The NASCAR Xfinity Series has long been known as a place for a young driver to make a name for himself. Among those who have used their success in the circuit to earn a Cup ride the last few years are Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, Christopher Bell, and Chase Briscoe. This year it could be Noah Gragson's turn.
After three straight top-10 finishes in the points standings, Gragson may be ready to break through in a big way in 2022. But if it's not him, there are plenty of other candidates waiting in the wings, hoping to master enough of the series' 33-race schedule to claim the championship come November.
NASCAR Xfinity Series' Top 10 Drivers for 2022
1. Noah Gragson
A ball of emotions and talent, Gragson has taken advantage of the mentorship of his car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and developed into a consistent threat to win. If he continues on this track, he can become a threat for the title as well.
2. Ty Gibbs
The only thing that will keep Gibbs from celebrating a championship is inexperience, but he has shown to be a quick study with 18 ARCA wins in just three years. He also finished 13th in Xfinity points starting just 18 of the 33 races, with four wins. Gragson earns the role of favorite because of the experience factor, but Gibbs could very well be the dominant force all season.
3. AJ Allmendinger
No one had a better season in 2021 than Allmendinger, but an ill-timed off day in the finale at Phoenix cost him the championship. A full season’s worth of knowledge and momentum will only bolster his chances in 2022.
4. Daniel Hemric
A change of teams might slow him down early, but he’s coming in with the championship trophy in his case and a seat in the series’ newest powerhouse organization, Kaulig Racing. He could become the eighth driver in series history to win back-to-back championships.
5. Justin Allgaier
A steady and solid veteran who continues to put himself in contention through wins and consistency, Allgaier will again be a factor in the Playoff battle with JR Motorsports, but he’ll need to maintain pace through the final weeks of the season if he hopes to make the final round.
6. Josh Berry
He showed in 2021 that he was a quick study, grasping the high speeds of the 1.5-mile tracks and scoring a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Berry’s inexperience won’t help down the stretch, but he could be a final four surprise.
7. Sheldon Creed
Creed has won titles on both rungs of the ladder leading to the Xfinity Series, 2018 in ARCA and 2020 in Trucks. He’s a charger, and much like Dale Earnhardt, who built RCR into a championship dynasty in the 1980s, he’s not there to make friends.
8. Sam Mayer
The talented Wisconsin teenager dominated the ARCA East in 2020, one of the few to give Ty Gibbs an honest run for his money in the last two years. A partial season of experience at JR Motorsports will help, and Mayer should be a threat to get his first career win right from the start.
9. Austin Hill
Hill departs the Truck Series, where he scored eight wins in the last three years, including two in 2021. He’ll team with the driver he fought for the Trucks title with in 2020 — Sheldon Creed at RCR — and both should contend for wins.
10. Riley Herbst
Quiet off the track, the Las Vegas native started to make some noise on it in the final third of the 2021 season. Experience and confidence should combine to boost Herbst into the playoffs, perhaps with an elusive victory to come with Stewart-Haas Racing.