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Crashes in last Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway took their toll on Playoff contenders and shuffled the standings before Saturday’s Round of 12 elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.
After the Drive for the Cure 250 at the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Roval, the Playoff field will be cut from 12 drivers to eight, with the survivors retaining eligibility for the series championship.
Saturday’s race will be contested over 67 laps (155.44 miles), with stage breaks scheduled after 20 and 40 laps. AJ Allmendinger has won the last two events at the track, which combines an infield course with the majority of the 1.5-mile banked oval. Hence, the Roval.
Talladega was not kind to AJ Allmendinger. The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet crashed out of last Saturday’s race after 24 laps, finished 39th and fell to fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series standings.
The good news is that Allmendinger is coming to the best possible venue to preserve his position in the series Playoff. Dinger has won the last two races at the Charlotte Roval, and there is no better road course racer in the Xfinity ranks.
“I’m excited to go back to the Roval after winning the last two races there,” Allmendinger says. “It’s probably the best track for us to go to after a tough weekend like we had at Talladega. The ultimate goal is to make it to the next round, so we have to play it smart.
It’s definitely a new position for me to be in, knowing that we have to make it to the next round. We will be smart, but we will race, knowing that we have a shot to win.
What we don’t understand is why Allmendinger, as two-time defending winner, is second choice at DraftKings Sportsbook. At +230, he’s our first choice, and we’ll continue to back AJ at road courses until someone else achieves his level of dominance.
Unlike Allmendinger, Austin Cindric survived Talladega with a respectable eighth-place finish and retained his series lead heading for Saturday’s elimination race.
The reigning series champion is an adept road course racer, and we think he’s a lock to finish in the top three (-145 via Draftkings), which he has done in two of his three starts at the track.
Cindric already has clinched a spot in the next round of the Playoff by virtue of his current 77-point edge over ninth-place Jeb Burton. So Cindric doesn’t have to win the race, even though doing so would add another five Playoff points to his total.
Though he’s the betting favorite at +220, we don’t think Cindric will win on Saturday. Our nod goes to Allmendinger to find Victory Lane, but we’re convinced Cindric will be on the podium. So bet him to run top-three.
Harrison Burton is on thin ice heading to Saturday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval. He’s eighth in the standings, just eight points to the good in the race for the final spot in the Round of 8.
His closest pursuer is his cousin, Jeb Burton, who sits on the flip side of that eight-point margin. So which cousin has a better shot at advancing with a strong finish at the Roval?
Our money is on Harrison, who has finished in the top 10 at five of the six road course races so far this season. He ran fifth at both Road America and Watkins Glen, and we think he’s a good bet to duplicate that performance at the Roval.
As well as Harrison has run on the road courses this year, he’s a generous +220 to finish in the top five on Saturday. We recommend that bet.
|Race||Drive for the Cure 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race|
|Location||Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course|
|Time||Saturday, October 9, 3 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||NBC|
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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