The XFINITY Series Tossup at Homestead
The XFINITY Series is ready to finish out its season in style Saturday as they head to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford Ecoboost 300. Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, and Daniel Hemric make up the Championship Four, and all of them have a chance to capture the championship.
Elliott Sadler has led the XFINITY Series points every week except two all season, and for good reason. Sadler has 24 top ten finishes in 32 races so far this season. Five of his eight finishes outside the top ten were either at road courses or caused by crashes. The other three were 12th place finishes at Kentucky and Iowa over the summer and an 18th place finish at Phoenix this past weekend. He has finished every playoff race thus far inside the top ten and on the lead lap except that Phoenix race. Sadler, though, has not won all season and will likely have to break through and win at Homestead to secure the championship.
William Byron has been very strong this season, but has shown worrying inconsistency as well. Byron has four wins on the season, and three within five races over the summer. In the 14 races since his third win at Indianapolis, Byron has earned nine top ten finishes, but failed to lead a lap for nine races following the victory. Byron, though, has led laps in four of the last five races, and also finished inside the top ten in four of those five races. Following his victory at Phoenix, Byron is riding high. Winning the championship at Homestead is far from a sure bet, as we haven’t seen him forced to perform under pressure yet. If he can hold up, he could grab the championship, his second NASCAR championship, and his first in the top three touring series. However, inconsistency and lack of speed at some tracks should make any Byron fan nervous.
Justin Allgaier has been top three in points most of the season, and, like his teammates, Allgaier has been very strong all season. Allgaier has two wins this season, including a victory at Chicagoland, the final race of the regular season. Allgaier, though, has been struck by bad luck many times this season, including a 12-race period where he earned only four top ten finishes, lasting from Charlotte in May until Mid-Ohio in August. While Allgaier has picked his performance up since then, he has failed to lead a lap since his Chicagoland victory. Allgaier has been great all season, but winning is a whole separate deal. He has shown he can win, but whether he can perform under pressure is another story.
Daniel Hemric seems like the underdog this season, but he’s shown plenty of speed. He has seven top five finishes and 16 top ten finishes so far this season, along with an average finish of 12.5. Hemric has spent most of the season between fourth and fifth in points. While he hasn’t won, he’s done enough to keep himself in it all year, and has shown that he has enough to get it done all season. A championship, though, would be a big surprise.
All four drivers have the speed to win the championship, and it will be very exciting to see who can get it done Saturday.