The Round of 8 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series is set, as only three races stand between now and the Championship 4 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway next month. We will just have to wait a week before it gets started.
Three JR Motorsports drivers and two Stewart-Haas Racing cars will take on Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Team Penske for this year’s title.
Those are some pretty stout teams, which makes this round difficult to forecast.
The road to Homestead will be to among those who are strongest on 1.5-mile tracks. Two of the three races in this round will contest on them. While most would think that it’s good news for Christopher Bell, he’s actually second to last among the eight remaining championship eligible drivers this season on average finishing position.
But, Bell’s +48 in the playoff standings right now, so barring a disaster, he should move onto Homestead with ease.
Two of the bottom three drivers in the current standings drive for JRM but they have two of the top three average finishes on 1.5-mile tracks this season.
So, who moves on?
2 Reddick – I think Tyler Reddick wins Kansas. He has a 4.63 average finish on 1.5-mile tracks and five top three finishes in his last six starts on them. He was second in this race in 2017 and fifth last year. Also, the defending series champion has 10 top five finishes in his last 13 NXS starts on the season. If he doesn’t win Kansas, he will be in the hunt. He can then compete at Texas too as he was runner-up back in April on the track while also being fifth (Atlanta) and first (Charlotte) on similar shaped tracks this season too.
20 Bell – It’s a no brainer that he wins in this round. Texas or Phoenix may be his best shots. He won at Atlanta back in February and has three straight top four finishes, two of which being runner-ups in his last three 1.5-mile starts. He won the Kansas playoff race in 2017 and won the Phoenix playoff race last year. Bell, has 10 top four finishes in his last 14 starts on the year.
00 Custer – Another no brainer. If he doesn’t win this round, which I think he can, him being +36 right now in the standings will get him by. Custer, has seven straight top 10 finishes on the season and 13 in his last 16 starts overall. He’s won three of the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks this season and was fourth in the other.
22 Cindric – I think the top four remain chalk. Cindric, has finished in the top three in literally every playoff race run this season. He has seven top fives in his last 10 starts overall. He was fourth at Phoenix last year and has shown to have a better car on 1.5-mile tracks than Allgaier this season.
7 Allgaier – I believe he narrowly misses out on the Championship 4. Allgaier, has five straight top five finishes on the season and 13 consecutive top 10 finishes too. He also has four top 10 finishes in his last five starts on 1.5-mile tracks. But, his detriment will be Phoenix as he’s only had two career top five finishes in the November the desert. He was 24th last year and 10th in 2017. While he did win the spring race in 2017 and was second in the spring race in 2018, he was only 14th this season. Cindric, gets past Allgaier because the “Big 3” will dominate the 1.5-mile tracks and one of them steals a win in Phoenix too. That leaves two even drivers for the final race in which Cindric narrowly gets by.
98 Briscoe – What a rookie season its been for him. His 10.38 average finish on 1.5-mile tracks will cost him. He does have 12 top 10 finishes in his last 13 starts on the year, but this is the time those top 10’s need to be top fives and Cindric and Allgaier have a little bit more right now.
9 Gragson – This car has won the championship in each of the last two years. While Gragson has had a top 10 in all but one start on 1.5-mile tracks this season, he, like Briscoe, just doesn’t have enough top five experience to get into the final four. Granted, he and Briscoe will make it tough with all these top 10’s, they will fall just short.
1 Annett – What a run it’s been for Annett this season. It comes to an end though in Phoenix. Annett, has a top 10 in five of his last seven starts on 1.5-mile tracks, he just doesn’t have enough speed to get a win. He hasn’t had a top five since July 12.