Cutdown Day: JRM Drivers Need Solid Races to Advance in Playoffs

Ron Lemasters | 10/4/2018

Brandt BurgerFi Dover Elliott Sadler Justin Allgaier News OneMain Playoffs Tyler Reddick XFINITY Series

The 1-mile concrete "Monster Mile" at Dover is the scene for the final race of the Round of 12 of the Xfinity Series Playoffs on Saturday.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 4, 2018) – This weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway carries much import for the three JR Motorsports drivers involved in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, as it serves as the cutdown race for the Round of 8.

Tyler Reddick, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier are currently in the top eight in the standings, but Dover’s 1-mile concrete oval can be a tough place to navigate on occasion.

You might say it’s “monstrously” hard to deal with in terms of a smooth advancement.

The pit lane is cramped and hard to get onto. The nature of the concrete palace is such that if there’s a crash in front of you, you’re likely to run right into it and sustain severe damage. As the cutoff race this year, its inherent unpredictability could loom large.

Having the cutoff race at one of the more chancy stops on the schedule is a double-edged sword, said Allgaier.

“I think having a track that you like on the schedule going into an elimination race is a good thing, but on the flip side, it is Dover,” the driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet said. “It’s called the Monster for a reason. It’s a challenging track, one of those places where you can’t ever really be comfortable even if you have a fast race car and look like all the things are going your way.

“It can change in a heartbeat, and that’s the unnerving part of having a cutoff race at Dover; anything can and usually will happen. For us, just being able to put ourselves in a good position and executing is going to be super important.”

It was not the cutoff race last year; that came at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following week. In that Dover race last year, the second of the Playoffs, Allgaier was second, eventual champion William Byron third, Sadler ninth and Michael Annett 11th (average finish for JRM that day was 6.2). The winner in the Playoff opener a week earlier happened to be...Tyler Reddick.

Fortunately for the JRM contingent, success at Dover has been plentiful for all of the JRM Playoff drivers.

In the spring race, Allgaier held off Sadler in the final corner to earn a victory, with Sadler coming second despite both drivers banging off the wall. Reddick, in just his second series start there, led 23 laps and finished fifth. That’s pretty stout, all things considered.

Reddick, in the best shape points-wise among the JRM drivers, sits third in the standings, 21 points to the good with one to play. Sadler is sixth, 11 above the cut line, and Allgaier is seventh, also 11 points on the plus side.

That point cushion can disappear in one corner at Dover.

Historically, Allgaier has been very good at the Monster Mile. In 15 starts, he’s notched the victory in May, five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. In the last two races, this event last year and the spring race, he’s finished second and first, respectively, and over his last five Dover starts, his average finish is a sparkling 4.2.

Sadler, carrying a pink OneMain Financial scheme this weekend, has been good as well, with the runner-up in May his best career mark at Dover. In 21 starts, he has four top-five and 14 top-10 finishes, and over his last five, he has averaged 6.2 in that regard.

Both drivers have had a one-off race in the last five as well. Allgaier was 11th in the spring of 2017 and Sadler was ninth in this race last year.

Reddick, meanwhile, has a markedly slimmer body of work at Dover in the NXS with just two starts. He was 26th a year ago in this race, but was fifth in the spring. He too has a Dover victory, winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event there in the spring of 2015. He led 40 laps that day, beating Daniel Suarez to the flag by 1.2 seconds. He’ll be in the No. 9 BurgerFi Chevrolet this weekend.

The road to the Round of 8 for all three drivers is pretty straightforward, and it goes without saying that should any of the JRM contingent wind up in Victory Lane, they would automatically advance.

Reddick:

Reddick has the easiest path, by virtue of being 21 points above the line. The 22-year-old Californian advances with 40 points and a new winner, or 35 points with a repeat winner or a victory by any driver currently above the cut line. Reddick has averaged an eighth-place finish in the first two Playoff races, tied for fifth best among the Playoff field.

Sadler:

Sadler moves on with 50 points and a new winner or 45 points with a repeat winner or a victory by one of the other drivers in the top eight. The Virginia driver’s average finish of 10.0 in the two Playoff races is seventh best among the 12 Playoff drivers.

Allgaier:

The regular season champion’s road is the rockiest among the JRM drivers, along with Sadler, but he has had the most success at Dover. The first of his career-high five victories in 2018 came here in the spring, after all. His average Playoff finish of 23.5 is the worst among the Playoff contingent, due to accidents not of his making at both Richmond and Charlotte. Allgaier would advance with 50 points and a new winner, or 45 points and a repeat winner or one by the other drivers currently above the cut line.

That puts his weekend in pretty sharp focus.

“Our main focus this weekend is just doing the things that put us in the position to make the Playoffs in the first place, and that is execution,” he said. “We’ve had the speed. It’s not been for a lack of effort or putting ourselves in a bad position, we didn’t think. It just hasn’t worked out in our favor.

“For us at Dover, it’s just go there and do what we know how to do. If we do that, we’ll have no issues making the next round.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • November 3 04:30 PM ET
    O’Reilly Auto Parts 300*Texas Motor Speedway
  • November 10 03:30 PM ET
    Whelen Trusted to Perform 200*ISM Raceway
  • November 17 03:30 PM ET
    Ford EcoBoost 300*Homestead-Miami Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Kansas Lottery 300*

Kansas Speedway | 10/20/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Daniel Hemric (P)30670
2Elliott Sadler (P)3058-9
3Tyler Reddick # (P)3055-12
4Christopher Bell # (P)3045-22
5Matt Tifft (P)3044-23
6Justin Allgaier (P)3040-27
7Cole Custer (P)3022-45
13Michael Annett562-2505