For years, the NASCAR Xfinity Series has been referred to as the best product that NASCAR produces. Great racing, great drivers, and a great racecar for the drivers to race with. This year has been one of the best in NASCAR Xfinity Series history. A fitting theme for the 75th anniversary of NASCAR. There have also been several headlines that are taking the spotlight instead of the Cup Series. Tonight, in Phoenix, a new NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion will be crowned. Who are the four drivers who will fight for the title? Let’s analyze the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Four.
#00 Cole Custer:
The past few years for Cole Custer have been rough. He made his Cup Series debut in 2020 for Stewart-Hass Racing and pulled off a huge win at Kentucky that same year. Despite that win in 2020 and winning Rookie of the Year, he did absolutely nothing in the Cup Series. Towards the end of 2022, it was announced that Custer would be replaced in the #41 by Ryan Preece. It was also announced that Custer would return to the Xfinity Series in 2023 in the #00 for Stewart-Hass Racing. Fans and analysts were expecting Custer to dominate the Xfinity Series this year. That has not been the case, but he has been extremely competitive. Both of his wins this season came on Road Courses, not where people would think that Custer would earn his wins.
Those wins came specifically at Portland and at Chicago. As previously said, he has been very competitive throughout the season with multiple chances to win more races. In 2019, Custer had a shot at the Xfinity Series title after winning seven races throughout the season but came up short to Tyler Reddick at Homestead. Now, four years later, Custer has an opportunity to reclaim the Championship that he should have won. He may not have had the dominant season that he was hoping for, but it has been enough for Custer to get to the Championship Four.
#1 Sam Mayer:
After the 2022 Xfinity Series season, fans and analysts were questioning if Sam Mayer was deserving of his JR Motorsports ride. In the last three months, he has proven that he does deserve his ride. Earlier this season, at Road America, Mayer earned his first career Xfinity Series win at his home track. Before that, Mayer was in a must-win situation to make the Playoffs. He answered the call to win. But Mayer has also had a lot of bad luck this season. He currently has a whopping seven DNF’s on the season. To begin the Playoffs, he was in a must-win situation at the Charlotte Roval to advance to the Round of Eight. That is exactly what Mayer did. Two weeks ago, Mayer locked himself into the Championship Four with his win at Homestead.
This has been the tempo of Mayer and the #1 JR Motorsports team. Persevere even when in a corner. Even if Mayer doesn’t walk away with the hardware in Phoenix, his head should still be held high. Despite the seven DNF’s throughout the year, it has been a fantastic season for Mayer and the #1 team. With how the end of 2023 has been going so far for Mayer, he should be looking forward to 2024. The telltale signs of Mayer having a great season next year are already showing. If there’s one thing that is certain, Mayer will drive his guts out to win the 2023 Xfinity Series Championship.
#7 Justin Allgaier:
Another year, another Xfinity Series Championship Four appearance for Justin Allgaier. This will be the sixth Championship Four appearance for Justin Allgaier in the Xfinity Series. Allgaier has only missed the Championship Four twice since the Playoffs became a concept in the Xfinity Series in 2016, those were in 2018 and 2021. Ever since his move to JR Motorsports in 2016, he has arguably been the most consistent full-time Xfinity Series driver in the last eight years. It seems that every time that Allgaier has a shot at the Championship, he comes up excruciatingly close. This time, it could be different at the end of the day for Allgaier. It was a slow start to the year for Allgaier and JR Motorsports, but in the last few months, they have been very fast. Three of his four wins this season have come in the last few months, since late August.
When the laps were winding down last weekend at Martinsville, Allgaier was in a must-win situation to make the Championship Four. RCR teammates Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed started racing each other extremely hard on the last lap. Coming out of turn four on the last lap at Martinsville, Allgaier stole the win in a photo finish from Creed. Allgaier is the one Championship Four driver who is riding momentum heading into Phoenix. If Allgaier does win this Championship, he can point to his win from Martinsville as the defining moment of the season.
#20 John Hunter Nemechek:
In late 2022, Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Nemechek would pilot the #20 full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2023. A lot of people thought that he would win three, maybe four races throughout the season. Up to this point of the season, he has won seven races and has been very competitive every week. In the second race of the season, Fontana, Nemechek got the first win of the season for both JGR and him. This consistency would last all season long. He has been in contention to win every single week. Earlier this year, Legacy Motor Club announced that Nemechek would drive the #42 in the Cup Series starting in 2024 full-time. If Nemechek can win the Championship on Saturday night, it will be a proper send-off for him to the Cup Series.
Who is the Favorite to win the Championship?
This is a tough one to decide on. There’s a case for each driver to win this year’s Xfinity Series Championship. Custer has been very consistent throughout the season despite only having two wins. Mayer has been extremely fast throughout the late Summer with each of his four wins coming in the last 13 races. Allgaier has been the fastest JR Motorsports car in the last few months with three of his four wins coming in the last nine races. Nemechek has been the most successful driver all season long with his seven wins. So, who has the best potential to win the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship? That would be John Hunter Nemechek.
As previously said, Nemechek has been lights out fast all season long. Joe Gibbs Racing has been bringing fast cars to the track every single week for Nemechek to win races with. There’s potential that if Nemechek hadn’t DNF’d from any races this season, he could have easily won at least 10 races up to this point of the season. If Nemechek can pull this off on Saturday night, this will be the third consecutive Xfinity Series Championship for Joe Gibbs Racing. They have won the previous two Xfinity Series Championships with former driver, Daniel Hemric, and current Cup Series driver, Ty Gibbs. No matter who the Xfinity Series Champion is, it will be a great battle and a great race for the title on Saturday night.
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