BRISTOL, Tenn. — Three NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers enter Friday’s Food City 300 with a chance to win the regular- season championship.
The race at Bristol Motor Speedway is the final race of the series’ regular season.
A.J. Allmendinger comes to BMS leading the points race, with Ty Gibbs 38 points behind the leader and Justin Allgaier 55 points back, still in contention for the regular-season title.
Allmendinger won last year’s Food City 300 in a photo finish as he and Austin Cindric crashed into each other as they crossed the finish line.
Allmendinger’s Chevy took the win by a nose. His victory lane celebration had to wait for him to be cleared by the NASCAR infield care unit.
Another wild finish is definitely possible at the world’s fastest half-mile.
Allmendinger said anything is possible on the concrete oval, especially with a tight points race.
If it does come down to a battle at the finish and Allmendinger is involved, he said his Kaulig Racing No. 16 will be going all out for the win.
“With Bristol you just never know,” Allmendinger said. “It’s all situational. You could easily get caught up in someone else’s mess early in the race and you are out of it. Or it could come down to another finish like we had last year where we are all battling in the final laps.
“My team knows that if we are in that situation racing for a win at Bristol and a regular-season championship, that I am going to do whatever it takes and put it all on the line to get the job done.”
Gibbs has won five races this season as the driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing machine.
Allmendinger has three victories, as does Allgaier, the driver of JR Motorsports’ No. 7 Chevy who has won at Bristol in the past and always runs well on the high-banked concrete.
Noah Gragson, the circuit’s most recent winner, is mathematically out of the running for the regular-season title but is currently projected as the No. 1 seed in the Xfinity playoffs.
Gragson is a four-time season winner and a past winner at BMS with 12 top 10s in the No. 9 Chevy for JRM.
Other drivers who have already clinched their spots in the Xfinity playoffs include Josh Berry, rookie Austin Hill, a two-time winner this year, Brandon Jones and Jeremy Clements.
Defending Xfinity Series champ Daniel Hemric, Sam Mayer and Riley Herbst should factor into the mix at BMS.
Drivers around the bubble in positions 11-13 looking to earn one of the 12 playoff spots include Landon Cassill and Ryan Sieg, who sit 11th and 12th, and the first driver on the outside looking in, Sheldon Creed.
Creed, who has run well at Bristol in the Camping World Truck Series in the past, has cut the points deficit in recent races and trails Sieg by 13 points for the final transfer spot into the playoff field.
Creed will need a strong finish at BMS to earn a spot in the playoffs. He said he thought he was going to gain ground last week at Kansas, but that didn’t happen.
“When we fired off at the beginning of the race, I thought we were really good and then we weren’t good when the track started building rubber,” Creed said. “I tried running at the bottom, top and middle and tried different lines. I just couldn’t get anything to work or make speed. I don’t know where we missed it there because we weren’t as good as we thought we would be. It looks like we gained three points, so that will make things interesting in Bristol.”