NASCAR Xfinity Review: Kansas Lottery 300


 For the second race of NASCAR's Saturday double header at Kansas, the NASCAR Xfinity Series kicked off their Round of 8.  Like the Truck and Cup series, this was the first opportunity for an Xfinity playoff driver to lock themselves into the Championship 4 at Phoenix.  The playoff drivers fought extremely hard under the lights to grab a championship opportunity.  The race overall was a bit dull, as there was not much action.  However, at the end of the night, one playoff contender did find himself with a golden ticket to the desert.  

In Stage 1, Noah Gragson led the field to green with Austin Cindric to his outside.  It didn'tt take long for the action to intensify as Matt Mills got sideways bringing out the caution on lap 10.  This lined up the field again, and this time it was a wild restart.  Going into turn 1 there was a 4-wide battle for the lead between playoff drivers Noah Gragson, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain, and Brandon Jones.  Gragson and Cindric got the worst end of this as they both got heavy damage after getting into one another.  The contact put Noah Gragson out of the race and Cindric multiple laps down.  Ross Chastain and Brandon Jones led the field to green, but that didn't last long as Chase Briscoe found his way to the lead.  Briscoe went on to win the first stage with Jones, Burton, Alfredo, Chastain, Herbst, Allgaier, Sieg, Brown, and Haley all receiving stage points.  Briscoe continued this dominance in Stage 2.  While Briscoe led, he was reporting a vibration in his car which made the team concerned about the car.  Nonetheless, Briscoe was able grab the second stage win.  The stage went nearly without incident besides a spin from Jeffery Earnhardt on lap 52.  Jones, Alfredo, Burton, Chastain, Herbst, Allgaier, Sieg, Moffitt, and A. Hill all earned stage points in Stage 2.

The final stage proved to be a retelling of the story from Stage 2.  Briscoe led the majority of the stage, even throughout green flag pit stops which occurred between laps 144-157.  On lap 157, Josh Reaume brought out the caution.  This seemed to help out playoff driver, Ryan Sieg, as he was the only driver who had not pitted during the green flag run.  Sieg was able to get fresh tires and restart 9th.  Briscoe once again led the field to green on lap 164, but the run was short after Anthony Alfredo had some contact with Ross Chastain.  Harrison Burton spun into the inside wall trying to avoid the two.  This brought out the caution on lap 168.  Chase Briscoe, along with others, used this opportunity to go get fresh tires.  In the meantime, Ryan Sieg cycled to the front and led the field to green with Justin Haley beside him.  Briscoe had the lead back within a lap, however, proving that he was the car to beat.  Briscoe led all the way to lap 193 when Myatt Snider spun bringing out the caution.  This allowed Ryan Sieg one more attempt to put fresh tires on and run down the leader.  It wasn't enough though as Briscoe went on to score his 9th win of the season, securing a spot in the Championship 4.  Hemric, Sieg, Haley, A. Hill, Williams, Moffitt, Annett, Jones, and Allgaier all got a Top 10 finish.  Chastain (12th), Cindric (28th), and Gragson (36th) were the only playoff drivers to finish outside the Top 10.  After Kansas, the playoff grid looks like this:

1. Chase Briscoe - Advanced

2. Justin Allgaier - +11 Points

3. Brandon Jones - +9 Points

4. Austin Cindric - +2 Points

5. Justin Haley - -2 Points

6. Ross Chastain - -12 Points

7. Ryan Sieg - -17 Points

8. Noah Gragson - -33 Points

Kansas proved that playoff point gaps can be cut down with one bad race.  Austin Cindric with a significant points advantage over the majority of the playoff drivers, but now sits just 2 points above the cut line.  Noah Gragson, while not mathematically out, finds himself nearly in must win territory.  It was no surprise to see the driver that has dominated nearly the whole season clinch his spot in the Championship 4 first.  With how tight the points battle is, Chase Briscoe is the only driver who can breathe easy going into Texas.  Who will be the next driver to clinch their spot in the finale in Phoenix?