

Will Menard be able to continue his run on two mile speedways and improve?

Menard said, “Hard to say, there will probably be a little advantage when drafting, similar to the XFINITY Series cars, with the increased throttle time. Because of the horsepower loss, it’ll be hard to complete a pass. We’ll find out what’s in store for us this weekend.

The NASCAR XFINITY Series is also racing a Michigan this weekend. Paul Menard will be driving the No. 33 Richmond/Menards car for Richard Childress Racing. He is defending champion of that race. This will give him the extra track time he needs.

Menard is currently 11th in the standings and in a position to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. A win here at Michigan International Speedway would guarantee that spot.

If you cannot get to Michigan International Speedway for the Quicken Loans 400 it will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 starting at 1:00 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 305028 Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images


Strategy is What Makes NASCAR, Well NASCAR

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Buckle Up 200 presented by Click It or Ticket at Dover International Speedway highlighted how pit strategy impacts racing especially NASCAR racing. Whether you like it or not sometimes the fastest car doesn’t win in racing. It happens in all racing but in some series because of the race format or length strategy doesn’t have an impact. In the top three series of NASCAR strategy always has some sort of impact. Chris Buescher won by some great race strategy.

In order to explain how strategy impacted the results of the race we need to go back into the race. In this case deep into the race because strategy presents itself like Chris Buescher or forces itself on you like Matt Kenseth.

On lap 31 of the 200 lap race Matt Kenseth came down pit road to have a loose wheel corrected. He gets four tires and fuel. This takes him off of the strategy of the entire rest of the field even though he has a very fast race car. His day is seemingly done. A different strategy has been forced upon him and his team.

The thing about strategy is when you are on a different strategy then everyone else you need some help to make yours better than theirs. In this case there was a caution within ten laps such that Kenseth could stay out, get the wave around to get back on the lead lap. During this caution for debris the leaders all pitted for tires and fuel. To visualize it Kenseth restarts the second to last car on the lead lap the only car without fresh tires and about 25 laps less on fuel.

Strategy keeps following Kenseth. There is another caution four laps after the last on lap 65. Matt Kenseth and his team since they are at the back of the field anyway pit for tires and fuel. Since all the other teams only had about six laps on their tires and fuel they stayed out. Matt is now closer in strategy and not out of the race.

The race restarts and goes 25 laps before another caution for a wreck. Kenseth stays out to lead the race. The tires at Dover are pretty good so he leads the race until he pits with 46 to go for his last four tires and fuel. He can make it to the end and if the race stays green he owns it.

It does stay green, Kenseth’s team looks brilliant. Except ….. Under the same last caution that Matt Kenseth gained his lead and his advantage over strategy Chris Buescher pits for four tires and fuel. Ironically he and his teammate are getting great fuel millage and end up racing one another for the lead after all the other leaders but Kenseth pit under green flag conditions. Buescher and Wallace get together and Wallace has to pit for damage. Because of this Buescher has been presented strategy to win the race on fuel. He has a 25 second lead on Kenseth on which to save fuel over eight laps.

We got fortunate. We had a loose wheel and got a lap down and did the wave around and was able to lead a lap. We were one set short of tires, so we had to stay out that one round, but we were able to lead that whole stint.” Kenseth added, “It went green at the end and I thought we were going to win the race, I didn’t think anyone was going to be able to run that long on fuel. They (Chris Buescher) did so it was a good day for us.

There it is two distinct different strategies racing to win a race. Which one would prevail? One would never have thought a car could go almost 100 laps on fuel but strategy presented itself and both teams accepted the challenge. It made it exciting for the fan that was paying attention not so for the fan that was not but that is what NASCAR racing is all about. That is what makes NASCAR racing interesting and also what makes it hard to understand. If there was a caution flag at any time in the last 50 laps you wouldn’t be reading this. Erik Jones would have won. That is NASCAR racing!

We will do it all again for the Sprint Cup Series on Sunday May 31st. If you cannot get to Dover International Speedway the race will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 starting at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 309345 Todd Warshaw/Getty Images