Early Favorites to Succeed in Opening Xfinity Playoff Race

Getty AJ Allmendinger (front) leads at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs officially begin on Saturday, Sept. 25, with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 12 drivers will enter and one will likely move on to the Round of Eight with a win. There are several days remaining before the green flag waves, but AJ Allmendinger stands out as an early favorite.

The veteran driver from Kaulig Racing is the regular-season champion after a wild, wreck-filled race at Bristol Motor Speedway. He slid sideways across the finish line ahead of Austin Cindric, winning by a margin of 0.082 seconds. Allmendinger is also the most recent Xfinity Series winner at the 1.5-mile oval outside of Las Vegas.

The drivers headed to Sin City on March 6, 2021, for the fourth race of the season. Allmendinger made his first start at the track as an Xfinity driver, but he had considerable experience due to 10 previous starts in the Cup Series. The veteran driver proceeded to lead 44 of the 200 laps while fighting off Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, Austin Cindric, and Noah Gragson. He captured the checkered flag after taking the lead on the final restart and locked up a spot in the playoffs.

Allmendinger Is in His First Full-Time Xfinity Series Season

AJ Allmendinger

GettyAJ Allmendinger prepares for an Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

While Allmendinger has 375 Cup Series starts on his career resume, he has far fewer (53) in the second-tier series. He is only in his first full-time Xfinity Series season, but he continues to lock up wins and fight for top-five finishes.

Allmendinger has reached Victory Lane four times during the 2021 season. He won at Las Vegas, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Michigan International Speedway, and Bristol Motor Speedway. Allmendinger has also 16 top-five finishes, including four different runner-up performances.

Regardless of location, Allmendinger has consistently battled for top-10 and top-five finishes, only finishing outside of the top 30 twice. He took 35th in the Daytona Road Course race and then 33rd at Charlotte Motor Speedway after experiencing brake issues.

Multi-Race Winners Remain Solid Options To Win

Allmendinger may be the most recent Las Vegas winner, but he will not be the only driver with favorable odds to reach Victory Lane during the opening playoff race. Three other multi-race winners in Cindric, Noah Gragson, and Justin Allgaier will join him near the top of the list.

All three drivers have yet to win at Las Vegas in their Xfinity Series careers, but they have combined for 12 top-five finishes. Gragson, the winner of two of the past three races, has four top-fives at the 1.5-mile oval, including a fifth-place run earlier in 2021. Cindric, on the other hand, has two top-fives at Las Vegas.

Gragson’s teammate in Allgaier has performed the most consistently out of the trio. He has suited up for 14 races at Las Vegas and has cracked the top five in six of them. This list includes runner-up performances in 2011 and 2018. Now he will fight for the first win of his Xfinity Series career at the track.

The opening Round of 12 playoff race will take place on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the 201-lap race as the top drivers fight to move on with an early win.

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