Following countless cautions, a finish for the ages and a feud between teammates, the stage is set for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship race from Phoenix Raceway on Saturday night. NASCAR betting odds favorite John Hunter Nemechek leads a field of four that features red-hot phenom Sam Mayer, Xfinity lifer Justin Allgaier and former Cup Series Rookie of the Year Cole Custer, all searching for their first title.
With regular-season champion Austin Hill out of the picture, who will hoist the championship trophy when the dust settles in the desert?
Nemechek Rightful Favorite After Excellent Season
Despite not winning a race in the round of eight, Joe Gibbs Racing driver John Hunter Nemechek comfortably advanced to the championship race on points. He now stands as the massive NASCAR best bet to take home the championship at -120, the only of the four contenders with minus odds.
What got Nemechek to this point? The second-generation driver has a series-leading six victories on the season and has been blistering hot. Before being caught up in the late-race melee at Martinsville, finishing 18th, he scored a top-three in four of the first five playoff races.
In six career Xfinity starts at Phoenix, Nemechek has never finished outside the top-10, though he was never inside the top-three. He will likely need to beat that – only once has a champion not won the finale in the series’ seven-year playoff history.
Four drivers. One goal.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) October 28, 2023
Clock Will Strike Midnight on Mayer’s Cinderella Story
It’s been an up-and-down year for the 20-year-old Sam Mayer. Despite being something of a down season for JR Motorsports as an organization, Mayer, in particular, lacked competitiveness on ovals, hindering his online betting odds. He clinched his way into the playoffs by winning twice at road courses.
If his regular season was a roller coaster, then the start to his playoffs were a trainwreck. He crashed out at Bristol and Texas, entering the Charlotte Roval in a must-win situation. But he continued his road course dominance and scored a clutch win to advance to the round of eight.
He then silenced all naysayers at Homestead when he scored his first career win on an oval, clinching a spot at Phoenix. While he certainly has the best story, there is a reason the NASCAR betting lines have him as the longshot at +550. In four starts, he’s never even scored a top-10 at Phoenix. It’s been a valiant effort for the youngster, but do not expect him to cash in on Saturday night.
Allgaier Chasing Elusive Title
Mayer’s JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier has by far the most experience of the final four, accumulating 437 Xfinity starts over the span of 16 years. While he’s racked up 23 wins and solidified himself as one of the best in the series, the championship has always eluded him. This will be his sixth appearance in the championship race in eight tries, and the closest he’s ever come to winning was a third last year.
Allgaier has been solid at Phoenix, with five-straight top-10s before crashing out this past March. He’s on the heels of an exhilarating win at Martinsville, besting Sheldon Creed by a mere .032 seconds. Does he have another showstopper in his back pocket? The NASCAR odds have him at +350 to finally break through and win his first championship.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) November 1, 2023
Custer Looks to Add Championship to Resume
Winning the championship would be a huge feat for Cole Custer after being demoted from the NASCAR Cup Series this season. Despite the Cup experience, he hasn’t been nearly as good as his phenomenal 2019 effort that saw him win seven races and fall just short of the championship. But he has still been solid, scoring two wins along with 20 top-10s. But, like Mayer, his only wins during the regular season came on road courses.
Custer does have solid numbers at Phoenix, with five top-10s in seven starts, though he finished 12th here in March after starting on the pole. He also had a strong start to the playoffs, finishing sixth or better in the first four races, before finishing 11th and 19th at Homestead and Martinsville, respectively. He only made it to the championship race thanks to the tangle between Hill and Creed that led to a massive wreck.
Winning the championship would likely mean the most to Custer of the four, as he is reportedly still in the mix to return to the Cup Series in the number 10 for Stewart-Haas Racing next season. Adding a championship would surely bolster his resume. NASCAR Xfinity odds peg his chances to do so at +425.
Love him or hate him, cheer him or boo him.
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) November 1, 2023
Don’t Overthink it: Bet Nemechek
Out of the three championship battles taking place this weekend, this one feels like the surest thing. Nemechek has been consistently better than Mayer, Allgaier and Custer all season. The odds have him as the resounding favorite for a reason. As long as he stays clean and avoids mistakes, we expect John Hunter to join his father Joe as the first-ever father-son duo to win an Xfinity Series championship.
— John Hunter Nemechek (@JHNemechek) October 28, 2023
Questions Of The Day
How to bet on Nascar?
Go to the BetUS Sportsbook. There are odds for the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Trucks series throughout the season.