The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season for Roush Fenway Racing was not one of great acclaim for the team. The team fielded two full-time drivers in Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Reed, while having part-time entries for Trevor Bayne, Gray Gaulding, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Bayne completed at Watkins Glen for Roush-Fenway. He started seventh and finished in the fifth position.
Gaulding completed in the second events at Bristol and Richmond. At Bristol he started 21st and finished 13th. At Richmond, he started 11th and finished 13th.
Stenhouse Jr. competed at Phoenix in the fall. He started 13th and finished third.
For Wallace Jr, the season started off with a sixth place finish at Daytona, but at Atlanta he finished 18th. His first DNF came at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where he was involved in a crash. However, he was able to have three consecutive top-20 finshes. At Bristol, he received a 25th place finish. Over the next three weeks, he had top-20 finishes with his best finish of second coming at Dover. Wallace did not find his mojo at Charlotte, which resulted in a 27th place finish. As the season entered the summer months, Wallace had seven consecutive top-20 finishes with his best coming at Kentucky. At Iowa and Watkins Glen, Wallace finished 27th and 29th, respectively. Going into the inaugural playoffs in the Xfinity Series, Wallace had six consecutive top-20 finishes with the best coming at Bristol.
In the opening round of the playoffs, Wallace opened at Kentucky with an eighth place finish. At Dover, he finished 11th. At Charlotte, he finished 20th. Those finishes allowed him to advance into the next round.
The next round was not as nice for Wallace. He suffered two DNF’s at Charlotte and Phoenix. At Texas, he finished in the 11th position. The two DNF’s served as his Achilles Heel to advance into the final four at Homestead. Wallace finished the season at Homestead with an 11th place finish.
2016 was Reed’s third full-time season in Xfinity competition. He started out Daytona with a 16th place finish. He went into the next five races with consecutive top-20 finished with the best coming at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a 13th place finish. At Bristol, he finished 21st, but was able to rebound for an 11th place finish at Richmond. At Talladega, Reed finished 31st, but backed it up at Dover and Charlotte with an 18th and 19th place finish. His first DNF of the season came at Pocono, where he was involved in a crash that resulted in a 33rd place finis. However, Reed went on a streak of three consecutive top-15 finishes with his best being a sixth place finish at Daytona. Kentucky was not one his stronger tracks, but he went on a tear of five consecutive top-15 finishes with the best coming atWatkins Glen where he finished ninth. At Bristol, he finished 35th, but leading into the playoffs, Reed had four top-15 finishes. In the final race of the regular season, he finished 32nd due to a crash, but was able to make the inaugural playoffs.
When the playoffs began, Reed knocked a seventh place finish at Kentucky, a 10th place finish at Dover, and a 15th place finish at Dover to advance to the second round.
The next round saw consistency from Reed, but that was not enough to advance to the final four at Homestead. Reed finished 16th at Kansas, 12th at Texas, and sixth at Phoenix. At Homestead, he closed out the season with a 16th place finish.
2017 is not looking bright for Roush-Fenway’s Xfinity Series program. Wallace Jr. only has sponsorship for the first six races of 2016. Wallace knows that his job in the first six races is to win and run up front to help with the sponsorship deal. Reed will continue to have the sponsorship of Lilly’s Diabetes in 2017. Just like in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, 2017 is a crucial year for Roush-Fenway’s future.
Alon Day currently races in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, but spent two races in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series competition. Day was named Israel’s Athlete of the Year in 2017, but hopes to make is way to the United States to race in the three national divisions.
His hopes are to race in the Trucks or Xfinity Series, but it becomes complicated when it comes to sponsorship. Day is actively pursuing to find sponsorship to run a full season in the Truck series. Day knows that if he cannot find the sponsorship in the States that the Euro series has a spot for him, where he has the chance to win a championship.
If Day cannot find a sponsorship he hopes to be able to race in the road course races at the Xfinity level or at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in the Truck series. Those races were considered the “most valuable” in his career. The Euro cars, according to Day, are just like the Xfinity cars, but with more power. However, when he went to drive in the Trucks, it was a totally different world because he was racing on ovals. Day has no experience on ovals because the Euro series races primarily on road courses. Day raced in the IndyLights Series, but used New Hampshire and Homestead in the trucks to “absorb information and knowledge” on oval racing.
Day currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel, but recognizes that to race in NASCAR’s three national divisions, he must live in the United States. “My main priority here in NASCAR, doesn’t matter where (series), but to be here in the United States and not in Europe.”
Going back to Europe is considered a “step down” for Day because he feels like he is ready to race with the best in the States, but he understands that it is “part of life”.
With the talk of NASCAR adding another road course into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Day would like to see a street course added to the circuit.
Day has only been in NASCAR since 2012, but motorsports was illegal in Israel. Day uses motorsports as a “measure of things in his life.” Day’s vision has always been “the highest level of motorsports”, whether it is NASCAR or Formula One (F1). Day began to work towards the top ranks of F1, but realized that Europe was not the place for him to be. Racing in NASCAR is “truly special” for Day.
Day mentioned that when he grew up in Israel, people thought NASCAR was just drivers sitting in the car turning left. Since Day has success in the Euro Series, races are now being broadcasted and people are truly beginning to see that NASCAR is truly one of the toughest sports in the world.
The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season for Chip Ganassi Racing was one of the better seasons for the team. The team fielded two full time rides with Brennan Poole in the no. 48 with Justin Marks and Kyle Larson sharing the ride in the No. 42 Chevy.
For Poole, the 2016 season started off on the wrong foot at Daytona with a 27th place finish. Poole was able to rebound with a 14th place finish in Atlanta to go on a run of 13 top-20 finishes including a near victory at Talladega after a last lap crash in the tri-oval where he was the leader at the line, but was not the leader at the point of the caution flag waving. His streak of top-20 finishes ended with a crash at Daytona. Despite the poor finishes at Daytona in 2016, Poole remained consistent throughout the season. He rattled off five top-10 finishes throughout the next seven races. Despite a dismal 28th place finish at Bristol in August, Poole gained a Chase berth and four top-10 finishes. When the Chase began at Kentucky, Poole scored a top-10, but a 15th and an 18th place finish at Dover and Charlotte knocked him out of contention for championship after the first round. Despite being knocked out of contention in the opening round of the Chase, Poole scored two more top-10 finishes. The 2016 season ended for Poole with a 27th place finish at Homestead-Miami. Despite not contending for a championship, he finished eighth in the points.
In his first full-time season in Xfinity competition, Poole was able to complete 5538 of 5579 laps in the season with 11 laps led. He scored four top-fives, 17 top-10’s, had an average start of 13.1, an average finish of 12.4, and only one DNF on the season.
With the No. 42, Larson drove the car 16 times in 2016, where he saw the most success of any driver in that car. Larson kicked off the 2016 season where he scored a 34th and second place finish at Daytona and Atlanta. After a three week hiatus, Larson jumped back into the car for Texas and Bristol in which he scored an 11th and third place finish respectively. He returned to the car at Charlotte Motor Speedway in which he finished in the sixth position. A week later, Larson went to victory lane in the inaugural Xfinity race at Pocono. Despite the event being shortened due to weather, this was the first victory for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2016 Xfinity competition. When Larson returned to the no. 42 team for Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Bristol, Darlington, Chicago, Charlotte, and Kansas, Larson scored top-five finishes in each event. When the series returned to Texas Motor Speedway, Larson scored the victory after starting in the fifth position. Larson closed out the 2016 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway where he started and finished seventh.
In his 16 starts, Larson competed in 2683 of the 2692 laps in the season while leading 651 laps. He has 11 top-five’s, 14 top-10’s, an average start of 5.8, an average finish of 6.1, and zero DNF’s.
While Larson was in the 42 car for 17 races in 2016, Marks was in the ride for 17 races. Despite the success Larson had in the car, Marks struggled. He started the season in Las Vegas where he crashed ending up in a 34th place. Marks was in the car for Phoenix, Richmond, and Talladega, where he finished within the top-15 in each of the events. At Dover, Marks was involved in an accident that resulted in a 40th place finish. He returned to competition at Michigan and was in the car for five consecutive weeks where his best finish was 12th at Kentucky and his worst finish was 37th at Daytona. At Loudon and Iowa, Marks scored top-20 finishes. His first and only win of the 2016 season came at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where Marks won in a rain plagued event. After his win, Marks struggled at Road America and Richmond where he had finishes outside of the top-20. In his remaining three races of the season, he had 15th place finishes at Kentucky and Phoenix, but a 31st place finish at Dover.
In his 17 starts, Marks competed in 2537 of 2887 laps while leading 43 laps. He had one top-five, one top-10, an average start of 17.6, an average finish of 20.9, and four DNF’s in 2016.
The 2016 season was a step in the right direction for Chip Ganassi’s Xfinity Series program. 2017 will be a stronger year for the team. With the return of Poole in the 48 and the new duo of Larson and Tyler Reddick in the 42, CGR will be a force to be reckoned with. It will be interesting to see if Poole will be able to make a second appearance in the Chase. Since names are made in the Xfinity Series, it will also be interesting to see what name Reddick will make for himself and how Poole will add on to his legacy within the series. For Marks, the verdict is still out on where we will end up, if anywhere, in Xfinity competition.
The 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series season was full of magic and history breaking wins for champion, Daniel Suarez. 2016 was his second full-time season racing for Joe Gibbs in the Xfinity Series.
Suarez started the season at Daytona through starting on the outside of the front row. He ultimately finished eighth. As the season began to get going, Suarez kept qualifying within the top-three alongside Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. While his teammates kept grabbing poles, he was finally able to grab his first pole of the season at Auto Club Speedway. He went on to win three more poles at Iowa, Dover, and Homestead-Miami. Suarez qualified within the top-10 throughout the season.
Coming out of the 2015 season, it was not a matter of if, but when Suarez would win his first career race in the Xfinity Series. It took Suarez only 13 races to snag his first win and lock him into the Chase in the Xfinity Series at Michigan International Speedway.
The race was dominated by Kyle Busch, but Suarez was able to pass Busch at the start of the last lap. Suarez was able to hold off a charging to Busch to gain the victory. He suffered a speeding penalty earlier in the race. On that day, Suarez only led four laps to become the first driver from Mexico to win in NASCAR.
Suarez was able to finish all the races in 2016 except two. At Daytona in July, he was involved in an accident on lap 48. At Iowa, Suarez suffered an engine failure on lap 134 that resulted in a 30th place finish.
In the final 10 races of the season, Suarez did not post a finish outside of the top-10. When the Chase began, Suarez was able to win in the rain-delayed race at Dover. In the “Round of 8”, Suarez was consistent with two fifth place finishes and a third place finish to move on to Homestead.
Homestead was when the fire caught a flame. Suarez was able to start from the pole position. Suarez ran a flawless race in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead, where he scored a perfect driver rating of 150.0.
“It’s very hard to put into words,” said Suarez after making his title run. “I’m speechless right now. I’m just very proud of everyone and thankful to have the family that I have – my mom, my dad. They gave me all the tools to be here right now. They put me in a car even when we didn’t have the support or the racing background. They supported me and right now we are just living a dream.”
The victory at Homestead by Suarez allowed for Toyota to win the Manufacturer’s Championship in the Xfinity Series.
Suarez completed 5424 laps of the 5579 laps ran in the 2016 season. He lead 347 laps throughout the season. He had 19 top-fives and 27 top-10’s. On average, he started at 3.9. He had an average finish of 8.0 throughout the 33 races.
Suarez will continue to race for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017.
Daniel Suarez will win the Ford EcoBoost 300 and the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Suarez becomes the first international driver to win a championship in one of NASCAR’s top three series. He is the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program to win a Xfinity Series championship.
With the victory at Homestead-Miami, Joe Gibbs will also win the owner’s championship. Erik Jones will be the 2016 Rookie of the Year for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“I’m just so proud of this team and everyone who has helped me get to this point. I just can’t believe this,” said Suarez, surrounded by family and crew members in victory lane.
The first half of the race began with a quick pull away from Suarez. Erik Jones began to drop as he tried to find his way to the top lane. However, the caution flew on lap five due to a spin by Brandon Hightower. On the restart, the outside lane proved to be the strongest. The field began to spread out and run the high line in the early part of the race. However, Larson was able to get up to Suarez and pass him for the lead. However, the caution flag flew again for a spin by Ryan Reed. During pit stops, the hose gun for Suarez got caught and caused him to lose two spots on pit road. On the restart, Larson was able to clear Justin Allgaier to keep the lead. Suarez was able to clear Larson a couple laps later to gain the lead. As the run progressed, drivers were moving closer to the wall, and Allgaier began to reel in Suarez. Allgaier was unable to pass Suarez for the lead. As the field moved closer to the wall, Larson and Allgaier were kissing the wall. Ty Dillon was able to pass Allgaier after his car turned tight after he kissed the wall. As green flag pit stops occurred, an uncontrolled tire from Brandon Jones made its way onto the pit lane. As pit stops cycled through, Larson was able to retain the lead. After pit stops cycled through, the caution flew for fluid on the speedway. On the restart, Ty Dillon was able to gain the lead, but Suarez was able to gain the lead at the halfway point. Dillon moved to second, Allfaier was third, Aric Almirola was fourth, and Larson rounded out the top five.
At the beginning of the second half, E. Jones scraped the outside wall, but continued. As the green flag run progressed, Suarez was beginning to fade in the run as T. Dillon was able to gain the lead. E. Jones and tea began to report that there was a hole in the nose. The caution flew for Brennan Poole who had tires going down after hitting the wall. As the sun began to set, the track began to change. Suarez was able to gain the lead on the restart. The caution flew for a spin by Reed that caught Jordan Anderson, who caught on fire, and Jeremy Clements. NASCAR red-flagged the field for cleanup. On the restart, Suarez was able to gain the lead as the field went four wide into turn one. The championship four were able to get together and separate themselves from the field. However, Sadler hit the wall and Allgaier was able to grab the lead. However, E. Jones was able to pass Allgaier for the race lead. However, the caution flew debris. However, Suarez was able to win the race off pit road as Jones had a slow stop. With under 10 laps remaining, the caution flew for a spin on the front stretch by Ray Black Jr. On the resatart, Cole Whitt was the control car, but held up the field and gave Suarez the lead and the race win. T. Dillon finished second, Sadler finished third, Blaney finished fourth, and A. Dillon finished fifth.
Sadler finished second in the championship with Allgaier and E. Jones rounding out the top-four in the championship standings.
The race saw 21 lead changes among 11 different drivers. Suarez led the most laps at 133. The caution flew seven times for 39 laps. The race went on for 2 hours, 39 minutes, and two seconds.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have a 98 day off season before their season begins next year at Daytona International Speedway to kick off the 2017 season.