Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – In sharp contrast to the NASCAR Cup Series, where 15 of 16 Playoff spots have been filled, only five drivers have clinched berths in the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason.
That leaves seven spots still open with four events left in the regular season, including Friday night’s Wawa 250 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Jeb Burton and Myatt Snider have qualified for the Playoff by winning races this season.
Emblematic of the wide-open nature of the series, only Daniel Hemric, who has scored the fourth-most points this year, controls his own destiny via points margin entering Friday’s race. Currently 264 points above the cut line, the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota can clinch a spot by scoring 44 points at Daytona. No other driver has a guaranteed clinch scenario, other than by winning the race.
“You know that anything can happen when you go to Daytona or Talladega,” said Hemric, who is seeking his first NASCAR national series victory. “You just have to try to put yourself in the best position possible and hope that you’re in the right place at the right time and able to capitalize on runs and not get caught up in the big wrecks when they happen.
“We’ll definitely try to work with our teammates as much as we can and try to get all four of our Supras up front. That’s always the plan going in, but these races tend to get pretty wild, especially at the end of the stages and ultimately at the checkered flag. So we’ll give it our best shot and see what we can do.”
With four races left in the Xfinity Series regular season, at least three Playoff spots will be determined by points. Riley Herbst currently occupies the 12th and final Playoff-eligible position by 41 points over Michael Annett, who has been sidelined for four races because of a stress fracture in his right femur and subsequent surgery to repair it.
Series leader Austin Cindric, a five-time winner this season, can become only the second driver to sweep both Xfinity races at Daytona in the same season. The only driver to accomplish the feat so far is NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2003.