Xfinity Series drivers to watch in 2020

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In case you’re just tuning in, last year NASCAR’s Xfinity Series was dominated by a group of drivers called the “Big 3” — two-time champion Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer.

In 2019, they combined to win 21 of the season’s 33 races. Together over the last three seasons they won 34 of 99 Xfinity races.

Now they’re gone, having been promoted to the Cup Series to be part of one of the most impressive rookie classes in recent memory.

Who is left to fill the void?

There’s no clear favorite for the Xfinity title in 2020. But here are six drivers to watch in the scramble for the championship, which starts today with the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

 

Justin Allgaier
2020 team: JR Motorsports (fifth season with team/ninth full-time Xfinity season)
Number of Xfinity starts: 306 starts since 2008
Career Xfinity wins: 11
What’s ahead: While only 33, Allgaier is the Xfinity Series’ “grizzled veteran” (beating out teammate Michael Annett by 17 days). The JR Motorsports driver is coming off a “terrible” and “miserable” year where he only won once, in the final playoff elimination race at Phoenix. That ended a 39-race winless streak and put him in the Championship 4 for the third time in four years. But Allgaier has yet to win a championship since he returned to the Xfinity level in 2016. With the departure of the “Big 3” Allgaier has a chance to re-establish the dominance of JR Motorsports and himself after the team earned two wins last year, its fewest since 2012.

 

Austin Cindric
2020 team: Team Penske (second full year with team/third full-time Xfinity season)
Number of Xfinity starts: 67
Career Xfinity wins: 2
What’s ahead: The 21-year-old Cindric had the distinction of being the only non-“Big 3” Xfinity regular to win more than one race in 2019. Both his wins came on road courses – Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. Entering his third full-time Xfinity season, Cindric will try to establish himself as a threat on ovals. Ten of his 14 top fives last year came on ovals, with a best finish of second in both Richmond races.

 

Chase Briscoe
2020 team: Stewart-Haas Racing (second full-time season with team/in Xfinity)
Number of Xfinity starts: 50 starts since 2018
Career Xfinity wins: 2
What’s ahead: Briscoe will now be the sole Stewart-Haas Racing driver in Xfinity after the departure of Custer to the Cup Series. Entering his fifth full-time year of racing on pavement, the Ford development driver can no longer cite his transition from dirt racing as negative factor in his development as a NASCAR driver. Including his one win at Iowa Speedway, Briscoe earned 14 top fives in 2019, including a runner-up finish in the Bristol night race.

 

Michael Annett
2020 team: JR Motorsports (fifth year with team/eighth full-time Xfinity season)
Number of Xfinity starts: 262 starts since 2008
Career Xfinity wins: 1
What’s ahead: The 33-year-old Annett is coming off his best season in NASCAR yet, having earned the first win of his Xfinity career in the season-opener at Daytona, tying his career-high for top fives (six) and earning a career-best 19 top 10s. He enters his second full season working with crew chief Travis Mack.

 

Ross Chastain
2020 team: Kaulig Racing (first full-time season with team/fifth full Xfinity season)
Number of Xfinity starts: 158 starts since 2014
Career Xfinity wins: 2
What’s ahead: After a busy 2019 that saw him compete in 77 races across all three national series, Chastain is back for a full-time season in Xfinity after he went for the Truck Series title with Niece Motorsports and made the Championship 4. Chastain will be teammates with Justin Haley as Kaulig Racing fields two full-time cars for the first time. This is easily the best full-time ride Chastain has had in Xfinity and keeping up his momentum from 2019 will be key.

 

Brandon Jones
2020 team: Joe Gibbs Racing (third year with team/fifth full-time Xfinity season)
Number of Xfinity starts: 137 starts since 2015
Career Xfinity wins: 1
What’s ahead: Jones is now the top dog at Joe Gibbs Racing after the departure of Bell. Jones will attempt build on last year, where he finally broke through for his first Xfinity Series win in the playoff race at Kansas Speedway. Joining Jones at JGR are rookie drivers Harrison Burton and Riley Herbst.