Annett, Gragson Score Top-10s for JRM at Bristol

JR Motorsports | 4/6/2019

Armour Bristol Dash4Cash Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Switch The Cosmopolitan XFINITY Series Zane Smith

Michael Annett and Noah Gragson both brought home top-10 finishes for JRM on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway in the first short track race of 2019.

Race 7 of 33: Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Track Specs: .533-mile oval / 300 laps
Weather: Mostly cloudy; 70 degrees
Race Winner: Christopher Bell

Annett's Finish: 8th
Gragson's Finish: 9th
Smith's Finish: 11th
Allgaier's Finish: 30th

Michael Annett

Chasing a good run, a checkered flag and a $100,000 payday in the NASCAR Xfinity Dash4Cash, Michael Annett drove to an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. It was the fifth top-10 finish for the 32-year-old Iowa driver in the series’ first seven races and the second straight on the .533-mile oval in Thunder Valley. Annett was seventh in the fall race last season.

While he did not get to claim the Dash 4 Cash payday—that went to race winner Christopher Bell—it was a good day for Annett and his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. Starting the day from the ninth spot, Annett spent the early and middle parts of the 85-lap Stage One sorting out a handling issue. He fell to 13th in the opening flurry and slowly worked out the issue, posting his fastest lap of the day thus far and taking 11th spot on lap 56. When Stage One ended, Annett was 12th and looked to crew chief Travis Mack to help him handle better for Stage Two, adding that his car was on the splitter to the high side of Turns 1 and 2 and had developed a tendency to lock up the left front tire on entry. On the ensuing pit stop, Mack gave his driver four fresh tires, a tank full of fuel and made wedge and packer adjustments as well as adding tape to the grille. 

Restarting 12th, Annett kept the No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet wound up just outside the top 10, eventually passing JRM teammate Noah Gragson for 11th on lap 124. That is where he ended Stage Two. Under caution late in the run, Annett reported that the lock-up had gone away, and on the Stage Two stop, Mack made a track-bar adjustment and added packer to make it even better, along with four tires and fuel. Knowing there was potentially only one more stop remaining, Annett went back out 12th and began to move up. Passing Gragson again on lap 190, Annett needed 32 laps to track down Justin Haley and get into the top 10 with 78 laps remaining in the 300-lap race. On lap 234, Annett was up into eighth spot, trailing Harrison Burton. Annett’s car was handling well, and he ran down Burton for seventh on lap 260, just before the young second-generation driver spun to bring out the final caution flag of the day.

That set up the final pit stop on lap 263, when Annett got four more tires and fuel to the end with no adjustments. Restarting seventh after the stop, Annett got trapped on the low line and lost two spots to ninth in the initial rush when Haley got past. Brandon Jones, who had stayed out when the rest of the field pitted, hit the wall and popped a right-front tire with 17 laps remaining. That moved Annett to eighth, but he could advance no farther and finished there.

Bell won the race, with Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek rounding out the top five. Austin Cindric, Haley, Annett, Gragson and Burton completed the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J team

“We had a good day in the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet here at Bristol, with another top-10 finish, but we just didn’t have the car to go up and fight with the leaders. Right before that last caution, my No. 1 Chevrolet was the best it was all day, pretty neutral and we were making up spots. It all came down to track position today. It was somewhat hard to pass most of the day with the traffic and you had to fight hard to keep what you had. Another good day from Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) and the team and the pit crew did a great job like they always do.”

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, earned his third top-10 and seventh top-15 finish of the 2019 season after taking the checkered flag in the ninth position in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway. With the result, Gragson remains inside the top 10 in the championship standings, 102 points behind leader Tyler Reddick.

Gragson took the green flag for the 300-lap event from the seventh position after advancing to the final round of knockout qualifying on Saturday morning. After maintaining his top-10 track position, Gragson reported to crew chief Dave Elenz that the Switch Chevrolet was struggling with a tight-handling condition from the center to the exit of the corner. Although not handling to his liking, Gragson continued to fight for position before ultimately getting shuffled back to 11th as the opening stage came to a close on lap 85.

During the stage-ending caution, the Las Vegas, Nev. native came to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of improving the handling rolling through the corner. Returning to the track in 10th, Gragson took advantage of the outside line to charge up to the seventh position before the Switch Chevrolet once again shifted toward the tight side rolling from the center to the exit. This handling condition slid Gragson back to 12th as a long green-flag run progressed throughout much of Stage Two. However, as the 22-year old driver began to close back in on the top 10, a caution on lap 164 forced Stage Two to come to an end under caution, keeping Gragson in the 12th position.

Prior to the beginning of the final stage, Elenz called Gragson back to pit road for four tires and another round of chassis adjustments, sending the JR Motorsports driver back out for the lap 178 restart in 10th. Once back underway, Gragson battled for position inside the top 10 until a lap 259 caution period provided Elenz with one last opportunity to bring the Switch Chevrolet back to pit road for adjustments. Gragson lined up for the ensuing restart on lap 267 in the ninth position and remained there throughout the green-flag run that followed, taking the checkered flag in ninth.

With the result, Gragson sits tied for ninth in the championship standings, 102 points behind the series lead.

Christopher Bell scored the victory, with Reddick, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“We fought hard today with our Switch Chevrolet and I can’t thank Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and all of my guys enough. We worked hard all day long and made a lot of strides in the right direction. We were able to maintain and come home with another top-10 result. Hopefully we can continue to build off of this and have another great weekend next week in Richmond.”

Zane Smith

Rookie Zane Smith and his No. 8 The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team pieced together a solid outing in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, battling back from a lap down on three separate occasions to score an 11th-place finish.

Smith’s day began amid adversity due to an engine change that forced the No. 8 team to relinquish its 16-place starting spot and begin the race from the rear of the field. Early on, it became simply a matter of survival as Smith fired off mired among traffic from the outset. Despite the setback, Smith hustled the car around the half-mile bullring, gaining several positions and climbing to 25th before heavy traffic forced him to fall a lap down.

As the laps of Stage One wound down, Smith muscled the free pass position from the No. 08 of Gray Gaulding and returned to the lead lap in 14th for the conclusion of Stage One in 14th, commenting he needed the car to turn a little better during the next run.

After pitting for four tires, fuel and adjustments, the team restarted Stage Two in 14th. Smith found a good pace and clicked off impressive lap times, but again mid-pack traffic hampered progress and dropped him a lap down. A caution on lap 166 afforded the team its second free pass of the race. Smith would go on to finish 13th in the stage.

With helpful tips from team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was atop the pit box, Smith experimented with several different lines to try and maximize his Chevrolet’s speed after taking the green flag for the final stage in 13th. The team was still battling a tight condition with Smith saying he needed more turn out of the car. The race’s fourth caution on lap 261 gave the No. 8 team its third free pass on the day and brought Smith to pit road for the final time. Crew chief Taylor Moyer used the opportunity to make adjustments on the car for the push to the end. Smith restarted 12th and moved up one position on the scoring pylon to finish 11th.

Christopher Bell won the race and was followed to the line by Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek.

Zane Smith, driver No. 8 The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team

“First off, I’ve got to thank my team. Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and everyone worked their tails off this weekend. We knew we had our work cut out for us starting at the rear but we kept our heads down and just went to work. It was a challenge in the beginning being stuck in traffic. But we never quit and did a good job positioning ourselves for those free passes all race long. It paid off in the end. All in all, it was a solid day for our The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas team and I’m glad to be getting back in the car next weekend at Richmond.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier led 138 laps in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, sweeping the first two stages. However, a part failure ultimately took the Armour Vienna Sausage team out of the race on lap 228, resulting in a 30th-place finish. Allgaier remains sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings.

The Illinois native started the 300-lap race from the sixth position and wasted no time advancing his position to third on the first lap. By lap 27, he was running in second and was in the same spot when the first caution came out on lap 43. Under the yellow, Allgaier reported that the Armour Vienna Sausage Chevy was a little tight through the center of the turns, but overall had pretty good balance. Back under green-flag conditions, the 32-year-old driver continued his surge forward, battling with the No. 2 of Tyler Reddick for the lead. On the final lap, Allgaier worked his way by to win Stage One on lap 85.

Under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier can to pit road for four tires and fuel, taking the green flag for Stage Two from the top spot on lap 100. He continued to pace the field as he maneuvered his way through lapped traffic. When a caution came out with six laps to go in the second stage, race leader Allgaier relayed that the Armour Vienna Sausage Camaro fired off really good, but had started getting tight. The field remained under caution through the end of Stage Two and Allgaier was scored with another stage win, collecting his second playoff point of the day.

The team called Allgaier in once pit road opened for four fresh tires and more fuel to get ready to go for the final stage. Allgaier won the race off of pit road and when to green flag waved on lap 179, he maintained the lead. On lap 195 an intense battle ensued when Christopher Bell closed in on the Armour Vienna Sausage Chevy. The two raced side-by-side, swapping the lead for several laps until Allgaier reported a problem with his No. 7 Chevy and headed to the garage on lap 228. The team worked to diagnose the problem, ultimately finding a part failure.

Bell won the race and was followed by Reddick and Cole Custer, with Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Armour Vienna Sausage team

“Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe today. I’m really proud of the effort the team put into this Armour Vienna Sausage Chevrolet this weekend. We had a fast car. We did everything right and swept the first two stages and then this happened. It’s just unfortunate. We’ve had such great Camaros, but just haven’t had the luck this season so far to get the finishes this team deserves.”

 

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • June 16 05:30 PM ET
    CircuitCity.com 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 29 03:30 PM ET
    Camping World 300Chicagoland Speedway
  • July 5 07:30 PM ET
    Firecracker 250Daytona International Speedway
  • July 12 07:30 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at KentuckyKentucky Speedway
  • July 20 04:00 PM ET
    Lakes Region 200New Hampshire Motor Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After LTi Printing 250

Michigan International Speedway | 6/8/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick6270
2Christopher Bell538-89
3Cole Custer510-117
4Austin Cindric486-141
5Justin Allgaier479-148
6Chase Briscoe #440-187
7John Hunter Nemechek429-198
8Noah Gragson #423-204
9Michael Annett406-221