Wrecks & Mechanical Issues Shake Up Xfinity Series Playoff Field

Ryan Sieg

Getty Ryan Sieg (right) is a playoff driver in 2022.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season ended at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 16. This final race played out in wild fashion with contenders getting derailed by wrecks and a mechanical issue.

The final two spots in the playoffs initially featured Kaulig Racing drivers. Daniel Hemric was 37 points above the cutline while teammate Landon Cassill was 19 points above. Ryan Sieg (-19), Sheldon Creed (-32), and Brandon Brown (-119) were the drivers within striking distance heading toward the regular-season finale.

Brown was the first to miss out on the playoffs. He hit the wall hard late in Stage 1 and had to take the No. 5 BJ McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet to the garage. Cassill secured points during Stage 1, but he had to take the No. 10 Chevrolet behind the wall due to a hub issue. Cassill’s team worked on the No. 10 for so long that he fell 112 laps behind the pack.

Creed, for comparison, appeared to be within reach of his first career win and a secure spot in the playoffs. He had the lead in Stage 2 and a fast Chevrolet, but his day came to an early end. Race-winner Noah Gragson got into the back of Ty Gibbs, which led to the No. 54 getting loose and slamming into the side of Creed’s No. 2. Both drivers hit the wall hard and left the race early.

Gibbs already had a secure spot in the playoffs after winning five races in the regular season. Creed, however, needed the win to overtake Cassill, so the wreck eliminated him from the playoff chase.


A Small Team Took Advantage of These Issues

Ryan Sieg

GettyRyan Sieg did exactly what he needed at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While multiple playoff hopefuls dealt with significant issues, one driver just continued to complete laps. Ryan Sieg turned in a clean race and did exactly what he needed to punch his ticket to the playoffs.

Sieg started 10th overall, which put him in a solid position to fight for crucial points throughout the race. He then ended Stage 1 in the 10th spot, just behind Cassill. Sieg didn’t lock up any extra points during Stage 2, but he put himself ahead of the Kaulig Racing driver simply by remaining on the race track and keeping the car clean.

Cassill was able to get back on the track and cut his deficit from eight points down to five, but he needed Sieg to lose several positions in order to track down the No. 39 in the points. This did not happen as Sieg ultimately ended the day 10th overall. This was enough to give him a five-point advantage as the checkered flag waved.

“It feels great. It’s awesome short-track racing,” Sieg told PRN after the race. “I wish we did more next year. We never gave up. The car stayed together and we find ourselves in the playoffs.”


The Xfinity Series Playoff Field Features Some Intriguing Names

With the regular-season finale complete, the playoff field is now set. There are some names that many expected, but there are also some drivers that secured their spots with consistent performances and surprising wins.

AJ Allmendinger (three wins) leads the way with his second consecutive regular-season championship. He locked up the 15 bonus points with a sixth-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. This was his 23rd top-10 finish in the first 26 races.

The rest of the playoff field consists of Noah Gragson (six wins), Ty Gibbs (five wins), Justin Allgaier (three wins), Josh Berry (two wins), Austin Hill (two wins), Brandon Jones (one win), Jeremy Clements (one win), Sam Mayer, Daniel Hemric, Riley Herbst, and Sieg.

Clements was able to punch his ticket to the playoffs in a unique way. He won at Daytona International Speedway and jumped from below the cutline. NASCAR then disqualified him from the playoffs after taking the No. 51 to the R&D Center. However, Jeremy Clements Racing appealed the penalty and won, which put Clements back in the playoffs.

Sieg, for comparison, didn’t win a race. Instead, he just posted an average finish of 16.6 during the regular season while locking up 10 top-10 finishes and one top-five. Now he is only two top-10s away from tying his career-best mark from the 2019 season. More importantly, he gets the opportunity to contend for a championship.

 

 

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