Following the first 10 races of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, four drivers have locked themselves into the post-season, taking up a third of the 12 positions available. With eight more spots up for grabs over the next 16 events, the action promises to be full of excitement.
As the series takes a two week break from the action, here is an idea of how things look thus far.
1. Tyler Reddick – Locked In (1 win)
In 2018, Tyler Reddick won the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, fought up and down through the year before coming out as the champion at year-end. Thus far in 2019, it’s been a different story for him. Now with Richard Childress Racing, he has been consistent with just one finish outside of the top-nine, highlighted by a victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs in the third position, seven points behind the leader.
2. Christopher Bell – Locked In (Three Wins)
After winning seven races last year en route to placing fourth in the standings, Christopher Bell entered this season as the favorite for the championship. He has lived up to expectations thus far, winning three of the 10 races with seven top-10’s to his credit.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs from the top of the standings, seven points ahead of Cole Custer.
3. Cole Custer – Locked In (Two Wins)
Cole Custer ended the 2018 campaign on a high by a runner-up in the season finale to give Stewart-Haas Racing the owner’s championship. He has since carried that momentum into 2019, scoring two victories with seven top-10’s to his credit.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs from second, seven points behind Bell.
4. Michael Annett – Locked In (Single Win)
After being the lone JR Motorsports driver to miss the playoffs in 2018, Michael Annett locked himself in early with a victory at Daytona International Speedway. Since then, he has posted six top-10’s – but one of those was a top-five with a fifth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. If these performances continue, he could be one of the first drivers eliminated from the playoffs.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs from sixth, 23 points behind Bell.
5. Austin Cindric – +137
Although Austin Cindric has yet to visit victory lane, he has only finished outside of the top-11 once this season. Out of the next three tracks on the schedule, Pocono Raceway is the best chance for him to visit victory lane statistically following a fourth-place finish last year.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs from fifth, 21 points behind Bell.
6. Justin Allgaier – +104
Justin Allgaier has shown speed on a weekly basis this year, but bad luck has bit JR Motorsports’ strongest team on more than one occasion. Still, the veteran has been able to score three stage victories and five top-10 finishes. Out of the next three tracks on the schedule, there is only one track where his average finish is 10th or better (10.4 at Michigan International Speedway).
He is currently projected to start the playoffs in fourth, 20 points behind Bell.
7. Chase Briscoe – +91
After a pair of finishes outside to start the season, Chase Briscoe has finished the last eight races in eighth or better, including five top-five’s. With Stewart-Haas Racing currently hitting their stride, it seems only a matter of time until the driver of the No. 98 Ford is in victory lane for the second time in his career. The next three tracks on the schedule are wide open for Briscoe, as he has yet to run an Xfinity Series event at Pocono Raceway or Michigan.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs in seventh, 24 points behind Bell.
8. John Hunter Nemechek – +81
After showing his ability behind the wheel with Chip Ganassi Racing last season, projections were high for John Hunter Nemechek when he signed with GMS Racing. He has been solid thus far, with eight top-10’s in the 10 races. Although he has yet to run Charlotte in his Xfinity Series career, he finished seventh and 13th respectively in his first trips to Pocono and Michigan last year.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs in eighth, 25 points behind Bell.
9. Ryan Sieg – +71
After finishing 16th in the standings last year, Ryan Sieg is so far projecting to have a better season in 2019 with five top-10’s to his credit. Out of the next three tracks on the schedule, he has only one top-10 finish, which came at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a 10th-place finish in 2016.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs in ninth, 25 points behind Bell.
10. Noah Gragson – +60
The runner-up for the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series Championship last year, Noah Gragson has struggled to find the same consistency in the Xfinity Series with just three top-10’s thus far. He has yet to run an Xfinity Series event at the next three races on the schedule.
He is currently projected to start the playoffs in 10th, 26 points behind Bell.
11. Justin Haley – +50
After a strong end to his truck series season last year, Justin Haley was one of the most-discussed rookies entering the 2019 Xfinity Series campaign. While he has yet to be in contention up front through the 2018 campaign, he has finished in the top-12 in each event this year except for two.
12. Brandon Jones – +42
While Bell continues to set the benchmark for Joe Gibbs Racing, many are asking questions about why Brandon Jones hasn’t delivered the same type of performances. Thus far, he has only scored a top-10 in half of the races ran, failing to finish three of the events. There is hope as he has placed inside the top-10 at least once at the next three tracks on the schedule.
13. Ross Chastain – -42
Ross Chastain seemed to have the world in his hands – until Chip Ganassi Racing announced that he would be unable to run the schedule due to losing their primary sponsor. Thankfully, Chastain landed a ride with JD Motorsports, but it hasn’t proven to be the dream opportunity as envisioned with just one top-10 this season.
The rest of the drivers in the series standings are currently 50 or more points behind, essentially placing them in a must-win situation to lock in unless something drastic happens. There is a chance that one of these underdogs could surprise, though, given the wild cards on the schedule with Daytona International Speedway and three road courses through the summer.
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