Stewart-Haas Racingâs Cole Custer closed out the opening round of the three-round, seven-race 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs by winning the Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway.
Before this 200-lap race around the four-turn, 1.0-mile (1.609-kilometer) high-banked Monster Mile oval in Dover, Delaware even started, Custer had already locked himself into the round of 8 from the round of 12, as had Joe Gibbs Racingâs Christopher Bell, whose shot at the victory was hampered by a fuel pressure issue.
Throughout this race, several other drivers clinched their spots in the round of 8 as fewer and fewer points became available for those below the round of 8 cut line.
At the end of the race, the same eight drivers who started the race above the round of 8 cut line finished the race above it.
As a result, GMS Racingâs John Hunter Nemechek, Joe Gibbs Racingâs Brandon Jones, Kaulig Racingâs Justin Haley and RSS Racingâs Ryan Sieg were eliminated from championship contention.
The battle at the round of 8 cut line between Haley and JR Motorsportsâ Michael Annett, who landed in the eighth and final transfer spot above this cut line, was tight at times throughout the race, but Annett was ultimately above to finish where he needed to finish to stay ahead of Nemechek.
Annett started this race at the back of the field, but he ended up finishing in seventh place as the seventh and final driver on the lead lap. Nemechek finished in eighth.
Set to join Custer, Bell and Annett in the round of 8 are regular season champion Tyler Reddick of Richard Childress Racing, Team Penskeâs Austin Cindric, JR Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson and Stewart-Haas Racingâs Chase Briscoe.
Here is the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff picture following the 2019 Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway.
Rank â Driver â Car, Team, Manufacturer: Points (Behind), Playoff Points (Rank)
1st â Christopher Bell â #20, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota: 3062 (+48), 62 (1st)
2nd â Cole Custer â #00, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford: 3050 (+36), 50 (2nd)
3rd â Tyler Reddick â #2, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet: 3044 (+30), 44 (3rd)
4th â Austin Cindric â #22, Team Penske, Ford: 3017 (+3), 17 (4th)
âââââââââ CHAMPIONSHIP 4 CUT LINE âââââââââ
5th â Justin Allgaier â #7, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet: 3014 (-3), 14 (5th)
6th â Chase Briscoe â #98, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford: 3013 (-4), 13 (6th)
7th â Michael Annett â #1, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet: 3009 (-8), 9 (7th)
8th â Noah Gragson â #9, JR Motorsports, Chevrolet: 3005 (-12), 5 (8th)
Want your voice heard? Join the Beyond The Flag team!
The opening race of the round of 8 of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs is the Kansas Lottery 300, which is scheduled to take place at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas on Saturday, October 19. This race is set to be broadcast live on NBC beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.