The first three Xfinity Series races on road courses this year have been a case of the usual suspects when it comes to who finishes up front.
The races at Watkins Glen International, Mid-Ohio and Road America each saw 1-2 finishes by Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell, with Cindric winning at Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio while Bell claimed his first road course victory at Road America.
Even if Bell’s Watkins Glen finish is only a result of AJ Allmendinger‘s disqualification, he could still be bragging about top three finishes in all three races.
Bell and Cindric take their hot streaks to the final road course event of the year this weekend with the second annual race on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN).
Cindric and Bell are part of a trio of drivers – including Tyler Reddick – who have finished in the top five in all three road course races. Four other drivers – Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer – have finished in the top 10 all three races.
Here’s a look at each driver as they enter the second race of the playoffs, with many of them making their second start on the Roval.
Christopher Bell – Seven wins in 2019, finished top two in eight of the last 11 races. Finished top five in the last four road course races including a fifth-place finish at the Roval last year. Has won five of the 22 total Xfinity playoff races that have been held since they began in 2016.
Austin Cindric – Top-five finishes in five of the last eight races, including his road course wins. Finished second at Richmond. Won the pole and finished third at the Roval last year after he spun while leading.
Tyler Reddick – Twenty top-five finishes in 2019 and five wins (regular season champion). Finished ninth at the Roval last year, starting a four-race streak of top-10 finishes on road courses. Struggled throughout the playoff opener at Richmond before finishing 10th.
Justin Allgaier – Top-10 finishes in the last 11 races (second longest streak of his career). Finished 15th on the Roval last year after getting caught up in a wreck. It was his only finish outside the top 10 in the last seven road course races.
“There were a lot of unknowns going into the Roval race last year,” Allgaier said in a press release. “Even though it wasn’t a great race for us because we were caught up in an incident, it was still a great race for the fans. The only question mark for anybody was the back straightaway chicane and the track has done a fantastic job of listening to the drivers and making adjustments to it and I’m excited to get back there and try it out.”
Noah Gragson – Top-10 finishes in 15 of the last 17 races. Finished top 10 in all three road course starts. Making first Roval start.
Cole Custer – Six wins in 2019 and top-10 finishes in the last five races. Finished top 10 in the last eight road course races, including finishing seventh on the Roval last year.
Chase Briscoe – The defending winner of the Roval race. The win was his first career Xfinity victory. Briscoe has top-10 finishes in 10 of the last 11 races of 2019.
While Briscoe won this race last year, the circumstances of Saturday’s race will be very different for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
“We weren’t running for points in 2018, so we were able to use a different strategy than everyone else by short-pitting,” Briscoe said in a media release. “That lined us up perfectly for the middle portion of the race and ultimately the end. (Crew Chief) Richard Boswell had a great strategy and we were able to stick to it.
“The new configuration of the backstretch is going to throw people off at the beginning of the weekend, because we are used to the fast portion where we would throw the car around but now you have to really slow the car down, which can cause wheel-hopping if you aren’t careful. I think if we can get through that and have a clean race, we will be contending for the win and a repeat performance from last year.”
These seven playoff drivers aren’t the only ones to watch out for.
Allmendinger, a NBC Sports analyst, will make his fifth and final start of the year for Kaulig Racing in the No. 10 Chevrolet.
He’ll have competed in all four road course races. He led 24 laps at WGI and finished second before his disqualification. He finished third at Mid-Ohio. He then started from the pole and led 10 laps at Road America before a late incident relegated him to a 24th-place finish.
He competed in the inaugural Cup race on the Roval, starting second before finishing seventh.
“Every race this year, Kaulig Racing and the No. 10 team have stepped up their game,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “We’ve taken every learning opportunity and capitalized on it. This weekend, we’ll have an even bigger challenge with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval being a newer track for all of us.”