The race for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship is a unique one. Out of 12 drivers, eight are in on wins, with six having multiple wins.
One of those drivers, Jeremy Clements, won at Daytona but was assessed with a post-race penalty and stripped of the win. A week later, his appeal was overturned and he was back in the Playoffs.
Meanwhile, Sam Mayer, Ryan Sieg, Riley Herbst, and 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion, Daniel Hemric, all remain winless this season.
NXS drivers now go on a whirlwind tour of the country, and track layouts, in order to crown a season Champion. With one driver locked into the next round and 11 left loading, let’s examine what the next six races hold in the quest for a 2022 champion in “Locked…and Loading: NXS Edition.”
- Noah Gragson: 1 Playoff win; 7 wins; 13 stage wins
- AJ Allmendinger – Regular Season Champion: 3 wins; 3 stage wins
- Ty Gibbs: 5 wins; 6 stage wins
- Austin Hill: 2 wins; 1 stage win
- Josh Berry: 2 wins; 6 stage wins
- Justin Allgaier: 3 wins; 8 stage wins
- Sam Mayer: 0 wins; 2 stage wins
- Ryan Sieg: 0 wins; 1 stage win
Below the cutoff line:
- Riley Herbst: 0 wins; 0 stage wins
- Daniel Hemric: 0 wins; 3 stage wins
- Brandon Jones: 1 win; 1 stage win
- Jeremy Clements: 1 win; 1 stage win
Tracks & Facts:
Noah Gragson is the most recent NXS winner at this chaotic track, and the only current NXS playoff contender to win at ‘Dega. This is one track that is anyone’s game, and with no practice leading up to the race, the crazy will ratchet up a few notches.
NXS winning fact: In nine races, only three winners have emerged from outside the top 15, but only two from the front row.
Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL
Currently, A.J. Allmendinger has a three-race win streak at the four-year-old road course/oval combination layout.
NXS winning fact: Only one of the four wins has come from inside the top five.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
In 11 races since ‘16, three current contenders have won at this track (Allmendinger, Berry, and Gibbs). Considering two of these drivers have made a lot of noise in 2022, could we see Gibbs go back-to-back?
NXS winning fact: In the eight races from 2016 to 2020, only one winner came from outside the top five. The three most recent wins all emerged from drivers starting P10 or back.
There have been seven races at Homestead and no current playoff drivers have won. It will be very exciting to see who rises to the top in south Florida.
NXS winning fact: Four of the seven winners started on the front row.
The NXS took a break from racing at Martinsville from 2006-2019. In 2020, the series returned to the famed short track and has not disappointed. In the four races since the return, three winners are current Playoff contenders – Berry, Gragson, and spring winner, Brandon Jones.
NXS winning fact: Of the four races, two winners started in the top 10, while the other two came from mid-field. As I said – The Paperclip hasn’t disappointed!
Phoenix Raceway has hosted the NXS 13 times since 2016, twice for the Championship Race. Justin Allgaier has two wins to his name, while Jones and Gragson both have one.
NXS winning fact: Of the 13 races, 11 winners have come from the top five. Worth noting is Fall 2018 winner, Christopher Bell who won from P38!
I do not expect a rash of new winners in the NXS Playoffs similar to what we have seen in the NASCAR Cup Series. There have been dominant drivers throughout this season and I don’t expect that to change now that the Playoffs have kicked off.
Before I go any further – Disclaimer: I’m not an oddsmaker. (I don’t even like math, despite all of the numbers included in this piece!) So, as we look ahead, let’s look not at the odds, but at the facts.
The NXS Playoff field is split pretty evenly with long-time drivers and young guns, and in this series, it has not always proven that experience pays off. Hemric is also the only previous champion in the playoffs. So, these young drivers vying for a title do not necessarily have the playoff pressure experience, especially on such a large stage.
With that being said, who stays and who goes?
Noah Gragson is likely a shoo-in for the Championship 4. With seven wins to his name this season, a hot streak is likely to continue.
AJ Allmendinger has the experience, the skill, and the team to be there when it counts. I expect to see this long-time veteran of the sport fighting for a championship come Phoenix.
If Ty Gibbs can avoid removing himself from the fight, I think he takes spot number three. But speaking of fight, this is what concerns me – his temper and his need to retaliate from behind the wheel. As races wind down and tensions rise, he needs to stay calm and focused. Can he?
Finally, this last spot. No other driver has really stood out as championship caliber this season. But, if we take the facts (which is what we’re doing here), I would put Justin Allgaier in spot number four. His stage wins, coupled with the three wins in ‘22, prove he can get those much-needed points and be there in Phoenix, vying for the series title.
We at The Podium Finish would love to hear your predictions! Drop a comment with your Championship 4!