I’m not going to lie to you, it seems kind of pointless to write an Xfinity Series preview this week. Kyle Busch is in the race, so he’s an overwhelming favorite for the Zippo 200 at The Glen. At least it’s not Joey Logano, who has won this race three times in the last four years. Or Marcos Ambrose, who won it three straight times from 2008-10 and again for good measure in 2014.
Maybe Busch doesn’t win. We’ll do the due diligence and break this one down from Watkins Glen International and see if there are some good betting values on the board.
Odds are on the right-hand side for desktop viewers and down below the comment box for mobile viewers.
The drivers will run 200.9 miles this week in the Zippo 200, which could be the Zippo 201 with just a smidge more distance. In any event, this is the first of three road course races in four weeks for the Xfinity Series. This will be the only race to involve Cup Series drivers, as the Monster Energy Cup Series will be elsewhere next week when the Xfinity Series is at Mid-Ohio and also on August 24 at Road America.
There are three Cup Series guys in the field this week, with favorite Kyle Busch, second favorite Ryan Blaney, and third favorite AJ Allmendinger. Justin Allgaier is +1100 and the first points-eligible driver listed on the board.
The course is 2.45 miles at Watkins Glen and features 11 turns. This is the first race with three Cup Series drivers since the Las Vegas and only the second such race this season. Cup Series participation has been rare.
Cup Runneth Over
So the Cup does runneth over for the Cup Series this week. Busch is in his first race since Texas. This is the first race for Blaney. Allmendinger was black-flagged at Daytona a few weeks ago. Busch is the only Cup Series guy with four starts. Austin Dillon has three. Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard have two. Chase Elliott and Joey Logano have one. I guess Ross Chastain is a weekly runner, but he hasn’t finished higher than 10th since the Daytona 500 at the Cup Series level, so he doesn’t really count.
It makes sense that Busch, Blaney, and Allmendinger would prefer to get a lay of the land, considering this is the first road course race since Sonoma. The Xfinity Series did not race there, so this will be the first road course event of the season for the points drivers.
The Chase is Over
Chase Briscoe won his first race of the season last week. Briscoe has run well on oval tracks and his win was certainly coming sooner rather than later, so good for him. Maybe our pick Cole Custer would have won, but he finished 29th after going into the wall.
In any event, Tyler Reddick stayed atop the standings, but his lead is down to 46 points. Christopher Bell swept everything except the checkered flag last week and gained some ground. Outside of his DQ at Chicagoland, he’s been first, third, second, first, and second, with seven stage wins in his last six races. He’s hard to beat, but this week, he gets a taste of a road course.
Custer, Allgaier, and Austin Cindric round out the top five. Briscoe’s win did nothing to change the playoff picture and Brandon Jones leads Gray Gaulding by over 100 points for the final playoff spot. Barring something crazy, it’s just about gathering extra playoff points now.
On the Road (Course) Again
We know that Busch and Blaney are far more advanced than most of the Xfinity Series guys. That is not true of Justin Allgaier. Allgaier won last year at Mid-Ohio and Road America. His third-place finish at Watkins Glen was the best of any points driver. For what it’s worth, Logano won and Allmendinger was second. Allgaier’s fourth-place finish in 2017 was also the best of any points driver.
He’s the only points driver worth looking at here at +1100.
Cindric is getting some respect for leading the most laps at Mid-Ohio last year. He was also third on the Roval at Charlotte. Unfortunately, it’s hard for him to beat out Busch, Blaney, and Allgaier.
Briscoe won on the Roval last year and didn’t run the race at Watkins Glen, so maybe there’s some hope for him, but +2000 isn’t enough of a price for me.
If you really want a super long shot price, Jeremy Clements won the race at Road America two years ago. He’s going off at +50000. Too bad Matt Tifft isn’t in this race, with four top-five finishes across the races at Road America and Mid-Ohio the last two years. The same can be said of Daniel Hemric, though he only had three top-five finishes.
Laying a price is never ideal in a NASCAR race, so there really isn’t much reason to fire on Busch at -135. Allgaier at +1100 is the only thing I can recommend as a play this week. It’s good value on a guy that has run really well on the road courses in the past.
Aside from that, this is probably a throwaway race. Look for Allgaier to be a clear favorite next week at Mid-Ohio and in two weeks at Road America. At least you’re getting some bang for your buck here.