When Ryan Reed won the Xfinity Series 2015 season-opening Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway, he became part of a rather unique class of drivers.
Reed, who drives for Roush Fenway Racing, became only the seventh driver in Xfinity Series history to earn his first series victory on a superspeedway.
In other words, at either Daytona or Talladega Superspeedway, which hosts Saturday’s Winn Dixie 300.
Five drivers have earned their first Xfinity win at Daytona: Reed (2015), James Buescher (2012), Tony Stewart (2005 – his Sprint Cup wins are not included in this category), Chad Little (1995) and Dale Earnhardt (1982).
Only two drivers have earned their first Xfinity wins at Talladega, however: David Ragan (2009) and Greg Sacks (1996).
Could we see a first-time winner in Saturday’s race? Among those with the potential to do so are series veteran Brian Scott, who has made 183 Xfinity starts without ever taking a checkered flag.
Scott, who is in his third season of driving for Richard Childress Racing, is in his sixth full-time season in the Xfinity Series. He’ll be making his sixth career start at ‘Dega on Saturday, a place where he has just one career top 10 finish and an average finish of 23.4.
“Superspeedway racing is Superspeedway racing,” Scott said in a release. “I just can’t seem to be in the right place at the right time or get good finishes lately at superspeedways. Hopefully we can go and get the monkey off our back at Talladega and just get a top-10 finish. That’s all I really care about.”
Others to watch for Saturday are a pair of series rookies, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suarez.
It would be one of the biggest accomplishments of Wallace’s career if he were to break through with a win in Saturday’s race.
Not only is he second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points, he’s currently fourth in the standings thus far this season with a pair of top-10 finishes.
What’s more, Talladega is essentially a home track for Wallace, a native of Mobile, Ala.
Wallace finished 31st in his restrictor plate debut in the spring 2014 race at Talladega, but bounced back to finish seventh there last fall.
In last year’s summer Xfinity race at Daytona, Wallace finished seventh, and was 12th in this year’s season opener at Daytona (including leading 18 laps).
“I feel good about our superspeedway program,” Wallace said. “We showed a lot of speed in the season opener at Daytona. I’m excited to get back to Talladega with the same attitude, just a different look. It’s really cool to have SpongeBob SquarePants on our Ford Mustang.”
And then there’s Suarez, who is at the top of the Rookie of the Year standings, who will be making his first start at Talladega in an Xfinity car. In this year’s season-opening race at Daytona, he was involved in a crash the relegated him to a 39th place finish.
But the Monterrey, Mexico native has definitely picked up his game of late, with Xfinity career-best finishes of second at Bristol two weeks ago and sixth at Richmond last Friday.
“Well, definitely on those big race tracks, we have a lot to learn,” Suarez said. “We have to do our homework – watch some videos, ask some questions to my teammates and try to be better. We made a lot of mistakes in our first race of 2015 and I’m just looking forward to that race to try to do better and finish the race. That’s the most important thing – survive on those superspeedways.”
Suarez finished 15th in his Camping World Truck Series debut at Talladega last season.