newspreview food city 300

Preview: Food City 300

Rod Mullins

Virginia native Elliott Sadler certainly knows his way around the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway.

bristol motor speedwayThe Emporia product has won on here twice, in 1998 and again in 2012 and has finished in the top five seven times and finished in the top ten, ten times.

So with those numbers at Bristol and given Sadler’s current points lead in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at 387 points above the cut off line, you’d think he’s a shoo-in for another great finish at the World’s Fastest Half Mile.

Wait just a minute before you pronounce Sadler a winner before the race is run at BMS.

Sadler has yet to win a race so far in the 2017 Xfinity season.

Aside from Sadler the leading the series standings, there are nine drivers currently in the Xfinity Top 12 Series Championship points standings without wins this season and Sadler is one of them.

If Sadler does wins Bristol?  A win pretty much locks him into the playoffs and gives him an additional five playoff points boost to use through the postseason.  Something he can use to advance in the face of bad luck along the way.

As the series heads into the Last Great Colosseum and the Food City 300, the series has seen William Byron pick up three wins, Ryan Reed and Justin Allgaier with one win apiece, leaving nine playoff spots up for contention with five races left in the Xfinity Series regular season. So as things start shaking out this weekend in Bristol, the bubble for the playoffs could start getting clearer or a lot more crowded.

Michael Annett currently sits on the bubble after the the Xfinity road course race at Mid-Ohio. Annett sits 12th and just 34 points ahead of driver Ryan Sieg who is outside the bubble. Sieg could catch and pass Annett as well as JJ Yeley and Ross Chastain who trail 46 and 47 points behind respectively.

In order to have a great finish and a boost in the Xfinity standings, Sadler and the rest of the Xfinity regulars will have to tangle with the likes of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ringers or rather, drivers, the likes of Kyle Busch, who is looking to take another win on the weekend after his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win on Friday night, crowd favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is racing in his last Bristol race but is scheduled for one Xfinity Series race in 2018, Penske driver Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suárez, as well as drivers Aric Almirola, and Richard Childress’ grandsons, Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon are all scheduled for the event.

The action level will definitely be raised as Busch will be seeking his ninth win in the Xfinity series, Logano his third, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Austin Dillon, their second wins under the lights at Bristol.  Austin Dillon picked up the Xfinity Series win last year.

The race will be run in three stages, as Stage 1 will end on lap 85, Stage 2 will end on Lap 170 and the final stage will conclude on lap 300.

The green flag falls on the 25th Anniversary running of the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Racing event on Friday night beginning at 7:30 PM from Bristol Motor Speedway.

By Rod Mullins/Augusta Free Press

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins covers NASCAR for AFP, and co-hosts the mid-week “Street Knowledge” focusing on NASCAR with AFP editor Chris Graham. A graduate of UVA-Wise, Rod began his career in journalism as a reporter for The Cumberland Times, later became the program director/news director/on-air morning show host for WNVA in Norton, Va., and in the early 1990s served as the sports information director at UVA-Wise and was the radio “Voice of the Highland Cavaliers” for football and basketball for seven seasons. In 1995, Rod transitioned to public education, where he has worked as a high school English, literature, and creative writing teacher and now serves as a school program coordinator in addition to serving as a mentor for the robotics team.