Photo via Toyota Racing
Two races and two different winners, this is exactly how one would imagine the Xfinity Series starting and today should be no different at Auto Club Speedway. 36 drivers will hit the track for today’s Production Alliance Group 300.
There will be a first-time winner at the 2-mile oval because no one has won a race at this track in any other series. Up until Cole Custer last year, the last non-Cup driver to win an Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway was Scott Riggs in 2002. This year, we will see a second-straight non-Cup driver win this Xfinity race.
Today’s race will be the first true test of driver skill in this field as the track’s old and bumpy surface will test driver’s nerves and will be a determining factor on whether or not they can withstand the fight they will have to give their cars for 150 laps.
After what we saw in practice yesterday, Noah Gragson looks to be the clear favorite to nab his 2nd win of the season. He was fastest in 1st practice and 2nd fastest in final practice. His biggest challenge may come from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton who was fastest in final practice and had the best 10-lap average speed.
Based off of experience, Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett would appear to be the drivers most capable of keeping calm with their cars throughout the day and surviving the grind to take the checkered flag.
A driver that everyone should have on their radar today is Anthony Alfredo. He will be driving the Richard Childress No. 21 car in his Xfinity Series debut. Last year, Alfredo ran for DGR-Crosley in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series where he scored two top-ten finishes in 13 races and had an average finish of 18.8.
Brandon Jones is on the pole for today’s race and will be joined by his teammate, Burton, on the front row. It’s Jones’ third pole of his Xfinity Series career and his first since Dover in May of 2018. However, in four races at Auto Club, Jones only has an average of 15.2 with two top tens.
After what we have seen from this morning in qualifying and practice yesterday, I am picking Harrison Burton to take his first career win in one of NASCAR’s premier series in his debut at Auto Club. Alfredo will be on my underdog pick.
Stages for the race end at Lap 35, Lap 70 and the finish at Lap 150.
You can watch today’s race at 4:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.