The NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of 8 started with a surprise as Riley Herbst earned his first win of the season. Herbst led the most laps and won stage two of the race. Championship leader John Hunter Nemechek continued his run of top results in the playoffs with a second-place finish. He’s favored to get his second playoff win in the Xfinity Series Contender Boats 300 this weekend.
Contender Boats 300 favorites
John Hunter Nemechek (+185)
Nemechek continues to build a gap at the top of the Xfinity standings. He’s now 26 points ahead of Justin Allgaier in second. That’s bigger than the gap from Algaier to Sam Mayer in sixth.
He’s raced well in Homestead before, finishing third in 2018 and sixth in 2019. This season, he’s done well on similar tracks on the Xfinity racing schedule. Pole position, most laps led, and at least one stage win in both Darlington races and a win in Fontana prime him for a good result here. Given his playoff performance, he’s at least a lock for the top five. He’ll likely be fighting for a win.
Cole Custer (+350)
Custer’s now finished sixth or higher in every playoff race so far. No other driver on the Xfinity grid can match that, not even Nemechek. He has a strong track record in Homestead. He won this race in 2017 and finished second in 2018 and 2019. With his recent run of form and history, he’s a solid choice for the win on Saturday.
Justin Allgaier (+900)
Allgaier’s done well in the playoffs but can’t quite match Nemechek’s outstanding form. He rebounded from 37th in Charlotte to sixth in Las Vegas.
He’s been solid but unspectacular in Homestead in his Xfinity career. Twelve career races there have yielded only two top-10 results: sixth in 2016 and seventh in 2018. His time on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule didn’t fare much better, with 15th and 36th in two races. This season, he was solid in Fontana (third) and Darlington (second and seventh) but may not be set for a top finish this week.
Josh Berry (+900)
Berry’s pole position in Las Vegas only led to a 12th-place finish. It was a slight drop off from third in Charlotte and continued his uneven playoff performance so far.
Berry has limited career Xfinity racing at Homestead. Just three races since 2014 have led to 25th, 10th, and 11th. He’s got good results in Fontana (fifth) and Darlington (seventh and fifth) for 2023. But a win may be a bit out of reach.
Austin Hill (+900)
Nemechek’s main challenger for most of the regular season managed another improved result in Las Vegas. Seventh place keeps him close to Allgaier for second in the Xfinity standings.
He has six career races in Homestead across the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity, and Craftsman Truck Series. He won the Craftsman Truck Series finale in 2019 and managed ninth in the Xfinity race last season. Darlington was one of his best tracks this season (fourth- and second-place finishes), and he took sixth in Fontana from pole position. He needs a strong finish here to keep pace in the championship and could be near the front.
Xfinity Series Contender Boats 300 sleepers
Chandler Smith (+1100)
The rookie Smith continues to impress in 2023 with fourth place in Las Vegas, his third top-five result in four playoff events so far. Homestead was the site of his first Xfinity Series race last season, where he raced to seventh. He raced well in Fontana (fourth) and, with his momentum so far these playoffs, could be in the fight for the win.
Sam Mayer (+2000)
Mayer’s two weeks removed from a solid win in Charlotte and finished fifth last time out in Las Vegas. He managed second in Fontana and eighth in the first Darlington race. It’s a longer shot, but he could put his momentum to good use here. He finished fifth in this race last season.
Daniel Hemric (+2500)
Another long shot, but with solid recent results, Hemric’s enjoyed good results in Homestead. Fifth in 2018, third in 2021, and fourth last season are among the best in his Xfinity Series results. His track record is solid, and he could be in for a top finish despite his long NASCAR odds.
Xfinity Series Contender Boats 300 picks
Homestead marks the mid-point of the Xfinity Series Round of 8. The high tire wear will be a challenge but can make for an exciting race down the field.
Of the favorites, it’s again hard to bet against Nemechek. He’s in control of the championship with good results at similar tracks this season. Custer’s a good choice for a slightly better payout. Of the long shots, look to Mayer to challenge for his second playoff victory.