NASCAR Xfinity Series: 5 takeaways from Homestead-Miami Speedway

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 22: Noah Gragson, driver of the #9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/BRCC Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Contender Boats 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 22, 2022 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jared East/Getty Images)

Another driver joined Josh Berry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 on Saturday, as Noah Gragson survived a late caution and won the Contender Boats 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The second race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff round of eight saw late drama, but ultimately the pace of race favorite Noah Gragson was enough for him to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 in Phoenix in two weeks. The Homestead race flipped the fortunes of some playoff drivers and will have big implications heading into next week’s race at Martinsville.

1. Gragson’s Unstoppable Pace

Noah Gragson was a betting favorite by a wide margin coming into Saturday’s race outside Miami. He proved exactly why with a truly dominant display. Gragson led the majority of the race, relying on his great long-run pace to stretch his lead throughout the night. Gragson won both Stage 1 and 2. No other driver on track could match his technique managing the high line around the true oval of Homestead.

2. The High Line Bites Back

It’s widely known among drivers and teams that the high line along the outside wall is the fastest way around Homestead-Miami Speedway. The high line allows drivers to maintain a pace through each turn. A pace that is crucial on the long straightaways of the true oval. Multiple drivers had run-ins with the outside wall, including the already-clinched playoff driver Josh Berry and race winner Noah Gragson. Berry even made slight contact with the wall on a warm-up lap, likely to see just how close he could run to the outside.

3. Playoff Place Swap

It was a tale of two races for NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff drivers AJ Allmendinger and Justin Allgaier. The former ran a great race that likely surpassed expectations, the latter suffered from tire trouble that pushed him back into lapped traffic. Allmendinger finished third behind the #9 Chevrolet of Gragson and Ty Gibbs’ #54 Toyota and is now five points ahead of the playoff cutline. Allgaier drops below the ‘Dinger, five points short of the cutline heading to the final race of the round of eight in Martinsville. 

4. Gragson Surviving a Late Yellow

A caution came out with just over ten laps to go when the #45 of Stefan Parsons got a flat tire and spun onto the pit access road. Which was likely the last thing race leader Noah Gragson wanted to see at that point in the race. Gragson was ten seconds clear of the field and looked to be comfortably joining Josh Berry in Championship 4 when the caution came. The #9 team won the race off pit road and outlasted AJ Allmendinger and Ty Gibbs in a five-lap shootout to take the checkered flag. 

5. Gragson’s Rightful Place in the Championship 4

No driver has dominated the NASCAR Xfinity Series quite like Noah Gragson this season. Gragson has won races on all types of tracks. He’s won from the front and charged through the field if he’s had to.  As of late, no car looks to be on the same planet as the JR Motorsports #9 Chevrolet. Gragson won the spring Xfinity Series race at Phoenix and will be a favorite to claim the Championship in two weeks.

Featured Image Credit: Jared East/Getty Images