Who will win Saturday’s Drive For The Cure 250 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN) race preview with my picks

Race Day Schedule

8:30 am: Garage Opens

2:40 pm: Drivers To Cars

2:45 pm: Driver Intros

3:17 pm: Invocation

3:18 pm: National Anthem

3:25 pm: Command

3:37 pm: Green Flag


Race Details

Coverage: 3 p.m. ET

Green Flag: 3:37 p.m. ET

TV: NBC

Radio: PRN

Computer: NASCAR.com

Phone: NASCAR App

Race Distance: 67 Laps/155.44 Miles

Stage Lengths: 20-20-27

Competition Caution – None

Playoffs: Round 1, Race 3

Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL


Starting Lineup


Brandon Brown Becomes First-Time Winner; Up Next: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Talladega Superspeedway is known for its intense racing, wild wrecks and unexpected winners and Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff race did not disappoint.

Brandon Brown, driver of his family-owned No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Chevrolet, took home his first victory after rain and darkness loomed over the track. The win marked his first in 115 Xfinity Series races and his ninth top-10 finish in 2021.

Since Brown isn’t a part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs this season, seven spots in the Round of 8 are still up for grabs as Austin Cindric clinched a spot in the Round of 8 at Talladega Superspeedway on points. Brandon Jones finished runner-up to Brown, the highest finishing Playoff driver, with Justin Allgaier in third and Daniel Hemric in fourth. Jordan Anderson finished fifth – a career-best for driver/owner in the series.

This weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course for the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on Saturday, October 9 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The race marks the cutoff for the Round of 8 and right now, Cindric is the only driver locked in and for the remaining eleven drivers looking to make it to the next round, everything is on the line.

This weekend’s Xfinity Series race determined its starting lineup by Metric Qualifying and as a result Team Penske’s Austin Cindric will lead the field to green with JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier joining him on the front row. Hemric will start third with Josh Berry, Justin Haley, and Brandon Jones occupying the first three rows.

This weekend’s race will be 155.44 miles and 67 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 20 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 40.

Facts and Figures: Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course

Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the fourth race on the 17-turn, 2.32-mile road course.

The inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course was run on September 29, 2018 and was won by Chase Briscoe. AJ Allmendinger has won the last two races run at the Charlotte Road Course; including starting from deep in the field in 22nd position last season.

There have been two different pole winners and only two different race winners in the three events held. None of the three races have been won from the first starting position.

Last season’s race had 38 cars in total. There were 14 lead changes and six leaders. There were 10 cautions for 24 laps and only 24 cars finished on the lead lap. There were 27 cars running at the finish and Allmendinger led only 12 laps en route to the victory. The Margin of Victory was 0.446 seconds.

Allmendinger and Austin Cindric are the two active drivers with the best numbers at road courses this season heading into this weekend. In six road course starts in 2021, Cindric has one win, four top fives and five top 10s and has led 122 laps.

Allmendinger has one pole, one win, five top fives, five top 10s and 56 laps led in six road course races this season.

Ty Gibbs is also a noticeably good road-course racer grabbing his first career win in his first Xfinity Series start at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. He has one pole, two wins, three top fives and three top 10s in five road course races this season. He’s led 79 laps as well. Gibbs, who runs a part-time schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing, is entered to run this weekend at the Charlotte Road Course.



Clinch Scenarios: Xfinity’s Round of 12 finale at Charlotte Road Course

Just one race remains in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 12 for the postseason contenders to guarantee a spot in the Round of 8. With Josh Berry and Brandon Brown, both non-Playoff drivers winning at Las Vegas and Talladega, and only Austin Cindric clinching his spot on points, seven spots are still up for the taking as the series heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course this Saturday.

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round: Austin Cindric.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 9th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, Noah Gragson or Harrison Burton.

  • Justin Allgaier: Would clinch regardless of finish
  • Daniel Hemric: Would clinch with 15 points
  • AJ Allmendinger: Would clinch with 23 points
  • Justin Haley: Would clinch with 32 points
  • Brandon Jones: Would clinch with 34 points
  • Noah Gragson: Would clinch with 38 points
  • Harrison Burton: Would clinch with 48 points
  • Jeb Burton, Myatt Snider, Riley Herbst and Jeremy Clements: Could all only clinch with help.

If there is a new winner from Jeb Burton or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 8th winless driver in the standings.

  • Justin Allgaier: Would clinch with 8 points
  • Daniel Hemric: Would clinch with 23 points
  • AJ Allmendinger: Would clinch with 31 points
  • Justin Haley: Would clinch with 40 points
  • Brandon Jones: Would clinch with 42 points
  • Noah Gragson: Would clinch with 46 points
  • Harrison Burton, Jeb Burton, Myatt Snider and Riley Herbst: Could all only clinch with help.

Can Clinch Via Win

All 12 drivers would clinch on their win alone this weekend: Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton, Jeb Burton, Myatt Snider, Riley Herbst, Jeremy Clements.


Burton vs. Burton For Final Transfer Spot To Round of 8

We have a pair of cousins in the Xfinity Series field and now both will race each other for the eighth and final spot to the second round of the playoffs. Harrison Burton leads older cousin Jeb Burton by eight points with one race remaining this weekend in Charlotte.

Harrison, is Jeff Burton’s son while Jeb is Ward’s. While there’s a path where both can still march on, it’s going to take someone else falling out and that’s going to be hard to do so.

Noah Gragson is +18 and has seven top seven’s in his last nine starts on the season. Brandon Jones is +21 and has three straight top six results. Justin Haley is +24 and entering the opening round cutoff race with five top sixes in his last six on the season and 11 top 10’s in his last 12 in general. AJ Allmendinger is one spot ahead of him and is +33. He’s a road racing ace. Daniel Hemric (+41) and Justin Allgaier (+55) are the only other two available to be bumped out. Hemric, has five top 10’s in his last six starts including four of which being in the top six. Allgaier, has seven straight top six finishes on the year and 10 top seven’s in the last 11.

Good luck bumping one of them out.

Myatt Snider (-24), Riley Herbst (-32) and Jeremy Clements (-48) likely are facing a win-or-go-home scenario. Snider and Herbst crashed on Saturday with Snider having no top fives since his Homestead win (25 races) in February. Herbst, was 33rd and 27th in the postseason.

For Jeb Burton, he had four top sixes in his first five starts of the season but only four in the last 23.  Harrison Burton saw his nine race streak of top 10’s come to a close.


Who Wins, Who Advances Onto The Round of 8?

Austin Cindric knows that he’s already moving on but he can also automatically advance via a win too. On the ROVAL, he has three top six finishes in as many tries including a pair of third place results. He won the last road course which also was a ROVAL in Indianapolis. On the six road courses run this season, the Team Penske driver has four top fives.

But, can he hold off AJ Allmendinger who lost 26 points in Talladega. He’s only +33 now after being +59 entering last weekend’s showdown in Alabama. Allmendinger, is 2-for-2 on the ROVAL, won the Cup race in Indianapolis and has three runner-ups, a win and a fourth in his last six road course races this year.

I feel like the win is between these two.

Justin Allgaier just needs to keep the momentum going with seven straight top sixes. The thing is, he’s only had two top 10’s on road courses all season and just one in three tries in Charlotte. He’s been 15th or worse in 2 of his 3 ROVAL starts there. With being +55, I think he just plays it safe this weekend to easily skate by to the second round of the playoffs.

Same for Daniel Hemric. I feel like he’s good at +41 and he’s had a pair of top 10’s in his two Charlotte ROVAL starts, but on road courses this season, he’s had two top three’s and four finishes of 12th or worst in the other four. He does have five top 10’s in his last six starts on the year including four of them in the top six.

The bottom spots is where it gets interesting.

Justin Haley is +24 but his ROVAL finishes are 31st and 35th respectively. He does have a top 10 in all six road course races this season and 11 top 10’s in his last 12 on the season in general including five of the last six in the top six.

Brandon Jones is +21and enters on the heels of three straight top six results on the season, but he was 19th or worse in seven of his previous nine and has three finishes of 17th or worst in six road course starts this season as well as finishes of 22nd, 16th and 10th on the ROVAL in Charlotte.

Noah Gragson is hot on the year with seven top sevens in his last nine, has a pair of top fives in Charlotte to go along with three straight top 10’s on road courses this season. I think he can get by Haley and Jones in the points when the checkered flag drops on Saturday.

Harrison Burton’s nine race top 10 streak ended last week in Talladega. He’s had just one finish better than fifth though in his last 13, was 13th and 33rd on the ROVAL but does have five top 10’s in six road course starts this season.

Jeb Burton meanwhile is a rookie on the ROVAL, has been 10th or worse in four of his six road course starts this season and was 36th and seventh in the two playoff races thus far.

Myatt Snider (0 top 5’s since his Homestead win, 5 of his 6 road course finishes this year being 13th or worse), Riley Herbst (33rd, 27th in the playoffs, 13th or worse in 5 of the 6 road courses this season) and Jeremy Clements (39th, 24th in playoffs, 4 top 10’s in the last 23 on the season and 5 straight finishes on road courses of 14th or worse) need to win.

My picks for the race:

  1. 16 Allmendinger – 2-for-2 on the ROVAL, can he go 3-for-3?
  2. 54 Ty Gibbs – 2 wins on road courses this season
  3. 22 Cindric – Why not a third, third place finish in 4 ROVAL starts?
  4.  9 Gragson – 5th, 2nd in his 2 ROVAL starts, 9th, 7th, 5th in his last 3 road course starts this season
  5. 20 HBurton – 4 top 6’s in 6 road course starts this season

Picks To Move Onto The Round of 8:

Cindric, Allmendinger, Hemric, Allgaier, Haley, Jones, Gragson and Harrison Burton

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