It is a decidedly different venue and slightly different format, but the opportunity remains the same -- the chance to earn a $100,000 bonus and move one step closer to a potential $1 million payoff.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash program makes its Phoenix Raceway debut this weekend with Saturday's DC Solar 200 (4 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR).
It's the ninth year of the four-race program that rewards the highest-finishing series regular in each race with a $100,000 bonus. Should the same driver finish highest in all four D4C races, he would pocket an additional $600,000 bonus for a $1 million total -- the $600,000 bonus officially was confirmed Tuesday night.
Three of this year's four Dash 4 Cash races will be contested at venues that have hosted XFINITY Series events since the series' inaugural 1982 season -- Bristol, Richmond and Dover. Phoenix has been a series staple since '99 and replaces Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a D4C race this season.
"For me in particular I think it's great," Justin Allgaier, one of four drivers for JR Motorsports and the most recent Dash 4 Cash winner, told NASCAR.com Tuesday. "I've been very fortunate that of the race tracks we go to, 1-mile ovals are definitely kind of my advantages I would say.
"But the other part of it is that it's just a great place, right? It's fan-friendly, it's fun to race on; it's one of those places where you can actually battle somebody wheel-to-wheel and run multiple laps side by side and really not affect your day. Some race tracks you go to you can race side-by-side but you're better off just to get in line and go. Phoenix is one of those places that kind of warrants itself to two and three lanes and different approaches.
"So from a series standpoint I think it's great but from a Justin Allgaier standpoint I think it's even better."
Allgaier snapped up the $100,000 bonus in the final D4C event last season, at Indianapolis.
Unlike last year when the four D4C-eligible drivers were determined based on finishing positions in two heat races, this year the four qualifiers will be based on finishing positions in the first two stages of each D4C race.
With race and playoff points already up for grabs at the conclusion of each stage, the opportunity to earn a D4C berth will make stage finishes even more important if not necessarily any more tense.
"In some ways as drivers we're already racing for everything we've got to get those (stage) points," Allgaier said. "... I don't know that it gives you any more or less pressure. You know you're going to have to push as hard as you can. And hope, hope, hope that you're in a good spot there. That's no different to me whether it's a Dash 4 Cash race, last weekend in Las Vegas or two weeks from now at Auto Club ... it's the same pressure to put yourself in the top 10."
Competitors with five or more years of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series experience, and not competing for XFINITY Series points, are not eligible to compete in Dash 4 Cash events. While that eligibility requirement excludes drivers such as Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., two of last year's D4C race winners, there will be Monster Energy Series drivers in Saturday's race.
Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) and Ty Dillon (Germain Racing) will compete for RCR; Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Erik Jones (Furniture Row Racing) will compete for JGR while Ryan Blaney (Wood Brothers Racing) will be behind the wheel of the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske.
Fifteen drivers have won one or more D4C bonuses with Elliott Sadler, Regan Smith and Austin Dillon topping the list at three apiece. No driver has swept all four races to cash out with the $1 million bonus.
"What XFINITY and Comcast do for our sport in general, whether it's just XFINITY or all of NASCAR, is just incredible," Allgaier said. "To see the amount of time and effort and energy and resources that they put into this sport is absolutely amazing.
"I think this program couldn't happen in a better series and I hope they keep going with it because it's been really cool."