NASCAR Xfinity Series Power Rankings – Darlington

The NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Darlington Raceway Saturday afternoon on Labor Day weekend for race No. 23 of the 2020 Xfinity Series season. 

All eyes were on Ross Chastain and the No. 10 Kaulig Racing entry, after the incident the week before at Daytona when he made contact with his teammate A.J. Allmendinger in the final turn of the final lap.

It was almost a repeat story at Darlington but this time it was just hard racing and two veterans going for the victory. Inside 20 laps to go, Denny Hamlin, who makes one Xfinity Series start a year, and Chastain, were racing each other for the top spot. Both drivers were beating and banging off one another, and not one letting the other get ahead. It seemed as though no one could contend with these two with no other driver in sight. 


American Muscle

However, Hamlin and Chastain made contact with each other with about two laps to go. Due to the contact, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Brandon Jones was able to go right on by and pick up his third victory of the season. When the battle was said and done, Chastain held on to finish second, while Hamlin limped his damaged No. 54 Sports Clips machine home to a sixth-place finish. 

With the thrilling battle over in what was quite possibly the best Xfinity Series race to date, there are now three races left before the Playoffs start. And with three races left, many had a solid outing at Darlington and hope to carry that momentum to the Richmond doubleheader this weekend. 

Here are this week’s Power Rankings following the Sports Clips Haircuts 200 at Darlington Raceway. 

  1. Ryan Sieg – Sieg avoided what could have been a disastrous day at Darlington. It started early on Lap 3 when the Georgia native got involved in an accident on the backstretch after trying to avoid it. But he had nowhere to go and received some damage to the No. 39 RSS Racing Chevy. Despite the incident, Sieg worked the entire race to put his team back in position for a top-five finish. However, when Hamlin and Chastain were battling with each other, Sieg, at one point, was in the third position. Had both of those drivers wrecked, Sieg could have capitalized and brought home his second career win. Sieg remained in the third position and gained his fourth top-five of the year.

    Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
  2. Chase Briscoe – Looking for his seventh win of the year and that magic goal of eight wins this season, the Indiana native would, unfortunately, spin while leading the race. Up until that point, Briscoe had led most of the laps with 55, and placed fourth and third respectively in both stages. Even with the help of the late-race caution, Briscoe narrowly missed out on the top 10 by finishing 11th. Still, it was a disappointing finish after what could have been another victory for the No. 98 camp.

    Previous Week Ranking – First
  3. Harrison Burton – It was a sixth-place finish for Burton after earning a Stage 2 finish of fifth. Burton was quiet for most of the day but was in contention for the win if a late-race caution had occurred. The late-race caution did fly with 21 to go, but Burton was still mired in mid-pack. Nonetheless, Burton continued his strong 2020 season by picking up his 16th top-10 of the year.

    Previous Week Ranking – Fifth
  4. Brandon Jones – It only took two laps for Brandon Jones to get the victory in Saturday’s race. But before taking the lead after the Hamlin/Chastain battle, Jones had a consistent race throughout the 147- lap event. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver placed sixth in Stage 1 and second in Stage 2. The victory marked Jones’s third of the season and his first since Kansas in July. The 2020 season has been up and down for Jones, who has three wins, eight top five’s and 12 top-10 finishes, along with five DNFs. If Jones can keep the top five and 10 finishes going, and of course the victories, he’ll be an easy pick for the Xfinity Series championship.

    Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
  5. Ross Chastain – Chastain had the race in his hands inside not only 20 laps to go, but also five to go. However, a hard-charging Denny Hamlin kept Chastain from stretching out the lead and running away with the victory. Unfortunately, after leading 43 laps, Chastain once again came one spot short of gaining his first victory of the season and ending his one-year plus winless streak in the Xfinity Series. His last victory was in July at Daytona last year. With the help of finishing second in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2, Chastain has now clinched a spot in the 2020 Xfinity Series Playoffs.

    Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked 

Fell Out 

  1. Riley Herbst – Herbst placed in the fourth position and overall had a quiet day without making too much noise, which sometimes is a good thing. He is still winless through 23 races and will need a win in the regular season or a win in the Playoffs if Herbst wants to be a threat for the championship.

    Previous Week Ranking – Second
  2. Austin Cindric – It has been a whirlwind of a week for Austin Cindric’s No. 22 Team Penske entry and it all started on social media. Twitter began to light up Wednesday night when race fans quickly assumed Cindric was out of a ride after what looked like his merchandise was pulled from every website, including the NASCAR.com website. Though Cindric posted a video the day after and cleared the air. He let everyone know that he is still racing with Penske through the end of the year and that they were only temporarily sold out of merchandise. Switching to the race, Cindric disappointingly finished 12th after being strong early in the stages, where he finished third and seventh, respectively.

    Previous Week Ranking – Third
  3. Justin Haley – One week after his Daytona victory, Justin Haley was looking forward to carrying that race winning momentum to Darlington on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for Haley, his race was pretty much forgettable after he made slight contact with Justin Allgaier off Turn 4, which gave Haley right-front damage on his No. 11 Chevrolet. Ultimately, the damage ruined a good race car and the Indiana native could only manage a 13th place result after leading seven laps. In addition, Haley did not earn any stage points for his efforts. Certainly, a forgettable Darlington outing following his big Daytona victory just a week ago.

    Previous Week Ranking – Fourth 

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