Preece Fourth, Leads JRM at Pocono

JR Motorsports | 6/1/2019

Justin Allgaier Klondike Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Planters Pocono Ryan Preece Switch XFINITY Series

Ryan Preece finished fourth on Saturday at Pocono Raceway to lead JRM while Noah Gragson and Michael Annett scored top-10 finishes on an up and down afternoon at Pocono Raceway.

Race 12 of 33: Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile triangular oval / 100 laps
Weather: Fair; 77 degrees
Race Winner: Cole Custer

Preece's Finish: 4th
Gragson's Finish: 6th
Annett's Finish: 8th
Allgaier's Finish: 11th

Ryan Preece

Ryan Preece and the No. 8 Planters Nuts team persevered through a power failure prior to a restart at the end of Stage One to finish fourth in the Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway on Saturday. The result is his best of the season in his third race for the No. 8 team and JR Motorsports.

Preece started the race eighth, and quickly gained track position through several cautions in the first stage. The Planters Nuts Chevrolet was tight in the first run and had good speed firing off on the restarts. A multi-car wreck brought out the caution with nine laps to go in Stage One, and Preece was set to restart on the front row in the second position.

Preece began falling back through the field during the caution laps however, and radioed to crew chief Taylor Moyer that he had no power in his Planters Nuts Chevrolet. The team was able to quickly evaluate the problem and get re-fired before the green flag, but Preece had to restart from the back of the field. Changing their strategy, Moyer called Preece onto pit road with three laps to go in Stage One. Preece finished the stage the first car one-lap down and was able to get the Lucky Dog at the stage end to get back on the lead lap.

Restarting in the 33rd position, Preece quickly went to work in Stage Two. With no cautions in the second stage, he worked his way through the field and was back in the top 10 by the end of the stage. With a solid pit stop from his pit crew, Preece restarted the final stage in the eighth position.

Happy with the balance in the final stage, Preece worked his way into the fifth position when the caution came out with 21 laps to go. Moyer made another strategy call, bringing Preece down pit road for fuel only. The caution came out again on lap 93 and Preece was able to come down pit road and get four sticker tires to race to the finish.

A second caution on the restart forced the race to go into NASCAR overtime. Preece restarted in the sixth position to fight to the checkered flag. Advancing two positions on the restart, Preece brought home the third top-five finish of the season for the No. 8 team, finishing fourth.

Cole Custer scored the victory, with Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, Preece and Christopher Bell rounding out the top five.

Ryan Preece, driver No. 8 Planters Nuts team

“Today was a really great example of perseverance and teamwork through adversity. Fortunately, the power failure happened early in the race and we were able to fight through those issues and recover for a great finish. Our car was tight early in the run, but would fire off really well to be competitive and gain track position. Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) did a great job making adjustments all day to help us turn in the center, and ultimately I got my best finish of the season with this team. I’m really thankful to everyone at Planters and JR Motorsports for the opportunity to get in the No. 8 and have a great run.”

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, battled back from a pit road speeding penalty to earn a sixth-place finish in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Pocono Raceway. The result is Gragson’s second consecutive top-10 finish and his fifth overall through the opening 12 races of the season.

Gragson took the green flag for the scheduled 100-lap event from the 15th position but took advantage of three quick caution periods to race into the top 10 by lap 20. The driver of the Switch Chevrolet’s climb forward didn’t stop there as Gragson drove up to seventh before a tight-handling condition had developed in the closing laps of the stage. Although not handling to his liking, Gragson remained inside the top 10 to take the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage One on lap 25 in the 10th position, earning a valuable stage point in the process.

While under the stage-ending caution, crew chief Dave Elenz called Gragson to pit road for four tires and an air-pressure adjustment, lining the JR Motorsports driver up for the ensuing restart in 11th. In a stage dominated by a long green-flag run, the Las Vegas native continued to fight for position inside the top 15, despite reporting that he was still tight rolling through the distinct corners of Pocono. In the end, Gragson took the green-and-white checkered flag to end the caution-free second stage in 11th.

Prior to the beginning of the third and final stage, Elenz brought Gragson back to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of improving the handling in the corner. Gragson returned to the track following the stop in 14th, but took advantage of a three-wide move to drive up to 10th. Gragson’s march continued throughout the green flag run that followed as the driver of the Switch Chevrolet raced up to seventh before the lone round of green flag pit stops began.

Opting to play with some strategy, the decision was made to stay out until the very end of the pit stop cycle, which moved Gragson up to the third position before coming to pit road on lap 83. However, a penalty for speeding on the entry of pit road forced the 20-year-old driver to serve a pass-through penalty under green. As a result of the penalty, Gragson was shuffled back to the 19th position. Even though the pass-through affected his track position, Gragson continued to fight, ultimately driving back up to 13th before the caution flag was displayed on lap 92. Elenz called Gragson back to pit road during the caution period to make a chassis adjustment, sending the Switch Chevrolet back out for the lap 97 restart in ninth.

After narrowly avoiding an incident in Turn One just after the restart, Gragson found himself scored in the eighth position, which lined the rookie driver up as the fourth car on the outside line for NASCAR’s version of overtime. This positioning proved to be beneficial as Gragson charged forward to gain two positions in the final laps to take the checkered flag in sixth.

The result is Gragson’s second consecutive top-10 finish and keeps the JRM driver eighth in the championship standings.

Cole Custer scored the victory, with Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, JRM teammate Ryan Preece and Christopher Bell rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“We had a really good day with our Switch Chevrolet. Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and all the guys on this JR Motorsports team worked hard all weekend long and we were able to come away with another good result. Hopefully we can continue to build off of these last two weeks and have another strong race next weekend in Michigan.”

Michael Annett

With all that Michael Annett and the No. 1 Pilot Flying J team had to deal with during Saturday’s Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway, an eighth-place finish at the end of the NASCAR Xfinity Series event feels something like a victory. A restart violation early in Stage One caused the first setback, and the appeal of a speeding penalty on pit road during the Stage Two stop fell on deaf ears. That put the 32-year-old Iowa native back in the field with the fires lit.

Restarting 23rd with 44 laps remaining, Annett put his No. 1 Chevrolet on a rail and climbed 10 spots in the first four laps around the 2.5-mile oval to run 13th. By lap 64 he was back in the top 10 as cars ahead of him began to make their final pit stops and he was second on lap 83 when he came down for his four-tire stop to the end. Exiting in 14th spot with the field spread out all over the track, Annett needed a caution flag to get back in the mix. He got it with seven laps remaining when Jeffrey Earnhardt spun off the nose of Austin Cindric.

Restarting in sixth spot with two laps to go in the 100-lap event, Annett avoided a spin by JRM teammate Justin Allgaier in Turn 1, which set up the final overtime restart on lap 101. Rolling off fifth, Annett broke toward Turn 1 with the top of the field pushing and shoving, getting popped out of the low groove at the exit of the corner, and was eighth under the white flag. The final lap saw Annett pushing Cindric for seventh spot, but he fell just short.

The day began in stellar fashion for the No. 1 team, as Annett qualified on the outside of Row 2 for the event. On the initial start, Annett maintained station in the top five before Brandon Jones’ machine snapped around in front of him exiting Turn 1 on the sixth lap to bring out the first caution flag of the day. The second came out three laps after the green waved for an accident on the Long Pond Straight, and on the ensuing restart, Annett was on the front row alongside Cole Custer. When the top two cars reached the start/finish line, the nose of the No. 1 Chevrolet was slightly ahead of Custer’s No. 00, and NASCAR tagged him for a violation. Originally, the penalty was a pass-through of pit road, but a spin brought out a caution flag before he could serve it. Annett pitted on lap 18, taking four tires and fuel, and returned to the track in 31st spot after serving a tail-of-the-field penalty instead. He finished Stage One in 26th position.

At the end of Stage One, the remainder of the cars who had not yet come to pit road did so, and that meant Annett moved all the way up to fifth for the restart. Annett stayed in the second half of the top five for the rest of the 25-lap stage, finishing seventh at the end of it. On the pit stop, Annett came down for four tires, fuel and adjustments to air pressure and the chassis, picking up two positions to fifth in the process. But on the way down to his pit stall, John Hunter Nemechek was buried in the back of Annett’s car, which caused Annett’s car to exceed the speed limit. Despite the best arguments of crew chief Travis Mack, NASCAR upheld the penalty and sent a furious Annett to 23rd instead, triggering the mission to get back to the front.

The finish was Annett’s third straight top-10 result and eighth of the season in 12 races, and moved him up one spot to ninth in the NXS point standings. Annett is already qualified for the NXS Playoffs with his victory at Daytona in the season opener.

Custer won the race with a last-lap, last-corner pass of Tyler Reddick. Chase Briscoe was third, followed by JRM’s Ryan Preece and Christopher Bell. JRM’s Noah Gragson was sixth, with Cindric, Annett, Justin Haley and Austin Dillon the remainder of the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J team

“It was a pretty up-and-down day for us and the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. Had a great run in qualifying, Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) gave me a really fast Camaro all weekend, and we had things going our way until we got called for the restart violation. Made up for that with some good strategy, and then got called for speeding on pit road, which is kind of easy to do when the car behind you is pushing you hard. We recovered again, and to still get a top-eight finish after going to the back twice kind of tells you that we’re running pretty good right now.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Klondike Chevrolet, earned a valuable playoff point, led 27 laps and overcame a late-race spin to earn an 11th-place finish in Saturday's Pocono Green 250 at Pocono Raceway. Allgaier and the No. 7 team currently sit fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings with 12 races complete. 

Starting the race from the ninth position, Allgaier steadily began working his way closer to the front. Running in sixth when the second caution flag of the day waved on lap 11, he reported to the team that the Klondike Camaro was lacking right-rear lateral grip. The team opted to stay out and Allgaier restarted in sixth, advancing his position to fourth before another caution flag waved. Allgaier was in second when the field went back to green with five laps remaining in Stage One and held on to the position, earning nine stage points when the green-and-white checkered flag waved. Under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier came to pit road for four tires, fuel and air-pressure adjustments. 

He restarted in seventh on lap 31 and made quick work of the field, moving into the second position within a lap and taking over the lead soon after. On lap 47, a battle ensued between Allgaier and Tyler Reddick, but Allgaier maintained the position and cruised on to win Stage Two, collecting a valuable playoff point. Allgaier radioed to crew chief Jason Burdett that the Klondike Chevy was tight when he picked up the throttle and was still lacking rear lateral grip. The team opted to pit for fresh tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment.

Taking the green flag for the final stage in fourth on lap 56, Allgaier powered his way forward to retake the lead on lap 59. He paced the field for multiple laps before getting loose during a battle for the lead and sliding back to fourth. Shortly after, green-flag stops ensued and Allgaier remained on track until he came to pit road as the leader on lap 85. After a mishap on pit road created a long stop, Allgaier got back out on track in the 10th position, but quickly gained ground and was up to sixth before a caution came out on lap 93. He restarted in fifth and was battling for position when he got loose and spun, bringing out the caution. The Klondike Camaro suffered only minor damage and after pitting for tires and repairs, he lined up for NASCAR's version of overtime in 15th. Allgaier drove with determination, taking the checkered flag in 11th.  

Cole Custer won the race and was followed by Reddick and Chase Briscoe, with JRM driver Ryan Preece and Christopher Bell rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Klondike team

“It was a frustrating day for our Klondike team. We were fortunate enough to lead laps and win a stage, and I thought we were going to be in good shape at the end there, but it just didn't work out for us. I'm proud of these guys though and all the hard work they put in. We'll be ready to get back at it in Michigan next week."

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • 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
  • July 27 05:00 PM ET
    U.S. Cellular 250Iowa Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After CircuitCity.com 250

Iowa Speedway | 6/16/2019
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