Xfinity Series drivers point to Nashville

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NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will begin a 12-race run to the playoffs June 25 at Nashville Superspeedway.

The 250-mile Nashville race (3:30 p.m. ET, USA) finds only seven drivers qualified for the Xfinity playoffs, with five spots vacant. The playoffs are scheduled to begin Sept. 24 at Texas Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, USA).

The Xfinity Series has been idle since June 4, when AJ Allmendinger won at Portland.

MORE: Assessing playoff picture for Cup, Xfinity, Trucks 

Other race winners this season (and virtually certain to make the playoffs) are Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, Brandon Jones and Austin Hill.

Three of those winners — Gragson, Allgaier and Berry — drive for JR Motorsports, and Sam Mayer, another JRM driver, sits in the first points-qualifying position (eighth) below the seven race winners. Ninth through 12th on that list are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric, Landon Cassill, Riley Herbst and Ryan Sieg.

Anthony Alfredo is the first driver outside the playoff cut line. He is 58 points behind Sieg. Alfredo won the pole at Portland. He’ll be racing at Nashville for the first time.

Gibbs, grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs, has been the controversial star of the series this season with victories at Las Vegas, Atlanta and Richmond and three poles, although he hasn’t won in the past seven races.

Gibbs has raced with an aggressive style and has had incidents with several drivers this year. The biggest occurred in April at Martinsville Speedway as last-lap friction on track led to Gibbs and Sam Mayer brawling on pit road. Gibbs bumped Mayer’s car on pit road (an action which later resulted in a $15,000 fine from NASCAR) and then confronted Mayer. After a brief discussion, Gibbs punched Mayer twice in the face before NASCAR officials and others got involved. Gibbs and Mayer fell to the ground before the incident ended.

Gibbs is second in series points behind Allmendinger. Third to fifth on the points list are Gragson, Berry and Allgaier.

Among other notes this season:

  • The driver who led the most laps has won five of 14 races this season.
  • Four races have been settled by last-lap passes. Gibbs has won twice that way (Atlanta and Richmond) and lost once that way (Martinsville).
  • Four races have gone to overtime. Only once has the leader at the scheduled distance gone on to win the race. Cole Custer did that at Auto Club Speedway.

Xfinity racing returned to the Nashville track last year after a lapse of a decade. Cup regular Kyle Busch won that race (his 100th win in the series), and Allgaier was second.

After Nashville, the series visits a wide range of tracks, including road courses at Road America, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen International.

Xfinity Series remaining regular-season schedule:

Nashville, June 25 (3:30 p.m., USA)

Road America, July 2 (2:30 p.m., USA)

Atlanta, July 9 (5 p.m., USA)

New Hampshire, July 16 (2:30 p.m., USA)

Pocono, July 23 (5 p.m., USA)

Indianapolis road course, July 30 (3:30 p.m., NBC)

Michigan, Aug. 6 (3:30 p.m., USA)

Watkins Glen, Aug. 20 (3 p.m., USA)

Daytona, Aug. 26 (7:30 p.m., USA)

Darlington, Sept. 3 (3 p.m., USA)

Kansas, Sept. 10 (3 p.m., USA)

Bristol, Sept. 16, (7:30 p.m., USA)