Xfinity Series part of Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway

Xfinity Series part of Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to competition at Darlington Raceway with Saturday‘s Shriners Children‘s 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) after a rare week off.

Unquestionably the team to beat this week is JR Motorsports, which has won the last four Xfinity Series races at the notoriously tough 1.366-mile oval.

Veteran Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 JRM Chevrolet, is the defending race winner — holding off his then-teammate Noah Gragson by a slight 0.259-seconds in this race last year to hoist his second Darlington trophy in as many years. Allgaier is the only two-time race winner in the field on Saturday and a victory — which would be his first of 2023 – would certainly be huge for him toward his championship run.

Among the title contenders, his two wins, six top-five and 11 top-10 efforts in 15 Darlington starts are easily tops. He‘s currently ranked fifth in the standings, 49 points behind leader Austin Hill.

Hill, driver of the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, leads the Xfinity Series with three wins and holds a slight four-point edge over Joe Gibbs Racing‘s John Hunter Nemechek atop the driver standings.

MORE: Full entry list for Darlington | Xfinity Series standings

Darlington has been a solid venue for both Hill and his closest competitor in the standings, Nemechek. Both drivers finished inside the top 10 in both races there last year, although neither has won at the track. They are also the only two multiple-time winners in 2023. And Nemechek‘s 340 laps led this season is best by more than 100 laps over the next closest — Hill.

There are three former Darlington winners in Saturday‘s field, including the only multi-time winner Allgaier and his first-year JRM teammate Brandon Jones (2020) and Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Cole Custer (2019).

RCR driver Sheldon Creed finished runner-up in the fall race at Darlington and has back-to-back NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victories at the track and should be considered a favorite as well.

A handful of NASCAR Cup Series drivers are entered this week, including 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, who will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Current Cup Series driver standings leader Ross Chastain will drive the No. 91 DGM Racing Chevrolet and Ty Dillon will steer the famed No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Several teams will be participating in Darlington‘s famed Throwback Weekend.

RELATED: Check out the throwback schemes | See full weekend schedule

Both Hill‘s and his RCR teammate Creed‘s Chevrolets will honor former two-time Xfinity Series champion Kevin Harvick with paint schemes reminiscent of Harvick‘s 2001 and 2006 title-winning seasons. Custer‘s No. 00 Ford will pay tribute to the late driver Jason Leffler and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Riley Herbst‘s No. 98 Ford will do the same for the late rally driver Ken Block.

Brett Moffitt‘s No. 25 AM Racing Ford will honor the late Tim Richmond‘s famous “Folger‘s Coffee” car.

Jeffrey Earnhardt‘s No. 45 Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet will carry a paint scheme honoring his late grandfather Dale Earnhardt‘s 1997 All-Star Race car.

Fittingly, for the throwback theme, it‘s a NASCAR Hall of Famer that boasts all the most important Xfinity Series records at Darlington. Mark Martin holds the top mark for wins (eight), pole positions (eight), top fives (14), top 10s (18) and laps led (972).

The green flag for practice waves at 5:05 p.m. ET on Friday, followed immediately by qualifying. Both sessions will be aired live on FS1.