5 Favorites For Friday Night’s Go Bowling 250 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

The opening race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs will take place on Friday night at the Richmond Raceway. The Go Bowling 250 (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) should be an intense one as this year’s race has a new place on the NASCAR schedule. Instead of being the final regular season race in the Cup Series and just one of the race on the XFINITY Series slate, this weekend is now a playoff event for both series.

Also, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be returning to the series for his first NASCAR start since his final Cup start last November in Homestead. Is he among the drivers to beat list?

Here are the top five. 

Christopher Bell

Last Saturday in Vegas was Bell’s first top five finish in the series since a second place finish in August at Bristol. Now, he’s heading back to a track to where he got his first win of the 2018 season at. Back in the spring, Bell led 120 laps in his dominating victory. He also finished sixth in his other start on the .75-mile oval.

He was fastest in the opening practice on Friday and will start on the pole.

Justin Allgaier

The No. 1 overall seed is still on his hot streak. Allgaier, has seven top three finishes in his last eight starts on the season and 14 straight top 10 finishes in his No. 7 Chevrolet overall. He finished 14th in the spring race but had great finishes prior. His short track finishes this year are second (Phoenix), second (Bristol), 14th (Richmond), first (Dover), first (Iowa), second (Iowa 2) and third (Bristol 2) respectively.

He rolls off fifth.

Cole Custer

After crashing at Indy, Custer has nine top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts on the year. While Richmond hasn’t always been the kindest for Custer, he’s going to be a factor on Friday night. He was second and first respectively in practice and will start fourth.

Daniel Hemric

He’s had an up and down season recently but Richmond he’s been strong at. Hemric, has two top four finishes in his last three starts on the short oval and has led at least 10 laps in all three starts. He was seventh and second respectively in practice. He starts sixth.

Ross Chastain

This car he’s driving won at Richmond last spring with Kyle Larson. Chastain, is coming off of a win last week and hoping to end his final start with Ganassi for the year with a win. He was third quick in final practice and that’s where he’ll start tonight’s race at.

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