As we head to the season finale for the NASCAR XFINITY Series at the Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, a debate on whether the outlook for the series is good comes to question. We’re six races into the playoffs, with one race remaining, and so far, just one playoff eligible driver has taken their car to victory lane. That stat alone sparks the question on if the state of the series has a good outlook.
But, I dug a little deeper and found that despite the fact that only one playoff driver has won in the playoffs, and also the fact that just four full-time drivers in the series have won this season, I think the series is indeed in for a good future. Here’s why.
While there may have been just four full-time drivers winning this season, it’s not like the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars are the ones that are dominating the victories. Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin have combined to win 13 of the 32 races thus far. While that is a stat that is still likely too high, consider this, younger talent is heading to victory lane in the other 19 races.
While Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney are full-time Cup drivers per say, both are considered young guns in NASCAR’s premiere series. Jones, is just a rookie while Blaney is competing in just his second full-time season. The two though have combined to win five of the remaining 19 XFINITY races that weren’t won by a Cup superstar.
I don’t think most fans have a problem if Blaney or Jones go to victory lane in a NASCAR feeder series. What about the other 12 races? XFINITY Series regulars William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Reed and Jeremy Clements combined to win eight of them. Look at those names too. Byron, Reed and Clements? That’s a great to see such youth and/or storylines get wins at the XFINITY Series level.
That leaves five races left. These non full-time drivers in the series, but also non Cup drivers, make up a good list here. You have Tyler Reddick (Kentucky) and Alex Bowman (Charlotte) reaching victory lane for the first time of their careers this season. Both occurred in the same No. 42 Chevrolet at Chip Ganassi Racing as well. You also have Christopher Bell also winning for the first time of his career at Kansas. Don’t overlook Ryan Preece betting on himself and getting a deal with JGR and winning in his second start with them at Iowa. That too was a first time winner. Then, you have Sam Hornish Jr. winning at Mid-Ohio in August.
Out of those 32 races, that’s six first time winners. Out of those six first time winners, three of which have occurred in the playoffs alone. That’s why I say that despite no playoff drivers winning in the postseason so far, it’s not like the winners that did win are bad things.
The playoff winners this season?
Kentucky – Tyler Reddick (1st XFINITY Series win)
Dover – Ryan Blaney
Charlotte – Alex Bowman (1st ever NASCAR win)
Kansas – Christopher Bell (1st XFINITY Series win)
Texas – Erik Jones
Phoenix – William Byron (19 years old)
That’s a great group of young drivers. To add to that point, the average age of those five winners?
Reddick is 21, Blaney is 22, Bowman is 24, Bell is 22, Jones is 21 and Byron 19. Is that a bad thing?
I’ll also leave you with this, NASCAR’s new rules limited Cup stars to made just 10 starts in 2017. That number drops even more next year. That means the Cup drivers are limited to how many starts that they make at the end of the season. How has this helped?
Since Hornish won at Mid-Ohio in August, there hasn’t been a repeat winner over the last 12 races. That’s right, 12 races, 12 different winners. If you want to go back to Indy at the end of July, you can throw in Byron and Preece and see that we’ve had 14 races and 13 different race winners. Among those 13 winners?
Byron, Preece, Bell, Jones, Reddick, Bowman, Blaney, Hornish and Clements.
This series is doing just fine.