NASCAR was in a box before the 2021 Cup season with multi-year deals that kept them from being overly flexible. The same was not true in the Xfinity Series where they could play around with the schedule a little more. Fans kept asking for more road races and since the sanctioning body could not provide them for the senior division, they ran as many as they could in the second series.
The Xfinity Series has visited some of the marquee tracks in the United States, including Road America, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. If NASCAR continues to schedule as many road course races in the next couple of years in Cup, Xfinity is going to become a much bigger proving ground.
This week they race without a lot of interference from the senior series drivers and that is going to let their superstars shine.
Anyone who was surprised by Austin Cindric’s (+140) strong run in the Cup race at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) has not been paying attention to his exploits on road courses in the Xfinity Series.
Cindric has been the driver to beat in this series on multiple occasions. He won two road course races last year in back-to-back efforts at Road America and on the Daytona Road Course. Five of his last six attempts on this course type ended in top-fives and the other was a sixth-place finish. His fifth-place finish in the Pit Boss 250 at COTA was behind two Cup interlopers, so one can reasonable expect him to finish in the top three at Mid-Ohio.
Equally important, the last time the series visited this track in 2019, Cindric was the driver who found Victory Lane.
Best Bets for a top five
In the 2019 Xfinity race at Mid-Ohio, AJ Allmendinger (+360) finished third behind Cindric and Christopher Bell. Two weeks ago he was second to Kyle Busch in the Xfinity race at COTA and he may have had enough juice under the hood to catch Kyle Larson in the Texas Grand Prix if Chase Elliott had been forced to pit. Allmendinger won the 2020 Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval race and has one Cup victory on a road course.
Harrison Burton (+2200) does not get the credit he deserves on road courses. He finished sixth at COTA and also on the Daytona road course, but this week he is well outside the 10/1 mark. One need look only as far as Daytona to remember just how unpredictable this track type can be. Ty Gibbs grabbed the win in the Xfinity Series in his first ever start and Bell was the upset Cup winner. It could easily be Burton’s chance this week.
The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have put a lot of faith in Gibbs (+360) after his Daytona victory. It’s hard to find a reason to doubt them because with the exception of Darlington, he has a perfect record of top-fives in his grandfather’s car. It is amazing that he already has two wins in six attempts including last week’s 300-miler at Charlotte.
One can expect Joe Gibbs Racing to dominate the top five this week because Brandon Jones (+7000) has been in the mix with his teammates recently on the twisty tracks. While he did not perform particularly well at COTA, his fourth-place finish in Daytona turned a few heads. He was even better there last year with a second-place finish to Cindric. A 10th last year on the Roval and a 10th the last time Xfinity visited Mid-Ohio should also put him on your radar.
Allmendinger’s teammate Jeb Burton also warrants some attention with top-10s in both road course races this year. He was 10th at COTA and fifth at Daytona. His eight top-10 finishes in 2021 is highlighted by a Talladega Superspeedway win, so he has confidence entering the weekend.
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2021 Top-10 Finishers on Road course