Who to watch in the OneMain Financial 200
By Kyle McFadden
May 4, 2018
DOVER, Del.—Even with the added reductions in Cup drivers racing XFINITY Series races, top-tier regulars still have their way with the minor leaguers.
Five of the nine NXS races this year have been stolen by Cup drivers. And technically, only two XFINITY drivers who are eligible to run for the title have wins—Tyler Reddick (Daytona) and Christopher Bell (Richmond).
Ryan Preece, the winner at Bristol, is running a part-time gig for Joe Gibbs Racing this year and Spencer Gallagher, who won last weekend at Talladega, is suspended indefinitely for failing NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.
But since this weekend is the final Dash 4 Cash event in the NXS, there will be no Cup drivers in Saturday’s OneMain Financial 200 at Dover International Speedway, providing an opportunity for the series regulars.
Here are some drivers to watch:
No. 1 Elliott Sadler—If there’s anyone who needs to take advantage of this weekend, it’s Sadler, who’s currently stuck in his fourth-longest winless spell in his XFINITY Series career at 48 races. The veteran hasn’t finished worse than ninth this year and has seven top fives to show for, but has just two playoff points in these nine races.
He’s finished second in the NXS standings the past two years and on top at the moment, but if he’s going to be considered as the real odds-on favorite to win his first NASCAR title at 43 years old, Sadler must win more (four victories in the last 178 NXS starts) and triumph in these kinds of circumstances.
No. 20 Christopher Bell—Bell enters this weekend fourth in the standings and is one of two drivers in the field with a win already under his belt in 2018. While this his first trip at the Monster Mile in the XFINITY Series, he put up the fastest time in final practice Friday afternoon. Finished third and 25th in two truck series starts.
No. 18 Noah Gragson—The 19-year-old has dazzled in two career XFINITY Series starts this season: A fourth-place finish at Talladega last week and a runner-up finish at Richmond earlier in the year. Saturday at Dover will be just his third NXS start, but Gragson finished ninth in the truck race at the Monster Mile a year ago and was fastest in first practice Friday morning.
No. 9 Tyler Reddick—Yes, he already has a win this year in the Daytona opener, but Reddick has failed to record a top five since. He won the truck race at Dover a year ago and running more consistent at one-mile and intermediate tracks (13.4 average finish in five one-mile / intermediate tracks this year) starts this weekend). Was fifth fastest in first practice and compiled the best 10-lap average in final practice.
No. 7 Justin Allgaier—He sits third in points, 47 behind Elliott Sadler, the leader. But like his JR Motorsports teammate, Allgaier needs to win more consistently if he wants to be considered as a serious XFINITY Series title contender (five NXS wins in 249 starts).
Allgaier has an average finish of fifth the past four starts at the Monster Mile, with a runner-up in last year’s fall race.
No. 00 Cole Custer—The 20-year-old ran fourth in the spring and eight in the fall last year at the Monster Mile. Custer sits fifth in points with just one top five in nine races this year, but seven top 10s over that span. Set the second fastest time in first practice.
No. 21 Daniel Hemric—Hemric’s 227 laps led the past two years is the most without a win in the XFINITY Series over that span. So, clearly, the 27-year-old is due. He ran fourth in the fall last year and logged the sixth-best 10-lap consecutive lap average in final practice.
No. 19 Brandon Jones—He has an abysmal average of finish of 27.5 in four races at Dover, but Jones has exhibited speed and confidence in both practice sessions—placing third fastest in first practice and 10th in the final session.
DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.