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XFINITY

Allgaier Earns First Top Five of 2017 at Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS — After finishing 30th in the first two races of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season, JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier earned his first top five of 2017.

Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet, finished fourth in Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and scored the most points out of all XFINITY regulars.

He also earned his first stage points under NASCAR’s new format. He scored six points in Stage 1 (finished fifth), eight points in Stage 2 (finished third) and totaled 47 points on the day.

“We got points all day, and we were a fourth-place car, and we finished fourth place, so no disappointment at all in that regard,” Allgaier said. “The pit crew was phenomenal all day, and that’s what it takes when you’re running up against these guys. But you have to have a perfect race.”

He didn’t have a stellar qualifying effort (started 13th) and made one mistake when he slid about two feet past his pit stall during a cycle of green-flag stops with 53 laps to go, but a few late cautions helped him climb back into contention for the win.

“Unfortunately, I put myself behind the eight ball and slid through the pit box there under a green-flag pit stop,” Allgaier said. “… We had a fast enough car, and we were able to rally back there.”

At Daytona, Allgaier was part of a 12-car wreck on Lap 29 and failed to finish Stage 1. In Atlanta, he made contact with the outside wall to avoid a sliding Ty Dillon on the second lap of the race but lost grip as he avoided the spin in Turn 2, damaging his racecar’s right side.

“We knew the first two races were just bad luck,” he said. “We knew we could run up front and we did that all day. That gives us momentum going into these next few West Coast races.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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

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XFINITY

ALLGAIER ON 2017: “This Sucks”

While some drivers have started off the 2017 season on a high, others haven’t gotten off to the start they hoped. One of those is Justin Allgaier, who has begun the season with a pair of 30th place finishes.

The season started off well as Allgaier ran up front at Daytona International Speedway, but found himself out of the event after being caught up in a wreck on the last lap of Stage 1. While the year didn’t start out well, the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet driver was confident he’d turn things around at Atlanta.

“You look at the schedule and say, ‘Okay, Daytona is very subjective in what the other cars are doing on the track, and everybody around them, the draft, all those things,'” he said on JR Motorsports’ Upfront Podcast. “So you say, Okay when you get to Atlanta, you’re ready. This is the first race where it’s not about luck, but going out there and laying it down everything you got and hopefully you got the speed to come away a winner.'”

Ultimately, the weekend didn’t start off as well as he hoped, struggling through the allotted practice time to get the car comfortable. As the third session ended, Allgaier felt they “were making headway” and “going in the right direction.” However, it didn’t translate over to qualifying as he started 16th.

Unfortunately, the race didn’t go much better as he got caught up in a wreck on the second lap.

“You think you have all the bad luck out of the way, and all the bad luck gone, and you start the race, and on Lap 2, you end up with a car spinning backwards in front of you, smoke everywhere, not sure on the direction that they’d go,” Allgaier said. “For us, our spotter TJ Majors did a good job trying to guide us through the crash. Unfortunately, I had a car inside of me, and Ty Dillon was spinning around, so I tried to go to the top to miss him and unfortunately, changing directions and running the speed we were running and the grip level, I ran out of grip and slid up into the wall hitting the right side hard enough to bend some right front suspension and tore the body up bad.”

Coming into the season after qualifying for the inaugural Chase last year, Allgaier was full of confidence. Though now after a rough start to the year, he admitted on the podcast that has taken a hit, left with the feeling that he let his guys down.

“We have the guys that go out on the road, the guys in the shop, the pit crew – you just feel like you’re letting all those guys and their families down,” he said. “As a racecar driver, you feel you have to carry the weight of the team. Not from the performance standpoint, from an emotion standpoint.”

Going into Las Vegas, Allgaier hopes to turn things around, but admits the hardest part is being a cheerleader right now and trying to get the guys pumped up.

“How do you look your guys in the eye and say, ‘Hey, we’ve had two terrible weeks, and it’s been frustrating. I know it’s tough and disappointing, but we’ll get them next week.’ and that’s not always the case,” he said. “You look at the next week and say, ‘Man, who’s to say we won’t run better at Las Vegas? What if something happens on Lap 1 and you crash again?’

“I think that’s the hardest part of this sport – when you’re up, you’re up, but when you’re down, it feels like getting kicked in the teeth over and over.”

Statistically, Las Vegas is a good track for Allgaier as he has finished in the top-15 in each of his previous six starts, with a career-best second in 2011 and five top-10s.

It’s now just about translating that to success on-track this weekend.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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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.

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XFINITY

XFINITY Drivers Comment on Hectic Daytona Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A lap before Stage 1 of the PowerShares QQQ 300 ended, the second “big one” of the day occurred in Turn 4 of Daytona International Speedway.

The accident collected a dozen cars and ended any opportunity of a win for many of the race’s favorites.

Pole winner Brandon Jones was on the outside of Richard Childress Racing teammate Daniel Hemric in Turn 4 and made just enough contact to get loose and shoot up the track into the wall.

He collected a few XFINITY Series stars including Justin Allgaier, Darrell Wallace Jr., and all three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers — Daniel Suarez, Matt Tifft, and Erik Jones.

“Unfortunately, we were a victim of circumstances — we were all just racing really hard there,” Allgaier said of the wreck. “I got clipped and got into the side the 33 [Brandon Jones], and that got us back into the outside wall.

“That was one of the hardest hits I’ve ever taken in my NASCAR career. It was a pretty head-on crash.”

Three laps before the melee, Speedy Dry was applied to the track during a red flag because of the first “big one” on the backstretch, which involved 20 cars — literally half the field.

Hemric’s No. 21 wiggled when he ran over it and cited that as part of the reason for the crash.

“It just felt like I was on ice and I slid up into the 7,” Hemric said.

Suarez, last year’s XFINITY champion, wasn’t pleased about the incident. He said, “I just feel like we have to be a little more smart — it’s a long race. I don’t know why we were racing like that really early.”

Some rumblings from the fans about yesterday’s event were that NASCAR’s new three-stage format played a significant role in the race’s narrative. Drivers want to be in the top 10 at the conclusion of a stage to earn extra points.

“I think the stages create a lot of urgency,” Brennan Poole, who was involved in a later accident on Lap 59, told POPULAR SPEED. “At a track like Daytona, it puts us in a position to try to get those extra points. I think yes, everyone is trying to get those extra points, but that’s just racing too, and that’s how it goes.”

Another reason could be the new aero package for XFINITY cars, which feature smaller rear spoilers and less downforce than in previous seasons.

“[The cars] are way different — entirely different than the way it’s been the last couple of years,” Poole said. “To me, it reminds me of the Cup cars. You saw guys moving around … I think it’s good, but you have to be patient, or there’s going to be a lot of accidents.”

Erik Jones, who makes his Daytona 500 debut on Sunday, said he was trying gain knowledge from the 300-mile race to help him on the Cup side.

He said, “It’s unfortunate because I was learning quite a bit for [Sunday]. Unfortunately, we just got caught up in a wreck. I don’t know if [the car] was good enough to win — we would have had to wait and see. It definitely was driving well in the hot conditions. I felt like we were aggressive and we put ourselves in as good a position as we could to try to avoid a wreck, it just didn’t work out.”

Perhaps it was a combination of a new rules package and the new race format that caused Saturday’s race to be such a crash fest. The cars become harder to handle with less downforce, and it puts more emphasis on the driver to control his car. But being in the top 10 at the end of a stage is crucial to the points standings too.

Your thoughts?

Did less downforce in the cars or the new stages cause a wild race on Saturday?

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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

Categories
News

Revamped Dash 4 Cash Program Returns to XFINITY Series in 2017

NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars will compete for an additional payout in four races again this season as the Dash 4 Cash program returns for its ninth season.

This year’s format has received a shakeup as heat races have been eliminated and the newly implemented race stages for NASCAR’s top three series will play a role in determining which drivers are eligible to battle for the $100,000 bonus.

Phoenix Raceway will host the first of four D4C races on March 18. Bristol Motor Speedway will then host the second event on April 22 followed by Richmond International Raceway on April 29 and the final race at Dover International Speedway on June 3.

With the elimination of heat races, regular Coors Light Pole Qualifying will set the starting lineup for D4C events.

During the event, the two highest finishers from Stage 1 and Stage 2 will determine the four NASCAR XFINITY Series regulars eligible to win the $100,000 bonus during the Final Stage.

The highest finishing D4C driver at the completion of the Final Stage that marks the end of the race will take home the incentive.

To signify D4C eligible drivers during the Final Stage, those drivers will carry a red windshield header.

Playoff eligibility will again be in play for any driver who captures two D4C bonuses during the season as it is looked at as the equivalent of a race win.

Last season’s D4C prize went to Erik Jones twice, and Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier each captured the incentive once. Jones scored a victory before his second D4C prize which had already qualified him for the playoffs.

With many new faces such as William Byron, Matt Tifft, and Cole Custer competing full-time in the XFINITY Series for 2017, the battle in D4C races will be intense. Pocketing the $100,000 twice to make the playoffs may prove valuable in what could be a very competitive regular season and tight race to the playoffs.

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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 on JRM: “Four Teams Capable of Winning Races Every Week”

After a successful season with both their full-time drivers qualifying for the inaugural XFINITY Series, JR Motorsports made the decision to expand to four full-time entries for the 2017 season.

While some teams haven’t had the best success with all four cars at once in a NASCAR division, Justin Allgaier believes things will be different for JRM this year.

“We have four teams that are capable of winning races every week, and I feel all four teams are going to work really well together, and if you tell me that all four of us make the playoffs, it wouldn’t surprise me,” he said.

The confidence for Allgaier comes from the drivers the team will have this upcoming season.

“From my standpoint, I’m excited to get Michael (Annett) back as a teammate, excited to get William (Byron) as a teammate, and as I said, I’m happy to have Elliott (Sadler) as an existing teammate,” he said. “We jelled together near the end of last year really well, and the dynamic of our team could do that again.”

Last year, Sadler finished second in the series standings after scoring three wins and 29 top-10s in 33 races with JR Motorsports, to go along with Allgaier’s 27 top-10s en route to finishing third in the standings. The team is now set to add Michael Annett, who posted 34 top-10s from 2009 to 2013 in XFINITY before moving up to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The last member of the squad could easily be this year’s Rookie of the Year as William Byron joins the team, after scoring seven Camping World Truck Series victories last year for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

While it marks Allgaier’s first time working with Byron, he has previous experience with Annett as the pair were teammates at HScott Motorsports.

“Me and Michael worked great together at HScott,” Allgaier said. “We’ve kind of ran our NASCAR careers together. We’ve traveled up the ranks and back to the XFINITY Series on a similar schedule. We get along pretty well, have the same thought processes, and been through the same trials on the Cup side.”

Going on the theory the more knowledge you have is better, Allgaier feels the combination of drivers and crew chiefs they have in place will produce results.

“If you tie all those together, then you have a great base. But if you add four drivers that are hungry to go out there and win races and a championship, that’s going to be awesome,” he said.

He also noted it’s expansion from three cars to four, as the team has run a third car full-time the past couple of years. Dubbed the All-Star car, the No. 88 was used for Cup Series regulars Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and last year Chase Elliott, to split time with young up-and-coming drivers. While both Sadler and Allgaier ran well last year, so did the No. 88 car with the team scoring a pair of victories. There were also a couple of events where they entered four cars and managed to place all four in the top-10 at the end.

“I think Dale and Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, and Mr. Hendrick and everyone involved – everybody is on board to help it grow,” Allgaier said. “If we can grow at the rate we did last year, I think the sky is the limit. I really think between Chevrolet, our resources, and the amount of effort put into it – I know everyone comes in and says they’re excited, but I’m really happy about the progress that JR Motorsports has made in the off-season and really excited about having four cars full-time and a fifth car part-time.”

Starting off the season with a good run at Daytona will certainly keep positive thoughts afloat, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t make it happen. JR Motorsports has shown speed on the restrictor plate tracks before, including Sadler winning at Talladega Superspeedway last April. Allgaier has also run well on the plate tracks, posting a second-place finish last summer at Daytona.

“The optimism side of me says we finished second, so we had a good day. But the pessimistic side of me says we finished second, but we were so close to winning the race,” he said. “I think, for all of us, Daytona and Talladega are so much fun. I think the enhancements to the rules this year will make the races more interesting and the fact that now we will not only have a battle to the last lap but to three different parts of the race to get to the front spot.

“The other part is the plate tracks have been good for JR Motorsports as a whole. They’ve been good for Dale Jr. We’ve got some things that as we run, I feel confident in our restrictor plate program. I have a great spotter in TJ Majors. He does Dale’s stuff on Sundays – he does it for me in the XFINITY Series races. I feel we have all the pieces to the puzzle.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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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.

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XFINITY

NASCAR XFINITY Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook – Justin Allgaier

After two years away from the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Justin Allgaier returned to the series in a big way in 2016. Even though he failed to win a race, Allgaier finished third in the championship standings.

Car No:  7

Crew Chief: Jason Burdett

Team: JR Motorsports

Wins: 0

Top-Fives: 13

Top-10s: 27

Points Finish: 3rd

2016 Quick Summary: Allgaier showed his mettle in 2016 as one of the NASCAR XFINITY Series’ most talented drivers by finishing inside the top ten at every style of track in the series. He made history this past season as part of the inaugural Championship 4 in the XFINITY Series Chase.

2016 Highlight(s): Allgaier posted three runner-up finishes as part of his 13 top-five finishes during the 2016 season. He posted only two DNF’s in 33 starts.

2016 Lowlight(s): Finished 39th after a crash in the rain-shortened race at Pocono in June. Finished sixth in the championship race at Homestead after being stuck behind a car with old tires on the final restart.

2017 Outlook: Allgaier should contend once again for the XFINITY Series championship in 2017. With the new rules regulating premier series drivers participation in lower tier series, look for Allgaier to post some victories next season as he would be a major factor almost every week especially on the short tracks and road courses.

The only twist for Allgaier which could come, though, is JR Motorsports’ expansion from three full-time teams to four full-time teams in 2017, as the Dale Earnhardt Jr. led team will have Allgaier, Elliott Sadler, William Byron and Michael Annett next season. Expansion sometimes can be good for sharing information, but sometimes can turn out poorly for a car or two within a strong organization due to spreading resources too thin.

 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.

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XFINITY

XFINITY Series Makes For Perfect Setting of Chase Storylines and Dream

The NASCAR XFINITY Series uses the tagline “Name Are Made Here” in all their promotional content and blitz. Following this year’s inaugural Chase, you could say names are made, and the Chase fits perfectly in helping make it happen.

After an entire year of drama, everything came down to Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez from Joe Gibbs Racing, and Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler from JR Motorsports. You had JGR with a pair of young guns looking to leave their mark, while JRM had a couple of guys who were looking to get their name back on the map.

Erik Jones was competing in the XFINITY Series after winning the Camping World Truck Series Championship in 2015. He put together an impressive run towards the truck championship with multiple wins and earned a couple of race wins in XFINITY in 2015 as well. It made him the early favorite to make it happen this year. While it seemed like those predictions would ring true, it proved tougher than they thought as multiple mistakes by the driver and pit crew forced Jones to overcome setbacks along the way.

Daniel Suarez was hoping to make 2016 memorable after scoring 18 top-10s in 33 races in 2015. While last year may not have been as he hoped, this year everything came together. Suarez put up the numbers – 19 top-fives and 27 top-10s in 33 races. He especially proved himself during the inaugural XFINITY Series Chase as he posted no results outside of the top-five, including two wins. The success was rewarding for Suarez after making the decision to leave Mexico for the United States five years ago, not knowing a single word of English.

Justin Allgaier had success when he began competing in XFINITY, which allowed him to move up to the Sprint Cup Series quickly. Though after finishing in the 30s the past couple years, he made the decision to return to NASCAR’s second-tier division with JR Motorsports to get back to running up front on a weekly basis, competing for wins. Despite not picking up a win this year, he put up some of the most consistent numbers with 27 top-10 finishes in 33 races, including 15 top-10 finishes in the final 17 races of the season.

After winning in the Sprint Cup Series, Elliott Sadler found himself running in XFINITY the past five years. Despite being a veteran, he had yet to experience the success he wanted with Roush Fenway or Richard Childress Racing. It’s why he made a move to JR Motorsports, hoping the change in scenery would place him into championship contention. Everything came together as it culminated for one of the best seasons in his career with three wins, 14 top fives, and a career high, 29 top-10s.

With each of these four storylines at play, everybody knew it was anybody’s race when it came time to battle under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race played out as everybody predicted, with drama at each turn. From Allgaier and Jones getting into the wall to a late-race caution and a restart, the race had every bit of drama you could want as a race fan.

While you wait for the off-season to end and Daytona to get here, relive the action in this video put together by the series.

Oh, and if you’re really looking for something to watch, re-watch the entire Ford 300 by clicking here.

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.

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XFINITY

ALLGAIER: “We Put Ourselves in Position”

When Justin Allgaier moved from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to the XFINITY Series for the 2016 season, he gave up the prominence of racing at NASCAR’s top level but was gaining the competitiveness all racers crave.

JR Motorsports offered a tremendous opportunity for the 30-year-old. He could once again climb behind the wheel of a competitive car and emerge as a top contender in the XFINITY Series. Throughout 2016, he proved his talent with strong performances that led to a career-best season.

His standout year was capped off with the chance to compete in the Championship 4 on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Along with teammate Elliott Sadler, the JRM drivers looked to deliver the organization its second series title in three years.

However, they faced stiff competition from Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones. While JRM caught up to JGR in on-track performance by the start of the Chase for the Championship, JGR still offered additional resources to its title contenders that likely provided an edge.

JRM and Allgaier didn’t back down though as they challenged the race and championship winner Suarez throughout the event and Allgaier nearly came out on top.

“You know, resource-wise there’s some things that maybe we’d love to have that there’s some other teams that do have, but one of the things that we don’t lack is heart,” Allgaier said following the Ford EcoBoost 300.

This heart is what has driven Allgaier’s performance throughout the season. He thrived with consistency, bringing home 27 top-10 finishes in 33 races. The No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet team scored 15 top-10 finishes in the final 17 races of the season, which fueled their title run.

While wins are emphasized under this Chase format, consistency also plays a crucial role and is what often earns at least one title contender a spot in the championship race. Allgaier used this approach and proved capable of capturing the title throughout the Ford EcoBoost 300.

He kept pace with Suarez for nearly the entire event as they battled inside the top-three on numerous occasions. Allgaier passed Suarez at times and led six laps before Suarez charged back by to reclaim the top spot.

With the top lane being the preferred racing groove, contact with the wall seemed inevitable. Allgaier’s progress stalled at times as he hit the wall, but it never hindered his overall performance.

When the Championship 4 contenders battled inside the top-five in the final 50 laps, Allgaier stepped it up and put his team in position to contend in the final stages of the race.

“At the end of the day, when you come to Homestead and you’re going for a championship in a Chase format, you put yourself in position, and that’s all you can do,” Allgaier said.

Had it not been for Cole Whitt restarting up front and in the high lane on the final restart, Allgaier would have likely continued to challenge Suarez and Sadler in the three-lap shootout to crown the champion.

He ended the race in sixth after running in the top-three for nearly the entire event. While there is obvious disappointment from this loss, it won’t define Allgaier’s season.

“You know, you get here and you’re so bummed and you’re super disappointed, but we had a great season. It’s just been fun.”

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @NASCARJason

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.

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Commentary

THREE TAKEAWAYS: Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami

It was a race for the record books on Saturday evening at Homestead-Miami Speedway as the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship 4 contenders dueled for the title. The inaugural championship race under the Chase format produced unparalleled intensity and excitement in the series as the 2016 champion was crowned.

A commanding performance from Daniel Suarez led to his first career championship. However, he faced a strong challenge throughout the day from the other three title contenders, especially as the race neared its conclusion.

Suarez Captures the Championship

Suarez produced one of the strongest performances of his career en route to the championship at Homestead-Miami. The No. 19 team captured the pole on Saturday morning and used the track position to remain up front for a majority of the Ford EcoBoost 300.

As the event progressed, he faced an increasing challenge from Justin Allgaier, Erik Jones, and Elliott Sadler. Allgaier kept pace with Suarez for a majority of the race before Jones and Sadler came alive and battled to the front of the field in the final 75 laps.

On the final restart, Suarez took advantage of his four fresh tires and passed Sadler with ease with three laps remaining. He held on for the final two laps to come home as the champion. This marks Suarez’s first career championship in his second full-time season and the second for Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series.

Restart Controversy

A caution with less than ten laps remaining in the Ford EcoBoost 300 prompted a late restart that would decide the championship. The four title contenders exited pit road in the top-five and were set to duel in the final three laps.

However, Cole Whitt stayed out while every other car pitted, placing him as the leader for the restart. With older tires and sub-par equipment, he struggled to get up to speed and backed up the high line. This decision ultimately cost Jones and Allgaier who restarted behind him a shot to battle Suarez and Sadler on the bottom for the title.

Coming Up Short

Allgaier, Sadler, and Jones all found themselves in the top-five and in a position to battle Suarez once the final 50 laps arrived. Suarez held command of the championship race up until that point but now faced a late-race charge from the other three title contenders.

Allgaier passed the No. 19 to lead six laps late in the race as the two exchanged the top spot for numerous laps before Suarez again pulled away.

After running further back in the top-10 for the first half of the race, Jones and Sadler both climbed forward in time to contend in the event’s late stages. Jones’ car improved as the late race run progressed and he passed Suarez to lead three laps before Suarez returned to the top spot.

Sadler received damage early in the event and was unable to showcase the No. 1 car’s potential for most of the race. However, a two-tire strategy call on the final restart provided Sadler an opportunity to contend in the final three laps. He was unable to stay ahead of Suarez on the restart and settled to finish in third-place and second among the Championship 4, salvaging a tough championship race.

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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

Bumgarner Named Crew Chief for Sadler

Elliott Sadler’s quest for a NASCAR XFINITY Series title didn’t get any easier this week.

JR Motorsports race operations manager, Mike Bumgarner, will serve as Sadler’s crew chief for the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Camaro team, a role typically filled by Kevin Mendering.

Mendering is serving a one-race suspension this weekend as a result from last weekend’s Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway where NASCAR officials found two lug nuts that were not tightened enough to their satisfaction.

NASCAR announced the infraction and penalty after the race. It was the second consecutive week NASCAR contested Sadler’s car in the post-race lug nut inspection, following a single nut loose post-race at Texas. NASCAR did state the suspension was directly a result from the two lug nuts at Phoenix, not a compound penalty.

Sadler can take solace in that Bumgarner has been around the sport for a while. The 22-year veteran spent 18 seasons at Hendrick Motorsports, helping to prepare cars for Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch. In 2007, he was the crew chief for Kyle Busch’s No. 5 Chevrolet team, and went to Victory Lane four times, while also winning three pole awards.

In 2013, Bumgarner started working for JR Motorsports as the crew chief of the No. 5 XFINITY Series entry, driven by Kasey Kahne and Brad Sweet. Following the 2013 season, he was promoted to his current position as race operations manager.

“We let Kevin ultimately make this decision because it’s his team,” said JR Motorsports general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller. “Kevin chose Mike to sit in the crew chief’s seat for good reason – he is experienced atop the pit box and very dependable. We have a great deal of confidence in Mike to give Elliott his best opportunity to win on Saturday.”

Sadler is coming off of a 13th-place run at Phoenix, which was good enough to make him one of the four drivers that remain eligible in the XFINITY Series season finale. As one of the Championship 4, Sadler is vying for his first XFINITY Series title. He finished runner-up in the standings in 2011 and 2012 to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The 41-year-old Emporia, Virginia native has three wins this season, along with 13 top-fives and 28 top-10s in 32 starts.

The other three drivers comprising the Championship 4 are JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, and Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones. No driver in the Championship 4 has ever won an XFINITY Series title.

The Ford Ecoboost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway can be seen on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN and can be heard on the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

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