Five things to watch in Saturday's Xfinity race at Fontana
The NASCAR Xfinity Series this weekend makes its only stop of the 2018 this season at Auto Club Speedway.
Here are five things to watch in Saturday’s Roseanne 300 (5 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1):
JR Motorsports has had a lock on the top spot in the series standings since the season began and it will be difficult to pry Tyler Reddick, Elliott Sadler or Justin Allgaier from that position anytime soon. The organization ended the 2017 season holding the top-three positions in points and winning the championship with William Byron. Entering the fifth race of the season, JRM drivers are 1-2-3 (Sadler, Reddick and Allgaier). Sadler is no stranger to Auto Club Speedway, having made 13 series starts, including four top-five and nine top-10 finishes.
Rookie Christopher Bell has never competed at Auto Club Speedway but appears to have acclimated himself quickly, leading the way in Friday’s first practice session. “Just trying to learn as much as I can. This place is unique,” he said. “There’s not another race track out there that’s similar to this. Michigan is another two-mile track, but the pavement doesn’t really relate at all.”
Ryan Preece, who finished in in the top-five in all four of his races with Joe Gibbs Racing including a victory last season, makes his first appearance of the year in Saturday’ race in JGR’s No. 18 Toyota. Preece, who has spent much of his career running in NASCAR modifieds, will be running at least 10 races in the No. 18 this season. He has one previous series start at Auto Club, finishing 25th in 2016.
This may be a series regular’s best opportunity to end an ominous streak at Auto Club Speedway. The last time a series regular won the Xfinity event at the track was in 2002. There are only two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered in the race – Austin Dillon and Joey Logano – but both are former winners of the race and part of the streak.
John Hunter Nemechek makes his second start of the season this weekend in the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing. In his series debut at Atlanta, he started third and finished fourth. Nemechek is one of just 22 drivers in history to earn a top-five finish in their series debut.
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