When the second round of the NASCAR Cup playoffs begin this Sunday, it presents a number of challenges for the 12 drivers fighting it out for this year’s championship.
First off, it’s imperative for drivers to get off to a good start.
But at the same time, all 12 of the remaining championship contenders will be looking ahead to next week’s race at Talladega.
The reason is simple: a bad showing in Charlotte, coupled with the always unpredictable outcome at Talladega, could seal a driver’s chances of being eliminated from advancing to the third round even before the final race of the second round two weeks from now at Kansas.
On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, analysts Jeff Burton and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett gave their thoughts on Charlotte and looking ahead to Talladega:
BURTON: “Historically, if you run well at Dover, you run well at Charlotte. I think the fact that Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott ran so well, it’s going to show us we’re in contention here and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see those two guys running in the front again at Charlotte. And that starts to mix up who we think the favorites are. I know everybody thinks the top 3 are just walking into Homestead. I don’t believe that. If they have problems, they’re going to have to earn it. I just think Charlotte is very important to set the tempo for the second stage.”
JARRETT: “I think it’s going to show us so much about exactly who’s going to be part of that round of 8. You don’t want to go to Talladega if you had a bad weekend at Charlotte, knowing you have to make up anything there, because it’s already stressful enough and you don’t want to put yourself in that position. But I think a lot of what you do at Charlotte can transfer to Kansas, as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how some of these drivers play this.”
Check out the video above for more of Jarrett’s and Burton’s thoughts.
Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.
JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.
John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.
Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.
JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.
Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.
Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.
Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed
STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.
NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).
Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.
Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.
Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.
Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger
STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.
NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)
Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.
Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.
Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.
The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.