AJ Allmendinger walks down pit road.
James Gilbert | Getty Images

Race for NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship heats up at Darlington

If Ty Gibbs plans to make a move toward the NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship, now would be a good time.

The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has a series-best five victories this season, but he trails three-time winner AJ Allmendinger in the standings by 58 points with three races left in the regular season.

Allmendinger has held the top spot in the standings for 17 straight races. Darlington Raceway, however, is not one of his best tracks. If Gibbs wants to make a dent in Allmendinger’s hefty points lead, he can start with Saturday’s Sports Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 at the “Lady in Black” (3 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

RELATED: Xfinity Series standings

Allmendinger has other ideas, but his attitude toward Saturday’s race can best be described as cautiously optimistic.

“Darlington is such a tough race track to master,” said Allmendinger, who finished eighth at the speedway in May to secure his first top 10 there in three Xfinity starts. “The last time we raced there in the spring, we didn’t quite have the grip and speed we needed, but still came away with a top-10 finish.

“I think we were able to learn a lot from that, and hopefully that shows this weekend.”

The Sports Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 also features entries from three Cup Series playoff drivers: Kyle Larson, who won his most recent series start Aug. 20 at Watkins Glen International; Christopher Bell, subbing for Denny Hamlin, still sore from an incident last Sunday at Daytona International Speedway; and Ross Chastain, whose breakout performance at Darlington in 2018 propelled him toward the national spotlight.