The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to California for the 2022 Production Alliance Group 300, slated to take place on Saturday, February 26. It will mark the second race of the season and the first Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway since 2020 when Harrison Burton won his maiden race at this level.
The defending champion won’t be in this year’s race, as he moved up to the Cup Series. So that begs the question of who will claim the throne, and most importantly, which driver we should keep an eye on before we place our bets on online sports betting sites?
Drivers To Watch
Daniel Hemric Can Deliver
Daniel Hemric surely hoped for a better start to the season. He and Chaser Briscoe failed pre-race inspection ahead of Daytona multiple times, forcing Hemric to start the 2022 Daytona 500 from the rear. Although an unfortunate situation, Hemric performed well in the season-opening race.
Even though Hemric ended the race in 28th, his driving was impressive. He scored the pole position with 49.221 seconds and a speed of 182.849 mph. What’s more, Hemric won both stages, thus earning 20 points.
“We didn’t know we had the speed to sit on the pole,” said Hemric.
“We didn’t do any single car runs yesterday. But after we ran the fastest in the first round, we’re like, ‘Hell; we’re already here, might as well try to get a pole, right?'”
There were some positives to take from Hemric’s performance last weekend, and if he can keep it up, there’s a good chance Hemric will find himself in a solid spot to impress in California. Admittedly, he has never won here before, but he placed seventh in 2020, which is a positive sign.
Will Hill Make It Two in a Row?
Austin Hill won the Daytona race by passing A.J. Allmendinger on the final lap. It was a well-deserved victory for the surprise winner, and it will indeed affect how the NASCAR odds for this weekend will look.
Admittedly, one race win doesn’t mean much, but Hill has proven that he can compete with the best and should not be overlooked heading into the second race of the season. But the question remains – has Hill shown enough for us to be confident he can win in California?
It would surely be a nice success story to see Hill go back-to-back, and many fans will want to bet on him to do so. But we will tame our expectations on the former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver.
A.J. Allmendinger’s Solid Form
A.J. Allmendinger lost the Daytona race by the skin of his teeth and will surely want to improve the impression in the second race of the season. However, the 40-year-old NASCAR veteran has 14 career starts on the California track, but not a single victory.
His best placement on the Auto Club Speedway came in March 2016, when he placed eighth but has since made only two more appearances and landed in 17th and 22nd. Nevertheless, Allmendinger was in the form of his life in 2021, and if his showings last year are any indication, he should break a few personal records in 2022.
Most notably, Allmendinger finished the 2021 Xfinity Series in fourth place and carried over the form into 2022, with a runner-up finish last weekend, improving his previous career-best placement in Daytona (fifth in 2021). So maybe he can secure another personal best in California?
If you’re looking to bet now on a driver that has shown that he has what it takes to deliver, you can’t go wrong with Allmendinger.
Admittedly, he has yet to shine in California, but we wouldn’t put too much weight on his past results. He looked comfortable in Daytona, and if he can keep his wheels spinning, Allmendinger should be set for a strong finish.
Another driver we like is Hemric, who had a solid start last weekend but couldn’t deliver in the end. Still, even though he finished in 28th, Hemric has shown enough for us to believe he can surprise.