Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Who Has Upper Hand at Martinsville?

The 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs are coming to a close, and up next on the schedule, the series is headed to the clip with the final two playoff spots up for grabs.

John Hunter Nemechek is more than likely going into the final four on points, even without a win this weekend, and Sam Mayer is of course already locked in. That leaves Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Justin Allgaier – with only three points separating them – to run to the checkers this weekend.

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If you’re a fan of short track racing (insert the gif we all just thought about here), odds are this is one of, if not the, most favorite race of yours on the season. Everything is on the line, and the drivers are never shy with the bump-and-run.

With the stakes this high, only two spots left and three drivers vying to take them, who will come out of this weekend ahead?

Austin Hill

If anybody should be nervous headed to Martinsville Speedway this weekend, it’s Hill. There’s no 1.5-mile cookie cutter to save him this weekend, and the superspeedway specialist has never been quite at home on the short tracks.

Hill finished 17th at Martinsville earlier this year.

Between the three, he’s got the highest mountain to climb, but at times, he’s had the best car to do it in. Hill is my wild card for the weekend, which fits perfectly. One thing is for certain, the regular season champion isn’t going down without a fight.

Cole Custer

Custer’s experience has shown all season long, and rightfully so.

Following his unceremonious exit from the NASCAR Cup Series, Custer came back to Xfinity with something to prove. Before his 13th-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Custer had put together back-to-back top three performances. He was dangerously close to breaking through for a win, and he’ll be chasing that again this weekend.

Custer also finished in the top three in his last trip to Martinsville and has shown plenty of ability to get it done at short tracks in his first stint in Xfinity. It very well may be win or go home for Custer this weekend, and if that’s the case, the chip on his shoulder is only going to get heavier.

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Justin Allgaier

Talk about being due. Allgaier has spent his 13 years in the Xfinity Series searching for that elusive championship and had been close what feels like every single year.

Out of these three, Allgaier is the most capable when it comes to short track racing. Sharing a garage and team with a short track legend like Josh Berry doesn’t hurt, either.

Allgaier has won on every single type of track the series can throw at him at this point, but he’s simply been unable to put it all together at the right time. He has a chance to flip that narrative this weekend, though.

With tensions at an all-time high, Martinsville always produces some of the most action packed racing we see all season year in and year out. Those tensions will boil over this weekend, and you can take that to the bank.

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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