Nigel Kinrade Photography
GALLERY: NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff Picture Leaving Texas
A last lap battle for the lead produced excitement at Texas Motor Speedway, with Cole Custer making the last lap pass on Tyler Reddick to lock himself into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
1. Cole Custer – Locked In
After a slow start to the Round of 12, Cole Custer is doing what he needs to do in the Round of 8, as he scored the victory at Texas Motor Speedway to lock himself into the Championship 4. That’s a good thing, as he was dangling close to the cut-off after being one of the drivers caught up in the first lap crash at Kansas Speedway.
He has finished in the top-10 in his last two races at ISM.
2. Tyler Reddick +20
Consistency paid off for Tyler Reddick as a second-place finish for his fourth playoff top-10 has allowed him to extend his gap above the cut-off line. Now he just needs another solid run to seal the deal at ISM Raceway.
He has finished 14th and 10th in his previous two races at ISM.
3. Elliott Sadler +13
Elliott Sadler was strong through the regular season, and is getting back to that level of performance with an eighth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. If he could qualify closer to the front, say top-five rather than 13th, it would make things easier for the master of points in the XFINITY Series.
He placed ninth at ISM Raceway in the spring.
4. Daniel Hemric +12
Daniel Hemric has started off the playoffs solidly with five straight top-10 performances, rebounding to finish 10th at Texas following a mid-race spin. The gap that he has to the cut-off is small, and he will need to make sure to do well at ISM Raceway if he wants to secure his Championship 4 birth. Let’s also not forget that following the Kansas Lottery 300, the No. 21 Chevrolet was found too low in post-race inspection, resulting in a 10-point penalty. It’ll be interesting if that comes back to bite him.
He has scored a top-seven in each of his three starts at ISM Raceway with a track-best fifth.
5. Justin Allgaier -12
The regular season champion Justin Allgaier got loose on the opening lap at Kansas, and watched the 18-point advantage he held entering the round disappear just like that. While he scored a sixth at Texas, he actually lost points in relation to the cut-off line virtue of Custer’s victory.
Coming down to ISM, expect Allgaier to run strong following six top-fives in his last seven starts, including a victory in 2017.
6. Matt Tifft -14
His fourth top-seven finish of the playoffs – seventh at Texas – is not doing Matt Tifft as many favors as he would’ve hoped, falling further behind the cut-off line. Richard Childress Racing has shown the potential for success with Hemric, and now Tifft needs to equal or better his teammate.
He finished seventh at ISM in the spring.
7. Christopher Bell -34
Christopher Bell entered with momentum on his side, courtesy of a pair of victories during the Round of 12 at Richmond Raceway and Dover International Speedway in the midst of an impressive rookie campaign. However, the past two weeks have seen him spin on the opening lap, resulting in finishes further back in the running order. As a result, he now enters this weekend in a must-win situation.
He has finished fourth in two previous events at ISM Raceway.
8. Austin Cindric -61
Austin Cindric needed to get the top-10’s rolling to work his way up, but the Kansas crash stopped him right in his tracks. Even though he placed third at Texas, he remains last on the grid in a must-win situation.
His first race at ISM, he didn’t fare as well, with a 16th-place finish in the spring.
All Photos Courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography
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