Last Updated: 2018-11-14
The Ford EcoBoost 300 will determine the Xfinity Series champion for the 2018 season. The appropriately-named Ford EcoBoost 400 will do the same, but for the Monster Energy Cup Series. That is your weekend of racing at Homestead-Miami, which actually begins with the Ford EcoBoost 200 that will decide a Camping World Truck Series winner. It’s a theme this weekend in the Sunshine State.
The Xfinity Series drivers run 33 races to complete a season and have a similar format to the Cup Series in that the final four are going for the championship at the end of the playoffs. There has been a concerted effort in recent years to give the young drivers more of a chance to win these races by limiting Cup Series participation. There haven’t been many successes lately for NASCAR, but this has been one of them. On the other hand, attendance for Xfinity Series races is not spectacular.
It is something that officials will have to figure out because sponsorships are drying up and attendance is weakening with the Cup Series. Dealing with similar problems with the Xfinity Series is not part of a healthy business model, but the minor leaguers, for lack of a better term, need a place to race and the teams and manufacturers need to keep running in these events.
We’ll see what happens going forward, but hopefully NASCAR can find something that works.
In any event, the last four left standing are Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, and Daniel Hemric. It doesn’t really help the Xfinity Series that veterans like Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler couldn’t make the final four, but it is a good thing to see a bunch of young guys fighting for a title.
Christopher Bell would be the favorite if he wasn’t going for the title. Because he is, 5Dimes Sportsbook has him listed at +195. Bell was basically in a must-win situation last week and he won. Justin Allgaier won the first two stages, but finished 24th. Bell had the best car, though, and led the most laps. That was his seventh win of the season. Bell is a rookie, but he did run at Homestead-Miami last year and finished 36th. Obviously things are much different this season. Bell did only win two races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, but was third at Atlanta, second at Vegas, fourth the first time at Phoenix, second at Texas, third at Charlotte, and fourth at Vegas the second time. It’s not like he ran bad in those events.
Cole Custer is +330 this week. Custer won on the 1.5-mile track in Texas to get free passage to this race during the Round of 8. He went all season without a win until that one, but he finished the regular season on a high note with four top-five finishes in his last five events. Custer is a risky proposition because he had some good finishes, but only had two stage wins and one race win during the season. At a low price like this, it is pretty hard to take him. Custer did win this race last year, but asking lightning to strike twice is a tall order.
Daniel Hemric is my favorite pick this week at +650. Hemric has been around the top so much, but has not been able to get a win. He actually had nine stage wins during the season and last week’s race at ISM Raceway marked the first time in the playoffs that he did not win a stage. He finished second in the race, though, which was his third top-five of the six playoff races. The 27-year-old finished 34th last year at Homestead, so hopefully he avoids problems this time around. It just feels like one of those things where a guy that hasn’t won a race at any NASCAR level will get rewarded for all of the hard work and all of the good finishes. Maybe I’m just outright rooting for the guy, but he’s worth a bet at +650.
Tyler Reddick won the first race of the year at Daytona and hasn’t won since. He did lead the most laps in Texas a couple weeks ago, but that was about it in terms of noteworthy races and finishes. At +770, he’s hard to bet.
Justin Allgaier is +880 after last week’s close call. The 32-year-old was 12th last year at Homestead, but he’s been much better overall this season than he was last season. He did win on a lot of short tracks and also won two road course events. He was second at Phoenix in the winter and ran well at other 1.5-mile tracks like Las Vegas, Texas, and Kentucky, so he could very well be up there in the running. Bell should win, but Hemric and Allgaier with half-unit bets isn’t a bad way to approach this race.
John Hunter Nemechek is +900 and Ryan Preece is +1100. Nemechek won on the 1.5-mile track at Kansas in the Round of 8 and Preece scored a win earlier this year at Bristol. Those two guys could play spoiler in this race, but Nemechek, outside of Kansas, was pretty pedestrian on 1.5-mile tracks and Preece hasn’t finished better than third since his win.
Coverage of the Ford EcoBoost 300 will be on NBC Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday November 17.
Odds as of November 14, 7 p.m. ET:
Christopher Bell +195
Cole Custer +330
Daniel Hemric +650
Tyler Reddick +770
Justin Allgaier +880
John Hunter Nemechek +900
Ryan Preece +1100
Austin Cindric +2200
Elliott Sadler +2200
Matt Tifft +3300
Field (any other driver) +4000
Brandon Jones +5500
Chase Briscoe +9000
Spencer Gallagher +11000
Ryan Truex +11000
Ryan Reed +22000
Shane Lee +33000
Michael Annett +33000
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