NASCAR Xfinity Racing Series AJ Allmendinger normally would get top billing in tonight’s race in Martinsville, but with Dale Earnhardt Jr. making his lone start of the 2022 season much of the sports attention may be off the points leader and young stars Ty Gibbs and Noah Gragson.
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Earnhardt Jr. is making his fifth start since retiring from full-time competition in 2017 and will be making his first Xfinity Series start at the 0.526-mile Virginia oval. His previous four starts resulted in three top-five finishes, most recently coming in 2020 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The trio of Allmendinger, Gibbs, and Gragson currently hold the top three spots in the series standings and have accounted for all of the victory lane appearances in the last five races with Gibbs winning three including last week in Richmond.
Allmendinger has not finished outside the top nine yet this season, currently holding a 20-point lead over both Gibbs and Gragson.
2021 Series rookie Josh Berry won the spring race at Martinsville last year, beating Gragson to the checkered flag by less than a second to earn his first series win. The race started on Friday night but due to persistent rain, the race was halted by rain after 91 laps and was not resumed and completed until Sunday. Berry led a race-high 95 laps, 10 before the rain delay and 85 on Sunday.
Berry returns to defend his title for this race, currently sitting fourth in the series standings, and has tallied four top-ten finishes in seven starts this season.
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