New 'Magic Mile' winner guaranteed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series

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New 'Magic Mile' winner guaranteed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series
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Judging by recent precedent, there is one important key to earning a victory in Saturday‘s Crayon 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Beat Christopher Bell.

The now third-year NASCAR Cup Series driver Bell has won the last three New Hampshire Xfinity races and been so dominant that his combined margin of victory in the last two races is more than 10 seconds. He led 151 of the 200 laps in 2021 and 186 laps in his 2019 win (there was no race in 2020 because of COVID-19).

The good news for the rest of the field is that Bell is not entered this year and it certainly presents an interesting competitive situation. There are no former New Hampshire winners among the full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers. Current championship leader AJ Allmendinger has only a single start at New Hampshire (12th place last year) and Ty Gibbs, who is second place in the standings, has never previously competed in an Xfinity Series race at the one-mile New England oval.

RELATED: Weekend schedule | Entry list for Saturday

Both Allmendinger and Gibbs are looking to regain championship form after a challenging race in Atlanta Motor Speedway last Saturday. Allmendinger, went down two laps early at Atlanta but came back to salvage a 10th-place finish in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Gibbs, driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, was involved in an accident and finished 35th at Atlanta — which equaled his worst showing of the season (at Talladega Superspeedway).

The differential between points leader Allmendinger and second place Gibbs atop the championship widened from nine points before Atlanta to 29 points entering the New Hampshire race.

Veteran Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, has the most New Hampshire starts among the championship contenders. In 10 starts, he‘s earned a pair of top fives and seven top-10 finishes. And he is coming off his career-best finish of runner-up last year.

Allgaier‘s JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson is certainly aiming to turn in a good showing this week. The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet was penalized 30 driver points (and fined $35,000) for aggressive driving at Road America two weeks ago. The penalty and a sixth-place finish at Atlanta has put him fifth in the standings, 67 points behind Allmendinger.

Seven drivers have secured a playoff berth with wins — Allmendinger, Gibbs, Allgaier, Josh Berry, Gragson, Austin Hill and Brandon Jones. Landon Cassill holds an 80-point advantage over Anthony Alfredo for the 12th and final playoff spot with nine races remaining in the regular season.

Practice for the race is Friday at 5:05 p.m. ET, followed by qualifying at 5:35 p.m. ET televised on USA Network and streamed on the NBC Sports App.

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