Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: 3 Sleeper Picks at Portland

With each road course comes new possibilities in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, especially when AJ Allmendinger is not in the field.

As the series heads to Portland, Oregon, this Saturday (June 3) for the Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland International Raceway, there are several drivers that have their eyes on one of the coveted playoff spots. Who, though, can realistically make the cut and show up on Saturday with the best blend of skills and car?

No. 1 – Jordan Taylor, Kaulig Racing No. 10

Jordan Taylor, a.k.a. Rodney Sandstorm, is one of the fan-favorite part-time drivers that has earned the hype. A former 24 Hours of Daytona winner, Taylor competes full-time in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and is a four-time IMSA champion.

Although this will be Taylor’s first race in an Xfinity car and his first race at Portland, Taylor’s sports car experience gives him a great leg up on some of the field even before the green flag drops.

See also
Entry List: 2023 Portland 112

No. 2 – Myatt Snider, Joe Gibbs Racing #19

Snider is on my list for, essentially, the exact opposite reasons that Taylor is. Snider has very limited road course experience, only having ran one sports car race back in 2019, but is hopping behind the wheel of some of the best equipment in the garage.

On top of that, JGR is who Snider started his career with in the earlier days of the 28-year-old’s career.

Snider has only one win to his credit at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2021 in his lone full season with Richard Childress Racing. Speaking of Snider’s career, what a wild one it’s been. After that season with RCR, Snider was replaced by Sheldon Creed based solely off of the hype Creed had coming from the Craftsman Truck Series.

Snider piloted the sub-par equipment provided to him by Jordan Anderson Racing last season, but most fans will remember him that year for his big crash at Daytona International Speedway. The Charlotte, North Carolina, native was left without a full-time seat this year, and has signed on to run select races for JGR, with Saturday being one of them, of course.

If Snider doesn’t finish well behind the wheel of top-notch equipment at some point this year, the goal of finding another full-time Xfinity seat would become extremely slim. How’s that for added motivation?

Speaking of motivation, Snider tweeted this TreeTopInc. (his sponsor this weekend) themed hype video, and if I had to watch it, so do you. Apple juice may not be my preferred workout drink, but different strokes for different folks, you know?

See also
Xfinity Breakdown: Justin Allgaier Wins a Marathon in Charlotte

No. 3 – Jeremy Clements, Jeremy Clements Racing #51

Last but certainly not least, Jeremy Clements.

JCR is one of the teams you can’t help but root for – a one-car team with a grassroots background that has given the Xfinity Series its all for more than a decade now with only two wins to show for it.

One of those wins, though, came at Road America back in 2017, and a quick glance at last year’s results will tell you that Clements earned a pair of top 10s at road courses last season. Clements crashed out at Portland last year, but did manage to notch 16th in qualifying, and we’ve seen plenty of drivers win from further back.

With no road course behemoths in the mix like Chase Elliott or Allmendinger, the door is wide open for one of these three drives, or someone else for that matter, to snag a playoff spot in the early weeks of the season. Only time will tell, as the Xfinity Series chugs along towards the grueling mid-season stretch.

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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