NASCAR Xfinity Series 2017 playoff field set to be decided
Saturday’s TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway is the final opportunity for Xfinity Series drivers to race their way into the playoffs.
Nine drivers have clinched spots to contend for the tour’s title with Elliott Sadler earning the first regular season title last weekend at Richmond Raceway. While Sadler has yet to win in 2017, Ryan Reed, Justin Allgaier, William Byron and Jeremy Clements secured playoff berths with wins. Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Cole Custer and Matt Tifft punched their playoff tickets on points.
But who will be the final three drivers to race their way into the playoffs on Saturday?
- Blake Koch — Koch is currently eighth in the standings with 537 points. He’s 249 points ahead of 21st-place Spencer Gallagher. If there is a new winner among the top 20 drivers (other than someone already locked into the playoffs), Koch, 32, needs just 30 points to gain his way into the playoffs. With a repeat winner, five points paves his way in. A win for Koch, who in 11 starts at Chicagoland Speedway has just one top-15 result and average finish of 29.8, would automatically lock him into the post-season.
- Michael Annett — Annett, 31, has one top five (second at Elkhart Lake), six top 10s and 512 points in the first 25 races. He’s currently 224 points ahead of 21st-place and would clinch by earning 54 points on Saturday with a new winner. With a repeat winner, Annett can race his way into the playoffs by scoring 30 points. Of courses, a win would lock Annett into the post-season, but in eight starts at Chicagoland, he has one top-five (2012), three top 10s and an average finish of 12.8
- Brendan Gaughan — Will Gaughan’s Xfinity swan song include a playoff run? Vaughn is currently 11th in the standings. His lead over 21st-place is 223 points. With a repeat winner, Gaughan joins the playoff party by scoring an additional 31 points. A win for Gaughan, 42, at Chicagoland, where he’s scored three top 10s in his last three starts including a career-high fourth in 2015, automatically clinches a playoff berth.
- Dakoda Armstrong — A win would lock the driver of the No. 28 JGL Racing team into the playoffs. Armstrong, 26, is 12th in the standings with 486 points. He can also clinch with a new winner and an assist from Koch, Annett or Gaughan. He trails the No. 62 team by 25 points. In six NXS starts at Chicagoland, Armstrong’s best result was 15th — twice. His average finish here is a 20.3.
Under the win and you’re in category:
- JJ Yeley — Yeley is 13th in the standings. He has two top-10 finishes at Chicago and has led 26 laps. His average finish is 21.4 at the 1.5-mile track.
- Ross Chastain — Chastain is still searching for his first win on the Xfinity tour. His first top five in the series came this season at Iowa Speedway. Currently 14th in the standings, Chastain’s best finish at Chicago was 16th in 2015. His average result is a 23rd.
- Ryan Sieg — In his fourth-full season in the NXS, Sieg is currently 15th in the standings. He has five starts at Chicago and scored a career-high 12th last year at the track. His average finish is 16.8.
- Brandon Jones — Jones, 20, is in his second full season on the NXS tour with Richard Childress Racing. As a rookie he scored 12 top 10s and finished 10th in the standings. This year, Jones finds himself 16th. In his Chicago debut last year, Jones finished 10th.
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