The NASCAR Xfinity Series buckeyes their way into Ohio to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the fourth annual Mid-Ohio Challenge. This is the second of three road course races for the Xfinity Series in 2016. 40 drivers will be competing for 40 spots in the Saturday afternoon spectacular.
The Mid-Ohio Challenge is the third standalone weekend for the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. While most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers enjoy their final off weekend of 2016, only one driver will be competing on Saturday. Ryan Blaney will be in the Discount Tire Ford entry from Team Penske. Alon Day, member of the NASCAR Next program, will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut this weekend in Mid-Ohio. Owen Kelly, who is filling in for the recovering Matt Tift, will pilot the Tunity Toyota entry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is located in Lexington, Ohio. The course is 2.08-mile road course. The race will be a total of 75 laps for 169.35 miles.
Goodyear will be running the same tire code as last year this weekend. Teams will have a total of six sets of tires for the event. However, rain is in the forecast for Mid-Ohio. Goodyear will be bring wet weather radials, in the event of rain. The last time the Xfinity Series ran the wet weather radials was at Road America in 2014.
Sam Hornish Jr. is the driver to watch this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Cornish has an average finish of 16.5. However, he has the highest driver rating among all the drivers in the field on Saturday at an average of 111.8. He will be competing in his third event of the season in the Rheem Chevey, the Richard Childress Racing entry.
There have only been three races run at Mid-Ohio. With each visit to Ohio, there have been three different pole winners. Also, there have been three completely different winners. No races at Mid-Ohio have been won from the pole position. AJ Allmendinger holds the race record set in 2013 at a speed of 77.724 mph. Michael McDowell holds the qualifying record set in 2013 at a speed of 96.256 mph.
There have been two practice sessions held at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Ty Dillon led the first practice with a speed of 96.087 mph followed by Sam Hornish Jr. with a speed of 94.865 mph, Brandon Jones with a speed of 94.564 mph, Brendan Gaughan with a speed of 94.553 mph, and Ryan Blaney rounds out the top five with a speed of 94.207 mph. Justin Allgaier was the only driver to post a 10 consecutive lap average at 92.361 mph.
In the second and final practice session of the season, Hornish Jr. posted the top speed at 95.977 mph followed by Ryan Reed with a speed of 95.596 mph, Nelson Piquet Jr. with a speed of 95.255 mph, Blaney with a speed of 95.225 mph, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five with a speed of 94.959 mph. Three drivers ran 10 consecutive laps in final practice. Allgaier tops Brandon Jones and Reed with the best consecutive lap average at 93.828 mph.
“Mid-Ohio is another new track for me and one that will take some time for me to get comfortable with during practice on Friday. The road courses are different and definitely challenge me. Watkins Glen didn't go as well as we’d like as a team, but we learned some things that hopefully we can take with us this weekend to Mid-Ohio for the second road course of the year. I’m looking forward to getting back to the track this weekend and excited to see what we can do as a team to get our DEWALT FLEXVOLT Camry where it needs to be to be in contention at the end,” said Erik Jones about this weekend in Ohio.
“I’ve only raced at Mid-Ohio once, but I’m looking forward to going back. After getting our first road-course race of the season under our belt last weekend at Watkins Glen, I feel really confident in our equipment as well as our strategy. Jason Burdett (crew chief) and the guys have done a great job on our road-course program. I feel like we can head to Mid-Ohio with a solid chance of running up front and competing for the win with our BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevy,” said Allgaier.
“We had a solid run at Mid-Ohio last season. Hopefully we can duplicate that this weekend and keep our Roush Performance Products Mustang on course all race long and come home with a strong finish,” said Darrell Wallace Jr.
Qualifying from Mid-Ohio will air Friday evening at 6:00 pm on USA Network, due to NBC’s Olympic Coverage. Coverage of the Mid-Ohio Challenge will also be on USA Network and Motor Racing Network starting at 3:30 pm. eastern.