CHARLOTTE, N.C. — official series release — Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images photo —
As the NASCAR XFINITY Series pauses this holiday weekend, the opportunity arises to take a look at who has been standing out through the first five races of the season. Below is a look at the hottest championship contending drivers in 2015:
Regan Smith – Smith is seventh in the series standings, 30 points behind the standings leader Ty Dillon after five races. Smith opened the season with a DNF at Daytona and since then has been climbing up the standings with four consecutive top-10 finishes. His season-to-date Driver Rating (101.2) is ranked second in the series. Despite the slow start, expect Smith to contend for the title this season; he hasn’t finished lower than third in the points since he joined JR Motorsports in 2013.
Brendan Gaughan – Coming off a runner-up finish at Auto Club Speedway, Brendan Gaughan is sixth in the series standings, one point behind Darrell Wallace Jr. in fifth and 23 points back from the standings lead. Gaughan has posted one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 11.4 this season.
Darrell Wallace Jr. – Wallace is ranked fifth in the series driver standings, 22 points behind the standings leader after five races. This season he has posted one top 10 and an average finish of 11.4. Wallace also leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. Through fives races Wallace has the eighth best driver rating (92.0) and the sixth best average running position (10.254).
Ryan Reed – Reed kicked off 2015 with a big win at Daytona and since then has held his own posting an average finish of 11.2. Reed is currently fourth in the series standings, four points behind third-place Chase Elliott and 19 points back from Ty Dillon in the standings lead. Reed has spent 74.5% of his laps completed on the lead lap this season. His driver rating of 86.3 is ninth best in the series.
Chase Elliott – Elliott has spent most of 2015 climbing back up the standings after starting the season with a 28th-place finish at Daytona. Following Daytona, Elliott has rallied off three top fives and four top 10s putting him third in the series standings 10 points back from second-place Chris Buescher and 15 points behind Ty Dillon. Elliott is back in championship form; in his last four races he has posted an average finish of 5.25. His loop data for 2015 also supports his ascension in the points; he is ranked fifth in driver rating (100.0), and third in average running position (8.694).
Next week the XFINITY Series returns to Texas Motor Speedway , the track Elliott posted his first series career win.
Chris Buescher – Buescher’s success is no fluke, the Roush Fenway Racing driver currently sits second in the standings just five points behind Ty Dillon in the lead after five races. Buescher has posted three top fives and an average finish of 7.8 – second only to Ty Dillon among championship contenders. In five races this season Buescher is ranked fifth best in average running position (8.928), fourth best in driver rating (100.5) and second best in percentage of laps in the top 15 (94.4%).
Next week will be particularly special for Buescher as the series heads to Texas. The young standout driver hails from Prosper, Texas; which is about a 51-minute drive northeast of Texas Motor Speedway.
Ty Dillon – Dillon is a man on a mission this season and it is championship or bust for the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 team. He sits atop the championship standings five points ahead of second-place Chris Buescher. The 23 year old has posted two top fives, four top 10s and a series-leading average finish of 6.8. Dillon opened the 2015 season with back-to-back third-place finishes. He leads the series in percentage of laps run on the lead lap in 2015 with 97.96% and is also ranked sixth in driver rating (98.9) and fourth in average running position (8.853).
Barring any unforeseen incidents on the track, Dillon’s rein over the points should continue at Texas. The North Carolina native has an average finish of 12.0 at the 1.5-mile speedway.
CREDIT: NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications