Last Updated: 2017-10-18
The Round of 8 begins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs with this week’s Kansas Lottery 300. There are only four races left to crown a champion and the standings have gotten very interesting as we head into this week’s race. Everything resets to 3,000, with points awarded as bonuses for regular season stage wins and race wins. That means that we have a lot more drama in this round after not having a whole lot in the previous round.
William Byron, Justin Allgaier, and Elliott Sadler should be safe to move on to Homestead-Miami with a chance to win it all. Byron has 3,026 points, with Allgaier three behind that and Sadler three behind Allgaier. After that, anything can happen. Daniel Hemric has 3,009 points. Cole Custer has 3,007 points. Brennan Poole has 3,006 points. Ryan Reed has 3,005 points and Matt Tifft has 3,004 points.
The track in question this week is Kansas Speedway. The 1.5-mile tri-oval is pretty standard with turns between 17 and 20 degrees and a very flat backstretch. This is the only Xfinity Series stop in Kansas for the season. The Cup Series is here twice. This is a race that has been absolutely dominated by Toyotas. Kyle Busch has won three straight and Matt Kenseth won in 2013. Neither of those guys are in the race, but Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing has seven of the last nine wins in this event.
The race at Charlotte Motor Speedway two weeks ago was won by Alex Bowman, who was running his first Xfinity Series race of the season. We’ve seen more variety in terms of winners this season at this level, but the guys left standing for the championship only have six wins combined. Three belong to Byron, two belong to Allgaier, and one belongs to Reed. Race wins in the Round of 12 went to Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, and Alex Bowman, so two of the three races have been won by guys that nobody was expecting. As if NASCAR handicapping needed to be even tougher.
This week’s favorite is Ryan Blaney at +200 at 5Dimes Sportsbook. Blaney has been extremely successful at this level this season. He’s been in the top five in all but one of his 10 starts. His 26th-place finish at Chicagoland is the only blemish on his record. He has five second-place finishes, two wins, a fifth, and a third, which he got two weeks ago at Charlotte. Blaney only has three years of full-time Cup Series experience, so he was exempt from the new rule this season about a maximum of 10 races. Blaney has run very well at Kansas. In the two spring Cup Series races, he has finished fifth and fourth. In the fall, he has finished seventh and 14th. At this level, he was third back in 2014 in his lone start. He’s a deserving favorite, but not a great betting option with such a low return.
Erik Jones is next on the board at +325. Jones hasn’t had much success in the back half of the season. He had five top-five finishes in his first six races, including two wins, but hasn’t won since the first race at Bristol and has finished 18th, 20th, and 30th in his last three starts. Oddly enough, he does have three stage wins in that span. Kansas has not been kind to Jones. In his career, he has a 40th and a 22nd in the Cup Series and a 15th in the Xfinity Series. You would think a 1.5-mile track with a Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing would be a match made in heaven for anybody on that team, but apparently not Jones. You have to respect the results and the other angles, but +325 isn’t a good enough price.
Christopher Bell is next on the board at +750. Bell is a part-time driver with the JGR team, hence the price. He’s won a lot of truck races this season, but only has one top-five finish in his four stock car starts. He was fourth at Charlotte, 16th with the most laps led at Iowa, 19th at Road America, and sixth at Richmond. He’ll be in the #20 car this week. The 22-year-old development driver fills all the checkmarks with Toyota and JGR, but he’d need to win a race to get this level of respect in my eyes.
There are some good values in the +1350 range. William Byron has to be on that list. The kid has had a good first season and a +1350 price on a 1.5-mile track without most of the Cup Series guys is too good of a number to pass up. Obviously we don’t have any track data on him, but he fits all those checkmarks that Bell does, just with more stock car experience. Justin Allgaier has a lot of experience at this track and hasn’t broken through, but he’s worth some beer money here.
Brennan Poole is also an interesting investment at +1650. Poole was the only driver to finish in the top five in all of the Round of 12 races. He was second at Kentucky, fifth at Dover, and fifth at Charlotte. If things go his way, he could find his way to his first Xfinity Series win.
Coverage of the Kansas Lottery 300 will actually be nationally televised on NBC this week with a 3 p.m. ET start time on Saturday afternoon.
Odds as of October 18, 3 p.m. ET
Ryan Blaney +200
Erik Jones +325
Christopher Bell +750
Austin Dillon +1150
Justin Allgaier +1350
William Byron +1350
Cole Custer +1500
Tyler Reddick +1500
Elliott Sadler +1650
Daniel Hemric +1650
Brennan Poole +1650
Field (any other driver) +2500
Ty Dillon +2750
Matt Tifft +3300
Ryan Reed +11500
Brandon Jones +11500
Brendan Gaughan +11500
Michael Annett +11500
-END OF 2017 PREVIEW-
The field for the inaugural Xfinity Series Chase has been trimmed to eight drivers heading into this weekend’s Kansas Lottery 300. The format for the Chase is fairly similar to that of the Sprint Cup Series, except that there are fewer racers and fewer drivers eligible. As a result, this is the last Xfinity Series race of October and the drivers will pick it back up on November 5 in Texas to line up the two championships at Miami-Homestead on November 19.
This is the 30th race of the 33-race Xfinity Series season. One of the circuit’s biggest names is no longer eligible for the Xfinity Series Chase and that has to be a big blow for his team and also the parent team of Richard Childress Racing. That driver is Ty Dillon, who, despite finishing second at Dover, narrowly missed the cut with his 11th-place finish at Charlotte. He is the biggest name to be knocked out of the Chase. Two top rookies, Brennan Poole and Brandon Jones, also joined Dillon outside of the final eight. Ryan Sieg, who had his first top 10 since the second race at Daytona over the summer, was also eliminated from contention.
The final eight left standing are Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Erik Jones, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Reed, Darrell Wallace Jr., and Blake Koch. The fact that Ty Dillon didn’t get any bonus points for winning a race during the regular season came back to bite him. The remaining eight drivers all reset to 3,000 points now for the next round of races, which will be at Kansas, Texas, and Phoenix.
Kansas is the track in the spotlight this week. The 1.5-mile track is considered a tri-oval, with four turns featuring variable banking between 17 and 20 degrees. This is a unique race for the Xfinity Series guys in the sense that this is the first race here for those drivers during the season. The Sprint Cup Series guys stop in Kansas City twice a year, but the young drivers are definitely at a disadvantage against the Cup Series guys this weekend.
Therefore, as you would expect, the race favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook this week is Kyle Busch at +140. Busch was the favorite last week at Charlotte as well, but the altered schedule due to Hurricane Matthew wound up causing him to withdraw from the race. He was +165 on Thursday prior to that race. This is a good track for Kyle. He has three Xfinity Series wins in this race and is the reigning two-time champion. He also won the Go Bowling 400 here back in May on the Cup side. Busch has eight Xfinity Series wins this season and has led the most laps in 11 of the 15 races he has participated in.
Erik Jones is the second favorite at +475. Jones was fortunate to advance to the second round. After leading the most laps at Kentucky, all he had to show for it was a 28th-place result. He finished 16th with the pole position at Dover. He was fifth at Charlotte, so he comfortably made it into the Round of 8, but his four wins during the regular season and those additional 12 bonus points were a big reason why. Jones did not run the race at Kansas last season, so he’ll have to familiarize himself with this track in a hurry.
Kyle Larson is +550 to win here this week at Kansas. He’s never won this race on either the Xfinity side or the Cup side and he did not run this race last year. Larson was fourth last week at Charlotte and led the most laps, but he couldn’t seal the deal. He was actually second in the fall race at Kansas two years ago on the Cup side, but he hasn’t had any luck in two Xfinity Series starts. He was 30th in both of those.
Last week’s winner at Charlotte, Joey Logano, is priced at +650 here this week. Logano is a two-time winner of this race, as he won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010 as a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Joe Gibbs cars have won six of the last eight in this event, so he may have a tough time now as a Penske driver. Logano is actually the reigning two-time winner of the Hollywood Casino 400, which is the Sprint Cup Series race coming up on Sunday. Logano has won two of the last three Xfinity Series races he has entered.
Daniel Suarez is a great pick this week at +850. Suarez finished second, first, and third in the Round of 12 races and he has six top-five finishes in his last seven starts. Joe Gibbs Racing cars have dominated at Kansas and they tend to do very well on the 1.5-mile tracks. Suarez was ninth last season in his first career start at Kansas and his team is really firing on all cylinders right now.
Those looking down the board for a long shot will want to look at Ty Dillon. Dillon was eliminated from Chase contention last week, but a win or two over the final four races of the year would ease the pain of a disappointing end to the season. Dillon hasn’t gotten a win this year and he only has one career win at the Xfinity Series level. With no points to worry about, he can go all out now over these final races in hopes of getting to victory lane. He’s +2750 this week and he has two top-five finishes at Kansas in two starts.
Hopefully, weather permitting, this race will go on as scheduled. The last two have not. This race is slated to start Saturday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
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