With Chase Briscoe going to Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night, the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff lineup is official. Over the next seven races, he and eleven other drivers will battle it out for the championship.
Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing enters the 2020 playoffs as the top seed. After recording a combined two wins in his first two seasons, Briscoe has more than tripled that amount in 2020 alone, scoring victories at Las Vegas, Darlington 1, Homestead 2, Pocono, the Indianapolis road course, Dover 2, and the finale at Bristol. Currently a rumoured candidate for a potential Cup ride in 2021, Briscoe boasts a series-leading seven wins, fourteen top fives, and eighteen top tens. He goes into the postseason with 2,050 points.
Briscoe’s main rival during the regular season has been fellow Ford driver Austin Cindric, secured the regular season championship in the penultimate race at Richmond. It has been a breakout year for the Team Penske driver, who lingered in the mid-single-digit positions in the early portion of the year before getting hot in summer. A noted road course expert, Cindric scored his first oval victories in a sweep at Kentucky (becoming the first national series driver to win races on back-to-back days since Richard Petty in 1971) as he began an eight-race stretch in which he never finished worse than third. He added three more wins during that period at Texas after Kyle Busch’s disqualification, Road America, and the inaugural Daytona road course race. Cindric goes into the playoffs with five wins, a series-high seventeen top-five finishes, and twenty-one top tens; he also has 2,050 points to begin.
After cracking the Championship Round in 2019, Justin Allgaier hopes to do it again and more in 2020. Currently in his tenth full-time Xfinity season and fifth with JR Motorsports, it was an up-and-down regular season for Allgaier before a dominating victory at Dover 1. Three weeks later, he recorded a weekend sweep at Richmond for his first career back-to-back wins. Allgaier has three wins, eight top fives, fifteen top tens, and 2,033 points entering the postseason.
Allgaier’s team-mate Noah Gragson opened his sophomore season on a high note as he won the opener at Daytona. Although he would only record one more victory in the regular season at Bristol, he has hung around in the top four in points for much of the period, and will go into the playoffs with two victories, eleven top fives, nineteen top tens, and 2,025 points. Despite rumours of him possibly moving up to the Cup Series in 2021, he will have another shot at the Xfinity title instead as he signed a one-year extension with JRM.
Fifth-year driver Brandon Jones is enjoying a bit of a renaissance year of his own. After having just one win in his first four seasons, he has triple that amount with wins at Phoenix, Kansas, and Darlington 2. He racked up three wins, eight top fives, and fourteen top tens in the regular season. Appropriately for the calendar year, Brown has 2,020 points to kick off the playoffs.
Justin Haley shocked the racing world in July 2019 when he won the Cup Series’ Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in a bizarre, lightning-shortened event before he had even won an Xfinity race. Eleven months later, he finally visited Victory Lane in his main series at Talladega, where he became the thirty-second driver to win a race in all three NASCAR national series. Another superspeedway victory came in August at Daytona, where he once again stole the show after his Kaulig Racing team-mates wrecked late. He has eight top fives and sixteen top tens to go with his pair of wins and 2,018 points.
Last year, Harrison Burton had a rough rookie season in the Truck Series as he missed the playoffs and finished outside the top ten in points despite racing for one of the series’ premier organisations. This year, now an Xfinity rookie with Joe Gibbs Racing, Burton began on a tear as he scored top-ten finishes and two wins (Phoenix and Homestead 1) in the first ten races. Although the next sixteen races provided more mixed results and no victories, he has eighteen top tens, thirteen top fives, and the seventh seed with 2,014 points.
Ross Chastain‘s maiden season with Kaulig began on a disastrous note when he failed to qualify at Daytona, but he has been the ultimate king of consistency since. Despite not having any wins, he leads all drivers in top tens with twenty-three, and was the only driver to finish all twenty-six races. He also racked up thirteen top fives and was mathematically third in points prior to reseeding. Chastain is now the eighth seed with 2,010 points.
Racing for family-operated RSS Racing, Ryan Sieg will compete for an Xfinity championship for the third time in his career. Sieg recorded eight top tens and four top fives in 2020, including a pair of thirds at Las Vegas and Darlington 2. He enters the playoffs with 2,002 points.
Michael Annett‘s regular season ended with a wreck, but he had been riding a six-race top-ten streak prior. Currently in his fifth season with JR Motorsports, his sixteen top tens edge out his 2019 regular season total. He also has three top fives, all three of which are fifth-place finishes (Pocono, Kentucky 1, Texas). Annett opens the playoffs with 2,002 points like Sieg.
Riley Herbst endured a similar path to Burton: both failed to make the Truck playoffs as team-mates in 2019, but accomplished the feat in their first Xfinity seasons. Herbst did not win in the regular season, but came close on two occasions with runner-up finishes at Fontana and Kentucky 1. The rookie enters the playoffs with sixteen top tens, four top fives, and 2,001 points.
The final seed was claimed by Brandon Brown of family operation Brandonbilt Motorsports, who will race in his first postseason in his second full-time year. After recording just one top ten in 2019, he scored four in 2020 with a best finish of seventh at Daytona 1 and Bristol 1. The playoffs will commence with a round 2,000 points for Brown.