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THREE TAKEAWAYS: GALAXY 200 at PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

The Galaxy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway was a fitting precursor to next week’s season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway.

While Kyle Busch won the event, the final eight battled for their shot at the playoffs. From the beginning of the race, each proved to be competitive – many driving against each other in the top-10. However, a few were met with heartbreak, and their championship hopes faded away. Nevertheless, four drivers have advanced and will have the opportunity to race for the title next week at Homestead.

Here are three takeaways from Saturday night.

Allgaier Fights Back

Justin Allgaier came into Saturday night’s event one point outside of the Final Four cutoff. With many strong competitors in the running, it would be a formidable challenge to advance into Homestead. When the green flag waved, the driver proved his resilience and slowly climbed the leaderboard. At one point, he claimed second, behind Busch.

In the end, the driver was the highest placing Chase competitor – fourth. He joins Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez, and Erik Jones as the Final Four to fight for the title at Homestead.

Wallace Jr’s Emotional Night

Darrell Wallace Jr. already had a tough week losing his grandmother unexpectedly. Racing with a heavy heart, the driver battled for the fourth and final Chase seat. However, his night was cut short when Blake Koch unknowingly drove down in front of Wallace, causing him to hit the wall. The damage resulted in a DNF for the No. 6 team, and the end of their 2016 title hopes.

The Mobile, AL native was emotional after the race but kept the night in perspective.

“My grandmother was giving me the ride of my life,” he told NBCSN. “It was the most fun I’ve had all year. Just circumstances took us out… going to Homestead and let her ride again.”

Out But Not Down

The playoff journey of Blake Koch and Kaulig Racing has been a popular story in the series, but Saturday night it met its conclusion. Facing off against his Chase competitors, the driver began in the fourth position, but was shuffled back and finished eighth – tying his best career finish in the series.

“We did the best we could all night,” Koch told NBCSN. “It was probably our best night of the year.” While the driver’s title run has come to an end, he and his team still have plenty to smile about. The 2016 season has been their most competitive year to date, which leaves promise for the future.

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By Stephanie Adair

Stephanie Adair, a high-school student from St. John’s, Florida, is dual-enrolled in college working toward a degree in Converged Communications. As a contributor to POPULAR SPEED, she enjoys joining her love of writing with her passion for motorsports.