AVONDALE, Ariz. — Four more drivers Championship hopes shriveled up in the Arizona desert after they were eliminated from NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff contention following Saturday’s Whelen Trusted To Perform 200 at ISM Raceway.
Austin Cindric, Matt Tifft, Justin Allgaier, and Christopher Bell will be reverted back to their pre-playoff points totals along with the points they accumulated through the Round of 16 and Round of 12.
The highest any of the drivers can finish in the final championship standings is fifth.
Elliott Sadler was eliminated from Playoff contention after running behind all of his Playoff competitors during much of the entire race. Sadler finished 11th and 16th in the two Stages and finished the race in 11th. Sadler was 13 points above the Playoff cutline prior to Saturday’s race. Next week’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be Sadler’s last start in NASCAR.
“I made too many mistakes today to give my guys an opportunity,” Sadler said. “It’s all on me. My guys work too hard and deserve to be a part of this Championship 4 at Homestead, but I just didn’t pull my part through.
“It’s going to be an emotional week. I have one race left, and my wife and kids are coming to Homestead, and we’ll make the most of it, but it’s definitely going to be hard to look my guys in the eye, knowing we’re not part of the championship.”
Austin Cindric’s championship hopes came to an end Saturday after Cindric failed to capitalize on a strong run in a must-win situation. Cindric finished second and third respectively in the two Stages.
“I needed track position and a long green flag run (in the last part of the race),” Cindric said. “We had an awesome Discount Tire Ford Mustang today, something definitely capable of winning the race today and locking us into Homestead, but we didn’t quite get what we needed to going to that third stage.
“I was just relying on track position from there on out and got three cautions we didn’t need, but I’m just really thankful to be in these Playoffs and in this system. I’m excited for Homestead next week. I think we’ve got a really good shot at going out there and being a surprise winner.”
Matt Tifft was 14 points below the Playoff cutline and he was unable to advance to the Championship round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Tifft finished sixth and ninth in the two Stages.
“We made a run at it, just a little too tight at the end there,” Tifft told NBC Sports. “I can’t thank my Go Green team enough for their effort all season long. We’ll be giving it our all and go for a win next weekend”.
Justin Allagier entered Saturday’s event 12 points below the Playoff cutline. Allgaier won the opening two stages, but Allgaier sustained damage to his right front bumper. The driver of the No. 7 was unable to overcome the damage. Allgaier ultimately finished 24th after leading 69 laps.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Allgaier said. “But we did everything we could in the first two stages. We had a really fast Brandt Camaro. We had a lot of trouble today, seeing our pit stall. It was really difficult to see where we were at and navigate that. I lost us some spots on pit road.
“Ultimately, put ourselves in a bad position. Got some damage and we lost the brakes there at the end. At that point it was just about survival, finishing the race and getting as many points as we could gain.”
Christopher Bell, Daniel Hemric, Tyler Reddick, and Cole Custer will all go for their first NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship next Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on NBC).
Matt Courson is the Managing Editor for The Racing Experts. Courson has covered NASCAR events at 19 of the 23 active racetracks. When not at the track, the 20-year-old Journalism major enjoys spending time with family and playing Ingress.