by Seth Eggert           @motorsportrev

The NASCAR Series that says, “Names are made here,” will be back in action this weekend. The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to the track this weekend, and for the first time since 2015, the defending champion remains in the series. Tyler Reddick moves from JR Motorsports to Richard Childress Racing where he will attempt to be the first repeat champion since Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in 2012.

New faces in new places, teams shutting down, the debut of the Toyota Supra, and car number changes are just some of the storylines heading into the season-opener. Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott are the only Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers entered.

Coverage for the Racing Experience 300 is scheduled to start Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET. The ‘World Center of Racing’ has held the season opener for the Xfinity Series since its’ inception in 1982. In 54 races at the 2.5-mile Restrictor Plate track, 30 drivers have claimed victory. The last seven races at Daytona have produced seven different winners.

The last time the Xfinity Series visited Daytona International Speedway, Kyle Larson took the victory in a photo finish with Elliott Sadler. However, he was awarded the victory after Justin Haley was penalized for passing below the double-yellow line, sparking a week of debate over the rule. Only four of the drivers that finished in the top-10 that night are entered in Saturday’s race.

By the Numbers

What: Racing Experience 300, NASCAR Xfinity Series Season Opener

Where: Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, Florida (Opened: 1959)

TV/Radio: Fox Sports 1, 2:30 p.m. ET / MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90

Track Size: 2.5-mile Tri-Oval

Banking: 31 degrees in turns, 18 degrees in tri-oval, 6 degrees on straightaways

Race Length: 120 Laps, 300 Miles (Three Stages, 30/60/120)

2018 Race Winner: Tyler Reddick – No. 9 BurgerFi Chevrolet Camaro SS (Started ninth, 11 laps led).

Track Qualifying Record: Tommy Houston (46.298 seconds, 194.389 mph – 1987).

Off Season Changes for the NASCAR Xfinity Series:

  • Brandonbilt Motorsports will attempt the full season with Brandon Brown and others in the No. 86 Chevrolet Camaro SS, gaining the owner points from the RCR No. 3.
  • JR Motorsports and BJ McLeod Motorsports exchange the No. 5 and No. 8. A shake-up three of the four car numbers at JRM puts Michael Annett in the No. 1, Noah Gragson in the No. 9, and the No. 8 as the teams’ ‘All-Star’ car.
  • MBM Motorsports gains some of the assets of CGR, including the No. 42 owner points, and driver Joey Gase.
  • Richard Childress Racing contracts for the second year in a row from three full-time Chevrolets to one.
  • Rick Ware Racing will attempt the full season, gaining the owner points from the Roush No. 60.
  • SS-Greenlight Racing moves back to their traditional No. 07 and No. 08 for Ray Black, Jr. and Gray Gaulding respectively.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing expands from one to two full-time Ford Mustangs with Chase Briscoe joining Cole Custer.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing, Go Green Racing, and Roush Fenway Racing shuttered their Xfinity Series Programs.

Storylines Heading into the Racing Experience 300:

There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:

  • Cole Custer will have Jacob Companies as the primary sponsor of his No. 00 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing.
  • Scott Lagasse, Jr. will be in the No. 4 RIMROCK DEVLIN Chevrolet Camaro SS for JD Motorsports.
  • Chase Elliott will be in the No. 8 Aftershokz Chevrolet Camaro SS for JR Motorsports.
  • Noah Gragson will be in the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro SS for JR Motorsports.
  • Kaulig Racing will have Ross Chastain and Justin Haley in their No. 10 and No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro’s respectively.
  • Jeffrey Earnhardt will be in the No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra for Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • Josh Bilicki will be in the No. 38 Chevrolet Camaro for RSS Racing.
  • Caesar Bacarella will be in the No. 90 Alpha Prime / MAXIM Chevrolet Camaro SS for DGM Racing.

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, February 15

  • NXS Practice 1 (12:05 a.m. – 12:55 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)
  • NXS Practice 2 (2:05 p.m. – 2:55 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)

Saturday, February 16

  • NXS Qualifying (9:35 a.m., on Fox Sports 1)
  • NXS Racing Experience 300 (2:30 p.m. – 120 laps, 300 miles – on Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM Channel 90, and the Motor Racing Network)

Originally published at Motorsports Tribune