NASCAR Xfinity Review: ALSCO 300

Last Saturday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs began with a trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  This race was less memorable as a whole due to the lack of action.  Vegas holds as the precursor race to the wild cards of Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.  The Xfinity's best took the track and Chase Briscoe proved, once again, why he should be considered the championship favorite.  

In Stage 1, Briscoe pulled out to an early lead over fellow Ford driver, Austin Cindric.  This didn't last long, however, as on lap 9 the #47 of Kyle Weatherman spun out on the front stretch due to a loss of steering.  This caution allowed the cars to line back up, and on the restart, Briscoe got jumped by Cindric, Chastain, and Gragson.  Briscoe was placed back in 4th until another caution came out on lap 19 for Austin Hill, winner of the Truck race the night before.  After another restart, Briscoe found himself back in 7th at one point, but fought his way back to the front by the end of the stage collecting yet another playoff point.  Chastain, Sieg, Gragson, Alfredo, Haley, Cindric, Hemric, Jones, and Herbst followed behind Briscoe collecting stage points.  

Stage 2 was the story of Chase Briscoe.  He led from the drop of the green flag all the way to the green and white checkered.  There wasn't no caution for incident in Stage 2.  Briscoe did not have as comfortable of a lead as he did in the first stage, as Noah Gragson showed signs of potential in his #9 Chevy.  Nonetheless, Briscoe grabbed the second stage win over Gragson and Cindric, Sieg, Alfredo, Jones, Haley, Hemric, Allgaier, and Herbst rounded out the top 10, all earning stage points.

Briscoe continued his dominance through Stage 3.  Gragson attempted to clear Briscoe on the bottom on the restart, but wasn't unable to do so.  Michael Annett attempted to stay out and await a caution as the rest of the field underwent green flag pit stops.  This strategy worked temporarily as the caution came out for a tire that had rolled into the infield grass from Joe Graf Jr.'s pit stall.  Annett pit along with a few others, including fellow playoff contenders Ryan Sieg, Harrison Burton, Ross Chastain, and Riley Herbst.  Briscoe was able to hold the lead on the restart, but started complaining about a vibration potentially with about 15 laps left in the race.  A lap later, the caution came out again due to the #36 of Alex Labbe being slow on pit road.  The restart allowed drivers one last shot at Briscoe, but ultimately it wasnt be enough as Briscoe went on to win the first race of the Xfinity series playoffs.  This was his 8th win on the year, which means Briscoe has reached his personal goal of what he believes is good enough to move to the Cup Series.  Gragson, Hemric, Allgaier, Sieg, Cindric, Annett, Alfredo, Burton, and Haley rounded out the top 10.  Four playoff drivers finished outside the top 10, these being Brandon Jones (11th), Riley Herbst (12th), Brandon Brown (15th), and Ross Chastain (16th).  After the race the Xfinity Playoff Picture is as follows. 

1. Chase Briscoe - Advanced

2. Austin Cindric - +53 Points

3. Noah Gragson - +36 Points

4. Justin Allgaier - +28 Points

5. Justin Haley - +14 Points

6. Brandon Jones - +13 Points

7. Ryan Sieg - +9 Points

8. Harrison Burton - +2 Points

9. Ross Chastain - -2 Points

10. Michael Annett - 10 Points

11. Riley Herbst - -14 Points

12. Brandon Brown - -20 Points

Looking ahead to Talladega, there are a few drivers that should be more confident than others.  While a wild card race in the playoffs, Talladega has proven to be a track easier tamed by the Kaulig racing team, Justin Haley in particular.  I would expect both Haley and Chastain to be a contender.  Also, Ryan Sieg's impressive top 5 run at Vegas could be the momentum they need to carry the #39 team into the second round.  Lastly, I'd look at Brandon Brown as a long shot pick.  I'm sure Brown has this raced marked off as a potential for a Cinderella story for his team.  It'll certainly be an interesting race when the Xfinity series takes on the high speed, high banks of Talladega.