Just as the NASCAR Cup Series is heading to new ground at World Wide Technology Raceway just outside of St. Louis, the Xfinity Series will be doing something similar. The Xfinity circuit heads to Oregon for the Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland International Raceway.
What to Expect
Portland International Raceway is a 1.915-mile road course that is typically an Indy Car track. It replaces the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the Xfinity schedule as one of the road courses on the schedule.
According to NASCAR.com, both Mid-Ohio and Portland are owned by the same company — Green Savoree Racing Promotions — so they likely didn’t feel bad about taking the Xfinity race from one road course to the other.
The race will be 75 laps long, with each stage being 25 laps long.
Xfinity Series Standings
Coming into the weekend, A.J. Allmendinger sits atop the Xfinity Series standings with 530 points. He has six top-five finishes and one win.
Noah Gragson enters as JR Motorsports’ best performer in second place with 497 points. Just behind him is Ty Gibbs, the grandson of Joe Gibbs. While he may be in third, his three wins on the season are more than any driver in the Xfinity Series.
A pair of Chevy drivers and JR Motorsports teammates round out the top five. Justin Allgaier, who sits fourth with 472 points, has five top-five finishes and one win on the season. Josh Berry earned his second win of the season last week at Charlotte, which helped him move up to fifth in the standings with 470.
Sam Mayer is sixth (423 points), Brandon Jones seventh (400 points), Austin Hill eighth (365 points), Riley Herbst ninth (362 points) and Daniel Hemric 10th (351 points).
Who are Favorites?
Since there’s never been an Xfinity Series race at Portland, there’s not much to go off of. But we will take a look at how drivers have performed on similar road courses to give us some idea as to who might win Saturday.
When thinking of road courses, your mind should immediately flash to Allmendinger. He’s always been a major player on these styles of courses, which is why he often is called up to the Cup Series when it visits such tracks. Allmendinger’s only career wins on the Cup Series level have come on road courses, the most recent of which came last season at the Indy Road Course. He also has a win at Watkins Glen back in 2014.
On the Xfinity Series level, he has two starts at the Circuit of the Americas. He came in second in last season’s running before winning the second time around back in March. You can currently get Allmendinger at +200 odds.
Gibbs has the second-lowest odds at +350. We had Gibbs to win outright last week at Charlotte, but he fell just short with a second-place finish.
While the young Gibbs doesn’t have many starts on any track, he’s won at both the Daytona Road Course and at Watkins Glen in his only starts at each.
Where’s the Value?
At +700, Allgaier is a good value pick. In two starts at Watkins Glen, he’s finished inside the top five both times, as well as a top-10 finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Another nice value pick is Brandon Jones at +2000. In two starts on Daytona’s road course, he’s finished inside the top five both times, including a second-place finish. While not a favorite, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jones in contention down the stretch, and the +2000 price tag is almost too good to pass up.
At the end of the day, I think it will be one of the usual suspects that comes out with the win, which is why Gibbs (+350), despite the relatively low number, is on my card for the week. He’s one of the Xfinity Series’ top upcoming drivers and will likely be in the Cup Series soon.
He already has the most wins of any driver on the season, and with wins at multiple road courses in his only start at those tracks, it makes me think Gibbs will once again be a fast learner and earn the checkered flag.
Considering Allgaier and Jones have similar resumes when it comes to road tracks, I’ll take Jones with the better payout at +2000 on my card.