NXS Playoffs Go Road Racing

Christopher Bell

t’s been a week of triumph and smiles for NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff standings leader Christopher Bell. Last Saturday he won the Playoff opener at Richmond Raceway to move into the championship lead for the second-time this season.

Three days later, Bell was formally introduced as the new driver of the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota – his highly-anticipated tenure starting next February in Daytona Beach.

First, however, Bell’s got a championship to win. And he seems to be putting it all together very well. He won a series-best seventh race at Richmond and now holds a 22-point edge on Cole Custer and 44-point edge on regular season champion Tyler Reddick heading into the Drive for the Cure 250 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Not only does Bell have a firm grasp on the title run, he – along with Austin Cindric – have proven to be the drivers to beat when it comes to road course racing. The pair have finished some combination of first-and-second at the three previous road courses on the schedule. Cindric earned his first career Xfinity Series win at Watkins Glen International and then won again at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course – edging Bell both times. Bell answered with the trophy at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. finishing one position better than Cindric.

A driver to watch this week, however, is defending winner Chase Briscoe, who led a race high 33 laps last year en route to his first ever Xfinity Series victory. He is ranked sixth in the standings – only 17 points to the good of ninth place Brandon Jones. The top 8 drivers will advance to the second round of the Playoffs following next week’s race at Dover International Speedway.

Beyond his desire to challenge for the title, veteran Justin Allgaier couldn’t be more motivated to win. A five-race winner last season, the JR Motorsports driver is still looking for his first of 2019. And boasts the best road course record among current drivers in the Xfinity Series with three victories. He’s had top-10 runs at all of the three previous road course venues in 2019. He finished 15th in last year’s ROVAL inaugural.

Adding to the intrigue of this unique 2.32-mile, 18-turn venue is that 15 drivers entered in Saturday’s race will be making their ROVAL debut – including championship contenders, rookies Noah Gragson, Justin Haley and John Hunter Nemechek along with veterans A.J. Allmendinger and Joe Nemechek and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series’ young star, 18-year old Harrison Burton.


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