With the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase slowly approaching, the battle for the final spot in the playoff’s 12-team grid is heating up.
Blake Koch‘s early exit in Saturday’s Zippo 200 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International mixed with clean runs from Ross Chastain and Dakota Armstrong saw the battle for the final preliminary spot in the Chase field drop to within nine points between the three drivers.
With just six races remaining before the Chase, Koch holds the 12th and final spot in the field by two points and nine points over Chastain and Armstrong, respectively. Jeremy Clements, who entered the weekend 13th on the championship table, sits 14 points back in 15th after suffering a flat tire early in Saturday’s 82-lap event.
The only other driver who could reasonably drive his way into the field is JJ Yeley, who sits 38 points behind Koch in 16th with one less start on the year after missing the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. After Yeley, it’s another 55 points back to Garrett Smithley in 17th.
Most drivers ahead of the Chase bubble find themselves sitting safely as the playoffs approach. Points leader Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones all have wins to guarantee their way in, and the rest of the top 10 — Ty Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Brennan Poole, Brandon Jones, Darrell Wallace, Jr., and Ryan Reed — all find themselves a full race or more ahead in the standings.
Only Ryan Sieg, who sits 29 points ahead of Chastain in 11th, and Koch are worried about making the Chase on points with the weeks winding down.
Drivers attempting to race their way into the grid will get multiple chances to gain big points with the most unique stretch of the NXS tour running its course in the coming weeks. The six races before the Chase include two road courses (Mid-Ohio, Road America), two short tracks (Bristol and Richmond), the unique Darlington Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase Standings Post-Watkins Glen
- Elliott Sadler (Points leader, 1 win)
- Erik Jones (3 wins)
- Daniel Suarez (1 win)
- Ty Dillon (+194)
- Justin Allgaier (+175)
- Brendan Gaughan (+163)
- Brennan Poole (+152)
- Brandon Jones (+138))
- Darrell Wallace, Jr. (+77)
- Ryan Reed (+61)
- Ryan Sieg (+29)
- Blake Koch (+2)
- Ross Chastain (-2)
- Dalton Armstrong (-9)
- Jeremy Clements (-14)
- JJ Yeley (+38)
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