The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs begin Saturday — a seven-race battle among 12 title-eligible drivers for the championship. First up is the Round of 12, featuring Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Four contenders will then be eliminated before the Round of 8, which will include Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. Afterward, the Championship 4 will be set and take on Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 6 in a straight-up race for the ultimate trophy.
Here are the 12 drivers (and how they qualified) vying for the title, in order of their seeding: Austin Cindric (five wins), AJ Allmendinger (four wins; regular-season championship), Justin Allgaier (two wins), Noah Gragson (two wins), Justin Haley (a win), Daniel Hemric (points), Jeb Burton (a win), Harrison Burton (points), Myatt Snider (a win), Brandon Jones (points), Riley Herbst (points) and Jeremy Clements (points).
Now, a Round of 12 track-by-track breakdown:
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
(📅 Saturday | ⏰ 7:30 p.m. ET | 📺 NBCSN | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Length: 1.5 miles
Distance: 201 laps, 302 miles
Previous winner: AJ Allmendinger (March 6, 2021)
AJ Allmendinger won the regular-season race at Las Vegas earlier this year, leading 44 of the 200 laps. In addition to Allmendinger, there were seven other playoff drivers in the top 10 at the checkered flag – Daniel Hemric (second), Brandon Jones (third), Austin Cindric (fourth), Noah Gragson (fifth), Justin Haley (eighth), Harrison Burton (ninth) and Jeb Burton (10th).
Justin Allgaier has the most Las Vegas experience, which led to the most top-five and top-10 finishes, too. He has never won there, though. Only Allmendinger has won at Las Vegas before. It was in his only start, giving him a perfect average finish. Otherwise, Gragson has the best average finish.
(📅 Oct. 2 | ⏰ 4:30 p.m. ET | 📺 NBCSN | 📻 MRN, SiriusXM)
Location: Talladega, Alabama
Length: 2.66 miles
Distance: 113 laps, 300.58 miles
Previous winner: Jeb Burton (April 24, 2021)
Jeb Burton held on to win at Talladega earlier this season in a rain-shortened event. He led 20 of the 90 laps (was supposed to be a 113-lap event). Seven other title contenders were in the top 10 when the race was called – Austin Cindric (second), AJ Allmendinger (third), Riley Herbst (fourth), Noah Gragson (sixth), Justin Haley (eighth), Myatt Snither (ninth) and Harrison Burton (10th).
Justin Allgaier and Jeremy Clements tie for the most career Talladega starts. Haley has the most wins and is the only driver with multiple victories. He also boasts the best average finish. Cindric and Allgaier match on top fives, and Allgaier holds the most top 10s.
CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROVAL
(📅 Oct. 9 | ⏰ 3 p.m. ET | 📺 NBC | 📻 PRN, SiriusXM)
Location: Concord, North Carolina
Length: 2.32 miles
Distance: 67 laps, 155.44 miles
Previous winner: AJ Allmendinger (Oct. 10, 2020)
AJ Allmendinger won the 2020 playoff race as a non-playoff driver, holding the front spot for 12 of the 68 laps that went into overtime (regulation was 67 laps). He is in the 2021 postseason field, though, and there were four others like him now in the top 10 – Noah Gragson (second), Daniel Hemric (third), Austin Cindric (sixth) and Brandon Jones (10th).
The Charlotte Roval was introduced in 2018. Cindric, Jones, Justin Allgaier and Jeremy Clements are the only playoff drivers who have competed in every event there. Even still, Allmendinger is the only one who has won, and he did so in both his starts, leaving him with a perfect average finish. Otherwise, Gragson has the best average finish. Allmendinger, Cindric and Gragson match in top-five finishes. Cindric boasts the most top-10 results. Jeb Burton has never raced the Charlotte Roval layout.