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2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Predictions

What drivers will make and miss the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs? Who will be the Final Four, and who will claim the Championship?

The United Rentals 300 from Daytona International Speedway will kick off the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday, February 17th. This will be the 43rd season for the Series dating back to its inception in 1982. Xfinity has been the namesake since 2015.

In recent years, the Series has seen its most competitive rosters to date. A rule started in 2011 where Cup Series drivers were no longer allowed to compete in the full season schedule. In turn, the door was opened for more faces and a broader range of winners among competitors.

After 26 Regular Season races, the NASCAR Playoffs will begin with twelve drivers making the cut. Similar to that of the Cup Series, the Xfinity Series implemented the format in 2016. Three race rounds narrow the field from twelve to eight and eight to four. The 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship will feature those final four as they battle for the crown at Phoenix Raceway.

Here are which drivers I believe will be in the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, as well as my Final Four and Championship-crowning predictions.

THE LOCKS

A.J. Allmendinger

Last season, A.J. Allmendinger returned to the NASCAR Cup Series for his first full-time year since 2018. Despite missing the Playoffs and a mediocre 21st in points, he would find victory lane at the Charlotte Roval in October. Allmendinger will return to Kaulig Racing but switch back to full-time Xfinity competition. 15 Series victories since 2019 and a veteran mentality will easily see the 42-year-old en route to a shot at the 2024 Championship.

Cole Custer

The third time was the charm for Cole Custer. After finishing 2nd in the 2018 and 2019 Championship, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver captured his first Title with a November win at Phoenix. Custer managed to lead well over 500 laps and two other victories at Portland International Raceway and the Chicago Street Course. His season was his return to Xfinity after three years in Cup A second consecutive Title would put Custer in elite status as he looks to one day move back up the ladder.

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier is a staple of the Xfinity Series. Minus two full-time Cup seasons in 2014 and 2015, he has raced in every event since 2009 having tenures with Penske Racing and Turner Motorsports. JR Motorsports has had the driver since 2016, and despite earning the team 20 victories and no points finish worse than 7th, Allgaier has yet to claim the coveted Championship. With six Final Four appearances, there is no doubt the 2008 ARCA Champion will be in another Title mix.

Austin Hill

Last year started strong with Austin Hill taking the checkered flag in three of the first five races. However, the remainder of the year saw a lone win at Pocono Raceway and his ultimate elimination in the Round of 8. Some, however, look to the final two laps at Martinsville Speedway being the make-or-break move. His incredible superspeedway abilities are slowly being caught up by the rest of his game as Hill looks to make his third Xfinity Series season the biggest yet.

Sam Mayer

2022 was a maturation year for Sam Mayer. His speed was unquestionable, but his efforts had seen inconsistency. Last year appeared to start in a similar fashion, but a fuse was lit in the second half for the young driver. Aside from the controversial spin with Ty Gibbs at Watkins Glen International, Mayer saw victory four times in the last 14 races of the season. Additionally, he was nearly eliminated in the Round of 12 before a dominant run and win at the Charlotte Roval. 20-year-old Mayer looks for a second straight Final Four birth.

MORE-THAN-LIKELY

Chandler Smith

Chandler Smith will have a new home in 2024. He is set to drive the No. 81 for Joe Gibbs Racing in what will be his second year in the Xfinity Series. Last season, the rookie started the year strong with the Kaulig Racing bunch by winning at Richmond Raceway just seven races into the season. However, his 15.6 average finish ranked 12th of his full-time competitors. Returning to Toyota, a manufacturer he raced for in ARCA and Trucks, will be of benefit to Smith this season.

Sheldon Creed

Another driver whose statistics do not match their abilities comes with Sheldon Creed. The former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion raced for Richard Childress Racing in both 2022 and 2023. After missing the Playoffs his rookie year, Creed saw sophomore success. Despite a rough summer stretch, his Playoff run was met with a near-win-turned-rivalry with Austin Hill at Martinsville. The switch to Joe Gibbs Racing will be massive as Creed targets his first career victory.

Sammy Smith

Sprinkled moments of excellence showed in young Sammy Smith. At just 18 years of age, he became the fourth youngest victor in Xfinity history with a dominant performance in the Spring Phoenix race. Although the season had its Top 5 and Top 10 runs, it was intermixed with learning woes. Smith, a two-time ARCA East Champion, nearly found himself transferred into the Phoenix Championship race before his impressive Martinsville run came up short. He will make the switch from Toyota’s Joe Gibbs Racing to Chevrolet’s JR Motorsports in 2024.

Riley Herbst

Many wondered when, or if, Riley Herbst’s time would ever come. His first three seasons were wineless, his “Did-Not-Finish” count was high, and his front-running contention seemed inexistent. Last season, he fell short of making the Playoffs, while his teammate Cole Custer went on to win the Title. However, Herbst turned the tides with five Top 5s in the last five races including his first Series win in his hometown of Las Vegas. This season, he will have a career year as a more regular threat to victory lane.

IN BY A FRACTION

Shane van Gisbergen

It is weird to label Shane van Gisbergen as a rookie. The world-class Supercars talent will race full-time for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series this season. Van Gisbergen will also have seat time in ARCA, Cups, and Trucks as a career in NASCAR is officially underway. Last year, the New Zealander took NASCAR by storm with his first-ever start being a win at the Chicago Street Course race. With five road courses on the schedule, including the circuit he won in Cup, van Gisbergen will likely find the checkered flag and a ticket to the Playoffs. His short track and oval game will be subject to assessment.

Josh Williams

With the experience Josh Williams has, and with his chance to finally show what he is capable of, I think we can expect a Playoff run. The 30-year-old has raced with various teams in the Xfinity Series dating back to his debut in 2016. In his 186 starts, Williams has captured eleven Top 10s with eight coming at different racetracks. Versatility will be important through the Regular Season, and veteran driver teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Shane van Gisbergen, his accomplishments will come.

Parker Kligerman

Many eyebrows were raised at Parker Kligerman last season. His No. 48 Chevrolet at Big Machine Racing knocked out competitor Riley Herbst for the final transfer spot at Kansas Speedway. Although the team lacks resources compared to others, they and Kligerman do not lack the competitive drive week-to-week. Their season finished with eight Top 5s and 18 Top 10s, ranking sixth in the latter category amongst drivers. My final spot for the 2024 Playoffs will be a nail-biting one with Kligerman in.

FALLING SHORT

Jesse Love

Jesse Love enters his rookie year in the Xfinity Series and will make his debut in the season opener at Daytona. Signed to Richard Childress Racing, the 19-year-old is fresh off a dominant ARCA season that saw ten wins in the 20-race schedule. Expectations are already incredibly high for young Love, but not always does it translate immediately. Additionally, he will be switching manufacturers to Chevrolet, which could also take time to grow accustomed to. The level of competition is the best it has ever been, and I think Love falls within single-digit points of missing the cutoff.

Brandon Jones

2023 was a forgettable one for Brandon Jones. Signing on with JR Motorsports and taking over Noah Gragson’s No. 9 seemed to be a great move, but the year was met with poor performance; some self-inflected, but a majority were out of his control. Overall, Jones finished with three Top 5s and his worst average finishing season (15.7) since 2017 (17.4). Hopefully, Jones can get on a roll this year, but until that happens, I cannot give him a spot in my predictions.

Jeb Burton

Talladega Superspeedway saw Jeb Burton return to winners circle for the second time having won at the two-and-a-half-miler in 2021. The win locked his ticket into the 2023 Playoffs but finished twelfth of the twelve contenders. Burton’s consistency is arguably the best of all Xfinity Series drivers, but going wineless and a lack of stage points could hurt your chances. If he does not finish first at either Daytona or Talladega, Burton will come up short of a Playoff birth.

Parker Retzlaff

With little experience in the minor leagues of NASCAR, many wondered how Parker Retzlaff would fair in a full-time opportunity. It turned out decently well for the 20-year-old earning seven Top 10s and ranked ninth for completed laps amongst full-time drivers. Retzlaff’s consistency was matched to the aforementioned Jeb Burton with the two resigned for Jordan Anderson Racing. Though similarly, without a win or stage points, I do not foresee Retzlaff making the cut.

NOT ENOUGH

Hailie Deegan

After three years of missed performance in the Truck Series, Hailie Deegan will look to find better footing. This season, the California native will drive in the Xfinity Series for AM Racing in the No. 15. The team has an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing which could aid with performance. Although we will see more competitiveness from Deegan, it will lack the needed results to race for a Championship.

Ryan Sieg

Ryan Sieg’s 2023 was not what he was hoping for. No Top 5s and a mere four Top 10s resulted in an 18th-place points finish; the worst in his ten straight full-time seasons. His frequency to the front was more noticeable in the year prior where he made the twelve-field, Playoff-contending cut. Sieg is essential for the success of the Series, but I am reluctant to give him a spot on my list.

Kyle Weatherman

26-year-old Kyle Weatherman is undeniably one of the most underrated drivers in all of NASCAR. His ability to pilot a car at any given time has not gone unnoticed having raced with nine different Xfinity Series teams in his 93 starts. Although Weatherman will give DGM Racing a career year, it will not be inside the Playoffs.

Jeremy Clements

Similarly to Ryan Sieg, Jeremy Clements is a 14-year, full-time veteran with an abundance of talent who continues to drive for his own team. After winning at Daytona and making the Playoffs in 2022, last year saw the absence of Top 10s and his worst points finish (19th) to date. Without another superspeedway victory, Clements will unfortunately fail to advance.

FINAL FOUR & CHAMPION

Allmendinger, Creed, Custer, Hill

A.J. Allmendinger’s return to the Series will bring a needed rebound to Kaulig Racing. The rivalry between Sheldon Creed and Austin Hill has grown to something special, and I think it will continue throughout the year and into the Championship race. Lastly, Cole Custer will look to defend his Title as the last of the Final Four drivers.

My Championship prediction for the 2024 NASCAR Xfinity Series title is Cole Custer.

Be sure to check out my Playoff picks for the Craftsman Truck Series. Also, stay on the lookout tomorrow for my Cup Series predictions.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series opener will take place at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 17th. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.

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