Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN) Race Preview

Wild Card: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL up next

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs kicked off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where Chase Briscoe was victorious and took home his eighth win of the season and punched his ticket to the Round of 8.

Last weekend, Justin Haley got another superspeedway win at Talladega Superspeedway, punching his ticket to the Round of 8, as well. In a wild race from start to finish, Haley led the final two laps of the race en route to the win.

Haley’s win marked his third superspeedway victory of the season and put him on a list of elite company, joining Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the only drivers in NASCAR to win three consecutive superspeedway races.

Playoff drivers took the top four finishing positions on Saturday with Ryan Sieg snatching a career-best finish of second. He’s now +27 points above the cutline after accumulating many points throughout the race. Noah Gragson finished third and Brandon Jones finished fourth. Ross Chastain finished in the sixth position and Brandon Brown finished ninth. Chase Briscoe, who led a majority of the race and looked like he was going to be victorious once again, got involved in a late-race scuffle and finished 19th. Harrison Burton finished 23rd, Justin Allgaier 29th, Austin Cindric 34th, Riley Herbst 35th and Michael Annett finished 37th. Annett was originally scored as finishing second, but was disqualified during post-race inspection after the No. 1 car failed heights for being too low in the left front.

This weekend, the series heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL for the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on Saturday, October 10, to conclude the Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 12.

As if Talladega Superspeedway wasn’t crazy enough last weekend, the Charlotte road course is another wild card race that could potentially shake up the Playoff standings.

This will be only the third race in Xfinity Series history at the Charlotte ROVAL. Briscoe won the inaugural race in 2018, which also marked his first career win, and last season, AJ Allmendinger took home the victory for Kaulig Racing.

Cindric and Briscoe, two Ford teammates, have been seemingly the best drivers on road courses this season. However, this race is really anyone’s to win. But, if the drivers not locked into the Playoffs want to make it to the Round of 8, they need to get as many points as possible and a decent finishing position.

Saturday’s race will be 155.44 miles and 67 laps. Stage 1 will end on Lap 20 and Stage 2 will end on Lap 40. Gragson will lead the field to green.

Eyeing the Charlotte Road Course

The Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL is a 2.280-mile road course with 17 turns. The frontstretch is 1,580 feet and the backstretch is 1,500 feet. In the corners, the banking varies from two to 24 degrees and on straights it varies from zero to five degrees.

The race is 155.55 miles and 67 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 20 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 40.

Since this is only the third race at the track, it’s difficult to really nail down who has the best chances on taking home the trophy. Aside from Briscoe winning in 2018, every driver in the Playoffs (other than the rookies), has the same amount of experience on the track.

Austin Cindric is the only driver in the series to have finished in the top five in both races and only four drivers finished in the top 10 in both races.

Neither of the two races run on the track were won from the pole position. In 2019, there were 14 caution laps and in 2018 there were five. In 2019, there were seven lead changes and the most leaders at six. Briscoe led 33 laps in 2018.

Since Briscoe and AJ Allmendinger are the only two past winners at the track, they have the two best driver ratings. But, Cindric has the third-best driver rating at the track followed by Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson. Justin Allgaier has the sixth best driver rating.

Cindric has run 117 total laps in the top 15, the most of any driver and has led the third-most laps (14) below the two previous winners.

Road Course results in 2020

The NASCAR Xfinity Series has visited three road courses so far this season. As they head to the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, let’s look back at the results from the previous two.

The first road course for the series was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the first time in series history, running a 151.2-mile race on the 2.439-mile road course. The race had five cautions for 15 laps with 13 lead changes. Chase Briscoe took home the victory with Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric rounding out the top five.

Cindric won the first stage and Briscoe won the second stage. The race was a total of 62 laps.

The series then went to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, to run at Road America, a 4.048-mile road course. The race was 45 laps for 182.2 miles. Cindric won the race with Allmendinger, Briscoe, Kaz Grala and Andy Lally rounding out the top five.

There were seven cautions for 15 laps and 13 different lead changes throughout the race. Haley and Allmendinger each took home a stage win.

The week after, the series went to the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, also for the first time in series history. The Daytona Road Course race was 52 laps on a 3.610-mile road course for 187.7 miles. Cindric was victorious, once again, leading 21 of 52 laps and grabbing his second win in a row. Brandon Jones, Gragson, Allmendinger and Lally rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions for eight laps and seven lead changes.  Cindric and Briscoe each took home a stage win at Daytona, too.

Looking back, it’s obvious that there are a handful of drivers with consistent strength at road courses – Cindric, Briscoe, Allmendinger, Haley, Gragson. Those are the most common names that we see up front for each of them. It’s possible we’ll see the same thing this weekend, but with Playoff spots on the line, there may be a bit more chaos before the checkered flag.

Clinch Scenarios: Road course racing in Charlotte

It’s the final race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of 12 and one more chance to drivers to make their way to the Round of 8. Only two drivers have officially made it to the next round with wins. Chase Briscoe won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Justin Haley won at Talladega Superspeedway, punching their tickets to the next round. Here are the clinch scenarios for this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL:

Possible to Clinch (Note – for all, a win would clinch a spot in the Round of 8):

  • Austin Cindric (0 Wins, 2114 Points) – Would clinch on points with 13 points and a new winner.  If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg, Justin Allgaier or Ross Chastain), he would clinch on points with six points. 
  • Noah Gragson (0 Wins, 2111 Points) – Would clinch on points with 15 points and a new winner.  If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg, Justin Allgaier or Ross Chastain), he would clinch on points with eight points. 
  • Brandon Jones (0 Wins, 2098 Points) – Would clinch on points with 29 points and a new winner.  If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Ryan Sieg, Justin Allgaier or Ross Chastain), he would clinch on points with 22 points. 
  • Ryan Sieg (0 Wins, 2091 Points) – Would clinch on points with 35 points  and a new winner.  If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier or Ross Chastain), they would clinch on points with 28 points. 
  • Justin Allgaier (0 Wins, 2083 Points) – Would clinch on points with 44 points and a new winner.  If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg or Ross Chastain), they would clinch on points with 37 points. 
  • Ross Chastain (0 Wins, 2071 Points) – If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg or Justin Allgaier), he would clinch on points with 49 points. Could clinch on points with a new winner and help.
  • Harrison Burton (0 Wins, 2064 Points); Brandon Brown (0 Wins, 2052 Points); Riley Herbst (0 Wins, 2035 Points); Michael Annett (0 Wins, 2033 Points) – Could clinch on points with help.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Outlook following Talladega-2:

Rank      DriverPointsRace WinsStage WinsPlayoff PtsPts from Cutoff
1Chase Briscoe2,1488959In On Wins 
2Justin Haley2,1083323In On Wins 
3Austin Cindric2,1145105050 
4Noah Gragson2,111282547 
5Brandon Jones2,098322034 
6Ryan Sieg2,09102227 
7Justin Allgaier2,0833123319 
8Ross Chastain2,07102107 
    9Harrison Burton#2,0642014-7 
10Brandon Brown2,052000-19 
11Riley Herbst #2,035001-36 
12Michael Annett2,033002-38 

Charlotte ROVAL numbers for Playoff drivers

Below is a look at the NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of 12 Playoff drivers at the Charlotte ROVAL (in order of seeding):

Chase Briscoe has one win at the track in two starts. He won the inaugural race in 2018 from the ninth position. Last season, he started from the pole and finished ninth. He has an average start and finish of 5.0 and has led 54 laps total.

Justin Haley made his first start last season at the Charlotte Road Course. He started in ninth and finish 31st after only completing 61 of 67 laps.

Austin Cindric is the only driver to have finished in the top five in both races run at the Charlotte Road Course so far. He started from the pole in the inaugural race and finished third and last season he started third and finished third. He has also led 14 laps at the track.

Noah Gragson will make his second career start at the track this weekend. His first came last season, he started 12th and finished fifth.

Brandon Jones will make his third start at the track this weekend with hopes of a better finish than his last two. In 2018, he started 22nd and finished 22nd and last season he started 15th and finished 16th. He has an average start of 18.5 and average finish of 19.0 in his two starts.

Ryan Sieg has also not had great results in his two starts at the road course. He started 27th in 2018 and finished 36th because of a suspension issue. Last season, he started 25th an finished 30th. He’s only completed 102 of 122 laps attempted and has an average start of 26.0 and average finish of 33.0. He’ll look to make a better run at it this weekend.

Justin Allgaier is usually one of the driver in the series with the most experience at a track but he’s in the same boat as the other drivers this weekend as he makes his third start. In the track debut, he started 12th and finished 15th. Last season, however, he had much better results, starting seventh and finishing fourth. He has an average start and finish of 9.5.

Ross Chastain is the last driver above the cutline heading into this weekend’s race at the road course. He has one Xfinity Series start at the track and it was in 2018. He started 16th and finished 12th.

Rookie Harrison Burton will make his second career start on Saturday. His debut was last season and he started 22nd and finished 13th.

Brandon Brown’s first start at the Charlotte Road Course was last season. He started 35th and finished 17th. He made a big jump at Talladega in the Playoffs standings and a good finish and a lot of points might keep him above the cutline.

Rookie Riley Herbst had a tough day at Talladega after being involved in an incident early in the race. This weekend will be his debut at the Charlotte Road Course.

Michael Annett will make his third start this weekend at the road course. His in debut, he started 23rd and finished 20th and last season, he started 23rd and finished 15th. He has an average start of 23.0 and an average finish of 17.5.

Competition highlights: Xfinity Series

The 2020 Xfinity Series season has produced some great racing and exciting finishes.

Here’s a look at some of the most impressive competition statistics:

  • The 2020 season had produced the fourth-most green flag passes for the lead (534) through 28 races in the last 14 seasons (2007-2020).  The 2011 season has produced the series-most at 687.  
  • The 2020 season has seen a year-over-year increase of green flag passes for the lead of +21.9% compared to 2019 (438) through 28 races.
  • The 2020 season had produced the 10th-most green flag passes (40,945) in the last 14 seasons (2007-2020); up +15.3% from the 2019 season through 28 races (35,498).    
  • The average number of lead changes per race (12.18) through the first 28 events are the most since 2012 (13.00). 
  • The average number of leaders per race (6.71) through the first 28 events are the most since 2013 (6.71). 
  • 12 of this season’s 28 races have had a margin of victory of less than a second. The average margin of victory for the first 28 races of 2020 is 1.501 seconds.
  • The 2020 season has produced nine different winners, led by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe with eight victories.
  • Ford leads the series in wins in 2020 with 13 victories.

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