Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Who Can Steal a Playoff Spot This Weekend?

The 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series has been relatively drama-free so far, but that could all change this weekend.

There haven’t been that many surprises. The drivers in good equipment have won, and one in particular has made a name for himself as arguably the hottest commodity Richard Childress Racing has had in a good while.

Enter the still somewhat new Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Atlanta repave was stricken with reviews that ranged from incredibly positive to absolutely hateful, and we wrote all about it here at Frontstretch.com.

If you’re unfamiliar, though, the repave essentially adds another superspeedway-esque course to the schedule. The money is made in the draft, and drivers don’t need the best equipment to be fast — although it sure helps.

That means that even though Austin Hill and others have proven themselves to be the names to watch at superspeedways in Xfinity, the door is open for others to snag a coveted playoff spot themselves, and it’s my job to tell you about them.

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Parker Kligerman – No. 48 Chevrolet, Big Machine Racing

Parker Kligerman is currently at +3000 to win on DraftKings, but at +900 for a top three and +400 for a top five. Are those odds great? No, but you read the headline, didn’t you? Kligerman is trying to steal a playoff spot from guys like Hill, who’s currently at +450 to win.

Kligerman didn’t have the best of days at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year with a 23rd-place finish, but since then he’s strung together three top 15s and one top-10 finish at Auto Club Speedway. On top of that, he’s finished well at superspeedways in his career when he’s made it to the end, including a pair of Craftsman Truck Series wins at Talladega Superspeedway.

Kligerman has shown some speed during the West Coast swing, and if he can bring that speed back to this side of the Mississippi River, he’s well within a shot at Atlanta. On top of that, he wants to win “so damn bad.” Don’t believe me? Read it and weep.

Jeb Burton – No. 27 Chevrolet – Jordan Anderson Racing

At even more of a long shot to win is Jeb Burton, coming in at an attractive +5000. Jeb could be an even more attractive spot-stealing prospect than Kligerman in all honesty if you only compare their track records.

Burton’s season has been Jekyll and Hyde up to this point, but an 11th-place finish at Daytona is nothing to scoff at, and how quick we are to forget about his 2021 season for Kaulig Racing where he won Talladega and started the season off with five straight top 10s.

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Burton hasn’t put together a top-10 finish yet this season, but with what should be solid equipment, you have to think the results are on the way, and one could very well be this weekend at Atlanta. Any driver will tell you that the way to win superspeedways is making it to the end, and Burton does that as well as anybody.

Daniel Hemric – No. 11 Chevrolet, Kaulig Racing

Before you start complaining, let me explain. Daniel Hemric hasn’t won a race since he took home the championship at Phoenix Raceway in 2021. He didn’t even finish inside the top five last year in the points standings and barely cracked the top 10 at ninth.

I’ve said for a year that he might be a fluke in a really fast car, and last year didn’t help his case with only three top-five finishes. Is he consistent? Absolutely. Is he consistently good? The verdict is still out. Kaulig obviously sees something in Hemric or they wouldn’t have extended him. However, he’s got to start producing if he wants another at the end of this contract. He’s on the right track so far this season with back-to-back top-10 finishes.

Who’s to say, then, that this weekend doesn’t kick that process into high gear? He did manage one of those top fives last year at Atlanta, after all. He’s at +1500 to win, so by the books, he’s the safest bet out of these three. I’ll be watching the No. 11 this weekend, and I’d advise you to do so as well.

Those are my longshot picks of the week. Atlanta has become a track of opportunity for a lot of drivers, and only time will tell if it serves the same purpose this weekend.

About the author


Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for Sports Illustrated’s Cowbell Corner, 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 Mass Media Studies. Tanner began working with Frontstretch as an Xfinity Series columnist in 2022.

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