The regular season of the NASCAR Xfinity Series ended at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 16th. This final race turned out in a wild way with competitors derailed due to shipwrecks and a mechanical issue.
The Kaulig Racing drivers initially appeared in the last two places in qualifying. Daniel Hemrick was 37 points above the cut-off while his teammate Landon Cassel was 19 points higher. Ryan Sage (-19), Sheldon Creed (-32) and Brandon Brown (-119) were the drivers in close range heading into the regular season final.
Brown was the first to miss the playoffs. He hit the wall hard late in the first stage and had to take the #5 BJ McLeod Motorsports Chevrolet to the garage. Cassill got points during the first stage, but had to take a No. 10 Chevrolet behind the wall due to an axle problem. The Cassell team worked on the number 10 for so long that he fell 112 laps behind the pack.
By comparison, Creed looked close to claiming his first win of his career and a safe place in the playoffs. He had the lead in the second stage and a fast Chevrolet, but his day ended early. Race winner Noah Gragson climbed to the rear of Ty Gibbs, dropping the #54 player and falling into the #2 side at Creed.
Gibbs already secured a safe place in the playoffs after winning five races in the regular season. However, Creed needed a win to beat Cassill, so the wreck eliminated him from chasing the playoffs.
A small team benefited from these issues
While several qualifying hopefuls dealt with important issues, one driver kept completing laps. Ryan Sieg got into a clean race and did exactly what he needed to punch his ticket to qualifying.
Sieg finished 10th overall, putting him in a strong position to fight for decisive points throughout the race. He then finished the first stage in 10th place, just behind Cassel. Sieg didn’t book any extra points during Stage 2, but he put himself ahead of the Kaulig Racing driver simply by staying on the race track and keeping the car clean.
Cassell was able to get back on the track and cut his deficit from eight points to five, but needed Sieg to drop several positions in order to track down the number 39 in points. This didn’t happen because Sieg eventually finished 10th day overall. This was enough to give him a five-point advantage as he waved the checkered flag.
“It feels great. It’s a great short-track race,” Sieg told PRN after the race. “I wish we could do more next year. We never gave up. The car stayed together and we found ourselves in qualifying.”
The Xfinity Series Playoff Arena has some interesting names
With the regular season finale complete, the match field is now set. There are some names that many expected, but there are also some drivers who have earned their places through consistent performances and surprise wins.
AJ Allmendinger (three wins) leads the way with his second straight regular season championship. He earned an additional 15 points by finishing sixth at Bristol Motor Speedway. This was his 23rd place in the top ten in his first 26 races.
The rest of the field is made up of Noah Gregson (six wins), Ty Gibbs (five wins), Justin Algare (three wins), Josh Perry (two wins), Austin Hill (two wins), Brandon Jones (one win), Jeremy Clements (one win). one) Sam Mayer, Daniel Hemrick, Riley Herbst, and Sage.
Clements was able to push his ticket to the playoffs in a unique way. He won the Daytona International Speedway and jumped from under the cut line. NASCAR then disqualified him after taking #51 to the R&D Center. However, Jeremy Clements Racing resumed the penalty kick and won, returning Clements to the playoffs.
Sieg, for comparison, has not won a race. Instead, he just posted an average finish of 16.6 during the regular season while locking in 10 places in the top 10 and a top five. Now he is just two in the top 10 of his career best since the 2019 season. Most importantly, he gets the chance to compete for the championship.
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