The NASCAR XFINITY Series begins their second round of their playoffs this weekend at the Kansas Speedway. Eight drivers are still mathematically eligible to win this year’s championship. But, that list trims to four once the checkered flag flies at Phoenix in November.
So, who will be among the four battling for the title at the Homestead-Miami Speedway?
Here’s who I think.
Round 2 Winners
It’s hard to predict who will win future XFINITY Series races based on us not knowing the future entry-lists. I say that because last round, none of the 12 playoff drivers reached victory lane. The three first round playoff races were all won by non playoff eligible drivers. With how round two is shaping up, I’d expect that it could be a possibility of happening again over the next three races too.
I can’t see any series regular winning this weekend at Kansas. Then, same can be said for the next race at Texas too. Unfortunately, I don’t know what drivers will fully be racing as far as non regulars at Texas and Phoenix yet so I can’t make predictions for those races. But, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick and either of the Dillon brothers are best bets to win.
Round 2 Playoff Standings Prediction
- Elliott Sadler – How can I not put the regular season champion on top of this list? He’s the veteran in the field that I wouldn’t look past at all. If anyone among the XFINITY Series regulars is to win during this round, it’s Sadler. He has six top 10 finishes in eight starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season, and with this round featuring two 1.5-mile tracks, he’s the one to beat. Plus, Sadler has five straight top 10 finishes to his credit heading into Kansas.
- Justin Allgaier – I have to go with another veteran here. He’s got the power, speed and skill set to contend this round too. Allgaier, is also the last XFINITY Series regular to win a race this season anyways. If not for a problem not of his doing at Charlotte, he would have had at least six straight top 10 finishes to his credit too. In fact, taking out Charlotte, Allgaier has had three straight top three finishes prior to that, and a span of races that saw him finish 11th or better in eight of nine tries.
- Brennan Poole – He’s driving for a job next year and what better showcase than to shine in the second round. Poole, heads to round two on the heels of three straight top five finishes to his credit. In fact, since Loudon in July, Poole has had 10 top 10 finishes in his last 13 starts. He’s finished worse than 11th just twice in that same time frame. If it comes down to Phoenix in November, he came home eighth there in March.
- Daniel Hemric – I think it’s a Chevrolet lockout of the final round. Hemric has been good enough lately to sneak by and I think it only gets better moving forward. Out of his last five starts, his worst finish is seventh. He’s either finished fourth or seventh in each of his last five starts on the season too. If you go back to Kentucky in July, he’s finished worse than 12th just twice. On top of that, he’s scored stage points in 12 of the last 13 stages, so in my opinion, he will be accumulating enough points to move on.
- William Byron – This is the upset portion, I don’t have him moving on. Here’s why. Two of the three races this round are on 1.5-mile track. Byron, has struggled on them this season. His finishes are seventh (Atlanta), 14th (Vegas), seventh (Texas), 14th (Charlotte 1), seventh (Kentucky), 33rd (Chicago), 18th (Kentucky 2) and 16th (Charlotte 2). As you can see, his best finish in eight 1.5-mile starts in seventh. Also, since Iowa in July, Byron has scored stage points just 10 times out of 22. He hasn’t won since Indy and with the tracks coming up, I don’t think he does in this round either. While Poole and Hemric have been consistent up front and scoring stage points, I think they move on ahead of him.
- Cole Custer – The top non Chevy is the rookie Custer. He’s been phenomenal lately and I wouldn’t be shocked to be proved wrong here and him actually win in this round. Custer, has four straight top 10 finishes to his credit and 10 top 10’s over his last 13 starts. If you go back to Kentucky in July, Custer has finished worse than 14th just once and that was a 35th place effort at Mid-Ohio. He’s scored stage points in eight straight stages and nine of the last 10. He’s going to be a sleeper to watch.
- Matt Tifft – The lone Toyota marching on has been good lately, but I don’t think he can out finish these guys in front like he will need to. He doesn’t have the stage points to start ahead of them, and I don’t think he can get enough to get in front of them by virtue of that. Tifft, hasn’t scored a stage point since the first stage at Kentucky. Plus, he’s had points in just five of the last 20 stages on the season. Yes, he does have four straight top 10 finishes to his credit, as he’s alternated sixth and ninth place results over the last four races, but I don’t think he has enough to move onto Homestead as part of the Championship 4. He’s also not been too strong overall on 1.5-mile tracks, scoring just four top 10’s in eight starts, with a best finish of sixth.
- Ryan Reed – While he’s done enough to get by, without a restrictor plate track in this round, I don’t see him winning a race. Reed, has had just one top 10 finish over his last 11 starts on the season and just two in the last 16 races. That’s not enough to move on. Plus, he’s scored stage points just four times over the last 30 stages. That’s not going to cut it. On top of that, Reed has been decent on 1.5-mile tracks, but hasn’t scored a result better than ninth. He does have five top 12 finishes in eight starts on 1.5-mile tracks this season, but no top fives.