2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series preview: Kentucky 1

After an action-packed road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the Fourth of July, the NASCAR Xfinity Series treks to the tri-oval in Sparta, Kentucky for the first race of a doubleheader weekend at Kentucky Speedway Thursday evening.

After Noah Gragson grinded his way to a third-place finish at the Brickyard Saturday, the No. 9 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports will start on the pole for the fourth time this season. In his three starts on the pole this season, Gragson finished fifth (Darlington), second (Atlanta) and 22nd (Pocono). The 21-year-old currently sits second among the field in points (535). His 344 laps led rank first, while his two wins are tied for second (Harrison Burton).

Chase Briscoe holds a 21-point lead over Gragson in the points standings. The 25-year-old for Stewart-Haas Racing has finished in the top 10 in six of his last seven races and has won three of his last four. The No. 98 Ford leads the field in Fastest Laps Run (FLP) with 243. In his only Xfinity race at Kentucky (2019), Briscoe finished fifth. He will start the race in seventh. 

Justin Haley finished runner-up at the Brickyard and will continue to build on his current position in the points standings (fifth with 451). The 21-year-old for Kaulig Racing finished 10th in last year’s race at Kentucky. Haley will start ninth. 

While Gragson, Briscoe and Haley have at least one victory on the season, Austin Cindric, for Team Penske, is still searching for his first win of the season, despite starting 11 out of 13 races in the top 10. While Cindric started on the pole in last year’s Kentucky race, he finished 14th. Cindric finished 10th in his other race at Kentucky at the Xfinity level in 2018. Cindric will start 12th

Ross Chastain is currently third in points behind Briscoe and Gragson. Despite the high placement, the 27-year-old in the No. 10 Chevy for Kaulig has yet to collect a victory this season. Chastain currently leads the field in top 10 finishes (11 in 13 races) and is on a six-race top-10 finish streak. Chastain will start second. 

While the top three finishers in last year’s Kentucky race all graduated to the Cup Series (Cole Custer, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick), the fourth-place finisher in Michael Annett will start Thursday’s race in fourth. In 11 career Xfinity races at Kentucky, the 34-year-old has six top-10 finishes. 

The three stages will end on lap 30, lap 60 and the finish on lap 134.

TV coverage for the race will begin on FOX Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. EST. Radio coverage will be on the Performance Racing Network

Starting lineup: 

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/07/07/goodyear-fast-facts-kentucky-3/

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