Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington (Xfinity Series) Predictions, Odds & Picks
- Duel at the top: Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe vie for Xfinity Series supremacy.
- Duel on the bubble: Brandon Brown tries to maintain a grasp on the final Playoff spot.
- Interloper Denny Hamlin favored stealing a win from Xfinity Series regulars.
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Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Odds
|Any Other Driver||+5000|
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Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 Predictions and Picks
Clearly, conventional wisdom has Denny Hamlin winning this race—and with good reason. Hamlin has won five times at the Track Too Tough to Tame and had a sixth victory in hand last year until his car was disqualified for a ride-height violation. But Chase Briscoe has been a giant killer this year, having beaten Kyle Busch at Darlington in May. Briscoe’s next victim? Busch’s teammate, Denny Hamlin.
Chase Briscoe +500
How to Watch the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200
|Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 Information|
|What||Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race|
|When||Saturday, September 5, 12:30 p.m. EST|
|How to Watch||NBC|
With four races left before the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff begins, the “Triple-A” division heads to Darlington Raceway for Saturday’s Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200. The series last raced at the Lady in Black in May in a schedule restructured because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday’s race is scheduled for 147 laps (200.1 miles) around the 1.366-mile egg-shaped track, with stage breaks after 45 and 90 laps. Cole Custer is last year’s winner, thanks to the disqualification of Hamlin’s car, but is not racing on Saturday. Chase Briscoe won the most recent race at Darlington on May 21.
Duel at the Top: Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe Vie for Supremacy
Chase Briscoe has more victories—six to Austin Cindric’s five. Briscoe has one more Playoff point—35 to Cindric’s 34. Thanks to his consistency throughout the NASCAR Xfinity Series season, however, Cindric has a 58-point lead over Briscoe in the driver standings, with the regular-season title to be decided four races hence.
The regular-season championship is worth 15 Playoff points. The runner-up gets 10. That said, you can expect the battle between the only two full-time Ford drivers in the series to intensify over the next four races as Briscoe chases Cindric for the coveted bonus. Briscoe is looking forward to the race at Darlington, where he won the first Xfinity event after NASCAR’s reopening, but he expects Saturday’s contest to be more competitive.
Anytime you can go back to a race track where you’ve won before, you’re going to have added confidence—especially if you get to go back to that same track in the same year, Briscoe says. It’s going to be a little different this time. Everyone is on top of their game and ready to run at Darlington, where earlier in the year, not everyone was prepared to run that track at that time. I expect it’ll be hotter and slicker with the race being earlier in the day and later in the summer, but I feel like we have a pretty good base setup.
Duel on the Bubble: Can Brandon Brown Maintain Grasp on Playoff Spot?
At the other end of the spectrum, Brandon Brown—12th in the Xfinity standings—holds a fragile 32-point lead over 13th-place Jeremy Clements in the race for the final playoff berth. The next four races will decide the issue, and three of them take place on short tracks: a doubleheader at Richmond and the cutoff event at Bristol.
In the May race at Darlington, Brown finished 13th, a career-best in his four starts, one spot behind Clements. That’s emblematic of how close their race for the final Playoff position is. Clements has more experience at Darlington (10 starts), with the best finish of eighth in 2016.
Clements qualified for the Xfinity Series Playoff in 2017, when he picked up his only career win in the series in the road course race at Road America (Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin). He finished 12th in the final standings. Brown has never scored a top-five result in 75 Xfinity starts, though one of his five career top 10s came at Bristol earlier this season.
Interloper Denny Hamlin Is the Heavy Favorite at Darlington
Denny Hamlin and Chase Briscoe are the only two former Xfinity winners at Darlington competing in Saturday’s race, and Hamlin boats a formidable record at the Track Too Tough to Tame. In 12 starts at the 1.366-mile track, Hamlin has won five times—all from the pole—and finished second on another three occasions.
In last year’s Labor Day weekend race, Hamlin finished first once again but lost what would have been his sixth Xfinity victory at the track when his car was disqualified for a ride-height violation.
There’s one major difference between this year’s event and Hamlin’s five previous wins. With no qualifying after NASCAR’s reopening, Hamlin will start last (37th) in his No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. That shouldn’t be a major issue, given that Hamlin drove from 37th to first before his disqualification last year.
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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.