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Carburetor-restricted superspeedway racing is unpredictable, right?
Over the past couple of seasons, that ‘truism’ has been less true for the Xfinity Series than for Cup, where the stakes are greater and there is a higher percentage of competitive cars that remain in the lead draft. The Xfinity drivers often get broken into two or three groups.
That makes the drafting packs smaller and the carnage of 'Big One' crashes less impactful. As a result, several drivers earned at least three top-10 finishes in four races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway last year. This year, five drivers have scored back-to-back top-10s on this track type.
When Justin Haley (+750) won a rain-shortened Cup race at Daytona a few years back, it was one of the least plausible outcomes on a track type that is known for upsets. The confidence he gained that day put him in a remarkable position when he returned to full time Xfinity competition.
Even in the Xfinity Series, that is slightly less prone to 20+ car accidents, streaks are hard to come by. For that reason, Haley’s three plate track wins last year stand out. He won the 2020 edition of this race and both ‘Dega duels. His spring Daytona effort that year ended in a sixth-place result.
Success on this track type does not automatically guarantee a driver can stay out of trouble, and this spring Haley finished 29th at Daytona with crash damage, but he bounced back with a top-10 at Talladega. Kaulig Racing has momentum on their side with a pair of wins in the last couple of weeks, so they deserve the honor of having the top-ranked drivers with Haley and AJ Allmendinger sharing a line that is only 25 points different.
Best Bets for a top five
It is impossible to ignore Bell (+775), however. Kaulig has been strong recently, but Joe Gibbs Racing has easily been the dominant team throughout the season with a plethora of wins for Kyle Busch and Ty Gibbs. The last time Bell was in the field, we were not overly enthusiastic, but he won the New Hampshire Motor Speedway race. This week, he has at least as good an opportunity to win as anyone else in the field and with slightly higher odds than Haley, he may be a more attractive bet to some gamblers.
There are horses for courses and Daytona has been extremely kind to Harrison Burton (+1100) in the past couple of seasons. He hasn’t won any of those three races, but he finished second in spring 2020, third this spring, and fifth last summer. Slightly different circumstances usher him to Victory Lane and 11/1 odds provide a good Return on Investment (ROI).
Allmendinger (+725) swept the top five in the first two plate races this year, so there is a good chance he will be around at the end of the race to help his teammate Haley. But, when the white flag waves, he won’t be willing to just ride around and will make his move. Experience can keep a driver out of trouble and that should make a difference where Allmendinger is concerned.
Austin Cindric (+800) is the most recent winner at Daytona with his Beef for Dinner 300 victory this spring. He backed that up with an impressive second-place results at Talladega. He finished eighth in last year’s edition of this race and was fourth at ‘Dega earlier that season. He’s not immune to trouble, but the majority of his recent carburetor-restricted superspeedway experiences have been positive and he is in some of the best equipment in the field.
The driver that Cindric finished second behind at Talladega was Jeb Burton (+1100). He finished fourth in the season-opener and was third at Talladega last spring. He was not a part of the show when both of those tracks hosted their second races, but the upside of that is it gives him a three-race, top-five streak on the course type and no recent bad memories.
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