The NASCAR Xfinity Series has given us three breakout stars this season in Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Christopher Bell. Two of those three, and potentially all of them, will be moving up the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next season. With that said, the star power in the series spirals downward and it raises the question of who takes the reign as some of the series’ best.
Who is in position to be the stars of the series going into 2020? Can anyone top what the Big Three have done this season? Who takes home the title for this season?
Hendrick Motorsports entered the Round of 12 with a ton of confidence and momentum after Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman put together a 1-2 finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. The three HMS drivers in the playoffs will enter Kansas Speedway below the cutoff line and will more than likely have to win the race to advance to the Round of 8.
Will this season be a failure for the team if none advance? Can they look back on the positives and consider 2019 a great season? Will any of them actually advance?
Q: With two of the three top drivers in Xfinity moving up to Cup next year, what do you think the overall outlook of that series will be? Raymond S., Elmhurst, IL
A: The gap between Custer, Reddick and Bell to the rest of the field has been astounding this season. We lose two (maybe all three) of those drivers to Cup next season which just means they are definitely more than good enough to run at NASCAR’s top level.
So the question arises of who is the next in line to be the top driver(s) in that series? Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe seem to be the most likely candidates. There’s still a handful of races left and a championship to be decided, but those three are the drivers I can see being the best in the series. If Custer winds up staying, he will easily be the championship favorite heading into 2020.
The series has become extremely competitive, even though there are not that many full-time drivers outside of the top 12 in points. We see battles every single week between a handful of drivers, and in this season’s playoffs, it seems like anyone inside the top eight or nine could have stolen a win. This has been the case most of the season, leading to a very exciting 2019 season.
Rumors have flown as to who takes over for Bell and Reddick but that can wait until things are official to see who will step in and possibly be a favorite immediately. Losing those two drivers to Cup will decrease the competition a bit, but in a way, it will make it more wide open as to who can win the most in 2020.
We always see drivers move up and the ones who step into those rides always seem to perform and win. I see that being no different next season, depending on who we will see. As for this year, we are in for a treat the final four races.
Q: Will Hendrick Motorsports consider this season a failure if none of their cars advance to the Round of 8? William T., Pompano Beach, FL
A: To say “failure” is strong. However, with the way the team has looked for the last few months, it may be considered one. With three of the four below the cut line heading into Kansas, it is looking unlikely that any of them will advance unless they win.
The good thing about this whole thing, though? HMS has had race-winning speed the last two times they have visited Kansas with Elliott winning the playoff race last season and Bowman nearly winning the race back in May.
Elliott has had extremely bad luck the first two races of this round, but he easily has the speed to advance if something went right. Bowman had an excellent run at Dover but got caught up in one of the several big wrecks at Talladega and now finds himself below the line. Meanwhile, William Byron has taken advantage of stage points finds himself far below the cut line right now after two bad finishes this round.
All three can potentially win on Sunday. Their chances are not gone at all. If they all can have some luck, we can possibly see two of three get in. That is unlikely at this rate, but we know anything can happen. Their speed is there, and we know the drivers are all determined so that is the recipe for success at this time of year.
It will definitely be a huge disappointment to the team if none of their drivers advance. Elliott was picked by many to make the Championship 4 and potentially capture the title this season. Of all the drivers, he would probably be the most shocking to be eliminated if it does happen. Bowman and Byron are both drivers who have largely been overlooked but they quietly have speed every week and run up front.
Anything can happen. Kansas is going to be wild for many of these drivers, and for Hendrick Motorsports, it is going to be more nerve-racking than anything.