2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship preview

After a long season filled with uncertainty and schedule changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have finally arrived at the championship weekend at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. The Xfinity Series will be the second of three championship races to take place over the weekend on Saturday as the truck series race took place Friday night and the Cup Series race takes place on Sunday.

This is the second race to take place at Phoenix this season in the Xfinity Series. In the first race, Brandon Jones passed Kyle Busch with 24 laps to go in the race and held on to win to earn his first win of 2020 and his second career win. It was a milestone race for Toyota as this race marked its 500th win in a NASCAR national series event.

Going into the championship race, Harrison Burton leads Riley Herbst by 32 points for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

For the Xfinity owner’s championship, the top four playoff drivers are the same four in the owner standings, guaranteeing a unified driver and owner championship.

Lastly, Chevrolet leads Ford and Toyota heading into the final race in the Manufacturer’s championship. Chevrolet is 29 points ahead of Ford and 84 points ahead of Toyota.

For Saturday’s race, four drivers will race for the championship at Phoenix, the new location for the race after moving away from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Here is a breakdown of all four drivers.

Chase Briscoe

Briscoe came into this season with a goal to win eight races so he could earn a spot in the Cup Series next season. So far, he has nine wins in 2020 and will replace Clint Bowyer in the No. 14 car for Stewart-Haas Racing next season. He has the most laps led this season with 991 and is tied for the most stage wins with 12. He has 16 top-five finishes and 21 top-10 finishes this season. He locked himself into the Championship 4 with a win in the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway.

Last season, Briscoe was eliminated from the Round of 8 in the Xfinity Series at Phoenix with an eighth-place finish. He will start second in Saturday’s race after finishing sixth in the spring Phoenix race. He is looking for his first championship since winning the 2016 ARCA Racing Series championship.

Justin Allgaier

Allgaier has been the mainstay in the Xfinity Series for many years, finishing third in the championship race three times (2011, 2016, 2017) and finishing fourth last season. He has 14 wins and 95 top-five finishes throughout his career but the one thing he does not have is a Xfinity Series championship. He has the chance to earn his first this Saturday at Phoenix, the track where he won at last season to lock himself into the championship. Allgaier has the most starts at Phoenix among the Championship 4 with 20. He has two wins, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes at the track.

However, pit strategy doomed him at the race at Phoenix in March as he stayed out during a caution when battling for the lead, costing him track position in the final stage where he would finished 12th. He will start on the pole on Saturday, looking to cap off a season which saw him score three race wins, 10 top-five finishes, 18 top-10 finishes and 12 stage wins.

Austin Cindric

Cindric has statistically been the most consistent driver in the Xfinity Series this season with the most top-five finishes (18) and top-10 finishes (25). Cindric had a stretch in July and August where he won five races in a six-race stretch with a second-place finish in the one he did not win. Last season, he, like Briscoe, was eliminated in the round of 8 at Phoenix.

Cindric will look to cap off a successful season with his first career championship as he awaits the day he will be promoted full-time to the Cup Series. He comes into this race with two top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes in six career starts at Phoenix, including finishing eighth in the previous Phoenix race. HE will start Saturday’s race third.

Justin Haley

Haley comes into this Championship 4 after finding huge success on superspeedways, winning both races at Talladega Superspeedway and the August race at Daytona International Speedway. However, he has also produced solid results away from those two tracks with a total of 10 top-five finishes this season and 20 top-10 finishes.

Last season, he was eliminated in the Round of 12 in the playoffs but picked up a win at Daytona in the Cup Series after pit strategy vaulted him to the top and rain cut the race short. Haley will make his fifth career start at Phoenix with one top-five finish and two top-10 finishes in four previous career starts. This season, he finished fifth in the first Phoenix race and will look to win his first championship as he starts fourth.

Coverage for the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200 will begin at 5:00 p.m. EST. The stages end on lap 45, lap 90 and the finish on lap 200. You can catch the race on NBC Sports Network and the Motor Racing Network.

Starting lineup:

Pit stall assignments:

Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/11/03/goodyear-fast-facts-phoenix-4/

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