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When they take to the Daytona Road Course for Saturday’s Super Start Batteries 188, the NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers are likely to have one distinct advantage over their NASCAR Camping World Truck Series counterparts—the weather forecast. The Truck Series raced in the rain on Friday night. The chance for rain on Saturday is just 5 percent. Then again, it’s Florida, where pop-up showers are almost as common as palm trees.
Last year’s race marked the first visit of the series to the 3.61-mile, 14-turn road course, but the 2020 inaugural took place in August, thanks to a schedule gerrymandered in response to the Covid-19 crisis. Saturday’s race is the second points event of the Xfinity Series season, scheduled for 52 laps (187.72 miles), with stage breaks after 15 and 30 laps.
|Super Start Batteries 188 Information|
|What||Super Start Batteries 188 NASCAR Xfinity Series race|
|Where||Daytona International Speedway Road Course|
|When||Saturday, Feb. 20, 5 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
Is there any reason not to pick Austin Cindric to win Saturday’s Super Start Batteries 188 at the Daytona Road Course? First of all, Cindric won last year’s inaugural race on the circuit—from the pole, no less. Cindric also is the reigning Xfinity Series champion, and his No. 22 Team Penske Ford is one of the best cars in the garage, having won six owner’s championships with a multitude of drivers.
Cindric won the last race of the 2020 season in November to clinch the title. He also won the Feb. 13 event on the Daytona oval to open the 2021 season. Having raced sports cars before coming to NASCAR, he has more road course experience than most of his competitors. Nevertheless, there are two factors that might be caused to reconsider a bet on the reigning champion.
First, the price isn’t that attractive. Posted at +120 on DraftKings Sportsbook, Cindric isn’t much better than even money. That requires a leap of faith in a 40-car field. Second, no driver has ever claimed a series championship and then won the first two races of the subsequent season. But Cindric is good enough to accomplish the feat. So bet against him at your peril.
To find a driver who can rival Austin Cindric for road course acumen, look no further than AJ Allmendinger, who has won races in IndyCars, Daytona Prototypes, and, of course, stock cars. Allmendinger drove part-time for Kaulig Racing last year and won twice, on the Atlanta oval and the Charlotte Roval.
Building on that success, Allmendinger opted to drive for Kaulig full-time this season, and with a beefed-up road course portion of the Xfinity Series schedule, he should be a threat not only to make the Playoffs but also to contend for the championship.
At +275, Allmendinger is certainly priced more attractively, but Cindric’s equipment is perhaps slightly superior, and that could make a difference in the horsepower department on the high-speed oval portion of the 14-turn course. Allmendinger is a full-timer now, but there ringers to consider in this race: road course specialists Andy Lally (+2500) and Miguel Paludo (+4000). Lally is a five-time class winner in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
The 2021 campaign already has seen its share of celebrity partnerships in NASCAR Racing. NBA megastar Michael Jordan joined forces with Denny Hamlin to form 23XI Racing, with Bubba Wallace as their driver. Rapper Pitbull has teamed with owner Justin Marks to field cars for Cup driver Daniel Suarez.
And now, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara has opted to use the No. 6 Chevrolet driven by Ryan Vargas as a marketing vehicle for his chain of juice bars in Louisiana.
“Having the opportunity to work with Alvin Kamara and The Big Squeezy is such a huge honor,” said Vargas, an Xfinity Series rookie this year. “As one of the best running backs in the game, I know Alvin puts 110-percent effort into everything he does, and that can easily be said for myself and our No. 6 JD Motorsports team.”
If you want to wager on Vargas, however, you’ll have to make a field bet at +2500. That’s a course of action best avoided.
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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