Even though Chase Briscoe has amassed an incredible seven wins through the first 26 races of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, which marked a series-high, he was very hesitant to puff his chest out and declare himself the runaway favorite for the championship at Xfinity Series Playoff Media Day on Tuesday.
“I would love to say yes, but I don’t know if you can really pick a favorite right now,” Briscoe explained.
While at first glance, it would seem that Briscoe is simply being humble, honestly, Briscoe makes valid point as several other drivers have emerged throughout the season and have showcased an ability to pour on momentum over a seven-race stretch (the Xfinity Series Playoffs run over the course of seven races).
“I think this year has been so, everybody hits their moment and at different times. It’s been really streaky,” Briscoe explained. “You look at us, we won five out of the first 12 and then Cindric won five out of six. Allgaier wins three, so I feel confident that we can make it to the final four, but I don’t know if there’s really one guy that sticks out over any of the others. I feel like anybody on any given day can be the guy to beat and this series has really been competitive all year long.”
Briscoe mentioned Austin Cindric, who has five wins this season, and Justin Allgaier, who has racked up three wins over the last seven races, and they are definitely prime candidates for him to deal with, but there are other drivers who have also shown that they can contend for the title if they regain momentum from earlier in the season.
When asked about who the favorite is for the championship, Cindric also conceded that it’s way too early for anyone to crown themselves champion.
“What you’ve got to realize is the Xfinity Series has been very peaky this year with a lot of guys with a lot of momentum at a lot of different times,” Cindric said. “You look at there’s six or seven guys that have been able to step up and win races this year and winning races gets you to the next round and winning races gets you to the Championship 4, so there could easily be either some surprises or some guys that haven’t been as prevalent in the last month or so to really step up and make a difference, so I would definitely agree with that and definitely see that as another reason to bring our A-game.”
Noah Gragson was one of the hottest drivers in the field in the early portion of the season as he recorded two wins and seven top-five finishes over the first 10 races of the 2020 season. Gragson, who drives for JR Motorsports, is a guy who could catch fire in the Playoffs, for sure.
There’s also Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Brandon Jones and Harrison Burton, who have combined to win five races this year.
Burton, a 2020 rookie of the year contender, started the season off with two wins and 10-consecutive top-10 finishes in the season’s first 10 races. Heading into the Playoffs, Burton hasn’t threatened for wins as much lately, but he is still plenty fast as he has scored six top-five finishes and seven top-10s over the last 11 events.
For Jones, two of his three wins this season have come in his last 10 starts. He’s showed incredible poise this season, while chasing drivers down for the win late in races. At Auto Club Speedway early in the season, he beat Kyle Busch head-to-head and at Darlington a few weeks ago, Jones out-smarted Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin for the win. Jones is a sneaky dark horse pick for the title.
And then there is the ever-consistent Ross Chastain.
The driver of the No. 10 Kaulig Racing machine may not have a win this season, yet, but he has been knocking on the door of victory lane all season long. Chastain has notched 23 top-10 finishes over his 26 starts in 2020 and he has led 460 laps. You would imagine a win is around the corner. If one comes, Chastain may not stop winning.
It’s crazy, but there are legitimately seven drivers who I could realistically see walking out of Phoenix in November with the championship. That being said, Briscoe and Cindric will more than likely cruise to the title race by way of their ungodly Playoff Points due to their regular season performances, but there’s a very real chance someone else takes the ultimate prize in 2020.