As fans of the sport will know, NASCAR stands for National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Its Cup Series is one of the most prestigious annual motorsports events, and is as popular in the US as Formula 1 is in much of the rest of the world.

NASCAR can be confusing for newcomers though, because it has several racing levels. The National ones are the Cup Series, Craftman Truck Series, ARCA Menards Series and Xfinity Series.

It is the last of those that we will be looking at in more detail in this article.

What is NASCAR Xfinity?

The various NASCAR racing categories are not selected at random. They represent different rankings, with the Cup Series being the top level and the most coveted one for stock car racing drivers to compete in.

Xfinity Series is the one just below it in the rankings. In that sense, it is the equivalent of Formula 2, as the competitors are mostly young drivers looking to eventually graduate to the Cup Series. 

However what makes Xfinity Series unusual is that top drivers from the Cup Series can enter races in it as well. For a long time, leading names in NASCAR would compete in Xfinity Series events during free days to keep themselves sharp.

Among them are such star drivers as Kyle Busch, who is the winner of the highest number of Xfinity races, and the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr. This practice earned criticism from some because it was felt that it robbed younger drivers of their chances, although some of those drivers indicated that competing against the very best helped them to improve.

Cup Series drivers are now restricted to competing in that championship.

Xfinity Series and Cup Series Differences

There are few differences in terms of the actual cars used in the two championships. Xfinity mostly uses the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang vehicles driven at the higher level and deploys the same potent engines and specialist fittings like race car alloy wheels.

There is some variation though. Firstly, the NASCAR Cup Series races feature a total of 16 drivers in each event, whereas with Xfinity Series races, the maximum number allowed is 12.

There are also some minor changes to the vehicles. The Xfinity cars have a smaller grid size capacity and wheelbases that are marginally shorter. The difference is very small, at 105 inches compared with 110 inches.

They are also usually more lightweight than Cup Series cars, often by as much as 100 pounds. The final notable variance between them is that the Cup Series races attract more lucrative and glamorous sponsorship, due to their greater prestige and more high profile drivers.

Winning NASCAR Xfinity Series

Since 2016 the Xfinity Series has utilized the same play-off format as the Cup Series. However it features seven races instead of 10, with two elimination rounds.

12 drivers make it into the playoffs and each round sees the four lowest placed drivers drop out after the race. As usual, this year is proving to be ultra-competitive.

Among the favorites for the title this season are John Hunter Nemecheck, Austin Hill, Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier. Custer took the glory at the recent Pacific Office Automation 147 race, held in Portland, but Allgaier pushed him right to the end and came in second.

It was a disappointing race for Nemecheck, but he is still the favorite with some sports betting sites and leads the standings with 522 points and two wins so far. Allgaier and Custer sit in third and fourth position respectively.

The winner last season was Ty Gibbs, who took the title from Daniel Hemric after two seasons. Gibbs has now graduated to the Cup Series.

Xfinity Series is like a training school for the Cup Series of NASCAR but it also offers its own brand of excitement.