NXS Outlook: Seven Races Separate NASCAR Playoffs Featured

04 Aug 2018
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NXS Outlook: Seven Races Separate NASCAR Playoffs Getty Images for NASCAR

Seven NASCAR XFINITY Series races separate the start of NASCAR Playoffs going into the Zippo 200 this weekend at Watkins Glen International. With 19 of the 33 races in the history books -- the pressure now cranks up as we head into the fall portion of the schedule.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have certainly dominated throughout 2018. Eight of those 19 races have ended with a cup driver going to victory lane between seven cup series regulars. Five different regulars have gone on to win races in nine events thus far in 2018.

Christopher Bell has been the driver to beat thus far in 2018 with four wins. The Oklahoma native enters Watkins Glen International this weekend with wins in the last three races. The young racer led 94 circuits in the U.S. Cellular 250 this past weekend at the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway.

“I’m really excited. We started out the year really strong. We went to Daytona and kind of threw that one away, but that’s okay. And, then Atlanta, Vegas, California, I was able to win the poles, run upfront. Phoenix was mixed in there and we ran top-fives a lot,” said Bell when asked about his outlook going forward. “We were really fast and we never won, but fast, competing for wins. Then, I feel like we’re breaking through now. We’ve been able to win the last two races at two totally different style race tracks, which was really big for us. We’re coming back to Iowa, which is a great race track for us. I’m feeling really good about things. Road course racing is an unknown for us but thankfully, it doesn’t relate to anything. I’ve just got to make sure that if we go to the road course races and struggle that I don’t get down on myself and we should be able to keep rolling on here.”

Justin Allgaier is another series regular that has multiple victories so far in 2018. The Illinoise native could be a driver to watch over the next four events as the series will visit three road course tracks and a short track. Allgaier’s both wins this year came on short tracks at Dover and Iowa and has done well in the past at road course visits.

“This stretch of road courses is always a lot of fun. From an excitement standpoint, they never fail to disappoint, unless you’re on the disappointing end of something that goes crazy,” said Allgaier on the upcoming road course stretch. “I was fortunate enough to win at Montreal and that was a big deal for me, but I’d love to get a win on one of the current tracks. The road-course program at JR Motorsports is really good. We’ve got the cars and we’ve got a team that’s capable of getting to Victory Lane, so I feel like we’ve got a good opportunity to do that this weekend.”

Other XFINITY Series regulars to visit victory lane this year include Tyler Reddick at Daytona and Spencer Gallagher at Talladega. Ryan Preece grabbed the win at Bristol Motor Speedway, but is only running a short schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing, and is not eligible for a playoff spot.

Spencer Gallagher was indefinitely suspended by NASCAR for violating the substance abuse policy during the week after his first career win. He was reinstated by NASCAR a couple of weeks ago but is not eligible to make the post-season. The No. 23 team was later denied a waiver from NASCAR.

Current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver playoff standings after Iowa:

P

DRIVER

WINS

PLAYOFF POINTS

1

Christopher Bell

3

18

2

Justin Allgaier

2

8

3

Tyler Reddick

1

6

4

Daniel Hemric

-

2

5

Elliott Sadler

-

4

6

Cole Custer

-

-

7

Brandon Jones

-

1

8

Ryan Truex

-

-

9

Matt Tifft

-

-

10

Austin Cindric

-

-

11

Ryan Reed

-

-

12

Ross Chastain

-

-


Other potential threats for the championship that has not gone to victory lane this season include veteran driver Elliott Sadler, Daniel Hemric and Ryan Truex. The three drivers have 37 top 10 finishes combined and have each led 371 laps in 19 races this year.

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Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.