The first round of elimination has happened, and now only eight drivers remain eligible for the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship. Christopher Bell may appear to have the momentum, but it’s far from over.
1. Christopher Bell (+33)
Christopher Bell has momentum on his side, courtesy of a pair of victories during the Round of 12 at Richmond Raceway and Dover International Speedway as he is in the midst of a career season. That is beneficial, giving him almost a full race gap over the back-half of the grid entering Kansas Speedway.
Expect the solid performances to continue as he won at Kansas in last year, while finishing sixth and second in his pair of starts at Texas Motor Speedway. Oh, and he placed fourth in both previous events at ISM Raceway.
2. Justin Allgaier (+28)
The regular season champion Justin Allgaier hopes luck is on his side as he capped off the Round of 12 with a third-place finish at Dover after a rough start to the playoffs.
He has five top-10’s in seven races at Kansas Speedway with a track-best fifth last year, but has failed to a post a top-10 at Texas in his last three appearances. If it comes down to ISM, expect Allgaier to run strong following six top-fives in his last seven starts, including a victory in 2017.
3. Daniel Hemric (+2)
Daniel Hemric has started off the playoffs solidly with three straight top-10 performances, and will need that if he wants to keep the gap over the back-half of the grid.
Notably, he finished 18th in his lone previous appearance at Kansas last year, but scored a third at Texas in the spring. If it comes down to ISM, Hemric has scored a top-seven in each of his three starts with a track-best fifth.
4. Cole Custer (=)
After a slow start to the Round of 12, Cole Custer may have momentum on his side following a runner-up at Dover after pacing 38 laps.
He may struggle at Kansas, though, considering he has yet to a post a top-15 there in two previous appearances. However, he could make up for that at Texas where he has a pair of fifths and fourth. He has also finished in the top-10 in his last two races at ISM.
5. Elliott Sadler (=)
Elliott Sadler was strong through the regular season, and will need to get back to those top-10 finishes as he has finished just outside that mark the past two races, and that performance will not get him through to the next round.
He has finished in the top-10 in his last two races at Kansas including a runner-up last year, while posting seven straight top-10’s at Texas including a fourth in 2017. This round could work for Sadler, following a ninth at ISM Raceway in the spring.
6. Tyler Reddick (-1)
Consistency paid off for Tyler Reddick as despite finishing 14th at Dover, the pair of top-10’s to start the playoffs allowed him to transfer to this round. Now he needs to keep the performances going as he hopes to join his JR Motorsports teammates above the cut-off line.
He finished second in his lone appearance at Kansas, but has yet to score a top-20 at Texas. His performance has been shaky at ISM, too, with a 14th and 10th in his previous two races.
7. Matt Tifft (-8)
Scoring a pair of top-six finishes allowed Matt Tifft to keep his playoff hopes alive despite finishing 15th at Dover. Richard Childress Racing has shown the potential for success with Hemric, and now Tifft needs to equal or better his teammate.
He placed eighth in his lone appearance at Kansas, and enters Texas with four consecutive top-10 finishes. Combined with a seventh at ISM in the spring, and he may have enough to get through to the final round.
8. Austin Cindric (-10)
An eighth-place at Dover allowed Austin Cindric to get above the cut-off line to make the next round of the playoffs despite a shaky start. Though with having scored no bonus points entering the post-season unlike other competitors, he will need to get those performances rolling to move his way up the ladder.
Cindric has yet to run an XFINITY Series event at Kansas, but was ninth in his first appearance at Texas in the spring. His first race at ISM didn’t fare as well, with a 16th-place finish in the spring.
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