NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Coke Zero Sugar 400
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 26
The Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Purse: $8,778,583
TV: NBC, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 400 miles (160 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 95), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Friday, August 25
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,640,749
TV: USA, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 250 miles (100 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 100)
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
Next Race: Clean Harbors 175
The Place: Milwaukee Mile Speedway
The Date: Sunday, August 27
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
The Purse: $644,030
TV: FS1, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 177.625 miles (175 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 55), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 175)
NASCAR Cup Series
High stakes for NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona
It all comes down to this weekend‘s NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, this Saturday night under the lights, August 26 at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. If history is any indicator of what to expect this weekend, everybody has a chance at the win.
Grasping onto the 16th and final available 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff spot currently on points is 23XI Racing‘s Bubba Wallace, who is hoping to make the postseason for the first time in his career. What bodes well for Wallace is there are only two drivers mathematically eligible to catch him this weekend. Joe Gibbs Racing‘s rookie Ty Gibbs is ranked 17th in the Playoff standings outlook, 32 points behind Wallace, and in 18th is Trackhouse Racing‘s Daniel Suarez 43 points back from the cutline. But what doesn‘t fall in Wallace‘s favor is the 14 other drivers that are eligible for the postseason that are facing a ‘Win or Go Home‘ situation this weekend and will be vying for that final postseason spot making Saturday night‘s showdown that much more intense.
Since the inception of the Playoffs in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2004, Richmond Raceway hosted the regular season finale from 2004 to 2017 (14 years), and then from 2018-2019 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval) hosted the final regular season event. This weekend marks the fourth time the 2.5-mile, high-banked Daytona International Speedway has hosted the NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale (2020-2023).
The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is currently operating in its third iteration of the postseason‘s points system since its inception in 2004. The first Playoff points system (from 2004 to 2009) had the top 10 to 12 drivers earn their position in the Playoffs by points only. The second version of the Playoff points system (2010 to 2013) incorporated the top 10 drivers to get in on wins/points with the addition of two extra drivers referred to as the Wild Cards. The third version of the Playoff points system (2014 to Present) features drivers vying for the top 16 Playoff spots either by points or the ‘Win and You‘re In‘ rule. The third version of the Playoffs also instituted the elimination-style format with four drivers being eliminated from the Playoffs at the conclusion of each postseason round culminating with the Championship 4 battling it out for the title in the season finale.
Playoff Points System 1 (2004-2006 – Top 10 in on Points; 2007-2009 – Top 12 in on Points)
Four drivers have come from outside the postseason cutoff to make the Playoffs at Richmond in the first iteration of the Playoff championship format:
Jeremy Mayfield in 2004 made up a 55-point deficitRyan Newman in 2005 made up a one-point deficitKasey Kahne in 2006 made up a 30-point deficitBrian Vickers in 2009 made up a 20-point deficit
Playoff Points System 2 (2010-2013 – Top 10 in on Wins/Points and Two Wildcards)
Seven drivers have come from outside the postseason cutoff to make the Playoffs at Richmond in the second iteration of the Playoff championship format that incorporates the Wild Card:
Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer are the two drivers that clinched the Wild Card in 2010 to make the Playoffs. Biffle was 11th in points with one win; Bowyer was 12th in points with no wins heading into the regular season finale.Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are the two drivers that clinched the Wild Card in 2011 to make the Playoffs. Keselowski was 11th in points with three wins; Hamlin was 12th in points with one win heading into the regular season finale.Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon are the two drivers that clinched the Wild Card in 2012 to make the Playoffs. Kahne was 11th in points with two wins; Gordon was 13th in points with one win heading into the regular season finale.Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne are the two drivers that clinched the Wild Card in 2013 to make the Playoffs. Kahne was 12th in points with two wins; Newman was 14th in points with one win heading into regular season finale.Due to a rare instance in the final race of the regular season that resulted in penalties being issued in 2013; a 13th car (Jeff Gordon‘s No. 24) was added to the Playoffs. It was the second time in the Playoff Era the number of entries was expanded.
Playoff Points System 3 (2014 — Present – Top 16 in on Wins or Points/Elimination Style)
In the third iteration of the Playoff championship format from 2014-Present — Two drivers (William Byron in 2020 and Austin Dillon in 2022) have earned a spot in the postseason by winning their way into the Playoffs in the regular season finale.
From 2014 to 2018, the drivers that won or were inside the top 16 in the standings that were expected to make the Playoffs did – no drivers raced their way into the Playoffs in the regular season finale on points or wins.In 2019, heading into the regular season finale at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Ryan Newman was tied with Daniel Suarez for the 16th and final transfer position into the Playoffs. Newman finished eighth in the regular season finale to Suarez‘s 11th-place finish, earning the final transfer spot on points into the postseason.In 2020, six drivers inside the Playoff cutoff (top 16) had not clinched a spot in the postseason heading into Daytona, but all six ultimately clinched their spots, led by William Byron, who became the first driver to win his way into the Playoffs by taking the victory in the regular season finale. No drivers outside the top 16 advanced into Playoffs in the regular season finale.Heading into the final race of the regular season at Daytona International Speedway, the 2021 season had produced 13 different winners with two additional drivers clinching their spots on points leaving just one spot still available to make the Playoffs, and it was Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick battling it out for the final postseason position. Ultimately, Ryan Blaney won the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway, but he had already clinched his spot in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs earlier in the season. Because of the repeat winner, the 16th and final Playoff spot was earned by points, and it was Tyler Reddick‘s fifth-place finish to Austin Dillon‘s 17th at Daytona that earned him enough points to advance for the first time in his career to the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.Heading into the final race of the regular season at Daytona International Speedway, the 2022 season had produced 15 different winners clinching their spots leaving just one position still available to make the Playoffs, and it was Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney in 16th and Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Martin Truex Jr. in 17th battling it out for the final postseason position. The two drivers were separated by 25 points heading into the race. It was also announced Kurt Busch would forgo his Playoff eligibility releasing his position as he was still recovering from injury. Ultimately, Truex would finish eighth and Blaney would finish 15th, the Team Penske driver earned enough points to hold onto one of the two open Playoff spots on points. But it was Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Dillon, who came into the Daytona weekend ranked 20th in the Playoff outlook standings (-255 points behind the postseason cutline), that won the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway, clinching the final spot in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs on wins — the second driver to win his way into the Playoffs in the regular season finale; joining William Byron (2020). Hendrick Motorsport‘s driver Chase Elliott clinched the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship.
Daytona Clinch Scenarios: One spot, one last chance
This weekend‘s NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway is the last opportunity for the drivers who have not clinched a spot in the Playoffs to earn their position in the postseason. A total of 15 drivers have already clinched their Playoff spot, leaving just one position open for drivers to battle it out for in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The following 15 drivers have clinched a spot in the 16-driver postseason field: Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher, Ross Chastain, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Joey Logano, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Michael McDowell.
Can Clinch Via Points
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the fourth winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Brad Keselowski or Kevin Harvick.
Bubba Wallace: Would clinch with 24 pointsTy Gibbs: Could only clinch with helpDaniel Suarez: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone:
Bubba Wallace (Avg. finish at Daytona is 13.0)
Ty Gibbs (19.0)
Daniel Suarez (26.7)
AJ Allmendinger (19.7)
Alex Bowman (16.7)
Chase Elliott (22.0)
Austin Cindric (10.5)
Justin Haley (17.1)
Ryan Preece (21.7)
Aric Almirola (20.2)
Todd Gilliland (27.6)
Corey LaJoie (18.7)
Erik Jones (22.8)
Austin Dillon (15.6)
Harrison Burton (28.0)
Chase Briscoe (21.8)
Ty Dillon (21.1)
Five of the 14 drivers that can earn a spot in the Playoffs with a win this weekend are former NASCAR Cup Series Daytona International Speedway winners — Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Aric Almirola, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon.
23XI Racing‘s Bubba Wallace has 32-point advantage on Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Ty Gibbs heading into this weekend‘s regular season finale. Both Wallace and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Gibbs, are looking to make the Playoffs for the first-time in their careers. Just behind Gibbs in the standings is Trackhouse Racing‘s Daniel Suarez, who is 43 points behind Wallace and is looking for his second appearance in the postseason (2022). Among the three drivers Wallace has posted the best finish at Daytona, collecting three runner-up finishes in his career. Suarez has posted a best finish of seventh at Daytona earlier this season (Feb. 2023) and Gibbs‘ best finish is 13th, which he posted in this race last season.
Another driver worth keeping an eye on this weekend is Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Dillon, the defending winner of the 2022 regular season finale at Daytona. Dillon is currently buried in the standings (29th) needing a win to get into the Playoffs. If Dillon were to pull-off the big win to make the postseason this weekend, it would be the sixth time in his career (2022, ’20, ’18, ’17, ’16) he has appeared in the Playoffs. He would also become the sixth driver in series history to win consecutive summer races at Daytona International Speedway; joining Fireball Roberts (1962-1963), A.J. Foyt (1964-1965), Cale Yarborough (1967-1968) David Pearson (1972 – 1974) and Tony Stewart (2005-2006).
Can Clinch Regular Season Championship
Additionally, the Regular Season Championship could be clinched by the following drivers:
Martin Truex Jr.: Would clinch with 22 pointsDenny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin vie for Regular Season Championship
It all comes down to unpredictable Daytona International Speedway to decide who will win this season‘s NASCAR Cup Series Regular Season Championship. One thing is for certain, a Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be taking home the prestigious honor, trophy and 15 Playoff bonus points. The question is, ‘Which one?‘
Currently, Martin Truex Jr. holds the NASCAR Cup Series‘ point standings lead by 39 points over his teammate Denny Hamlin in second. Truex can clinch the Regular Season Championship, no matter what Hamlin does, if he scores 22 points this Saturday.
Seems not too difficult, and normally that might be the case, but this time Truex is facing some daunting obstacles. The first being the unpredictability of ‘superspeedway racing,‘ and Truex has not won a superspeedway event in the NASCAR Cup Series in his career. At Daytona, Truex has made 36 starts posting three top fives and six top 10s. He has finished runner-up at the 2.5-mile track twice, the most recent coming in the 2018 DAYTONA 500, where finished runner-up to Denny Hamlin.
The second biggest obstacle to overcome this weekend is his teammate Denny Hamlin, who just so happens to be one of the best active drivers on superspeedways. He leads all drivers entered this weekend in wins at Daytona International Speedway with three victories (2016, 2019, 2020). In total, Hamlin has made 35 starts at Daytona putting up three wins, 11 top fives, and 12 top 10s.
If Truex (2017) wins the 2023 Regular Season Championship this weekend, he will join Kyle Busch (2018, 2019) as the only two drivers to win it multiple times. If Hamlin takes the Regular Season Championship, he will become the sixth different driver in series history to win the prestigious honor; joining Kyle Busch (2018, 2019), Chase Elliott (2022), Kyle Larson (2021), Kevin Harvick (2020) and Martin Truex JR. (2017).
Daytona International Speedway: The perfect stage for the regular season finale
All eyes will be on the ‘World Center of Racing‘ this weekend — Daytona International Speedway — as the iconic hallowed grounds will play host to the NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale, the Coke Zero Sugar 400, this Saturday (Aug. 26) at 7 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
Daytona International Speedway, the 2.5-mile paved superspeedway oval located in Daytona Beach, Florida, has hosted 152 NASCAR Cup Series races since the inaugural event in 1959 – 65 have been 500 miles, 60 were 400 miles and four were 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races. But this weekend marks just the fourth time the summer race will be the NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale (2020-2023).
The 152 NASCAR Cup Series races at the historic Daytona International Speedway have produced 63 different pole winners and 69 different race winners. NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Daytona with 12 (Feb. 1968, July 1969, 1970 sweep, 1978 sweep, July 1980, July 1981, July 1983, 1984 sweep, July 1986). Eight of Yarborough‘s 12 Daytona poles are from the summer race, which is also the series-most for that event as well.
Nine of the 63 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona pole winners are active this weekend, but only three have won poles for the summer race at Daytona: Chase Elliott (2018), Kyle Busch (2013) and Kevin Harvick (2002).
RankActive Pole WinnersPolesSeasons1Chase Elliott32018 (July), 2017 (Feb.), 2016 (Feb.)2Alex Bowman32023 (Feb.), 2021 (Feb.), 2018 (Feb.)3Kyle Larson12022 (Feb.)4Ricky Stenhouse Jr12020 (Feb.)5William Byron12019 (Feb.)6Austin Dillon12014 (Feb.)7Kyle Busch12013 (July)8Martin Truex Jr12009 (Feb.)9Kevin Harvick12002 (July)
NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Daytona with 10 victories (Feb. 1964, Feb. 1966, Feb. 1971, Feb. 1973, Feb. 1974, July 1975, July 1977, Feb. 1979, Feb. 1981, July 1984). Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Denny Hamlin leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Daytona wins with three (Feb. 2016, Feb. 2019, Feb. 2020), yet none are from this weekend‘s summer race.
Of the 69 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona winners, 41 of them have won the summer race (59.4%). NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in summer race victories at Daytona with five wins (1961, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978).
A total of 14 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona winners are active this weekend and 10 of those 14 have won the summer event at Daytona. Five of the 14 need a win this weekend to secure their spot in the Playoffs (drivers needing a win to make Playoffs are bolded in chart below).
RankActive Daytona Race WinnersWinsSeasons1Denny Hamlin32020 (Feb.), 2019 (Feb.), 2016 (Feb.)2Ricky Stenhouse Jr22023 (Feb.), 2017 (July)3Austin Dillon22022 (Aug.), 2018 (Feb.)4Kevin Harvick22010 (July), 2007 (Feb.)5Austin Cindric12022 (Feb.)6Ryan Blaney12021 (Aug.)7Michael McDowell12021 (Feb.)8William Byron12020 (Aug.)9Justin Haley12019 (July)10Erik Jones12018 (July)11Brad Keselowski12016 (July)12Joey Logano12015 (Feb.)13Aric Almirola12014 (July)14Kyle Busch12008 (July)
The youngest Daytona summer race winner is Justin Haley (07/07/2019 — 20 years, 2 months, 9 days); all-time track record – Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 — 20 years, 0 months, 1 day). The oldest Daytona summer race winner is Bobby Allison (07/04/1987 — 49 years, 7 months, 1 day); all-time track record is also held by Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 — 50 years, 5 months, 23 days).
A total of 22 different starting positions have produced winners in the NASCAR Cup Series summer races at Daytona. The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (nine) than any other starting position in the summer races at Daytona International Speedway. The most recent driver to win from the pole or first starting position at Daytona in the NASCAR Cup Series was NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2015 July race. The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Daytona is 42nd, by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart in the 2012 July race. Austin Dillon won last season‘s August Daytona race from the 21st starting position, the seventh summer Daytona race (out of 60) won from a starting position outside the top-20 (10.94%).
This weekend‘s NASCAR Cup Series on-track activity at Daytona International Speedway will begin with Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Friday, August 26 at 5 p.m. ET on the USA Network.
First-time winners aplenty at the World Center of Racing
One thing Daytona International Speedway is known for is unpredictable finishes that on occasion produce first-time winners in the NASCAR Cup Series. In fact, four of the last eight NASCAR Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway have fashioned just that — first-time winners.
A total of 23 different drivers have posted their first NASCAR Cup Series win at Daytona International Speedway, 11 of the 23 drivers posted their first win in the summer races. The most recent first-time winner at Daytona was in the 2022 DAYTONA 500 when Team Penske‘s Austin Cindric became the first rookie to win the prestigious season opener. The most recent first-time winner in the summer races at Daytona was the August race of 2020 with race winner William Byron earning his spot in the Playoffs.
First-Time Cup Race Winners (23) at Daytona Start Pos.DateDriver’s AgeAustin Cindric5Sunday, February 20, 202223Michael McDowell17Sunday, February 14, 202136William Byron6Saturday, August 29, 202022Justin Haley34Sunday, July 7, 201920Erik Jones29Saturday, July 7, 201822Aric Almirola15Sunday, July 6, 201430David Ragan5Saturday, July 2, 201125Trevor Bayne32Sunday, February 20, 201120Greg Biffle30Saturday, July 5, 200333Michael Waltrip19Sunday, February 18, 200137John Andretti3Saturday, July 5, 199734Jimmy Spencer3Saturday, July 2, 199437Sterling Marlin4Sunday, February 20, 199436Derrike Cope12Sunday, February 18, 199031Greg Sacks9Thursday, July 4, 198532Pete Hamilton9Sunday, February 22, 197027Mario Andretti12Sunday, February 26, 196726Sam McQuagg4Monday, July 4, 196628Earl Balmer6Friday, February 25, 196630A.J. Foyt19Saturday, July 4, 196429Bobby Isaac4Friday, February 21, 196431Tiny Lund12Sunday, February 24, 196333Johnny Rutherford9Friday, February 22, 196324
Of 23 different drivers that have posted their first NASCAR Cup Series career win at Daytona International Speedway, Justin Haley started the deepest in the field at Daytona to win his first race with a 34th-place starting position in 2019.
Daytona Dominators: The best of the best at the World Center of Racing
Winning at one of NASCAR‘s most prestigious tracks, Daytona International Speedway, is a major accomplishment. So, it is not particularly surprising that the top 10 series winningest drivers at Daytona are all in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Top 10 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona International Speedway Winners
RankDaytona WinnersTotalDaytona 500 WinsSummer Race Wins1Richard Petty10732Cale Yarborough9543David Pearson8354Fireball Roberts7435Bobby Allison633Jeff Gordon6337Bill Elliott422Dale Earnhardt Jr422Dale Jarrett431Junior Johnson440Tony Stewart404
This weekend the NASCAR Cup Series field will have 14 former Daytona International Speedway winners entered, led by Denny Hamlin with three wins. The most recent winner at Daytona that is entered this weekend is JTG Daugherty Racing‘s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who won the DAYTONA 500 earlier this season.
Stenhouse Jr. heads into this weekend looking to become the sixth different driver in NASCAR Cup Series history to sweep both Daytona races (Daytona 500 & Summer Race) in a single season; joining Fireball Roberts — 1962 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 250); Cale Yarborough — 1968 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400); LeeRoy Yarborough — 1969 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400); Bobbie Allison — 1982 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400); Jimmie Johnson — 2013 (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola)
Since the ‘Win and You‘re In‘ format was initiated in the Playoffs in 2016, Erik Jones‘ 2018 summer race win, William Byron‘s summer win in 2020, and Austin Dillon‘s summer race win last season (2022) are the only three summer race victories at Daytona to clinch a driver into the postseason — the other three winners were either not eligible for the Playoffs due to not competing for a championship in the series (Haley in 2019) or the drivers had already previously won in the same season (Brad Keselowski in 2016, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2017 and Ryan Blaney in 2020).
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Netflix has new sports series tracking NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Netflix is gearing up for a new sports documentary series that tracks the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and championship race this fall. Filming has begun as drivers fight to secure their spot in the NASCAR Playoffs, which begins Sept. 3 at Darlington Raceway. The series will feature exclusive access to drivers and teams, bringing fans behind the scenes at and away from the track while exploring the physical and mental challenges of competing for a championship at the world‘s highest level of stock car racing. The Netflix sports series is set to premiere early 2024.
Format: 5×45 minute episodes
Production Company: Words + Pictures (Super League: The War for Football, and Countdown: Inspiration 4 Mission to Space) and NASCAR Studios
Executive Producers: Connor Schell and Libby Geist (both behind The Last Dance 30 for 30, OJ: Made in America) and Aaron Cohen of Words + Pictures; Ben Kennedy, Tim Clark, Matt Summers, Tally Hair of NASCAR Studios; Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR Hall of Famer)
Showrunners: Jackie Decker and Tim Mullen
This series joins Netflix’s lineup of sports programming, including recent releases like Formula 1: Drive To Survive, Full Swing, Break Point, Untold, Quarterback and upcoming series following athletes in track and field, U.S. women‘s soccer and rugby.
Spoiler Alert: Drivers going for the Daytona win with no regard for a title — While majority of the competitors this weekend will be vying for NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and running for points and wins in the NASCAR Cup Series championship, but six drivers are entered in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 that are not running for the title in the series and are looking to play the spoiler by grabbing the win this weekend — Chandler Smith (No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet), Brennan Poole (No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford), Austin Hill (No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet), Josh Berry (No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet), Riley Herbst (No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford) and J.J. Yeley (No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Ford).
Of the six drivers, Riley Herbst has the best average finish at Daytona in the NASCAR Cup Series with a 10.0, followed by Poole (15.5), and Yeley (26.8). Smith, Hill and Berry will all be making their NASCAR Cup Series career track debuts this weekend.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Friday Night Lights: Daytona International Speedway is up next
Only three races remain in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season and things are sure to heat up as drivers get ready to race under the lights this Friday, August 25 at Daytona International Speedway for the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at 7:30 p.m. ET on the USA Network, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The 2.5-mile superspeedway has hosted 63 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, producing 36 different race winners and 43 different pole winners. Only six races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently by Austin Hill earlier this year at the season opener.
NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart are tied for most wins at the track with seven each. Only three of the 36 race winners will be active in the field this weekend — Justin Haley (2020, 2021), Austin Hill (2022, 2023) and Jeremy Clements (2022).
A couple others have also gone down in the Daytona record books for their performances at the track — Kevin Harvick currently holds the record for most top fives (12) and is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for most top 10s (14). Earnhardt Jr. also sits as the driver with the most lead lap finishes (19) and laps led (560).
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be skipping practice this weekend and heading straight for qualifying at 3 p.m. ET on Friday, August 25. Qualifying will be on the USA Network starting at 4 p.m. ET.
Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Hill looks for a Daytona single season sweep
Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Hill will be coming back to Daytona International Speedway hoping for a single season sweep after winning the season opener in February (2023). The 29-year-old driver is all too familiar with finding Victory Lane at the iconic Daytona track, having also won the season opener in 2022.
Hill tried to sweep Daytona last season but after a wild race that saw three overtime restarts, Jeremy Clements ultimately took the checkered flag, while Hill finished in 14th.
The Winston, Georgia native, Hill, heads into the weekend with some momentum, having already accumulated four wins (Daytona, Las Vegas, Atlanta -1, Pocono), 13 top fives, 17 top 10s and has led 238 laps this season.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series started racing at Daytona twice a year in 2002. If Hill is able to win this weekend and accomplish the single season sweep, he will become just the second driver all-time to accomplish the feat, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003).
Daytona Clinch Scenarios: Three races to go in the regular season
With another Sam Mayer win last weekend at Watkins Glen, drivers that have not clinched a spot in the Playoffs will be pushing the limits to secure a spot in the 12-driver postseason field this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. With only three races to go in the regular season, let‘s take a look at the clinch scenarios as we head into Friday‘s race at Daytona this weekend:
The following eight drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: Austin Hill, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, Sam Mayer, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith, Jeb Burton.
Can Clinch Via Points
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 111 points above the 3rd winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Josh Berry or Daniel Hemric.
Josh Berry: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Sheldon Creed or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 111 points above the 2nd winless driver in the standings.
Josh Berry: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Josh Berry, Daniel Hemric, Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst, Parker Kligerman, Brandon Jones, Brett Moffitt, Kaz Grala, Parker Retzlaff, Ryan Sieg, Jeremy Clements, Anthony Alfredo, Josh Williams, Joe Graf Jr., Brennan Poole
Never Lift: Superspeedway Ringers
Daytona International Speedway is infamous for its wild, action-packed racing and unexpected finishes but there are always a few drivers who seem to be able to escape trouble and run out front.
Richard Childress Racing‘s Austin Hill is an obvious favorite for this weekend‘s Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola given that he‘s won the last two season openers at Daytona. In last year‘s action-packed summer race, he managed to race his way to a 14th-place finish.
JR Motorsports‘ Justin Allgaier is quite the veteran when it comes to racing at Daytona. He‘s made 25 starts at the track, dating back to 2009 when he made his debut at the track at the season opener. He‘s had some ups and downs but has put up some solid finishes, including seven top fives, 11 top 10s and has led 109 laps. At the season opener in February, he pulled off a third-place finish.
Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Riley Herbst has had a solid season thus far, posting five top fives and 10 top 10s. He‘s hoping that he‘ll be able to keep this momentum alive as he looks towards this weekend‘s race to post his first-ever NASCAR Xfinity Series win. He‘s made eight starts at the 2.5-mile track, posting two top fives and four top 10s. He posted a sixth-place finish at the season opener in February.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Double duty drivers at Daytona — Cup Series regulars Justin Haley and Ty Gibbs will be getting some extra track time this weekend as they will run in the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.
Haley will be driving the No. 10 Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing. This will be his fifth Xfinity Series start of the 2023 season and his 10th Xfinity Series start at Daytona International Speedway. In his previous nine starts, he has posted two wins (2020, 2021) and three top fives.
Gibbs will be behind the wheel of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He has made eight Xfinity Series starts this season thus far, posting one win (Indianapolis RC), five top fives and six top 10s. He has only made two Daytona starts in the series. He finished 11th at his debut at the track in 2022 and seventh in last year‘s August race.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year update — The NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year competitors now have 23 races under their belts as they gear up for their second stint at Daytona International Speedway this season.
Kaulig Racing‘s Chandler Smith continues to lead the competition with one win (Richmond), five top fives, nine top 10s and 651 points.
Not far behind is Joe Gibbs Racing‘s Sammy Smith, who has racked up one win (Phoenix), four top fives, 10 top 10s and 586 points.
Jordan Anderson Racing‘s Parker Retzlaff has posted one top five and five top 10s this season, accumulating 426 points.
Closing out the competition is Blaine Perkins with 184 points.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series
2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series season stats at a glance
For the first time in 14 years, the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series is returning to the heralded Milwaukee Mile Speedway for the Clean Harbors 175 on Sunday, August 27 at 4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM Radio. Before the engines fire back up this weekend, let‘s take a look at how the competition has fared this season.
Through 17 races, the 2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series season is tied with the 1998, 2003, 2011, and 2020 seasons for the third-most different winners with 10 each. This season‘s CRAFTSMAN Truck Series winners include:
2023 Race WinnersWinsTracksCarson Hocevar3Texas, Nashville, RichmondChristian Eckes2Atlanta, DarlingtonCorey Heim2Martinsville, Mid-OhioGrant Enfinger2Kansas, GatewayKyle Busch2Vegas, PoconoZane Smith2Daytona, COTABen Rhodes1CharlotteJoey Logano1Bristol (Dirt)Kyle Larson1North WilkesboroTy Majeski1IRP
This season has also produced 5.35 lead changes per race — tied for the eighth-most through 17 races since the inception of the series in 1995. The same amount was generated through 17 races in 2004, 2016, and 2017.
In addition, the 2023 season has produced 9.47 average lead changes per race — tied with 1999 for the eighth-most through 17 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series races since 1995.
The series has also seen 299 green flag passes for the lead — the eighth-most since the Loop Data stat was brought in-house and tabulated in 2007 – with an average of 17.6 green flag passes for the lead per race.
In addition, the series has also produced 22,079 total green flag passes throughout the field — the third-most since the Loop Data stat was brought in-house and tabulated in 2007 — with an average of 1,298 green flag passes per race.
Say CHEESE! NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs prepares for Milwaukee Mile
Located on the grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair Park, the Milwaukee Mile houses a 1.015-mile paved oval. In addition, there is a 0.8-mile asphalt-paved road circuit located in the infield. The infield was home to the NFL‘s Green Bay Packers from 1934 to 1953. Known as the oldest operating speedway in the world, the Milwaukee Mile Speedway has hosted at least one auto race every year since 1903, except during World War II.
The remarkable mile-oval has hosted 34 NASCAR national series races — 15 of those being CRAFTSMAN Truck Series events — but not one since 2009. Next weekend, the Milwaukee Mile will play host to the second event in the postseason‘s Round of 10. In 1995, the inaugural CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at the Milwaukee Mile was won by pole sitter Mike Skinner, piloting the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. The following year (1996), there were 17 lead changes, which became a series track record.
The 2008 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion and three-time Most Popular Driver, Johnny Benson Jr. holds the most wins in Brew City after three consecutive victories in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Four-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. won the last race at the Milwaukee Mile on June 20, 2009, where he bested a field that included Todd Bodine, Matt Crafton, and Johnny Sauter. Crafton, current Playoff contender and driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford, is the only driver entered next weekend that has made a previous Truck Series start at Milwaukee.
Not only will majority of the contenders have to get comfortable with a new racetrack next weekend, but they will also be experiencing a foreign concept: racing on a Sunday. Qualifying for the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series at the Milwaukee Mile Speedway begins at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 27 (on FS2).
Outside Looking In: Crafton, DiBenedetto hoping to rally
Following the TSport 200 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park to open the 2023 Playoffs, ThorSport Racing veteran Matt Crafton and Rackley W.A.R.‘s Matt DiBenedetto find themselves below the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Round of 8 cutline.
Last weekend, three-time series champion Matt Crafton rallied to a ninth-place finish at Indianapolis and left the 0.686-mile track just two points back from the Round of 8 cutline. The veteran is the only driver in series history to participate in each of the series‘ Playoffs since its inception in 2016 and had earned a spot in the Round 8 in all previous postseason appearances up until last season.
Crafton is also the only driver entered with previous experience at Milwaukee. In nine starts, the Tulare, California native has one top-five finish and five top 10s recorded. His best finish at the famed mile-oval is second (2008). It‘s been 78 races since Crafton‘s last CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win (Kansas, 2020).
Although it‘s been 14 years since the series was last at the heralded Milwaukee Mile Speedway, Crafton will likely rely on his previous knowledge of the track to find a way to lock himself into the Round of 8.
Unlike the extensive Playoff experience Crafton has, Matt DiBenedetto is just in his first appearance in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs and has never raced in Brew City. It‘s been 19 races since DiBenedetto‘s last visit to victory lane (Talladega, 2022) but the Grass Valley, California native knows how to race his way into the top 10. He‘s record 10 top- 10 finishes so far this season. The driver of the No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. Chevrolet finished 10th at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and is only three points back from the Round of 8 cutline and the final transfer position.
Currently, Rev Racing‘s rookie Nick Sanchez is in the eighth and final position to transfer to the next round in the Playoffs on points. Just ahead of Sanchez in seventh in ThorSport Racing driver and 2021 series champion Ben Rhodes, up four points on the Round of 8 cutline.
Playoff Clinch Scenarios: Looking Ahead to Milwaukee
With one of the three races in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs Round of 10 in the books, here is a look at the clinch scenarios for the 10-driver field:
The following driver has clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round: Ty Majeski.
Can clinch via points
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Corey Heim, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger or Ben Rhodes.
Corey Heim: Could only clinch with helpChristian Eckes: Could only clinch with helpCarson Hocevar: Could only clinch with helpZane Smith: Could only clinch with helpGrant Enfinger: Could only clinch with helpBen Rhodes: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Nicholas Sanchez or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.
Corey Heim: Could only clinch with helpChristian Eckes: Could only clinch with helpCarson Hocevar: Could only clinch with helpZane Smith: Could only clinch with helpGrant Enfinger: Could only clinch with help
Can clinch via win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Corey Heim, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Nicholas Sanchez, Matt Crafton, Matt DiBenedetto.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Etc.
GMS Racing announces it will cease operations at the end of the season — Multi-time championship winning team GMS Racing announced it will be closing its doors at the conclusion of the 2023 race season.
GMS Racing has won the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series championship twice (2016, 2020) and currently fields three full-time teams consisting of current Playoff contender Grant Enfinger and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates Daniel Dye and Rajah Caruth.
GMS Racing‘s latest victory, win number 44 in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, positioned the team as the overall winningest Chevrolet organization within the series. With six races remaining in the year, all three drivers will look to add fuel to the legacy of one of the most successful organizations in NCTS history.
“During the past nine years, GMS Racing has become one of the top teams in the Truck and ARCA Series garage. The people that made this happen have been the hard-working men and women at GMS Racing and GMS Fabrication. Every employee, new and old at GMS has always strived to be the very best,” said Maury Gallagher.
Sean Hingorani to attempt CRAFTSMAN Truck Series debut at the Milwaukee Mile — Rising ARCA Menards Series West star Sean Hingorani hopes to make his debut in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series this weekend in Brew City, piloting the No. 61 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota Tundra TRD.
The 16-year-old began his first full-time racing season in the ARCA Menards Series with Venturini Motorsports this year. In 22 events across all three ARCA platforms, Hingorani has amassed four victories, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
“Sean has shown a lot of potential in his short career and we‘re happy to have a driver of his caliber join HRE,” team owner Shige Hattori said. “He has won in many different types of race cars, which will prove to be beneficial. I think he has the ability to be successful with our team. We look forward to having a great run in Milwaukee for our new partner Fidelity Capital”.
Olympic Speedskater Bonnie Blair to be Grand Marshall in Milwaukee — Five-time Olympic gold medalist and Wisconsin native, Bonnie Blair, will serve as the Grand Marshall and give the command to start engines in the return of the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series to Milwaukee Mile Speedway.
Blair is the most decorated female U.S. Winter Olympian of all time. She is a member of the Wisconsin Hall of Fame and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame. In her amazing career, Blair earned gold medals in three straight Olympics, and a total of five gold medals and one bronze medal in 500-meter and 1,000-meter competition in the 1988, 1992 and 1994 Winter Olympics. She‘s also the 1986 short track skating world champion.
“Bonnie Blair is iconic,” said Loan Mansy, Clean Harbors‘ president of environmental sales and service. “We wanted an iconic sports figure to kick off this iconic race. Bonnie‘s been making America proud and representing the best of the Midwest for decades. With our local Milwaukee ties and Safety-Kleen‘s long history in the region, including being founded in the city, there are some obvious parallels that made Bonnie the ideal choice as grand marshal to our race.”
— NASCAR —