Allgaier Rallies For Third, Smith Sixth at Richmond

JR Motorsports | 4/13/2019

Brandt Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson PatientPop Pilot Flying J Richmond Switch XFINITY Series Zane Smith

Justin Allgaier picked up another stage victory and finished third while Zane Smith scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series top-10 finish Friday night at Richmond Raceway.

Race 8 of 33: ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway
Track Specs: .75-mile oval / 250 laps
Weather: Cloudy; 69 degrees
Race Winner: Cole Custer

Allgaier's Finish: 3rd
Smith's Finish: 6th
Annett's Finish: 13th
Gragson's Finish: 22nd

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier, driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, drove his way to a third-place finish in Friday night’s 250-lap NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway. The JR Motorsports driver’s top-five finish earned him a spot in the NXS Dash 4 Cash at the upcoming race at Talladega Superspeedway. Allgaier and the No. 7 team moved up to fifth in the NXS point standings.

With rain washing out qualifying, Allgaier lined up seventh for the race and was up to second by lap 4. He relayed to the BRANDT team shortly after that the No. 7 Camaro was free on entry and exit and tight through the center of the turns. On lap 20, the Illinois native made a pass for the lead, pacing the field until lap 37 when Christopher Bell got by. He was still running in second when the caution flag waved on lap 66. Allgaier came to pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment to help with the handling on the No. 7 BRANDT Chevy. Restarting in second on lap 71, Allgaier was able to retake the lead and win Stage One when the green-and-white checkered flag waved with 75 laps complete.

Starting Stage Two from the first position on lap 82, Allgaier held on to the lead for several laps until a caution flag waved on lap 127. With a rain cell moving over the track, strategy started to come into play. The BRANDT team opted to stay out under the caution, with many of the cars behind them coming to pit road. He restarted in the top spot on lap 138, but when Stage Two came to an end on lap 150, Allgaier was scored in the 14th position.

The team called Allgaier to pit road under the stage-ending caution for four tires and fuel. When the green flag dropped for the final stage, Allgaier drove from 16th on lap 161 up to second within 10 laps. He was still in the runner-up spot when the yellow flag came out on lap 212 and the team took to opportunity to come to pit road for the final time for fresh tires. He restarted in second on lap 219 but lost a few positions on the track. A wreck quickly put the race back under yellow-flag conditions and when the field went back to green with 26 laps to go, Allgaier started working his way back towards the top spot. He moved up two positions in the final laps to take the checkered flag in third.

Cole Custer won the race and was followed by Austin Cindric and Allgaier, with Tyler Reddick and Ryan Sieg rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture team

“We had a lot of positives to take away from today. We had some things that didn’t work out the way we wanted them to, but I’m really proud of everybody on this BRANDT Professional Agriculture team. I thought we had speed, especially early on when the rubber got laid down. We just needed a little bit more at the end. To be able to come back from where we were there in the final stage was huge. With the year we’ve had, a solid third-place finish and a good points night was exactly what we needed. I’m excited to be able to compete for that $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize at Talladega in a couple weeks.”

Zane Smith 

Zane Smith claimed a hard fought sixth-place finish with the No. 8 PatientPop Chevrolet in Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. The effort marks Smith’s best finish in Xfinity Series competition and gives the rookie his first top 10 in only his third career start. It also stands as the No. 8 team’s sixth top 10 outing in eight races this season.

After rain washed out Friday’s qualifying session, Smith started from the 10th position and took little time cracking the top 10. Through the course of the opening stage, Smith clung to a spot inside the top-10 but reported needing more “roll speed” through Richmond’s lengthy corners. Wisely managing his tire wear, Smith posted lap times equal to the front runners and pitted the No. 8 PatientPop Chevy with the field just prior to stage-ending caution. He went on to conclude Stage One in eighth.

Taking the green flag for Stage Two in the same spot, Smith found himself in the thick of traffic from the outset, racing door-to-door and jockeying for track position for the stage’s duration. Following a caution that brought Smith to pit road and left 13 laps remaining in the second stage, the PatientPop entry lined up in 13th. Smith leveraged two more restarts into nine positions as he diced his way to fourth for the stage end.

Smith kept a stranglehold on the frontrunners during the final stage. Though he fell back to sixth, the PatientPop pit crew netted him two positions under caution on the final pit stop of the night. He lined up for the ensuing restart in fourth, but was forced to give up positions due to a competitor’s lackluster restart, the result of which stacked up the field. Smith held on to cross the finish line in sixth.

Cole Custer won the race. He was followed to the checkered flag by Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Sieg.

Zane Smith, driver No. 8 PatientPop team

“I have to thank PatientPop, La Paz Margarita Mix, The Cosmopolitan, and everyone who has gotten me this far in my career. This is unreal.  It was really cool racing that hard with Ryan Sieg. He’s really good to race with. I feel like we were side-by-side for the whole damn race.

“I wish we could have ended up with a top five. I did everything I could. I can’t wait to get another shot at this.” 

Michael Annett

Michael Annett came back from a penalty at the end of Stage Two that put him deep in the field on Friday to record a 13th-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway. The charge from 23rd place on lap 160 to 10th at lap 203 carried the day for the Pilot Flying J team and turned what could have been a missed opportunity into a solid performance.

Running 13th with nine laps remaining in Stage Two, Christopher Bell and Noah Gragson tangled in traffic, which resulted in damage to Bell’s car. Bell went to pit road for repairs, which moved Annett up to 12th, and that’s where he lined up for the restart three laps later. Coming to the green, NASCAR officials were telling spotter Jason Jarrett that Annett needed to move back a spot and to the inside line before the green, but the call came too late for that to happen. Six laps later, at the end of Stage Two and after pit stops, NASCAR assessed a penalty that sent Annett’s No. 1 Chevrolet to the tail.

Rolling off from 23rd spot with 90 laps remaining, Annett set about marching toward the front. His car had been tight in the center of the corners at both ends of the .75-mile oval all night long, but crew chief Travis Mack had freed it up on the previous stop and the new tires helped. Over the next 43 laps, Annett carved his way to 10th, passing Chase Briscoe for the spot on lap 203. Eight laps later, the caution waved again for an incident on the frontstretch, and after taking a set of scuffed tires and fuel on pit road, the resulting restart on lap 218 nearly spelled disaster for Annett. Kaz Grala pushed up the track alongside Gragson and made contact, sending Gragson spinning on the high line. Annett was among the first few cars to reach the sliding car and missed it to the inside by inches.

On the restart following the Gragson spin, Annett rejoined the top 10 one lap in, but Riley Herbst got past on lap 231. Annett lost two more spots over the remaining laps after his car freed up significantly as the laps unwound and wound up 13th at the checkered flag.

Annett and Mack took a gamble in Stage One, attempting to earn stage points at the least and perhaps a stage victory at best. After starting sixth following the rainout of qualifying, Annett had faded to 13th as Stage One neared its end due to an extremely tight handling condition. Mason Diaz rolled his machine to a stop to bring out the caution at lap 66, nine laps from the green-checkered flag. Mack kept his driver out with the tires he’d started the race on while most of the rest of the field pitted for fresh tires ahead of the stage break. The restart from the top spot on lap 71 saw Annett swept back in the field to 15th in just two laps, and four laps later he ended the stage in 14th. Annett led two laps during that exchange.

Cole Custer won the race, followed by Austin Cindric, JRM’s Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Sieg. JRM rookie Zane Smith led the second five, with John Hunter Nemechek, Briscoe, Herbst and Justin Haley the rest of the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J team

“Once we got our Pilot Flying J Chevrolet where we wanted it, we were fast and could make up positions. But in that last run, the car got a lot looser as the run went on, and it was hard to get back to the gas to hold people off. It was a little up-and-down, with the restart violation that I still don’t quite understand, but it was a good run for us and we continue to get better as the season goes on.”

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, ran inside the top 10 for much of Friday evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Richmond Raceway, earning stage points in both Stage One and Two before an incident following a lap 218 restart ultimately relegated the JR Motorsports driver with a 22nd-place finish.

The fastest driver in Friday morning’s lone practice session lined up for the 250-lap event from the 12th position after rain forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying and set the field by owner points, per the rulebook. From the drop of the green flag the driver of the Switch Chevrolet pressed forward, racing into the top 10 for the first time on lap 13 and up to the fifth position by lap 35. Gragson continued to fight for position inside the top five until a lap 64 caution provided crew chief Dave Elenz with the first opportunity to bring the Las Vegas, Nev. native to pit road. After pitting for four tires and a chassis adjustment, Gragson returned to the track for the lap 70 restart in the sixth position and took advantage of the outside line to race into fourth as the first stage came to a close on lap 75. With the stage result, Gragson earned seven valuable points.

The driver of the Switch Chevrolet took the green flag for the beginning of Stage Two from the fourth position after the team opted to stay out following the opening stage. Once underway, Gragson maintained his position inside the top five until at tight-handling condition developed rolling through the center of the corner. However, a lap 126 caution gave Elenz another chance to bring Gragson to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of alleviating the tight condition. Heading back out in 12th following the stop, Gragson made a three-wide move entering Turn 1 that moved the 22-year-old driver up to seventh. The JRM driver’s climb forward didn’t stop there, as Gragson improved one more position after narrowly avoiding a sliding Christopher Bell to end Stage Two in sixth, earning an additional four stage points in the process.

Prior to the beginning of the third and final stage, Gragson was called back to pit road for four tires and another round of adjustments, lining the Rookie of the Year contender up in the sixth position for the lap 160 restart. Gragson maintained his top-10 track position throughout the green flag run that followed, despite reporting to Elenz that the Switch Chevrolet had gotten loose both on the entry and exit of the corner. Although not handling to his liking, Gragson pressed forward. Then, following a lap 211 caution period, Gragson and the No. 21 of Kaz Grala made contact while battling for a top-five position, sending the Switch Chevrolet sideways through Turns 1 and 2.

As a result of the contact and subsequent spin, Gragson was forced to return to pit road for four tires and some slight repairs. With the track position gone, Gragson fought for all he could in the closing laps before taking the checkered flag in the 22nd position.

Cole Custer earned the victory, with Austin Cindric, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Sieg rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“That was not the ending we wanted with our Switch Chevrolet. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have the finish we deserve after running up front throughout the night. But I just want to thank everyone on this JR Motorsports team. Today was a long day and we unloaded right off the truck with a really fast Camaro. I can’t thank all these guys enough and I’m ready to get back after it in Talladega.” 

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 25 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • June 1 01:00 PM ET
    Pocono Green 250Pocono Raceway
  • June 8 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway
  • June 16 05:30 PM ET
    Iowa 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 29 03:30 PM ET
    Camping World 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Allied Steel Buildings 200

Dover International Speedway | 5/4/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick4620
2Christopher Bell439-23
3Cole Custer391-71
4Austin Cindric381-81
5Justin Allgaier348-114
6Chase Briscoe #335-127
7John Hunter Nemechek #325-137
8Ryan Sieg315-147
9Noah Gragson #304-158
10Michael Annett297-165