Xfinity Series debuting heat races with new Dash 4 Cash format this weekend

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Brendan Gaughan doesn’t know if he likes the Xfinity Series’ new format for the Dash 4 Cash program, but he knows that he’s excited to find out.

“I don’t know if it’s good or bad,” Gaughan said of the four-race competition that begins this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I don’t care if it’s good or bad yet. Let’s get there and see what it does. If I win $100,000 dollars at Bristol, I’m going to say I love it.”

Saturday’s race, the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300, is the first of four race weekends that will see 40 drivers compete in two heat races prior to a main event where one of four Xfinity Series regulars, like Gaughan, will claim a $100,000 prize.

The other three weekends are at Richmond International Raceway (April 23), Dover International Speedway (May 14) and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 23).

The two highest finishing Xfinity Series regulars in each heat race will be eligible for the Dash 4 Cash. The highest finishing of the four in the main event will win $100,000.

Should one driver manage to win the Dash 4 Cash bonus in two of the four race weekends, they will qualify for the Chase, which debuts this season in the Xfinity Series.

Wayne Auton, managing director of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, states that if a team has an issue in its heat race, they can work on their car until the checkered flag of their heat. They are not allowed to work on the car again until the start of the main event.

“That way, if you’re in the first heat and you have an issue, you don’t have more time to fix your car than the people that are in the second heat,” Auton said. “That came from the garage area, which we thought was a great idea. Then when we start the main, everybody starts at zero. If you have trouble and you can’t get your car on the grid for the main, then you can come into the race at any time.”

How are teams approaching the scenario of crashing but not being able to work on their cars while others race?

“It doesn’t really change I think from our standpoint other than there’s a whole race you’re going to be sitting there looking at your race car and can’t do anything,” Gaughan said. “We can’t touch the race car, but we can work in the trailer to build a part to put back on the race car. I think there are some differences that will definitely be in that race from that rule, but in the end, if you wreck on Lap 5 … what’s the difference?”

Here is how the day will unfold this weekend at Bristol.

  • Forty-two cars will attempt to qualify for the 40 total spots in the two heat races.
  • The 40 cars that qualify will be split into two fields of 20. Odd-numbered qualifiers in one heat race and even-numbered qualifiers in the other.
  • During the first 50-lap heat, the cars competing in the second heat will impounded.
  • Each heat race will go the scheduled distance. There are no overtime rules in place.
  • Following the first heat, there will be a 15-minute break.
  • A 20-minute break follows the second 50-lap heat.
  • The four cars eligible for the Dash 4 Cash will have red stickers placed on their windshields to be identified.
  • The main event will be run.

The heat races at all four tracks will not be 50 laps each. NASCAR has attempted to make the distance of the two heat races and the main equal to the distance in each race at the respective tracks last season. The only exception will be Richmond, which will be 250 kilometers.

“We tried to make these fit in a two-and-a-half hour window,” Auton said. “If you talk to the fans out there, a two-and-a-half hour window for an Xfinity Series race, start to finish when it comes on TV till they take the checkered flag, is a good fit.”

Bristol will feature two 50-lap heats and a 200-lap main. Richmond will have 35-lap heats and a 140-lap main. At Dover, it will be 40-lap heats and a 120-lap main. The finale at Indianapolis has 20-lap heats and a 60-lap main.

NASCAR Open starting lineup at Bristol

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Michael McDowell will start on the pole for the NASCAR Open at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw. Aric Almirola joins him on the front row.

Click here for NASCAR Open starting lineup

The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.

 

NASCAR Open at Bristol 

Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Martin Truex Jr. to start on pole for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Martin Truex Jr., who is seeking his first All-Star Race win, will start on the pole for Wednesday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway after a random draw.

Truex will be joined on the front row by Alex Bowman.

Rookie Cole Custer, who earned a spot in the All-Star Race with his win Sunday at Kentucky, will start eighth.

Click here for All-Star Lineup

  • Positions 17-19 will go to segment winners from the NASCAR Open. The 20th starting spot goes to the fan vote winner, which will be announced after the NASCAR Open

Among the special rules for the race:

# The Chose Rule will be used. As drivers approach a designated spot on the track, they must commit to the inside or outside lane for the restart.

# The car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give sponsors more exposure.

# Cars that have automatically qualified for the All-Star Race will have underglow lights on their cars.

 

NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol 

Race Time: 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)

Length: 140 laps over four segments, 74.6 miles

Segments: Segment 1 is 55 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 35 laps. Segment 4 is 15 laps (only green flag laps count in this segment).

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Texas (200 laps, 300 miles), 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Truck race: Saturday at Texas (167 laps, 250.5 miles) 8 p.m. ET on FS1

Xfinity playoff grid after Kentucky doubleheader

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The Xfinity Series went to Kentucky Speedway for a doubleheader and Austin Cindric left the track with two wins and a spot in the playoffs.

Cindric, who claimed the first oval track NASCAR wins of his career, is now third on the playoff grid among the six drivers locked into the postseason. He has 15 playoff points.

Noah Gragson, who is second on the grid, won three of four stages in Kentucky and has 18 playoff points.

Six spots remain to be filled on the playoff grid. The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Ryan Sieg (+57 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+14).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-14 points from cutline), Jeremy Clements (-30), Alex Labbe (-42) and Jesse Little (-47).

Cup playoff grid after Kentucky Speedway

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Cole Custer delivered the first curveball to the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff chase Sunday when he won at Kentucky Speedway.

Custer entered the race 25th in the points, nine spots back from the cutoff line for 16-driver field.

Now, Custer is one of nine drivers locked into the playoffs, meaning the cutoff for the postseason is 15th in points.

Among those currently in the playoff grid who are not locked in, the last two are William Byron (+30 points) and Jimmie Johnson (+24).

The first four drivers sitting outside a playoff spot are Austin Dillon (-24 points from cutoff), Tyler Reddick (-41), Erik Jones (-42) and Bubba Wallace (-84).