O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


A quick glance at the current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings shows a big youth movement at the top as the average age of the top five drivers is just over 21 years of age.

>Points leader Ty Dillon is just 23 years old and he is followed in the standings by Chris Buescher (22), Chase Elliott (19), Ryan Reed (21) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (21). These five already have combined for a win, nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10s this season. Reed has the lone win, which came in the season-opening race at Daytona. 

The series has been idle since March 21 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., but the season resumes with Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway (7:30 pm CDT/Fox Sports 1/PRN/SiriusXM/KRLD-AM). 

Three of the five – Buescher, Reed and Wallace Jr. - compete for Roush Fenway Racing are coming off a race at Fontana where they all finished among the top 12.

They were encouraged by their results, but far from satisfied. 

"We should have had a better finish,'' Reed said of his 11th-place finish. "We're improving and getting better every week. But I think we still have a lot of room to grow. I think we have a lot of work to do, but we have to look at the gains and we all ran better here (today) than we did last year." 

To be a bit frustrated after a solid day of contending actually is a good problem to have for the RFR team, where the XFINITY Series drivers are leading the way for the organization. 

Buescher, a native of Prosper, Texas, has three top-five finishes in the five XFINITY Series races and is ranked second in the championship standings, five points behind Dillon entering the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. 

Reed, on the strength of his win, is fourth while the rookie Wallace has three finishes among the top 12 and is fifth in the standings. Not to be outdone by his younger teammates, the 39-year-old Elliott Sadler is eighth after picking up his first top 10 at Fontana. 

While a lot of young drivers would be happy with being fourth in the standings, Reed is taking what he is learned and looking to continually improve. 

"The win (at Daytona) was huge for us,” Reed said. “I think there’s just a lot more confidence. I had made a lot of mistakes by this point last year that I got to learn from. Obviously, at the time I hated making them, but I don’t think I’d change it now. I got to work a lot with Jack (Roush) and Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and a lot of people at Roush Fenway helped me learn from those mistakes and they helped me not to make them again. 

“We still want to continue to run better. Until we’re running top 10 consistently and winning races Roush Fenway isn’t where they want to be, so we still have to continue to get better on the race track, but everyone off the race track is doing everything they can. We’ve made improvements, but we’ve got to continue to make improvements and find speed." 

A return to Texas Motor Speedway for Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 has Wallace Jr. confident that a good result may be in the cards. In his four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, he has recorded three top-10 finishes and the one he didn’t – November’s WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 – he had a dominant truck before an engine problem ended his bid.  

“You move all around and get to pick multiple lanes to see where your car or truck handles the best,” he said. “I’m always excited to race at Texas. We have a good baseline set up and just need to tweak it to my liking and get it ready to run.” 

Buescher also is pleased with the season’s start, but knows there is room to continue to grow. 

“I’m happy with the way the season has started,” he said. “We always have work to do and we know that. Until you’re winning every race you’re going to say the same thing every Monday, so we’re going to keep working at it. Everybody is working really hard.” 

Meanwhile as good as the XFINITY side is performing for RFR, the Cup side is struggling. Their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series counterparts Greg Biffle, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are ranked 20th, 26th, and 28th, respectively, in the standings and have only one top-10 finish among them (Biffle was 10th in the season-opening Daytona 500). The three have combined for only six top-20 finishes.   

"It's really unfortunate because I know how hard those guys are working over there on the Cup side,'' Reed said. "I know we're working hard with them to see if anything we learn here can help them over there and vice versa. We've all just got to keep digging."

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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