Last Updated: 2017-10-05
A huge weekend of racing is on tap at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. Most of the focus will be on the start of the Round of 12 in the Bank of America 500, but there are a lot of important things going on with the Drive for the Cure 300 on the Xfinity Series side. This is the final race of the Round of 12, so four guys will be eliminated from championship contention. The Xfinity Series will be on hiatus next week and for the last week of October, so enjoy this one race fans.
Last weekend’s race in Delaware was certainly interesting. Because Cup Series guys with five or more years of experience in running for points at that level cannot participate, the Xfinity Series guys had a good chance to get a win. They couldn’t pull it off, but five of the top six finishers were guys in the playoffs. Ryan Blaney picked up the win, though, so the beat goes on in terms of Cup Series guys hawking wins from the other drivers. That could be the case again this week, as Blaney is the favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Before we get into the odds, let’s look at the standings. Justin Allgaier is one of two points-eligible drivers with consecutive top-five finishes in the Round of 12 and he leads with 2,107 points. William Byron is second with 2,104 points. Elliott Sadler is next with 2,094 points, followed by Cole Custer with 2,093 points, and then Daniel Hemric at 2,090 points to round out the top five. Brennan Poole is the other driver with two top-five finishes in the playoffs and he sits comfortably in sixth with 2,082 points. Matt Tifft is safely seventh with 2,067 points. The only playoff drama this week is to see which one of Ryan Reed, Brendan Gaughan, or Michael Annett advances. Blake Koch and Jeremy Clements look like they will be falling out of the playoffs based on their point totals.
This is the second stop at Charlotte for this season and this is the hometown track for Byron, so he will be a popular pick this week. After this race, the field of drivers eligible for the championship will go down to eight as we head back to Kansas in two weeks. Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway will host the other two Round of 8 races and then a winner will be crowned at Homestead-Miami to end the year.
As mentioned, Ryan Blaney is this week’s favorite at 5Dimes at +250. Blaney has finished first or second in seven of his nine Xfinity Series starts this season. He led the most laps and won the second stage last week, so it was a nice payday for the 23-year-old Ohio native. Blaney has not run the fall Charlotte race since 2014, when he finished fourth. He was the winner at Charlotte earlier this season and led the most laps. He’s certainly a good bet again this week, but there are some contenders worth a look.
Erik Jones is +400 in this one as he looks to end a long drought without a win. Jones doesn’t have any Cup Series wins and hasn’t won a race since the first race at Bristol at the Xfinity Series level. He was close at Chicagoland with the most laps led and two stage wins, but he couldn’t seal the deal. Jones’s talent is undeniable, but his ability to finish off races is still a work in progress. With the Joe Gibbs Racing team and the strength of this field, he’ll be an enticing bet, but I still feel like he needs to prove something to bet him at low odds.
Daniel Suarez hasn’t won any of his Xfinity Series starts this season. Suarez has run really well at Charlotte. In this race over the last two years, he’s finished third and fourth. In the spring race, he has had less success. He actually did not run the spring race this year. At +550, you’re basically buying on the name and the team. Is that a worthwhile investment given his Joe Gibbs Racing support and his fall finishes at this track? We’ll have to wait and see, but my guess is no.
Sam Hornish Jr. has a win and three finishes outside the top 30 this year. You have to respect his talent and wherewithal, but do you have to respect it enough to bet him at +650 when his only win of the season is on a road course at Mid-Ohio? I would say no. I think he’s a nice addition to the board that adds a little bit of value to other drivers that have a better shot.
My favorite pick this week is William Byron at +700. I felt like Byron was going to be a decent bet the first time around at Charlotte, but he finished 14th. This time around, he has three wins under his belt. He hasn’t won since Indianapolis, but it doesn’t surprise me that his wins have mostly come on bigger tracks. He was third last week on the Monster Mile at Dover and won the first stage, so that should get him a little bit of confidence rolling into this race. The Charlotte native wants this race more than any other on the schedule and I think he could very well get it for himself and the JGR team.
I don’t know what is going on with the Brennan Poole team, but at +2000, it might be worth a little bit of beer money. Two of Poole’s three top-five finishes have been over the last two races. Whether circumstances have just been on his side of the team has made some nice adjustments, Poole has been running with the big boys. Another driver in that same breath is Daniel Hemric. At +2750, Hemric is a decent gamble with three top-five finishes in his last four starts. He actually has six top-five finishes this season, which is a good run for a rookie. He’s also a North Carolina native, so this is one that he would love to get as well.
Coverage of the Drive for the Cure 300 will be on NBC Sports Network on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. ET.
Odds as of October 5, 11 a.m. ET
Ryan Blaney +250
Erik Jones +400
Daniel Suarez +550
Sam Hornish Jr +650
William Byron +700
Alex Bowman +975
Justin Allgaier +1000
Elliott Sadler +1000
Austin Dillon +1350
Cole Custer +1500
Brennan Poole +2000
Daniel Hemric +2750
Field (any other driver) +3000
Matt Tifft +3500
Ty Dillon +3500
Ryan Reed +11500
Brendan Gaughan +11500
Brandon Jones +11500
-END OF 2017 PREVIEW-
It will be interesting to see what sort of schedule this weekend’s set of NASCAR races at Charlotte Motor Speedway will have to follow based on Hurricane Matthew. Friday night’s Drive for the Cure 300 could deal with some delays and both races may be pushed to Sunday, when sunny conditions are in the forecast, but keep an eye on the schedule for the latest. Either way, we’ll get you ready for this weekend’s races with our previews.
This is the final race in the Round of 12, so the first round of cuts for the Xfinity Series Chase will be coming after this one. Through two races, including one with some Sprint Cup Series drivers, both winners have punched a ticket on to the next round. Daniel Suarez scored his second career Xfinity Series win last week at Dover to guarantee his advancement and Elliott Sadler won the first Chase race at Kentucky Speedway to punch his ticket as well.
This will be the 29th race of the Xfinity Series season and the biggest to date for Erik Jones, who is currently below the cut-off in points. The same can be said for Ty Dillon, who needs to move up the ranks in order to avoid being eliminated from the Xfinity Series Chase in its inaugural year. It’ll be the second stop of the year at Charlotte Motor Speeway. The first stop was won by Denny Hamlin, who is not running this week.
As mentioned, Suarez and Sadler are safe to advance. The same can be said about Justin Allgaier, who is third with 2,071 points, Brendan Gaughan, who is fourth with 2,068 points, and Ryan Reed, one of the last qualifiers, who should be safe with 2,065 points. Darrell Wallace Jr. should be fine with 2,064 points heading into this race. Everybody else, including the three rookies that qualified, has a lot of work to do this weekend.
Blake Koch is seventh with 2,058 points. Brennan Poole has 2,057 points and is right above the cut line. Ty Dillon, who finished second last week at Dover, is ninth with 2,054 points. Erik Jones is 10th with 2,053 points. Ryan Sieg is 11th with 2,047 points and Brandon Jones is 12th with 2,039 points. He basically needs to win to avoid being eliminated.
Looking at the odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook for Friday night’s race, a very familiar name is at the top. Kyle Busch is +165 to win his ninth Xfinity Series race of the season. Busch qualified last week and then Drew Herring drove his car to a 21st-place result. Officially, Busch has not run since he was 13th and led the most laps at Chicagoland. He’s led the most laps in 11 of his 15 Xfinity Series starts this season. He did not race last time at Charlotte, but he’s an eight-time winner at this track in the Nationwide/Xfinity Series. Ironically, he has never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here.
The second favorite this week is Erik Jones at +525 and he’ll need to be aggressive in order to get to eighth place to live on for at least three more races in the Xfinity Series Chase. Jones had four wins during the regular season, but a series of mishaps led to a feast or famine type of season. So far, he’s gone hungry in the Chase. He led the most laps at Kentucky and had the pole, but finished 28th. He was the top qualifier last week at Dover and finished 16. He was the top qualifier at Charlotte earlier this season and finished 31st. He’s been prone to mistakes in spite of having one of the fastest cars in the field, so he’s been tough to bet on this year.
Kyle Larson is one of two Sprint Cup Series guys in the field at +550 this week. Larson made 11 starts on the Xfinity Series circuit this year and had a win at Pocono. He’s finished sixth or better in each of his last eight starts. Larson was sixth at Charlotte earlier this season. The other Sprint Cup Series guy at +550 is some guy named Kevin Harvick. Harvick is a three-time Cup winner at Charlotte, but he’s never won at this level on the 1.5-mile track. He only had five Xfinity Series starts during the regular season and his only top-five finish was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he was second.
At +650, Daniel Suarez is a decent bet this week. With his spot in the Round of 8 secured, the pressure is off for the Joe Gibbs Racing team member. He can afford to be aggressive and go for the pay day. Suarez was 12th at Charlotte earlier this year. He has five top-five finishes in his last six starts, so his team is starting to gel nicely and it comes at a great time.
A couple more Cup guys are in the field this week, with Joey Logano at +900 and Brad Keselowski at +1000. Logano has the only win at this level for the Penske teammates and he got it on the road course at Watkins Glen. Keselowski has finished third on four separate occasions. These guys are a factor whenever they enter a race, but Keselowski has three wins to Logano’s one in Nationwide/Xfinity starts at Charlotte.
If you want to take a stab at a long shot, Justin Allgaier is the one for you. He’s going off at +2650 here this week and he’s pretty much in the Round of 8 with a ninth and a third-place finish thus far. He can afford to be a little bit more aggressive and go for that first win of the season. He was strong with a fifth-place finish here earlier this year, the best among points-eligible drivers, so he’s worth a gamble here this week.
Coverage of the Drive for the Cure 300 will be on NBC Sports Network on Friday night, weather permitting.
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