NASCAR Xfinity Series: Homestead Preview, Predictions, and How To Watch

A.J. Allmendinger leads the field at Homestead-Miami Speedway

The NASCAR Xfinity Series takes its talents south of South Beach to Homestead-Miami Speedway as seven playoff drivers look to join Vegas winner Josh Berry in the Championship 4.

South Florida hosts the second race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff Round of 8 this weekend, and if you’re a fan of JR Motorsports, the playoff picture is shaping up rather nicely. Three of four drivers above the cutline, including already-clinched Josh Berry, are in Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned Chevrolets. 

Barring the unforeseen, the success of JR Motorsports cars should carry over to another intermediate track like Homestead-Miami. The team’s biggest competition comes from the #54 Toyota of Ty Gibbs, currently third in the playoff standings, 25 points to the good of the playoff cutline.

Unsurprisingly, the form of Noah Gragson and JR Motorsports as a whole has made the #9 car the favorite for Saturday’s Contender Boats 300. Gragson has proven he can win on basically any type of track in his Xfinity Series-leading seven victories this season and was probably another ten laps away from catching Josh Berry at the end in Vegas.

Last week’s race did see one playoff contender tumble down the standings and below the playoff cutline, as AJ Allmendinger and his Kaulig Racing team had a tough day at the office. Allmendinger had two loose wheels following a late caution pit stop in Vegas and was forced to pit again, falling two laps down and ultimately finishing 22nd. The Dinger will likely need a victory at either Miami or Martinsville to make the Championship 4.

Justin Allgaier will be looking to parlay JR Motorsports’ success into a trip to victory lane in South Florida. Allgaier thrives at the intermediates and won earlier this season at Darlington, another intermediate oval with two true straightaways similar to Homestead.

The Track

File:Homestead-Miami Speedway track map--Speedway.svg ...

As previously mentioned, Homestead-Miami Speedway is an intermediate track, just a hair short of 1.5 miles around. Unlike many of NASCAR’s ovals, it’s a true oval with no tri-oval or dogleg at the start/finish line.

The track opened in 1995 with a Busch Series race and was formerly home to CART/IndyCar racing from 1996-2010. The track opened as a rectangular oval, similar to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with flat, sharp turns at each corner. Passing was a challenge, and racing was poor, and in 1997 the track was reconfigured into a standard oval.

Until 2019, Homestead was the home of the final weekend of the NASCAR season. Now the South Florida track plays a pivotal role in the playoff chase, with Saturday’s Contender Boats 300 right in the middle of the round of eight.

Playoff Standings

IN:

  1. Josh Berry, JR Motorsports: 1 Win – Clinched Championship Berth
  2. Noah Gragson, JR Motorsports: 3109 points, +44 from the cutoff
  3. Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing: 3090 points, +25 from the cutoff
  4. Justin Allgaier, JR Motorsports: 3080 points, +15 from the cutoff

——–PLAYOFF CUTLINE——–

OUT:

  1. Austin Hill, Richard Childress Racing: 3065 points, -15 from the cutoff
  2. AJ Allmendinger, Kaulig Racing: 3064 points, -16 from the cutoff
  3. Brandon Jones, Joe Gibbs Racing: 3053 points, -27 from the cutoff
  4. Sam Mayer, JR Motorsports: 3044 points, -36 from the cutoff

Predictions

As noted, Noah Gragson comes into yet another NASCAR Xfinity Series race as the favorite, between his success and the success of JR Motorsports. It’s make-or-break time for the four drivers below the cutline, and you’d expect to see guys like Austin Hill, Brandon Jones, AJ Allmendinger, and Sam Mayer emptying the tank to pull out a victory in suburban Miami.

Personally, I think it’s Justin Allgaier’s race to lose, and expect a similar result to what we saw in Darlington earlier this season, where Allgaier and Noah Gragson battled it out for the checkered flag after a late caution. I expect more intermediate struggles for AJ Allmendinger, even if his pit crew makes sure all his wheels are on tight. 

How To Watch (All times EST)

  • Practice and qualifying: Friday, October 21 – 6:05 pm – USA
  • Contender Boats 300: Saturday, October 22 – 4:30 pm – USA
Featured Image Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images