The Xfinity Series playoffs are finally here. Seven months ago, Austin Hill won in Daytona ahead of John Hunter Nemechek. Since then, the two have battled at the top of the standings for the lead in the 2023 championship. Now, the two lead as the grid heads to Bristol for the Xfinity Series Food City 300. Here’s what you need to know before betting on the race this weekend.
Favorites in the Xfinity Series opener
Championship leader Nemechek and Justin Allgaier are tied for the shortest odds for victory at +300. Nemechek closed the season on a high with a dominant win in Kansas. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won both stages 1 and 2 and led the most laps to take home the victory. That result has him 10 points clear of Hill in the NASCAR playoff standings.
This weekend is Nemechek’s first Xfinity race in Bristol since the 2019 season. He raced well that season, finishing fifth and third in the two events. He’ll likely be near the front once again given his current form.
Allgaier has had terrible luck at Bristol in recent years. In the last four Xfinity races there, he’s led the most laps but failed to win. He finished ninth last year, fourth in 2021, and fifth and 18th in the two races there in 2020. Former teammate Noah Gragson won this race last season. Allgaier took pole last week but finished 18th by the chequered flag. He’s firmly in the fight for the championship and sits third in the NASCAR Xfinity standings. He’s come close to wins multiple times in Bristol and just needs a solid weekend to follow through.
Trevor Bayne (+600) is making his second Xfinity Series appearance this weekend. Three weeks ago, he raced to 29th in the second Daytona race. Bristol’s, where Bayne started his Xfinity career in 2009. He’s been on pole once (2012) but has yet to crack the top five in the Xfinity or Cup Series. His years of experience will come in handy, but he could be a risky bet, given how little Xfinity racing he’s done in the past few years.
Josh Berry (+650) rounds out the favorites. He’s notched consecutive top-10 finishes heading into this weekend with fifth in Darlington and sixth in Kansas. His track record is limited in Bristol, with just two Xfinity races on his record in 2022 and 2021. In those races, he finished seventh and 35th, respectively. Backing Berry is a bet on recent form and his team, JR Motorsports, which won this event last year.
Longer odds to consider in the Xfinity Series Food City 300
Sam Mayer (+900) enters the playoffs after a poor result in Kansas, where he finished 37th. But Bristol may be the perfect place for him to rebound. He took fourth last year and ninth in 2021. In 2020, he won the Camping World Truck Series event in Bristol. In other junior series, he has a combined four victories. This could be a place for him to get back into the mix for the championship.
Hill (+1000) finished third in this event last year. After fifth in Kansas and second in Darlington, he’ll want to make a statement at the start of the playoffs. Prior races in the junior categories were solid but not spectacular, with just one top-10 result in the Craftsman Truck Series (2019). A win here gives him a leg up in the NASCAR Xfinity standings over Nemechek.
Brandon Jones (+2000) was back near the front last week in Kansas by finishing second. That was his best result since Michigan and his third top-five finish this season. He’s not one of the NASCAR drivers in the Xfinity playoffs, but he could play spoiler this weekend. Bristol’s one of his best tracks in recent years; he’s finished no lower than eighth in his last four races. That run of success includes second last year. Yes, the odds are much longer than his JR Motorsports teammates, but he’d be worth the big payout.
Xfinity Series Food City 300 picks
The playoff field is set for the Xfinity Series playoffs led by Nemechek, Hill, and Allgaier. That trio won a combined 12 of 26 races during the NASCAR regular season. But now the gaps are much closer, and the top 12 are set to contend for the title.
This weekend, Allgaier looks best set for the win among the favorites. He’s raced well in Bristol so many times, and this is when it’ll come good for him. If you’re looking for a bigger payout, consider Mayer or Jones to get you a solid return.
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