The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs are only one race in, but four drivers already have major concerns. Jeb Burton, Jeremy Clements, Myatt Snider, and Riley Herbst all sit below the cutline after issues disrupted the playoff-opening race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Herbst, Clements, and Burton all headed to the garage early after a crash on lap 31, just after the competition caution. The incident damaged 12 stock cars and brought out the caution flag once again. Some drivers were able to continue in the race, but the three playoff drivers watched as their championship dreams took a major hit.
Snider, on the other hand, completed the race in the 15th position after falling one lap behind the leaders. He did not suffer damage during the massive wreck, but he experienced an issue of his own. The driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet explained that he damaged the right rear tire after getting loose in the final stage, limiting his ability to contend for the win.
Snider is currently in the best position of the drivers under the cutline. He faces a 10-point deficit heading toward Talladega Superspeedway, a track where he has three starts and one top-10 finish in the Xfinity Series. Burton sits 27 points below the cutline, Herbst is 32 points below, and Clements rounds out the list with a 36-point deficit.
Burton Will Fight for Points Where He Last Won
The driver of the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro ended the opening playoff race earlier than he wanted, but he remains confident in his ability to contend for a win and move on to the next round. He will pursue this goal at Talladega Superspeedway, the site of his first career Xfinity win.
Burton had the lead at Talladega with fewer than 30 laps remaining. A massive wreck brought out the caution flag and disrupted several playoff contenders. The drivers continued circling the track amid cleanup efforts, but they did not see the green flag waved. The skies opened up and forced NASCAR to throw the red flag due to rain. The sanctioning body called the race and declared Burton the winner.
“That was a disappointing way to finish a race,” Burton said after the race, per Kaulig Racing. I don’t really think we need to be four wide getting into turn one on lap 26, but there was nothing we could do there. It’s frustrating, because we needed a really good run here. We will go to Talladega next week and win a race. we won there earlier there in the year and almost won at Daytona a couple weeks ago. I know I have the best team to go try and win there.”
Talladega Superspeedway Represents the Great Unknown
Missing out on crucial points at Las Vegas was a difficult way for these four drivers to kick off the playoffs. The 1.5-mile oval represented the “safest” destination in the round while the next track — Talladega — has served as the site of past wild moments.
Every time NASCAR holds a race at Talladega Superspeedway, there is an expectation that multiple wrecks will occur. Drivers and fans alike prepare “the big one,” which will involve at least eight stock cars, but they do not know when it will occur. The drivers just know that they will either contend for a top-10 finish or they will crash.
Clements provides a fitting example of this history. The driver of the No. 51 Chevrolet has made 12 starts at the 2.66-mile track during his Xfinity Series career. He has crashed twice, dealt with mechanical issues twice, and posted two top-10s. His six other finishes were 14th or worse.
Clements will now focus on trying to contend for the win once again. At 36 points below the cutline, he sits in the worst position heading toward the second playoff race. Making up this difference will not be a simple task, especially at a track where he has never won, but Clements can make positive strides by avoiding the inevitable wrecks and other issues.