Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: Is AJ Allmendinger the New Title Favorite?

AJ Allmendinger snagged his second NASCAR Xfinity Series win in a row and fourth consecutive at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL Oct. 8 as he cruised by Ty Gibbs for the overtime victory in the Race for the Cure 250.

Noah Gragson, James Davison and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top five.

This was the final race before the playoff field was cut down to only eight drivers, and some fan favorites had their championship hopes come to an end.

The Winners

Davison was one of the more pleasant surprises of the race with his fourth-place finish. For those unaware of Davison’s career, he races GT cars full time and has been behind the wheel of plenty stock cars, but none so far this year.

That changed on Saturday as Davison hopped behind the revolving door that is the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 car, and the Australian made sure that he didn’t disappoint. He dodged late race cautions, traffic and incredibly talented drivers on the way to one of his best career finishes.

His fourth-place finish tied his highest Xfinity finish on record, which came in 2017 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

See also
James Davison Shows No Rust With 4th-Place Xfinity ROVAL Finish

More on Davison later, but JR Motorsportscan’t possibly be upset with the results of the day. Sure, it would have liked a win, but all four of its drivers are locked into the next round after their finishes. As far as the owner title is concerned, JRM is on the hunt, and it looks like it could be well on its way to at least one piece of hardware.

The Losers

Just one year after winning the Xfinity championship, Daniel Hemric has found himself eliminated from contention without a single win to date during the 2022 season.

Hemric put himself in a hole early when he overdrove turn 5 and planted the left side of his car into the tire barrier.

This was supposed to be Hemric’s breakout year where he finally took the reins and put a fast car in victory lane on a semi-regular basis. That didn’t happen, and you can’t go winless for many years and keep your seat, championship or not.

Any sign at the track had to be shaking in its boots, as they do every road course. I just don’t think it gets enough attention. Saturday, though, @nascarcasm did the right thing and kept track of just how many advertisements got used, abused and neglected.

The real beauty of this tweet lies in the replies, though, as user @Awil_Racer25 brings up a compelling point: is there a sign graveyard? This could be a next level merchandising deal. Chase Elliott fans would buy the man’s bathwater if he sold it — imagine how much they’d pay for a sign he plowed over.

See also
AJ Allmendinger Wins 4th Xfinity ROVAL Race in a Row

Scheme of the Week

If you’re tired of the Davison content, that’s too bad. He didn’t just finish fourth — he did it in style.

I’m usually a traditionalist when it comes to schemes. However, this one works. It’s a lot of colors, but they all pair well together. The black stripe and number break up the scheme really well to the point that the pattern isn’t overwhelming like it is on most cars. A great drive and great look for the Aussie.

The Playoff Pit

And then there were eight. Allmendinger, Gragson, Gibbs, Allgaier, Josh Berry, Austin Hill, Sam Mayer and Brandon Jones will have the next three races to whittle the field down to the Championship 4.

Ryan Sieg, Riley Herbst, Jeremy Clements and Hemric were all eliminated after the Round of 12.

Fuel for Thought

With two wins in a row, Allmendinger is hot at the right time. If you’d have told me a month ago he’d really be in the conversation for the championship, I might have said “sure,” but then I’d tell my friends you’ve lost it.

Oh, what a difference a month makes, though. With Allmendinger returning to the NASCAR Cup Series full time next year, how much of a story book ending would it be for him to walk out of the Xfinity Series on top?

It’s even more realistic than some might think. He’s raced well at all three of the next tracks, earning top-10 finishes in each of the series’ last visits. Martinsville Speedway is the final race before the field is cut down to four, and he finished second there earlier this season.

The veteran may be upgrading his wheels next season, but as for now, it looks like he’s focused on taking home some hardware first.

Where to Next?

The Xfinity Series is headed to the desert next weekend to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Alsco Uniforms 302. Gibbs won the race there earlier this season way back in March for his first win of the season.

The green flag drops at 3 p.m. ET, and the race will be aired on NBC, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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