Categories
Commentary

NASCAR’s Overtime Line Leaves Fans Disappointed

Saturday’s XFINITY Series race from Richmond International Raceway was a good one overall – but few will remember that.

The main takeaway from the event was not the Dash 4 Cash, the close, multi-groove racing, or even the exciting late-race restarts. Instead, the focus was on the race-ending caution during a NASCAR overtime attempt.

A crash with two laps to go, shortly after the leaders crossed the overtime line, initiated a caution flag – or at least in theory. The caution lights illuminated, signaling that the field would be frozen to determine the finishing order of the race, but the flag stand never displayed the yellow until well after the leaders took the white.

As one would expect, confusion struck the field, particularly the two leaders, Kyle Larson and Justin Allgaier, who continued to race at full speed for the victory because of their uncertainty.

NASCAR argued on Monday that the field should know to slow down when the caution lights flash, contradicting statements from previous years that have led people to believe that the flag stand always overrules the lights. Specifically, this way of thinking has come up in moments when the caution lights are accidentally triggered, which happened in 2014 at Bristol. In that instance, NASCAR did not freeze the field until the flag stand reacted to the mistake.

The finish was a mess and part of the blame falls on NASCAR’s officiating. However, the confusing nature is only a portion of the overall issue. Simply put, the overtime rules need an overhaul.

NASCAR has gone to extreme lengths to produce exciting racing. From constant playoff and points changes, to race format updates, to regular rules package alterations, hardly anything ever stays the same to reach this goal.

Yet, despite NASCAR’s efforts to stand out in a competitive entertainment industry, races still end under caution. Every week, the part of the race that is supposed to be most exciting can also be the most anticlimactic.

Fans are asked to tune into three or four hour races – arguably too long to begin with – and are sometimes rewarded with the field taking the checkered flag at 50 mph. Something with this logic does not add up.

The overtime line was developed under the suggestion of the driver’s council, proving that the stars of the sport can sometimes have too much power and what is best for them is not always ideal for the fans.

An argument NASCAR frequently makes is that having unlimited attempts at overtime would create endless restarts and force races to drag on for too long. Yet, many in the NASCAR industry also enjoy making fun of ARCA drivers for constant crashing, yet that series guarantees a green flag finish each race and has no issues effectively and reasonably providing fans with just that. If drivers from a lower level of stock car racing can do it, certainly NASCAR’s best are capable of such a feat.

Even if they were not, and there were multiple attempts at finishing the race, at least something exciting is happening and the sanctioning body is letting it play out to completion. If there is any part of the race that needs shortening, it’s the middle portion, not the closing laps, which can be the most thrilling.

Fans invest a lot into a race, whether it is time, money or both. The least the sanctioning body can do is provide them with a finish.

If a caution is absolutely necessary as the leaders are in turn four coming to the checkered, throw the yellow. But, after that, line them up and go for it again.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @TravisBarend

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Commanding Performance Earns Allgaier Second ‘Dash 4 Cash’ Victory

NASCAR XFINITY Series ‘Dash 4 Cash’ races are designed to bring out the best among series regulars with $100,000 on the line. The added incentive has created competitive racing through each of its three events so far this season and led to standout performances from the drivers in contention for the prize.

Previous D4D winners, Justin Allgaier in Phoenix and Daniel Hemric in Bristol earned opportunities to compete for the bonus in the Final Stage after being the top running series regulars following Stage 1.

After capturing his first career series pole, Hemric led early and ran in the top-five throughout the Stage. Allgaier quickly progressed after starting sixth, and led 11 laps before finishing runner-up. 

Kyle Benjamin earned a D4C spot in his series debut for Joe Gibbs Racing following a strong performance in Stage 2 and placed sixth. Elliott Sadler’s ninth-place run also put him in contention for the $100,000 in the Final Stage for the second time this season.

When the Final Stage went green, there was no stopping Allgaier. After winning Stage 2, he restarted second and regained the lead with 85 laps remaining.

An untimely yellow flag with 11 laps remaining and ensuing pit stops placed Allgaier second for the restart after Ty Dillon gambled for track position and took two tires. Another caution quickly slowed the field again and set up an Overtime finish.

Allgaier entered Turn 1 side-by-side with Kyle Larson but couldn’t remain on his outside exiting Turn 2. As Larson pulled ahead, a crash back in the pack brought out the race-ending yellow flag as the leaders had crossed the Overtime line.

Larson went onto to score the victory while Allgaier came home second and claimed his second D4C win of the year. However, his disappointment from narrowly missing out on victory after leading a race-high 157 laps overshadowed picking up the bonus.

“Ultimately we came here to win the race and had a great opportunity to do that and unfortunately at the end of the race, the whole race, the wheels fell off of it,” Allgaier said.”It just felt like everything went haywire there at the end and unfortunately we ultimately paid the biggest price and didn’t get to go to Victory Lane.”

One Dash 4 Cash contest remains this season when Dover International Speedway hosts the XFINITY Series regulars’ last shot to earn an additional $100,000.

While Allgaier won’t be eligible for the $1,000,000 awarded to a driver who captures all four D4C wins, he will aim to pick up his third prize.

Hemric will have an opportunity to qualify for the XFINITY Series playoffs with a Dash 4 Cash victory at Dover but Allgaier may give him a run for his money

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @HeyJasonSchultz

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Impressive Run Leads Hemric to ‘Dash 4 Cash’ Prize

Daniel Hemric is at his best when competing at Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s one of his strongest tracks as he scored two-top five finishes while competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

In his first NASCAR XFINITY Series start at “Thunder Valley” on Saturday, the combination of his past success and the added incentive to perform well through the ‘Dash 4 Cash’ program led to his best run of the season.

Hemric earned his position among the four D4C competitors after winning Stage 2 by staying out late. Brendan Gaughan used the same strategy to give Richard Childress Racing two opportunities to claim the $100,000.

Cole Custer and Phoenix D4C winner Justin Allgaier accounted for the other two drivers racing for the D4C in the Final Stage after earning their positions following Stage 1.

Competing for the bonus became a game of survival as the laps counted down in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300.

Gaughan crashed into the inside frontstretch wall on Lap 245 and sustained heavy damage that ended his day following contact with Darrell Wallace Jr.

Brandon Jones broke loose, began to spin, and hit the side of Custer’s car while racing down the backstretch to initiate the next caution. Unable to beat the five-minute clock, Custer’s day would come to an end as a result of significant left-side damage. 

Allgaier kept pace with Hemric for a majority of the Final Stage but contact with teammate William Byron with seven laps to go would send both cars spinning and Allgaier would find himself too deep in the field to recover.

Hemric remained as the lone D4C competitor up front on the final restart. He crossed the finish line in fifth and scored his first career top-five in the XFINITY Series to capture the D4C prize.

By winning Stage 2, Hemrick gained his first playoff point of the season. Another D4C victory at Richmond or Dover would earn him a spot among the 12 drivers competing for the championship.

He’ll visit Richmond for the first time next Saturday where his short track racing prowess could play in his favor and be back in contention for a second D4C prize.

If he’s unable to pick up the incentive next week, Dover will present one last opportunity in June. It may be his best shot as he has two top-10 finishes in the Truck Series at the “Monster Mile,” including a fourth-place finish in 2015.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @HeyJasonSchultz

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Feature NASCAR Cup Series

Bristol Favors Surprise Contenders

Restrictor plate tracks have often been known as the great equalizers in NASCAR. The unpredictability that often defines races at Daytona and Talladega provides an opportunity for smaller teams to succeed.

Bristol Motor Speedway may not immediately come to mind as a track in this category, but it has produced similar characteristics in its races through recent years.

Dating back to August 2013, many competitors have posted breakout performances at “The Last Great Colosseum.”

Striking a balance between patience and aggressiveness is critical at short tracks and road courses. This allowed road racing aces Juan Pablo Montoya and Marcos Ambrose to perform well at Bristol. In the 2013 night race, they finished third and eighth respectively.

In March 2014, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. captured his best career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finish of second while Aric Almirola placed third, and Ambrose had another strong run and ended up fifth.

Stenhouse Jr. again impressed many in the next two events, finishing sixth in August 2014 and fourth in April 2015. Justin Allgaier and Danica Patrick also performed well in April, placing eighth and ninth respectively.

One year ago, smaller organizations thrived at Bristol. Front Row Motorsports’ Landon Cassill led 20 laps, and BK Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto scored the team’s highest result in its five years of existence by finishing sixth.

Roush Fenway Racing found more success last season as Trevor Bayne placed fifth in April and Stenhouse finished runner-up in August. Chris Buescher also ran well in August, coming home fifth in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford that shares a technical alliance with RFR.

Many of these performances marked career highs for the competitors, attesting to Bristol’s ability to favor surprise contenders.

RFR has struggled in recent seasons, but Bristol has often shown promise for the organization. Bayne’s top-five performance last April stood as his best non-plate track finish of the season, and his finest performance since winning the 2011 DAYTONA 500.

Bristol is Stenhouse Jr.’s best track on the schedule as he holds an average finish of 10.6. Of his eight career top-five performances, three have come at the track, and in his last six Bristol starts, he has posted four top-10 finishes.

A victory would be monumental for RFR. Bristol may present their best opportunity to achieve this feat and break their winless streak that dates back to Carl Edwards’ win at Sonoma in 2014.

Along with the classic short-track racing atmosphere, the unknown factor playing a larger role adds intrigue heading into the Food City 500. Whether its RFR or another small team, surprise contenders may make some noise on Sunday.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @HeyJasonSchultz

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Commentary

XFINITY SERIES: Five on Five

The Five on Five feature will break out some of the key points in each of the previous five races for the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Here’s a peek at Daytona through Fontana.

Five Races, Five Different Winners

A lot has been made about five different winners this season so far in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. However, the same could be said for the XFINITY Series, as well. Each week, a new face has visited victory lane this season, with no team able to win multiple events.

Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Reed put together a run en route to winning the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. Cup regulars Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske) took victories the following weeks, before series regular Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports) captured the Dash for the Cash and the win at Phoenix International Raceway. Kyle Larson completed the string with a win for Chip Ganassi Racing last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Can the trend continue? It is possible as there’s plenty of series regulars running up front weekly, like Elliott Sadler and Darrell Wallace Jr. There’s also other Cup regulars who will be running XFINITY events, such as Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski.

It is highly unlikely a sixth straight different team will win, though, with each of the series’ frontrunners having scored their first victory of 2017. However, Stewart-Haas Racing could make it happen at Texas Motor Speedway with Cole Custer and Kevin Harvick. There’s also a possibility for Richard Childress Racing to win, based on the strength of rookie Daniel Hemric and Austin Dillon this year.

No Race Wins Still for the No. 22

Since Keselowski won at Texas Motor Speedway in October 2015 behind the wheel of the No. 22, the car has yet to return to victory lane. Team Penske has scored wins – three for Logano, but those came with the No. 12 entry.

The organization’s top car going 40 races without a win is unheard of, considering it was just a couple years ago they were winning multiple events and owner’s championships.

Truthfully, it’s only a matter of time before they break the drought. Since October, they’ve scored 20 top-fives, including a runner-up the past two weeks with Blaney (Phoenix) and Logano (California). They’ve also led 168 laps this year with the No. 22 entry in five races, versus leading 146 last year in the last 14 races.

JRM Reigns Supreme

Last year, the XFINITY Series was led by JR Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, with Daniel Suarez capturing the championship for JGR. This season, it appears Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s organization is the cream of the crop. Their drivers currently take up the top-three spots in the standings with veteran Sadler leading William Byron and Allgaier.

Nobody is caught off-guard, though, as both Sadler and Allgaier made the Championship 4 last year in the series and are working with the same guys in 2017. Byron may be the new suspect to JRM this year, but recall he won seven truck series races last year for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

The focus is now getting Michael Annett up in fourth behind them, who currently sits eighth in points. The Iowa native hasn’t been too far off, scoring four top-15 finishes this year with a best of ninth at Phoenix.

“We need to be up where our teammates are,” Annett told POPULAR SPEED earlier this month. “We’ve got three teammates that are in the top-five in points. We need to be up there with them and have the same goals as they do, which is to get as many points as possible, win races, be in there Chase at the end, and be in the group going into Homestead for the championship. I think looking at all the resources that we have and the teammates that I have, the guys I am surrounded by, if that wasn’t our goal, then I shouldn’t even be showing up to the track each weekend.”

Way to go, Rookies!

When word got out about who was moving up to XFINITY for 2017, a lot of people predicted a great Rookie of the Year battle. So far, those predictions are right. Five races in the books, and there’s a pair of rookies in the top-10 in points.

Beyond Byron, as mentioned above, Hemric is seventh in points after scoring two top-10s in the first five races. Hemric proved he’d be a driver to watch this season by running in the top-five throughout the day at Phoenix International Raceway en route to seventh.

Custer is just outside of the top-10 (12th), but it’s not for lack of effort. He’s running in the top-10 each race but has finished outside of the top-20 the past two weeks due to crashes. Before that, he had finished 10th at Atlanta and 11th at Las Vegas.

One of these drivers could score their first career victory at Texas in a couple of weeks as the track has been kind to rookies – just ask Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, Trevor Bayne and Earnhardt Jr.

The Improvement of Roush Fenway

During the off-season, Roush Fenway Racing committed to making their team stronger by moving personnel around and hiring some new faces. It appears their efforts have paid off so far.

Last year, Reed finished eighth in points with Darrell Wallace Jr. in 11th. Five races in the books this year, Reed currently sits fourth with Wallace fifth. Reed only scored one top-five last year – but has already done so this year, while Wallace scored four top-10s in five races compared to nine in 33 last year. Notably, Wallace has finished sixth for four straight weeks.

So what now? While Reed has visited victory lane, Wallace still needs to make that happen. Given that he’s just outside of the top-five, it’s only a matter of time before his team figures out how to break through.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Wallace, Sadler Among Next Candidates for Victory Lane

For a couple of weeks, it seemed as though this season would be another dominated by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars visiting victory lane in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. However, perhaps the prediction was wrong.

Justin Allgaier held off Cup drivers Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney to score the victory on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway. In doing so, he became the second series regular to visit victory lane this season, following Ryan Reed‘s victory at Daytona International Speedway. With four races in the books, the score is even with two wins each side.

In part, the change is due to NASCAR’s new rule limiting Cup drivers with more than five years experience to 10 XFINITY Series events a season, and not to be part of the XFINITY Series Dash for Cash events, like Phoenix. As a result, the likes of Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski were missing from Saturday’s field and won’t get to run 18 to 25 races like they did in the past.

With this weekend being a non-Dash for Cash event and still early in the year with nobody near their limit, this weekend the chances will be slimmer than other weeks. Six Cup drivers will be the field – Paul Menard, Ty Dillon, Busch, Jones, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. There’s also the factor that Cup regulars have beat XFINITY drivers in the last 20 races at Auto Club Speedway, including seven wins for Busch and a pair for Logano.

But, is there a possibility of XFINITY Series drivers continuing the trend? Absolutely.

There are a bunch of young – and some a little older too – drivers in top-tier cars for organizations with Cup Series ties. With the fluid of top-five finishes thus far this year, a quick car combined with the right strategy could pay off in a big way.

Here are five drivers with a chance to make it happen:

1. Darrell Wallace Jr. enters the weekend with the best average finish of series regulars at Auto Club Speedway, with a 7.5 after finishes of 12th and third the past two years. His Roush Fenway Racing team also seems to have things going their way right now, as noted with a sixth place finish in each of the last three races.

2. Elliott Sadler knows what it takes to beat the Cup stars, having done so for many years in the series. He also has run well in California in the past, as noted with a top-10 in each of his last six starts at the intermediate oval. Notably, the JR Motorsports driver hasn’t ever finished better than fifth. This year has been solid so far for Sadler, as he enters this weekend as the series points leader with a top-eight finish in each of the last three races, including a pair of fifths.

3. Brandon Jones has only made one trip to California, resulting in a ninth place finish. While it’s just one statistic to his name, the Richard Childress Racing seems to get stronger with each trip to a race track, though. Notably, he has yet to post a top-10 yet this season, with his best finish being 14th.

4. William Byron will be making his first trip to Auto Club Speedway this year but has shown the rookie learning curve isn’t slowing him down this year with no finishes outside of the top-15, including a fourth last weekend at Phoenix. Notably, five of his seven Camping World Truck Series victories last year came on an intermediate track.

5. Brennan Poole has raced out in California previously, posting a 13th place finish last season. It also seems that he’s off to a decent start this year, currently sitting seventh in points after posting his first top-10 of the season at Phoenix.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement

Categories
XFINITY

Allgaier Captures ‘Dash 4 Cash’ As New Format Debuts

The first of four Dash 4 Cash races this season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series added some extra incentive for series regulars on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.

The DC Solar 200 also marked the debut of the new D4C format that featured the first two stages of the event deciding which four series regulars would compete for the $100,000 bonus in the final stage of the race.

Following Stage 1, pole-sitter William Byron and Elliott Sadler locked themselves in a position to compete for the prize money in the last stage.

Byron finished Stage 1 third while Sadler passed JR Motorsports teammate and eventual race winner Justin Allgaier late in the stage to take the D4C position and finish fifth.

In Stage 2, Allgaier bounced back and finished second, securing his eligibility for the $100,000 in the Final Stage. Tyler Reddick earned the final spot among the four D4C competitors in his first career D4C event.

Once the final stage went green, Allgaier had command over his three competitors. Reddick briefly passed Allgaier after his No. 42 Chevrolet team took two tires on pit road during a late restart. However, Allgaier’s four tires proved superior, and he quickly navigated his way back to the front.

Multiple late restarts stacked up the field and allowed Sadler and Byron to close in on Allgaier. When the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet was trapped behind leader Erik Jones for many laps, Sadler came within a few car lengths, but once Allgaier passed the No. 20 Reser’s Main Street Bistro Toyota, he didn’t lose the lead again in the race.

Allgaier then perfected the final few restarts and crossed the finish line first, picking up both the race win and $100,000 bonus.

Byron came closest to Allgaier, finishing fourth while Sadler came home fifth and Reddick ended the race in 14th-place.

For the second consecutive year, the winner of the first D4C race of the year also ended the event in Victory Lane. Jones won last year at Bristol Motor Speedway and cashed in on the $100,000.

Now Allgaier will have the opportunity to compete for $1,000,000 if he’s able to claim each of the three remaining D4C prizes.

He will first battle for the money again at Bristol next month, then Richmond International Raceway, and finally during the D4C finale at Dover International Speedway in June.

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @HeyJasonSchultz

EMAIL JASON AT jason.schultz@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
News

Justin Allgaier Perseveres to Win NASCAR XFINITY Race in Phoenix

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) – AVONDALE, Ariz. – Justin Allgaier popped a tire during his celebratory burnout after Saturday’s DC Solar 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.

But you can forgive the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet if he was a trifle rusty with his donuts—Allgaier hadn’t been to Victory Lane in the NASCAR XFINITY Series since August in 2012 at the road course in Montreal.

On a blistering afternoon that brought emotions to a boil at the one-mile race track in the Sonoran Desert, Allgaier sailed away with a magnificent restart with four laps left and finished .741 seconds ahead of runner-up Ryan Blaney, who started 33rd after inspection issues kept him off the grid during qualifying earlier in the day.

“You have no idea how proud I am of you,” Allgaier radioed to his team after he crossed the finish line and broke an 80-race drought.

After climbing from the car, Allgaier began to digest what he had just accomplished, not the least of which was claiming the $100,000 bonus in the first Dash 4 Cash race of the season. The victory was Allgaier’s fourth in the series.

“Last year was tough,” Allgaier said of a winless 2016, his first year with JRM. “We had really good runs all year but we weren’t able to get to Victory Lane. This was the same group of guys we had last year, and to be able to do it here in Phoenix and win the first Xfinity Dash 4 Cash race…

“This is a team effort. We had four really good JR Motorsports hot rods out there.”

In fact, with polesitter William Byron running fourth and series leader Elliott Sadler coming home fifth, JRM put three cars in the top five and four in the top nine (with Michael Annett finishing ninth).

With 10 laps left, contact from Cole Custer’s Ford sent Austin Dillon’s No. 2 Chevrolet hard into the outside wall, collecting Ryan Sieg’s Chevrolet in the process. After caution flew on Lap 191, Dillon rode Custer’s car into the outside wall, earning a summons to the NASCAR hauler for Dillon and crew chief Justin Alexander.

“He over-drove the corner and took us out with it,” Dillon said after exiting the infield care center.

Dillon wasn’t particularly apprehensive about the meeting with NASCAR.

“We’ll probably just have a Coke and discuss things,” he said optimistically.

Custer took full responsibility for the incident.

“It was 100-percent my fault,” said the Sunoco rookie driver. “I got in there too deep, got really loose going in and couldn’t put any wheel into it. That was pretty much it. Just all my fault. Something that won’t happen again. We had a great race leading up to that.

“We didn’t start out at all how we wanted to, but by the end we were probably a fifth- to eighth-place car. I thought that was a really good sign for us. I thought we had a really good Haas Automation Ford. It’s unfortunate I cost us and the 2 car there.”

Under the circumstances, Custer wasn’t surprised at Dillon’s retaliation.

“It definitely sucks for us points-wise, but I guess you can kind of expect that when he gets taken out,” Custer said. “I can understand how frustrated he is about it. It is what it is. I will try not to have that happen again.”

Categories
Commentary

Three Takeaways: DC Solar 200

Justin Allgaier snapped an 80-race winless streak by winning the DC Solar 200 on Saturday afternoon at Phoenix International Raceway.

The win was Allgaier’s first since 2012 and secured his spot in this season’s XFINITY Series playoffs.

Allgaier cashes in:

In addition to the victory, Allgaier also took home the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Allgaier’s weekend was about as flawless as it gets. After qualifying fifth, he ran in the top five all day while leading a race-high 85 laps.

Momentum now appears to clearly be on Allgaier’s side with a win and back-to-back top-five finishes heading into next week’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

JR Motorsports flexes muscle:

JR Motorsports as a team enjoyed success across the board in Saturday’s race at Phoenix.

In addition to Allgaier’s win, William Byron finished fourth after starting from the pole, and Elliott Sadler finished fifth. Michael Annett ended up ninth.

Sadler maintains an 11-point lead over Byron in the championship standings heading into Fontana next week.

If the early season success is any indication it appears that JRM could be well-represented come November at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Championship 4.

Suarez’s day ends early:

Saturday was none too kind to reigning XFINITY champion Daniel Suarez.

After failing to get through pre-qualifying inspection, he was forced to start from the rear before the green flag.

Suarez quickly made his way up into the top 20 by Lap 10 but his day ended on the very next lap after hard contact with the outside wall leaving him to settle for a 39th place finish.

“I don’t really know what happened. I just know that I wasn’t racing yet,” said Suarez. “The 51 (Jeremy Clements) hit me in the right rear, and then I had a flat tire, and I hit the wall. Just a little disappointed at the way that those guys race back there. It’s way, way too early in the race to be racing like that. We have more than 150 laps to go, so it’s way, way too early.”

 EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Golden Opportunity: NXS Regulars Have Chance to Shine

With a limited presence of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars in the NASCAR XFINITY Series field, this weekend is a golden opportunity for series. Perhaps even one of them could use it to their advantage and to try to earn a win to punch their ticket to the XFINITY Series Playoffs which start at Kentucky in September.

Notably, Heavy Hitters such as all-time NXS wins leader Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson will not be a part of the field for Saturday’s DC Solar 200.

The Cup Series regulars have dominated the last two NXS races. At Atlanta, the Cup Series regulars led all 163 laps with Busch leading 26 to score the victory. At Las Vegas, it was more of the same as Logano dominated throughout leading 106 of the 200 laps. Coming into this weekend’s race at Phoenix, the Cup Series regulars have won the last nine NXS races at the one-mile oval.

With the door of opportunity open, let’s take a look at who could contend for the win this weekend.

Justin Allgaier has proven that he is one of the best when it comes to short track racing. Allgaier scored his first career series win at Bristol in 2010 and has been up front in his last four NXS races at Phoenix, scoring four top-fives with a best finish of second coming in 2013. He has only one finish outside the top-15 in his career at PIR. So far in 2017, Allgaier has one top-five finish coming at Las Vegas this past weekend.

Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler figures to be in the hunt as well once the green flag falls on Saturday. The 2012 Spring race winner has been a picture of consistency in the last eight races at Phoenix, finishing inside the top-10 in six of those races. This year has started out slow for Sadler, finishing 24th at Daytona, but he has rebounded to finish fifth and eighth respectively the last two races.

Darrell Wallace Jr. has found Phoenix International Raceway tough sledding in his first four NXS starts at the one-mile oval. However, Wallace Jr. comes into this weekend off the heels of back-to-back top-10 finishes at Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Series rookie Cole Custer might hold the winning formula at Phoenix. Custer has enjoyed success in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, winning there in 2014, and also has posted a top-five and two top-10 finishes in Truck Series competition there. Saturday’s race at Phoenix will mark Custer’s NXS debut at the track.

Even though the heavy hitters aren’t in the field this week, there is still plenty of competition being offered by the Cup Series regulars led by 2013 NXS champion Austin Dillon and the reigning series champion Daniel Suarez. Erik Jones will also be in the field as will Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon.

While the opportunity is there for the NXS regulars, the competition and intensity will still be ramped up as the Cup regulars look to spoil the party for the third consecutive weekend.

EMAIL JUSTIN at tuckerjustin65@yahoo.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @JustinTuckerWeb

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.