The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers headed to the Charlotte Roval on Saturday, October 9, with the goal of moving on in the playoffs. 11 entered trying to join Austin Cindric in the next round, but only seven moved on after an overtime finish. AJ Allmendinger won his fifth race of the season while multiple other drivers stacked enough points to remain above the cutline.
The Round of Eight field consists of Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports), Daniel Hemric (Joe Gibbs Racing), Cindric (Team Penske), Allmendinger (Kaulig Racing), Noah Gragson (JR Motorsports), Harrison Burton (Joe Gibbs Racing), Brandon Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing), and Justin Haley (Kaulig Racing). Riley Herbst (Stewart-Haas Racing), Jeremy Clements (Jeremy Clements Racing), Jeb Burton (Kaulig Racing), and Myatt Snider (Richard Childress Racing) all finished below the cutline.
The Round of Eight will feature three more races as the drivers fight for the four spots in the championship race. The round will begin the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 16. It will continue with the Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway on October 23, and it will end with the Dead On Tools 250 at Martinsville Speedway on October 30.
The top four drivers from the Round of Eight will move on to the final race of the season. They will battle for the Xfinity Series championship trophy at Phoenix Raceway on November 6.
Cousins Took Part in a Fierce Battle for the Final Spot
Entering the cutoff race at the Charlotte Roval, there were two drivers battling for the final spot in the Round of Eight. Harrison Burton had an eight-point advantage while his cousin, Jeb Burton, only sat eight points below. The two drivers knew that they needed to race each other instead of fighting for the win, and they responded with a fierce battle that featured collisions with the wall.
The race began with the two Burtons next to each other on the fourth row, but Harrison jumped ahead and began pressing his advantage. He finished eighth in Stage 1 while Jeb finished ninth. He then ended Stage 2 in the seventh position while Jeb remained in the ninth spot.
The first two stages changed the situation for the Kaulig Racing driver. In order to move on to the Round of Eight, Jeb would either have to win or finish 11 spots ahead of his cousin. He did not achieve either goal. He ended the race 13th overall while Harrison took 15th, falling victim to elimination. Meanwhile, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver celebrated his 21st birthday by remaining alive in the playoffs.
A Stewart-Haas Driver Suffered Elimination Before the Checkered Flag
Riley Herbst, the driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang, entered the Charlotte Roval race in a must-win situation. He crashed during races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, resulting in 33rd and 27th-place finishes. Herbst had no room for error, but late issues resulted in his early elimination from the playoffs.
The Las Vegas native started ninth on October 9, and he kept his spot in the top 10 during the early portions of the race. He finished Stage 1 in the seventh position but ended Stage 2 outside of the top-10, missing out on crucial points.
Herbst still had one more stage to move through the field and secure his spot in the Round of Eight, but he could not complete this goal. A rear-end issue on the No. 98 sent him to the garage on Lap 62, bringing his day to an end and sealing his fate.