It was the trucks last night and now the Xfinity Series will set the Championship 4 field today with the Diamond Desert Casino 200 at ISM Raceway.
Today’s pole-sitter, Christopher Bell has already locked in his spot to Homestead after winning at Texas last week and barring a major incident in the first stage, Cole Custer’s spot in the Championship 4 should be clinched as he sits 52 points above the playoff cutline. He will roll off on the front row with Bell.
Just like last night, there will be a fight between multiple drivers for the last two spots. Tyler Reddick, Justin Allgaier, Chase Briscoe, Michael Annett, Austin Cindric, and Noah Gragson will be fighting it out for those two spots.
Reddick and Allgaier sit above the playoff cutline and as long as they hold the track position to give them enough playoff points, they should be good as long as one of the bottom four doesn’t steal a win.
Average finish at ISM Raceway for playoff drivers:
Bell – 9.8
Custer – 9.6
Reddick – 8.2
Allgaier – 9.1
Briscoe – 6.0(1 start)
Annett – 15.2
Cindric – 8.3
Gragson – 11.0(1 start)
I expect Custer and Bell to dominate today. I don’t see where that could change unless they are involved in an accident or suffer a mechanical issue. The most interesting battle to watch for today is Allgaier versus Briscoe. With Briscoe being behind Allgaier by 18 points on that playoff cutline, Allgaier will have to do his best to keep Briscoe from getting that clean air and taking the lead.
Once again, NASCAR still has that PJ1 Traction Compound way up high in turns 1 and 3 but I just don’t see a path to success for any driver trying to gain an advantage with it. They could, potentially, run the right-side tires along that strip but I just don’t think it is a feasible lane to gain time.
I am taking Bell to win this race and storm his way into Homestead with all the momentum. Reddick stole the title from Bell last year and with Bell moving to the Cup Series next year, you know he will be hungry for that Xfinity title.
Give me Riley Herbst as my dark horse for today. He has three top tens in eight races in the Xfinity Series and will start 11th today with a very fast Joe Gibbs number 18 car.
Stages are 45-45-110 today. You can watch the race on NBC at 3:45 ET.