By Logan Stewart
Just beneath the glory-shrouded ranks of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, a class of aggressive competitors revs the gas pedal with the same intensity as their top-level counterparts. Like the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), the Xfinity Series is also a NASCAR-sanctioned race series. It’s the middle child of NASCAR’s three-tiered circuit which also includes the NCWTS and the Sprint Cup Series.

“When you’ve got something to prove, there’s nothing greater than a challenge.”  – Terry Bradshaw

The No. 20 Xfinity Series car of Erik Jones at Daytona, Feb. 2016
Credit: Logan Stewart for Skirts and Scuffs

Keep Your Eye on the Sleeper

If the Sprint Cup level of racing was varsity, the Xfinity Series would be junior varsity. But don’t be fooled; it’s not a lazy Sunday drive by any means. Like they say, you never know when the JV squad will stun the crowd and become the story of the week.

Many NCWTS drivers progress to the Xfinity level, which serves as a training ground and place to showcase skills as they move toward the Sprint Cup Series. Some Xfinity drivers will even run in the Sprint Cup series from time to time, but if they compete in more than seven races in a season they're not eligible for the Rookie of the Year title when they go full-time in Sprint Cup. For more on ROTY, see Rookie Stripe: What is the stripe?

Forget Calm

Here's something important to know about both Xfinity and NCWTS races: Sprint Cup drivers are allowed to race in both series. This only adds to the fervid intensity on the track as lesser-known drivers compete against their more celebrated comrades. The presence of Sprint Cup drivers in these races is actually a hotly-contested issue since they tend to win the races more frequently. In 2015, only 10 of the Xfinity Series’ 33 races were won by Xfinity series drivers.

“Finishing races is important, but racing is more important.” ― Dale Earnhardt
Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs

Here are some facts about the Xfinity Series:

· The Xfinity Series was first called the Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series (1982-83), then the Busch Grand National Series (1984-2003), then the Busch Series (2004-2007), then the Nationwide Series (2008-2014). The name changes have to do with sponsorships.

· A maximum of 40 cars are allowed to race in the field.

· Most Xfinity races are held at the same location as the weekend’s Sprint Cup race, usually on the day before the Cup race.

· Xfinity Series cars weigh 3,400 pounds, and their engines produce about 750 horsepower. The cars are 51 inches tall, compared to 54 inches for Sprint Cup cars and 60 inches for trucks.

· There's about a 10 to 15 mile per hour difference in speed between Xfinity and Sprint Cup cars – and the Xfinity cars are faster.

· Xfinity races are shorter in length than Sprint Cup races.

· As of 2016, the Xfinity Series now follows a seven-race, elimination-style playoff format like that of the Sprint Cup Series, meaning drivers will be eliminated based on performance during certain races.

For rookie fans, especially those who have never been to a live NASCAR event, an Xfinity race is the perfect place to dip your toe in the water and inhale your first waft of burning rubber. You’ll be feeling high-octane in no time.

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

ROOKIE STRIPE: The NASCAR Xfinity Series ROOKIE STRIPE: The NASCAR Xfinity Series Reviewed by Logan Stewart on Wednesday, March 09, 2016 Rating: 5