Home » HEADLINE, NASCAR - Xfinity Series

Xfinity Playoffs Ready To Roll

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 26 2020

Chase Briscoe will begin the Xfinity Series playoffs ranked No. 1.

With the opening of NASCAR’s Xfinity Series playoffs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 12 title contenders maintain there’s no clear-cut favorite for the championship despite Ford drivers Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric having won 12 of the 26 regular season races.

“What you’ve got to realize is the Xfinity Series has been very peaky this year with a lot of guys with a lot of momentum at a lot of different times,” Cindric said. “You look at there’s six or seven guys that have been able to step up and win races this year and winning races gets you to the next round and winning races gets you to the Championship 4. So there could easily be either some surprises or some guys that haven’t been as prevalent in the last month or so to really step up and make a difference.”

In addition to Briscoe’s seven victories and Cindric’s five, five other drivers have won multiple events this year. Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones possess three victories each, while Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and rookie Harrison Burton each own two.

Haley may be the one title contender many consider flying under the radar and that suits the sixth-seeded driver, who doesn’t show-off on social media and prefers to keep his personal life private. 

“I didn’t become a race car driver to become famous. I became a race car driver because I wanted to race cars and win,” said Haley, who recorded victories this year at Talladega and Daytona. “I just don’t put myself out there like a lot of people and I think a lot of people overlook me for that reason. I kinda play off the mystery factor.”

The 12 playoff drivers represent seven different teams, including a single-car family operation – Brandonbilt Motorsports – which could be considered the sentimental favorite. With operations in Woodbridge, Va., and Mooresville, N.C., Brandon Brown had to battle his way into the playoffs while his father waged his fight with cancer. Shortly before the regular season finale at Bristol, Brown’s father “rang the bell”, which signals the conclusion of cancer treatments.

Gaining a spot in the playoffs meant the team achieved the goal it set at the season’s beginning and Brown described that as “incredible.”

“I’m over the moon about it and Dad is ecstatic,” Brown said. “With the adversity faced with COVID-19 and Dad’s health issues it would have made it really easy to find a distraction and an excuse as to why we couldn’t perform. Instead of looking at that and trying to find an excuse, they (team members) went out and tried to make it really happen for us. It showed with the cars that were brought to the track, because I was able to fight and run consistently top 10 to 15. I almost felt like we were becoming the king of 11th and 12th place.” 

 With the playoffs in Brown’s future, the team now plans to lease engines from Richard Childress Racing for Las Vegas and Talladega. He’s not sure if one was acquired for The ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway. If he advances, the leasing arrangement will continue. 

While Brown’s team may be the playoffs’ sentimental favorite, the three full-time JR Motorsports drivers believe their organization has been overlooked by many.

“I feel we have four race cars in our organization that are absolutely incredible – drivers, crew chiefs, teams,” Allgaier said. “I look at the depth of people in our shop and there are a lot of days I’m really proud to be here because of the people. 

“People are what make this sport successful or not successful. I think we have a great shot of having four race cars week-in and week-out that can compete for wins. We work together really well, too, which is something I don’t think you see at a lot of organizations. We’re capable of hopefully being the disrupters.”   

 Many of the playoff drivers have yet to solidify their 2021 plans, but that’s not the case for Chastain. Less than a week before the playoffs’ launch, Chip Ganassi Racing announced Chastain would drive its No. 42 entry next year in NASCAR’s Cup Series. However, Chastain emphasized he wouldn’t allow the Cup announcement distract him.

“The best part about being a race car driver is when I put my Bell helmet on and I latch that chin strap it changes,” Chastain said. “It changes me, it changes my mentality. Nothing else in the world matters. It’s only me, the steering wheel, the pedals and looking as far as the hood pins and hopefully, farther to go win that race. Fortunately, now without practice and qualifying, that’s all we focus on.”  

###

Below is a quick look at this year’s Xfinity title contenders as they are seeded in the playoffs’ first round that consists of Las Vegas, Talladega and The ROVAL at Charlotte. 

  1. Chase Briscoe – No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

Born: Dec. 15, 1994

Hometown: Mitchell, Ind.

Crew Chief: Richard Boswell II

This is the second time Briscoe has qualified for the playoffs.

2. Austin Cindric – No. 22 Team Penske Ford

Born: Sept. 2, 1998

Hometown: Mooresville, N.C.

Crew Chief: Brian Wilson

This is the third time Cindric has qualified for the playoffs.

3. Justin Allgaier – No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet

Born: June 6, 1986

Hometown: Riverton, Ill.

Crew Chief: Jason Burdell

This is the fifth time Allgaier has qualified for the playoffs. 

4. Noah Gragson – No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet

Born: July 15, 1998

Hometown: Las Vegas

Crew Chief: David Elenz

This is the second time Gragson has qualified for the playoffs.

5. Brandon Jones – No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Born: Feb. 18, 1997

Hometown: Atlanta

Crew Chief: Jeff Meendering

This is the fourth time Jones has qualified for the playoffs.

6. Justin Haley – No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

Born: April 28, 1999

Hometown: Winamac, Ind.

Crew Chief: Alex Yontz

This is the second time Haley has qualified for the playoffs.

7. Harrison Burton – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Born: Oct. 9, 2000

Hometown: Huntersville, N.C.

Crew Chief: Ben Beshore

This is the first time Burton has qualified for the playoffs.

8. Ross Chastain – No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet

Born: Dec. 4, 1992

Hometown: Alva, Fla.

Crew Chief: Bruce Schlicker

This is the second time Chastain has qualified for the playoffs.

9. Ryan Sieg – No. 39 RSS Racing Chevrolet

Born: June 20, 1987

Hometown: Tucker, Ga.

Crew Chief: Kevin Starland

This is the third time Sieg has qualified for the playoffs.

10. Michael Annett – No. 1 JR Motorsports Chevrolet

Born: June 23, 1986

Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa

Crew Chief: Travis Mack

This is the third time Annett has qualified for the playoffs.

11. Riley Herbst – No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Born: Feb. 24, 1999

Hometown: Las Vegas

Crew Chief: Dave Rogers

This is the first time Herbst has qualified for the playoffs.

12. Brandon Brown – No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet

Born: Sept. 4, 1993

Hometown: Woodbridge, Va.

Crew Chief: Doug Randolph

This is the first time Brown has qualified for the playoffs.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 26 2020
No Comment

Comments are closed.