Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Who Will Govern the Glen?

With a mixed bag of entrants, the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Shriners Children’s 200 at Watkins Glen International makes for an interesting discussion point this week.

The field, comprised of NASCAR Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman, Ty Gibbs and Ross Chastain, in addition to the regular Xfinity Series drivers poses an interesting question.

Will a Cup series driver take the checkered flag this week, or will an Xfinity regular be able to snag a coveted playoff spot? Each Cup driver boasts their own skill set to delve into, but we’ll start with the obvious.

Kyle Busch

AJ Allmendinger is finally done terrorizing the Xfinity field for the year, but that doesn’t mean the drivers get much of a break. Busch is filling in for Allmendinger after the road course specialist has reached his limit for the season on dropping down.

Busch will pilot the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Camaro, which is typically a great ride without one of the greatest drivers of all time behind the wheel, which means that at +250 on Bovada, Busch is as safe a bet as there is.

Alex Bowman

Bowman is another safe bet, but for a bit different reason. Bowman is hopping into the No. 17 JR Motorsports Camaro, which is essentially a rocket ship compared to the rest of the field. Nobody has managed a win in the car this season, but it hasn’t finished outside of the top five in 2023 no matter if William Byron, Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott has been behind the wheel.

Bottom line – expect another quality run from the car and Bowman if nothing goes wrong on Saturday.

Ty Gibbs

Gibbs will be piloting the No. 19 Toyota Supra for his grandfather’s team, Joe Gibbs Racing, and similarly to Bowman, he’ll have the car to go the distance. Last season, as a full-time Xfinity driver, Gibbs had a great run going at the Glen and even earned a second-place finish in stage two until he spun out with five laps to go. If he can keep his nose clean, Gibbs will have as good a shot as any.

Ross Chastain

Chastain is suiting up for DGM Racing this weekend, a traditional back marker team. If no other Cup driver will take the high road and come step down in lesser equipment than the field, at least Chastain will.

Out of the rest of the Cup drivers in the field, Chastain probably has the worst shot at taking home the trophy, but crazier things have happened. The Melon Man may have one or two more miracle finishes left in him, but it’s going to be difficult to ride the wall to a finish this weekend.

That leaves the rest of the Xfinity field to battle it out amongst themselves.

Sage Karam is another name to watch for in the No. 45 Alpha Prime Racing Camaro with his steeped background in IndyCar and Sports Car racing, but the rest of the field is what fans will be used to seeing. John Hunter Nemechek could continue his hot streak towards a championship, but he’ll have as much if not more competition to do so this week than in any other race thus far in 2023.

There is no magic 8-ball I can rattle to pick a winner this week, as much as I wish that were the case, but the odds aren’t the worst for the Xfinity regulars. Xfinity veteran Justin Allgaier sits at +900, which is incidentally my favorite line of the week.

No matter who comes home with the trophy, just remember Xfinity fans, we don’t have to watch Allmendinger drive circles around the field on road courses anymore this season, and that’s a gift in and of itself.

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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