NASCAR: Is a surprise Xfinity Series challenger emerging?

Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe are the clear-cut favorites to battle for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. But is there a new challenger emerging?

Through 28 races of the 33-race 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe have combined to win 13 times. But with that being said, there may be a new driver who could have a real shot at winning the title.

Kaulig Racing’s Justin Haley has been quietly good throughout the entire year. He has three wins, nine top five finishes and 18 top 10 finishes.

He has also only had two DNFs and has completed almost 99% of the laps, and keeping yourself out of trouble is half the battle in the quest to win a championship.

Sure, all three of Haley’s wins have come on superspeedways. But he has been very consistent on the short and intermediate tracks as well. He recorded three top 10 finishes, including a second place finish at Richmond Raceway, in the last four races before his win at Talladega Superspeedway.

By winning at Talladega Superspeedway, he locked himself into the round of 8. The three tracks included in this round are Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. The Xfinity Series has already made stops at Kansas and Texas this year, and Haley recorded finishes of eighth and sixth place, respectively.

I don’t want to get ahead of myself and solidify Haley into the winner-take-all Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway, but the numbers are in his favor, and if he does get there, he will have a shot to win the title. He finished in fifth place at the track in March, ahead of both Briscoe and Cindric.

While past trends and future performances can be very different, Kaulig Racing have become a top-level competitor this season, and the #11 team has been very impressive all year. It has been great seeing them go toe-to-toe with Xfinity Series giants such as Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and JR Motorsports and be successful.

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Haley’s ability to keep the #11 Chevrolet out of trouble and run up front consistently has proven that he is for real. Cindric and Briscoe have rightfully been dubbed the championship favorites, but Haley is more than a dark horse and needs to be in the championship conversation.