The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins its playoffs this week. The Xfinity Series does not, as the drivers head to Las Vegas for the Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300, which is the regular season finale on Saturday night. This is the 26th and final race before the Xfinity Series Playoffs begin next week at Richmond. Only 12 drivers qualify for the playoffs, compared to 16 for the Cup Series, so we have to have lots of drama, right?!
Odds for the race are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and are down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
We don’t have drama. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Tyler Reddick is 50 points clear of Christopher Bell for the regular season points crown, but Bell has 19 more bonus points for the playoffs, so he could very well get the last laugh. Cole Custer is 63 points behind Bell, but has just seven fewer playoff points with 36. Nobody else has more than 11.
So, Reddick, Bell, and Custer head into the playoffs with big advantages. We don’t even have any excitement for the last spot in the playoffs. Ryan Sieg leads Gray Gaulding by 124 points, so unless one of the full-time points drivers gets remarkably lucky and wins, the final 12 are set.
They are Reddick, Bell, Custer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, Noah Gragson, Michael Annett, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, and Sieg.
Two hundred laps around the 1.5-mile track on the northeast side of town. That’s what it will take to get to the requisite 300 miles to determine a winner. The decision was made to turn this weekend’s races into primetime TV, so this will be a night race for the Xfinity drivers and crews, at least as far as Eastern Time goes. It will start at 7:30 p.m. local time.
Much like the Cup Series race, this is the newest race on the schedule. Loudon, New Hampshire lost its second date prior to the 2018 season and Las Vegas picked it up, so this is just the second time that this particular race has been run. Last year it was the DC Solar 300. The Boyd Gaming 300, previously named after the Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino, has been a Las Vegas staple since 1997.
This year’s version of that race took 213 laps to determine a winner, so maybe the math won’t work out as nicely when all is said and done.
Here in this final race of the regular season, Cup guys will not be present. We will see the return of Elliott Sadler, who was a fixture in the Xfinity Series the last few years. He will be in this race and faces long odds at +11000. None of the major players in the Cup Series that like to drop down and get a feel for the track will be in play as their playoffs begin.
That means that Bell is the unquestioned favorite at +155, with Custer at +275 and Reddick at +370. It also means that no other drivers have odds better than 11/1. That is Allgaier, who is at half the price of Briscoe and Field at +2200. It’s pretty clear what the oddsmakers expect to see here in this one.
It makes sense. Of the 1.5-mile tracks (Atlanta, Vegas, Phoenix, Texas, Charlotte, Chicagoland, and Kentucky), the wins belong to Bell, Kyle Busch, Reddick, and Custer. Briscoe won on the short track at Iowa and Cindric won two road course races. There hasn’t been a lot of parity when it comes to the longer ovals in the Xfinity Series this season.
You’ll want to keep this in mind as the playoffs go along because the last four races are all on 1.5-mile tracks, with Kansas, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead-Miami.
Bell, Reddick, or Custer?
So, that’s basically it, right? Those are your choices. Bell won at Atlanta and swept the board, but that was his only 1.5-mile win. Of course, he had stage wins at Texas, Charlotte, and Kentucky. He also led the most laps at Texas.
Custer won at Chicagoland and Kentucky. He also won Stage 1 at this track earlier this year. Reddick won at Charlotte and won Stage 2 in the Boyd Gaming 300.
Custer has had the most success on the bigger ovals, so you’d have to gravitate towards him. Reddick has four wins this season, with one at Talladega, one at Charlotte, one at Michigan, and one at Bristol, so he’s been all over the map as far as wins. He just had a run of eight straight top-five finishes snapped.
Of the three, Custer will be my preferred pick this week, but obviously any of the three could win.
Of course you want to try a long shot or two in Vegas, right? Briscoe is the best bet for that +2200. He’s finished eighth or better in nine straight races, including a couple of stage wins and an overall victory at Iowa. Nemechek was actually second here in the spring with a balloon number of +11000. Gragson, who is a Las Vegas native, was third here in the spring and had two top-five finishes at 1.5-mile tracks. He’s +4400.
If you want to throw some long shot money, those are really your three hopefuls.
As mentioned, it will be Custer for me this weekend. Gragson and Briscoe draw some very small long shot tickets. The odds are overwhelmingly high that one of Bell, Custer, or Reddick wins this race, so don’t go too crazy.