This is the regular season finale weekend for the Monster Energy Cup Series, but not for the Xfinity Series. Two races are left in the regular season for NASCAR’s top “minor league” circuit as the drivers, teams, and haulers head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to run on the iconic 2.5-mile track known as the Brickyard.
It appears that the Xfinity Series could not find a sponsor for this week’s Indiana 250, so the drivers will take their 100 laps around the track in a race with the same name that it had in 2012 and 2013. It was previously the Lilly Diabetes 250. Last year’s race was run on Monday because of rain, so let’s hope we don’t have a repeat performance of that this season.
Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
This race used to be held in July. Now it is held in September. Some have suggested that NASCAR should use the road course inside of the 2.5-mile oval to spice things up a little bit. For now, that isn’t the case, but we could see changes down the line.
If there isn’t a lot of drama on the Cup Series side for this one, it is safe to say there is no drama on the Xfinity Series side. The top 12 make the playoffs in the Xfinity Series. Ryan Sieg leads Gray Gaulding by 119 points for the final playoff spot. He won’t be caught and no points driver outside the top 12 is going to win a big oval race. This is about as boring as it gets, especially with Tyler Reddick up 51 points on Christopher Bell.
We’ll likely have the same things to discuss for the 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas next weekend.
The Race Within the Race
Well, maybe here’s something. Ford and Toyota have nine wins apiece after Cole Custer was granted last week’s win because Denny Hamlin failed the post-race inspection. Bragging rights for manufacturers in the regular season are on the line. Or something like that.
It really is a shame to grasp at straws, at least as far as drama and storylines go. Playoff bonus points are still available and it would behoove many of the drivers to pick some up. Bell leads with 43 and Custer is second with 36. Even though Reddick will win the points chase in the regular season, he only has 24 playoff points. No other driver has more than 11.
Like the Cup Series playoffs, the drivers run in sets of three and the bottom four are axed from consideration for the championship. The final four will run at Homestead-Miami in November and the top finisher of those four will be crowned the champ. Even though 12 and then eight and then four drivers are eligible for the title, these will still be full-field races.
Kyle Busch has three wins in the seven previous iterations of this race. He won in 2013, 2015, and 2016, which was part of the Dash 4 Cash program before Cup Series drivers were barred from entering. That race wound up being only 63 laps. Busch is laying a price this week at -145. This is his seventh Xfinity Series race of the season. He won three of the first four and finished second with the most laps led at Auto Club Speedway. Since then, he’s finished 31st and 29th, but he did lead the most laps at Bristol.
Busch did not win in 2017 – he finished 12th – but he did lead the most laps and has led the most laps in three straight and four of the last five at this level at IMS.
Not surprisingly, Bell is the second favorite at +330. Bell was 13th on the big track at Michigan, but did win the second stage. He was third on the big track at Auto Club. He finished seventh here last season. He has six of Toyota’s nine wins at this level. Busch has the other three. It really would be pretty surprising if both of these guys finish outside the top five.
Custer has six wins now, all on bigger oval tracks. He’s had some hiccups on road courses or smaller tracks at times, though he does have wins at Richmond and Darlington. He’s run very well at Auto Club, Pocono, Chicagoland, and Kentucky. He was 29th here last year, but got caught up in some issues. He was fifth two years ago. With Busch in the race, I’m not sure that +550 has enough value to take Custer, but he clearly has the best shot aside from the top two.
Reddick is next at +660 and the field follows at +1350, just to give you an idea of how top-heavy this race is expected to be. That’s even with the fact that Justin Allgaier won last year. He’s +1800 this year. Anyway, Reddick has eight straight top-five finishes, but only one win and a second*, which has an asterisk because he was third last week before Hamlin failed inspection.
LOL. Nah, not really. Chase Briscoe at +2200 is about the only one that makes sense for a gamble, as he has run very well on ovals this season. Austin Dillon is +3300 and did win at Michigan last year on the big track in Brooklyn, but those are the only two I’d remotely consider.
Well, I’ll never lay a price in an auto race, so Busch is out. The Bell price is pretty decent, given that he’d be +200 or +250 if Busch wasn’t out there, so he’s the short price I like the most. Briscoe is worth some beer money – cheap beer money, not a good microbrew.
There isn’t much to this one. Ford hasn’t won this race yet, so maybe Custer gets a little extra incentive, but as far as betting opportunities, this race is light on them.