The NASCAR Xfinity Series season gets underway soon, with the Powershares QQQ 300 set for Feb. 25 at Daytona International Speedway.
Here’s what you need to know about this season’s Xfinity series:
A new champion: Daniel Suarez, who won the 2016 title, has moved up to the Cup series, taking the seat of the No. 19 Toyota left vacant by Carl Edwards, who stepped away from the sport in January. For the record, the most recent back-to-back Xfinity champion is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12).
Will Byron’s star continue to rise? Charlotte native William Byron is just two seasons removed from winning NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East championship. He had a spectacular – albeit ultimately disappointing – rookie season in the Truck Series in 2016, winning seven races but not advancing to the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But he was impressive enough to land an Xfinity ride with Hendrick Motorsports, and he will drive for JR Motorsports this season.
Cup veterans with more than five years of experience will have a 10-race Xfinity limit and no Cup drivers will be allowed to compete in playoff races.
Cutting back on Cup: Thanks to an offseason rules change, Cup drivers, whose presence in Xfinity races has been a controversial topic for a long time, will have a limited presence this season. Cup veterans with more than five years of experience will have a 10-race Xfinity limit and no Cup drivers will be allowed to compete in playoff races. That does mean, however, that young Cup drivers such as Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson can still run in however many regular-season Xfinity races they want.
JRM expansion: Adding Byron means JR Motorsports will have four full-time Xfinity teams – Byron, Elliott Sadler, Michael Annett and Justin Algaier. Best of the bunch likely will be Sadler, a veteran who made the final four last season, along with Algaier.
Stewart-Haas gives it a try: As if there weren’t enough going on at Stewart-Haas Racing – switching from Chevy to Ford; adjusting to life without retired Tony Stewart – the team is starting up an Xfinity program this season. Cole Custer moves up from the Truck series to drive the No. 00 Ford and Cup veteran Kevin Harvick will drive in four races for SHR.