The time for the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ cutoff race of the opening round is here. Two races down, one to go. That “one” is Saturday’s Bar Harbor 200 (3 p.m. ET/NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
That leaves storylines a plenty for it.
Here are the top five.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Strength
They’ve won three of the last five Dover poles and were strong on Friday. All three drivers were in the top 10 in both practice sessions. Ryan Preece won on another high banked concrete short track at Bristol back in April. Christopher Bell won on a short track two weeks ago in Richmond.
Can this group get a win on Saturday?
If so, they have to hope it’s Brandon Jones.
Heading into this weekend, we’ve seen a Chevrolet driver win at Vegas (Ross Chastain), a Toyota driver win at Richmond (Bell) and a Ford driver win in Charlotte (Chase Briscoe). Who gets the nod Saturday in Dover.
All three manufacturers have won the last three weeks.
Plus, there’s been four straight different winners on the season by four different teams. Does that streak extend?
If so, that’s good news for JR Motorsports.
Can Allgaier Turn Things Around
Who would have thought that the top seed in the playoffs would be only +11 in the playoff standings right now? Prior to the playoffs, Allgaier had 14 straight top 10 finishes. Unfortunately, he was crashed by Cole Custer at Richmond and finished 32nd. Last week, Austin Cindric got him and he came home 15th.
That’s why he’s where he’s at.
He won at this very track back in the spring though and has four top four finishes in his last five starts on the Monster Mile.
He was runner-up in this race last year too.
Furthermore, he led the way in each of the two practice sessions on Friday.
Christopher Bell is the only playoff eligible driver to have won in this year’s playoffs. He did so in the opening race of the round at Richmond. Currently, we have six drivers separated by just 14 points in the standings. We know at least one of those six definitely won’t make it to the next round.
In turn, that means stage points will be crucial in Saturday’s race which then means we should have battling for position for all 200 laps of the race. Drivers can’t afford to give up valuable points in each of the two stages, especially with margins as slim as they are. Stage points will be the reason as to why someone makes it on and someone doesn’t.
Finally, the cutoff aspect comes in. As stated above, only one driver has clinched a spot into the second round. Daniel Hemric (+30), Tyler Reddick (+21), Cole Custer (+14), Matt Tifft (+13), Elliott Sadler (+11), Justin Allgaier (+11) and Ross Chastain (+9) are in.
Austin Cindric (-9), Ryan Truex (-24), Ryan Reed (-25) and Brandon Jones (-25) are trying to get their ways in.
Will they though?