Xfinity set to reach new track winner mark for first time in 22 years
Unless Joe Nemechek, who hasn’t won a NASCAR Xfinity race since 2004, wins Saturday’s Xfinity event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (4 p.m. ET on FS1), the series will accomplish something that hasn’t been done since Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s first championship season in the series
A non-Nemechek winner will become the fifth driver to earn their first victory at a track in the opening five races of the season.
They’ll have Brandon Jones to thank.
When Jones passed Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go on his way to a win at Phoenix Raceway last weekend, he kept Busch from claiming his 12th series victory on the 1-mile track.
While it was Jones’ second career Xfinity win, it was his first at Phoenix.
Jones followed Noah Gragson’s first career win to open the year at Daytona, Chase Briscoe’s first win at Las Vegas and Harrison Burton’s first career victory at Auto Club Speedway.
Now here’s where we make you feel old.
The Xfinity Series has not seen a new track winner in each of the first five races of a season since 1998. That year, the first 10 races of the year featured new track winners, including the first career wins of Earnhardt and Matt Kenseth.
The streak is primarily a sign of the times. The trio of Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell, who won 34 of 99 Xfinity races over the previous three seasons, have moved to the Cup Series.
It’s also a result of NASCAR limiting drivers who earn points in the Cup Series to five Xfinity starts a year.
Busch isn’t scheduled to make another Xfinity start until May 23 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with six races between starts. Brad Keselowski also competed in Phoenix, but a Team Penske spokesperson said the team hasn’t solidified the remaining schedule for its No. 12 car.
The streak could continue next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
None of the current full-time Xfinity drivers have won there. Even though Earnhardt is slated to compete in the March 21 race, he hasn’t won there in five career starts.
What’s the next track the Xfinity Series will visit where one of its full-time drivers has already won?
The May 2 race at Dover International Speedway. Justin Allgaier won the spring 2018 race there.