Byron, Sadler Bring Home Top-Five Finishes at Michigan

JR Motorsports | 6/17/2017

Elliott Sadler Justin Allgaier Liberty University Michael Annett Michigan News OneMain Pilot Flying J Race Report Suave William Byron XFINITY Series

William Byron and Elliott Sadler led the way for JR Motorsports at Michigan International Speedway, bringing home top-five finishes in the Irish Hills 250.

Race 13 of 33: Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway
Track Specs: 2-mile D-shaped oval / 125 laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 84 degrees
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin

Byron’s Finish: 2nd
Sadler’s finish: 3rd
Allgaier’s finish: 16th
Annett’s Finish: 37th

William Byron

William Byron and the No. 9 Liberty University team came home second in the Irish Hills 250 on Saturday afternoon in a photo finish after leading eight laps at the end of the event. This effort marks Byron’s best finish in his NASCAR Xfinity Series career and his third top-five finish overall this season.

The No. 9 Chevrolet rolled off the grid fourth for the 125-lap event. Byron maintained a position within the top five for the majority of the first 30-lap stage. At the conclusion of Stage One, Byron was scored in the fifth position and radioed to the team that he needed his car to be a little tighter. The team elected to bring Byron to pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment and Byron restarted 11th on lap 38.

During Stage Two, Byron remained quiet on the radio. With eight laps remaining in the stage, Byron radioed to the team that the overall balance was good on his Liberty University Chevrolet. When the caution was shown on lap 56, just four laps shy of the end of the stage, Byron told the team that he liked the car and didn’t want them to make any changes. The call from atop the box was for Byron to visit pit road on lap 58 for four tires and fuel, no adjustments. Stage Two ended under the yellow and Byron was scored in the 14th position.

After the front of the field made their pit stop under the continued caution, Byron was set to restart from the sixth position on lap 65. With 50 laps remaining, the No. 9 machine was running in the fourth position. The fifth caution was shown on lap 84 and Byron visited pit road for right-side tires, fuel and a small track-bar adjustment. The team restarted seventh on lap 88 and was up to the fifth position with 30 laps to go.

While running in the third position on lap 113, the yellow flag was shown on track. Byron reported that his Camaro got tight as he got into clean air, but the team elected to stay out on track in order to maintain their position. The Liberty University machine restarted third on lap 117, in the top lane, which was the preferred lane on the restart. Byron took the lead on lap 117, while battling with the No. 20 of Denny Hamlin.

A late-race caution was shown on lap 122, while Byron was leading. The green flag returned to the track just one lap later on lap 123 and Byron was set to lead the field to green, with teammate Elliott Sadler behind him to push. Hamlin and Byron battled through each corner of the track, when Byron took the white flag from the lead. The Liberty University Chevy had the advantage on the backstretch, but Hamlin ultimately got an advantage off Turn 4 and crossed the line first in a photo finish. Byron came home second, followed by Sadler, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounding out the top five.

Byron captured his best career NXS finish and was the highest finishing series regular at the conclusion of the event. The No. 9 team remains third in the NXS championship standings, now 62 points behind Sadler.

William Byron, driver No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet team

“We were so close. It hurts to be that close and not win. He (Hamlin) got the side draft off of me in Turn 4 and that’s the run he needed. I just couldn’t get enough back to him to get to the line faster. Overall, this was a great job by my Liberty University team. It hurts, but we will get one soon. This is how we need to run and we will keep running like this.”

Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler and the OneMain Financial team took the checkered flag in third place Saturday afternoon in the Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway. After claiming a top-three finish at the conclusion of Stage One and taking the green-white-checkered for Stage Two, Sadler regained the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings lead, as well as, one point for the playoffs.

After starting third at the 2-mile D-shaped oval, Sadler was quick to begin providing his OneMain Financial team feedback. On lap 8, the Virginia native reported his No. 1 Chevrolet as “free in and tight off.” As he continued to drive with the field, the JR Motorsports team began to strategize their first round of adjustments. When the stage-ending caution came on lap 30, Sadler remained in third place—finishing the highest of all NXS regulars.

Remaining focused, Sadler drove his Chevrolet Camaro just like he did throughout Stage One. He began Stage Two in fifth place after a few teams elected to take two tires, while the No. 1 team took four. The team battled between third and fourth throughout the second stage until the caution flag waved on lap 56. Kevin Meendering, the OneMain Financial crew chief, elected to have the team stay out and take the lead as the first and second running positions came to pit road. When the stage ended under the yellow flag, Sadler was in the lead. The first-place finish for Stage Two gave the No. 1 team one point for the NXS playoffs.

As the final stage of the race began, the OneMain Financial team worked to continue building on their unique strategy. While preparing to pit under green, the caution flag was displayed for debris. On lap 86, the No. 1 team visited pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an adjustment. With other teams opting to take two tires, Sadler took the restart following the yellow flag in 12th. By lap 102, the veteran driver had made his way back into the top five. A strong drive to the finish line gave Sadler and the OneMain Financial team their second top-three finish of the season.

Denny Hamlin won the 250-mile event, followed by William Byron (teammate), Sadler, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch to round out the top five.

Elliott Sadler, driver No. 1 OneMain Financial team

“All-in-all, it was a great day for everyone and our OneMain Financial Chevrolet. Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and the guys put a lot of work into our program. This is one of our new cars and it was fast all day. We got ourselves a championship point and got ourselves a third (place finish)—good signs for our future.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the Suave Men team finished 16th in Saturday’s Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway after a broken part affected the handling of the No. 7 Chevrolet. Allgaier now sits second in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings, just 21 points behind teammate Elliott Sadler.

The Illinois native started the 250-mile race in 22nd, but quickly worked his way towards the front. By lap 6 he was up to ninth and relayed to the team shortly after that the Suave Men Chevy was free on entry and tight center out. Allgaier remained in the top 10 throughout the remainder of the first stage, finishing 10th at its completion on lap 30. Crew chief Jason Burdett called Allgaier down pit road under the stage-ending caution for two right-side tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment, setting him up with a second-place starting position for Stage Two.

Almost as soon as the green flag waved on lap 38, the caution flag came back out for a multicar incident on the backstretch. Allgaier restarted in second on lap 44, but the No. 20 of Denny Hamlin made the No. 7 Chevy loose, which dropped the 31-year-old driver back to ninth. On lap 48, he was back up to seventh and came over the radio to report that the rear end of the Suave Men Chevy was more free, but that the front-end handling hadn’t changed after the last adjustment. Allgaier was running in the eighth position when a caution came out with just a couple laps remaining in Stage Two. The team opted to say out to finish the stage in third place, collecting valuable stage points.

Under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier came to pit road for four tires, fuel and another track-bar adjustment, and took the green flag in 18th on lap 65. He worked his way up to 14th by lap 67, but started to fade as he reported to the team that the hood had started bouncing. On lap 73, he relayed that the hood was affecting his straightaway speed and the handling quite a bit. On lap 84, the team caught a break when the caution came out, giving them the opportunity to put some tape on the hood to try to help the bouncing. While on pit road, the crew also gave the No. 7 Chevy four tires and fuel.

Restarting in 23rd on lap 88, Allgaier began to maneuver his way back up, running in 15th on lap 92. Soon after though, the JR Motorsports driver announced to the team that the hood had started to flap again. He was in 18th when another caution came out with 12 laps to go. The team made a pit stop to apply more tape and came back down pit road to change tires and make quick additional repairs. Taking the green flag in 24th with nine laps remaining, Allgaier gained some positions and ultimately crossed the line to finish 16th.

Hamlin won the 125-lap race and was followed by William Byron, Sadler and Brad Keselowski, with Kyle Busch rounding out the top five.                                                                                                                                                   

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Suave Men team

“We just didn’t have the day we wanted here at Michigan. We had a good run going but had something go wrong at the front of our Chevy with the hood. We broke a part up at the front under the initial start when everything got jammed up. I got pushed into the back of another car and damaged the front bumper a little bit and just with the fatigue of the race and the speeds we were running, it finally broke and unfortunately just put us behind the eight ball. We went through some changes in the car because of it that we weren’t expecting to have. It really hurt the horsepower and the straightaway speed, so we weren’t able to keep up with the other cars down the straightaway. We lost the points lead, which is really disappointing, but on the flip side, we’ve got a lot of races coming up that really suit my driving style and our team really well.”

Michael Annett

Michael Annett had just settled in for the start of Stage 2 on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, looking forward to putting his Pilot Flying J Chevrolet into position to compete for victory in the Irish Hills 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars when an accident ahead of him ended his day.

Annett, who restarted in 22nd position after pitting for four tires on the Stage 1 break, was in the high line as the field exited Turn 2 when Brandon Jones’ car spun on its own. The Iowa native was running directly behind and was hit under braking, sending him into the car of Ben Kennedy on the inside. The resulting contact severely damaged the right front of Annett’s Chevrolet Camaro and the push into the crash did some more to the right rear.

Annett got the damaged JR Motorsports machine to pit road and to the attention of crew chief Jason Stockert, who calmly directed the repair efforts until the crew discovered the crash had knocked a hole in the oil cooler. That ended the repair effort and Annett’s race.

Annett had a fast car, qualifying in ninth spot for the initial start, and raced in the top 15 all the way through the 30-lap Stage 1. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment at the end of the stage, setting him up for a solid run in the shorter Stage 2 and a chance to make some noise in the final run to the checkered. The premature end to the No. 5 team’s day left Annett in 37th place at the end of the race, and he sits 10th in the points after 13 races.

Denny Hamlin won the race in a thrilling last-lap battle with JRM teammate William Byron. JRM’s Elliott Sadler was third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Ty Dillon, Paul Menard, Ryan Reed, Jones and Cole Custer rounded out the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 5 Pilot Flying J team

“We had a really good Pilot Flying J Chevrolet this weekend, and I hate that we couldn’t show it. We were deep in the pack for the restart after Stage 1, and the 33 just broke loose off Turn 2. I was right behind him, and the 96 car (Ben Kennedy) was right underneath me. There wasn’t any place to go. The right front of the car was all torn up, and so was the right rear. We got to pit road and started to fix it, but then we saw we had a hole in the oil cooler. We’ll go on to Iowa and hope for a better outcome at my home track.”

 

No. 9 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro

William Byron

Start

4th

Finish

2nd

Laps Completed (Led)

125 of 125 (8)

Points (Bonus)

41 (0)

Point Standings (from leader)

3rd (-62)

Status

Running

 

No. 1 OneMain Financial
Chevrolet Camaro
Elliott Sadler

Start

3rd

Finish

3rd

Laps Completed (Led)

125 of 125 (14)

Points (Bonus)

52 (1)

Points Standings (from leader)

1st (+21)

Status

Running

 

No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet Camaro

Justin Allgaier

Start

22nd

Finish

16th

Laps Completed (Led)

125 of 125 (0)

Points (Bonus)

30 (0)

Point Standings (from leader)

2nd (-21)

Status

Running

 

No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet Camaro

Michael Annett

Start

9th    

Finish

37th  

Laps Completed (Led)

37 of 125 (0)

Points (Bonus)

1 (0)

Standings (from leader)

10th (-187)

Status

Running

Articles

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • August 18 07:30 PM ET
    Food City 300Bristol Motor Speedway
  • August 27 03:00 PM ET
    Road America 180 Fired up by JohnsonvilleRoad America
  • September 2 03:30 PM ET
    VFW Sport Clips Haircuts 200Darlington Raceway
  • September 8 07:30 PM ET
    Virginia 529 College Savings 200Richmond International Raceway
  • September 16 03:30 PM ET
    Chicagoland 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Mid-Ohio Challenge

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course | 8/12/2017
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Elliott Sadler7630
2William Byron #682-81
3Justin Allgaier621-142
4Brennan Poole581-182
5Daniel Hemric #567-196
6Cole Custer #505-258
7Matt Tifft #494-269
8Ryan Reed457-306
12Michael Annett410-353