It was another win by a non-Playoff driver last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, when John Hunter Nemechek took the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 54 Toyota to Victory Lane giving the team its series leading 10th win of the season. Nemechek overcame a late-race pit road penalty and charged through the field to hold off the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff drivers fighting for their spot in the Championship 4 Round.
Nemechek currently runs fulltime in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and is currently a Playoff driver in that series but got behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the first time this season. The win marked the second of his Xfinity Series career and he joined Ty Gibbs, Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch as a winner in the No. 54.
Nemechek’s JGR teammate, Daniel Hemric finished runner-up in the No. 18 Toyota followed by Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Michael Annett and Brandon Jones. All of the eight Playoff drivers finished in the top-10 at Texas.
This weekend, the series heads to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday, October 23 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. This will be the first visit to the track for the series since 2020 when Chase Briscoe was victorious.
The starting lineup for this weekend’s Xfinity Series race was set by Metric Qualifying and as a result Hemric will lead the field to green with Cindric joining him on the front row. Allgaier, Gragson, Allmendinger, Haley, Harrison Burton, Annett, Jones and Ty Gibbs will make up the starting 10 positions.
The race will be 300 miles (200 laps) and will be broken up into three stages with the first stage ending on Lap 45 and the second stage ending on Lap 90.
Xfinity Facts and Figures: Kansas Speedway Edition
Kansas Speedway is up next for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs with the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday, October 23 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The Xfinity Series heads to the 1.5-mile track for the first time this season.
There have been 21 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Kansas Speedway producing 16 different race winner and 15 different pole winners. Only two Xfinity races at Kansas have ever been won from the pole or first starting position and the most recent was in 2016 by Kyle Busch.
Parker Kligerman holds the record as the youngest pole winner at 19 years, one month and 25 days in 2009. Matt Kenseth is the oldest pole winner in history at 43 years, seven months, seven days in 2015.
Joey Logano holds the record as the youngest winner in Kansas Xfinity Series history at 19 years, four months, nine days in 2009 and former series champion David Green is the oldest Kansas winner in history at 45 years, eight months, six days from 2003.
Christopher Bell holds the race record from 2017 at 141.158 mph and Kenseth also holds the qualifying record from 2015 at 184.906 mph.
Last season, there were 36 cars in the field with 10 lead changes and six different leaders. There were 10 cautions for 45 laps. There were 14 cars running on the lead lap and only 29 cars were running at the finish. Race winner Chase Briscoe led 159 laps and the Margin of Victory was 1.199 seconds.
Kyle Busch’s name is at the top of a lot of lists at Kansas Speedway for the Xfinity Series. He has the most wins (4), most top fives (8), most top 10s (10), most lead lap finishes (10), most laps completed (2,344) and most laps led (544).
Brandon Jones is the only active driver with a win in the last five races at Kansas. He won in 2019 and in 2020. His win in 2019 was the first of his career.
Exploring the 2021 Round of 8 Xfinity Playoff Drivers at Kansas
This weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway will be the second race of the Round of 8 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. All eight drivers are still fighting for their spot in the Championship 4 Round – with only three chances to do so beginning last weekend at Texas, Kansas this weekend, and Martinsville on Halloween weekend. Currently, there are no drivers locked into the Championship 4 Round so let’s take a look at the driver performances at Kansas Speedway.
Austin Cindric: The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has made four starts at Kansas Speedway in his Xfinity Series career. His first start was in 2019 and he started fourth and finished 39h due a to a crash on the opening lap of the race. Most recently, the series visited Kansas in 2020 and Cindric started second but finished 28th after being involved in another incident. He has a best finish of runner-up from the spring Kansas race in 2020. He has an average start of 3.3 and an average finish of 23.5.
AJ Allmendinger: The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet will visit Kansas Speedway for the second time of his Xfinity Series career and the first time since 2007. He made his first and only start at Kansas in 2007 and started eighth but finished 25th.
Justin Allgaier: The driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet will make his 12th Kansas Speedway start on Saturday. His first start at the track came in 2009 when he started 18th and finished sixth. He has three top fives and eight top 10s in his 11 starts at the track. He has an average start and finish of 10.7. Most recently, he finished 10th in this race last season.
Noah Gragson: The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has made three Xfinity Series starts at Kansas Speedway. In those three starts, he has a best finish of 13th from his first start in 2019. Most recently, he started on the pole in 2020 and finished 36th after being involved in an incident. He has an average start of 7.0 and an average finish of 21.3.
Daniel Hemric: The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will make his fifth start at Kansas on Saturday. He has two top fives and three top 10s in his previous four starts and has led 128 total laps. He has an average start of 5.8 and an average finish of 7.3. Most recently, he started third and finished runner-up at this race in 2020.
Harrison Burton: The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has made three Xfinity Series starts at Kansas Speedway. He has one top five and one top 10 in those three starts with a best finish of third in the spring Kansas race in 2020. Most recently, he started 18th in this race in 2020 and finished 11th.
Brandon Jones: The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will make his seventh Xfinity Series start at Kansas on Saturday. His first came in 2016. Kansas has been good to Jones in the past as he has two wins, two top fives and four top 10s. He won this race in 2019 and he won the spring race at Kansas in 2020. Most recently, he started fifth and finished ninth in this race in the 2020 season. He has an average start of 6.7 and an average finish of 11.0. He’s led 20 total laps at Kansas.
Justin Haley: The driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet will make his fourth start at Kansas this weekend. He has one top five and three top 10s at the track, meaning he has never finished outside of the top-10 in all three of his starts. He has an average start of 11.0 and an average finish of 5.7. His best finish came last season in this race when he started ninth and finished fourth.
Clinch Scenarios: Following the Yellow Brick Road
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 8 began last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway but with a non-Playoff driver winning the event, all eight drivers in the Playoffs are still fighting for their spot in the Championship 4 Round this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Currently none of the eight drivers have clinched a spot in the final round.
No drivers have clinched a spot in the 4-driver field of the next round.
Can Clinch Via Points
If a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the fourth winless driver in the standings. The same points requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric or Justin Allgaier.
- AJ Allmendinger: Could only clinch with help
- Austin Cindric: Could only clinch with help
- Justin Allgaier: Could only clinch with help
If there is a new winner from Noah Gragson or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the third winless driver in the standings.
- AJ Allmendinger: Could only clinch with help
- Austin Cindric: Could only clinch with help
Can Clinch Via Win
The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Kansas:
|Rank||Driver||Points||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|9||Jeb Burton||2,115||1||1||9||Eliminated From The Playoffs|
Heading into this weekend, AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson are the four drivers above the cutline while Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton and Brandon Jones are the four below. When the series was heading to Texas last weekend, the standings looked very similar to the way they do now.
But, when it comes down to these final races in the season, those numbers can be shaken up fairly easy. If a driver has one bad race, they can find themselves going from above the cutline to below.
Allmendinger is 30 points above the cutline and has 50 Playoff points and five wins this season. He has the most comfortable points buffer of all the drivers as he’s ranked first in the standings. Cindric is 26 points above the cutline. But, from there, Allgaier is only four points above and Gragson is two points above.
Hemric is only two points below the cutline and Jones has the biggest deficit to fight back from as he is now 32 points below the cutline in eighth, but as we know, anything can happen in the Playoffs, especially as we head to a track that Jones is very good at and has two wins at.
All it takes is a win and you’re in – for all eight Playoff drivers.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year Update: Gibbs leading the way
It’s been a back-and-forth between rookies Ty Gibbs and Josh Berry for the entire 2021 season in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
Currently, Gibbs leads the standings with nine awards and 589 points. So far this season, Gibbs has competed in 16 of 31 events and has three wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s and one pole award, impressive numbers for a rookie who also won in his first ever Xfinity Series start at the Daytona Road Course in February.
Josh Berry has competed in 21 of 31 events this season and has two wins, six top five and 14 top 10s. Berry was running a part-time schedule for JR Motorsports but has filled in for an injured Michael Annett for a few races as well as. He is second in the rookie standings right now with eight awards and 525 points, 64 points behind Gibbs.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year
NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.
Nick Sanchez to make Xfinity Series debut with BHMM in ’22: BJ McLeod Motorsports announced that ARCA Menards Series driver Nick Sanchez will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with team owner BJ McLeod for several races in 2022. Sanchez, a member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, is coming up from a full-time season in the ARCA Menards Series where he’s earned eight top fives and 12 top 10s in 2021. Additional details including partners and a schedule for Sanchez will be announced at a later date.
Brandon Jones returning to JGR in ’22: Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Brandon Jones will return to the team full-time in 2022 behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota Supra. Jeff Meendering will also return as his crew chief. Menards will also return as the primary sponsor and will expand its longtime support of Jones with a full season of sponsorship for all 33 races in 2022.