The off weeks are done for the Xfinity Series, as the three-week sprint to crown a champion has arrived. The second race in the Round of 8 is this week’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Off weeks sandwiched the race in Kansas, which was won by Brandon Jones, who is not in the playoffs, so it feels like we haven’t seen the Xfinity Series racers very much. We’ll see them this weekend in a huge race for the five drivers vying for one playoff spot.
Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers as we examine this weekend’s field.
Who? What? Where?
Brandon Jones won the Kansas Lottery 300. It was a couple weeks too late to keep Jones in the playoff hunt. If he had won at Dover, he would have automatically advanced to the Round of 8. He’ll have to settle for his first career win with no additional benefits attached. Well, there’s always the money. That’s nice. Kudos to him for getting a dub.
You can bet that Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Michael Annett, Noah Gragson, and Austin Cindric wish it was them. Allgaier holds a precarious grip on the final playoff spot with a two-point lead over Briscoe. Annett is 12 points off the pace and Gragson is 17 points behind. Cindric needs a miracle.
That’s because Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, and Tyler Reddick basically cannot be caught. The doomsday scenario is that two of the five drivers below them pick up wins in the next two races. At that point, one of Custer or Reddick would be eliminated. That seems highly, highly unlikely. After all, of the Allgaier-Briscoe-Annett-Gragson-Cindric quintet, they have exactly zero wins on 1.5-mile tracks this season.
With three 1.5-mile races left, there won’t be a whole lot of drama in all likelihood. In fact, of the Xfinity Series drivers running for points, Jones’s win at Kansas was the first on a track of that length that did not go to Bell, Custer, or Reddick. Kyle Busch had three of them.
So, we’re basically picking between three drivers. The odds are in agreement. Bell is +176. Custer is +315. Reddick is +330. Allgaier and Briscoe are +1540. Everybody else is on down from there, including Jones at +5500 despite the monkey off of his back at this point in time.
It doesn’t make for a very exciting write-up and preview article, but it is what it is. Briscoe was top-five at Texas the first time around and also third last week at Kansas. In terms of long shots, that’s about it and he is only +1540. He was also fifth earlier this year at Kentucky.
Jones was fourth at both Atlanta and Chicagoland and then third in the regular season finale at Las Vegas before the win last week.
Cindric won Stage 1 at Phoenix and finished fifth at Chicagoland.
As you can tell, it’s like grasping at straws to find a reason to bet somebody away from the three short prices.
So, which one of the three do we pick? As great as Bell has been, he does only have one win on a 1.5-mile track and it was at Atlanta. Custer has two with wins at Chicagoland and Kentucky. Reddick has one at Charlotte and one at Las Vegas. The 1.5-mile tracks are Atlanta, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Texas, Chicagoland, Kentucky, and Kansas.
Of those seven tracks, Bell has four top-five finishes this season, but stage wins at seven of those races. He was black-flagged at Chicagoland. Custer has five top-five finishes. He led the most laps and won Stage 2 at Kansas, but finished 11th. Reddick has six top-five finishes and is tied with Custer with two wins.
Is it possible to fade Bell here? It very well could be. He seems to thrive on shorter tracks, as he picked up wins at Bristol, Dover, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Richmond to go along with the Road America road course. I think we’re actually left to decide between Reddick and Custer this week, as the price point for Bell just isn’t good enough.
With both drivers north of 3/1, you could just play both. That would honestly be the preferred method. A unit on each returns a decent profit. Bell won Stage 1 and Custer won Stage 2 last week, so don’t let Jones’s win scare you off. Take Custer and Reddick and hope that one of them comes through. It seems pretty likely that will be the case. Custer won this race last year and a repeat performance is hardly out of the question.