Late Surge Nets Four Top-10s at Michigan

JR Motorsports | 6/8/2019

Allstate Parts Brandt Jeb Burton Justin Allgaier LS Tractor Michael Annett Michigan News Noah Gragson Switch XFINITY Series

For the second time in three races, all four JRM teams finished in the top-10 with three finishing in the top-five Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway.

Race 13 of 33: LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway
Track Specs: 2-mile D-shaped oval / 125 laps
Weather: Sunny; 80 degrees
Race Winner: Tyler Reddick

Gragson's Finish: 2nd
Annett's Finish: 3rd
Allgaier's Finish: 5th
Burton's Finish: 9th

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, overcame damage sustained to the left-front fender coming to pit road prior to the beginning of the final stage to improve 23 positions over the final 49 laps to earn a second-place finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Michigan International Speedway. With the result, Gragson has now tied his career-best finish in the NXS and has recorded a top-10 in three consecutive races dating back to Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25. 

Gragson lined up for the 125-lap event from the fourth position and maintained his track position inside the top five throughout the opening stage, despite reporting to crew chief Dave Elenz that the Switch Chevrolet had shifted toward the tight-side over the course of the run. Although not handling to his liking, Gragson powered through and took the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage One on lap 30 in the fifth position, earning six valuable stage points in the process.

During the stage-ending caution, Elenz called the Las Vegas native to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of improving the handling of the Switch Chevrolet. Gragson returned to the track following the stop in fourth, but was forced to the outside groove going into Turn 2 on the ensuing restart and was shuffled back to 12th. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Gragson pressed forward and drove back into the top 10 in the closing laps of the caution-free second stage, ultimately taking the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 60 in 10th and earning an additional stage point.

Once back under caution, Elenz called Gragson back to pit road in preparation for the final stage for four tires and another round of adjustments. However, just before getting to his stall, Gragson and the No. 19 of Brandon Jones made contact, damaging the left-front fender of the Switch Chevrolet and forcing an elongated stay on pit road for repairs. Despite returning to the track following the repairs in 23rd, the 20-year-old driver charged forward, improving 13 positions to 10th before the caution flag was displayed once again on lap 71. Opting to play with some strategy, Elenz made the decision to bring the driver of the Switch Chevrolet back to pit road to top-off on the fuel in the hopes of making it to the end without stopping.

As a result of the fuel-only stop, Gragson took the green flag on lap 76 in 25th but was able to take advantage of a quick caution on the restart to move up to 19th.  Then, with the majority of the race leaders choosing the come to pit road, Gragson remained on the track, moving the Switch Chevrolet up to the ninth position for the lap 81 restart. Now back inside the top 10, Gragson’s climb forward continued as the rookie driver methodically took advantage of a long green-flag run to work his way up to the fourth position by lap 115.

The driver of the Switch Chevrolet's march toward the front didn’t stop there as Gragson took advantage of the draft to work past Paul Menard and JRM teammate Michael Annett in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the second position. 

The result is Gragon’s third top-five finish of 2019 and his third-consecutive top-10 dating back to Charlotte.

Tyler Reddick earned the victory, with Gragson, JRM teammate Annett, Paul Menard and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“Today was a really good and solid day for everyone on this Switch team. These guys never give up and keep fighting and we were able to take a bad situation with that damage on pit road and turn it into another good day. We have some really good momentum on our side right now and I feel like everything is really coming together. I just can’t thank these guys enough and I can’t wait to get to Iowa.”

Michael Annett

Saturday’s LTi Printing 250 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series came down to fuel strategy, and Michael Annett and crew chief Travis Mack played it almost all the way to Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway. Annett pitted for the last time on lap 73 for fuel only and topped off with fuel just before the green flag waved three laps later, which put the No. 1 team on a path to the front of the field.

When the race restarted at lap 77, Annett was 22nd and moving forward. Contact between Tommy Joe Martins and Chase Briscoe slowed the field again before the field got all the way through Turn 2 on the 2-mile oval, sending those with a need to pit road. Two that did not stop, however, were race leader Christopher Bell and second-place Cole Custer. That would play into the strategy over the remaining laps. Annett took the green on what turned out to be the final restart in sixth place, and dispatched both Ryan Sieg and Ross Chastain in the first handful of laps to rise to fourth place with 36 laps remaining in the 125-lap event.

Trailing Bell, Custer and Tyler Reddick, Annett concentrated on saving fuel and maintaining gaps both in front and behind. Bell pitted with 12 laps remaining and Custer followed a lap later, which put Annett in second spot, looking at the back of Reddick’s No. 2 Chevrolet. The Iowa driver maintained his gap with the leader, who was on the same strategy, and third-place runner Paul Menard as the laps wound down. Lapped traffic began to play a role with six laps left, and the gap to Menard started to shrink. With five laps remaining it was down to a half-second, with JRM teammate Noah Gragson all over the rear of Menard’s machine. On the final lap, Gragson passed Menard and was gaining on Annett into Turn 3, causing Annett to enter higher than he wanted. Having to breathe the throttle to stay out of the Turn 4 wall enabled Gragson to make the pass within sight of the finish line. That left Annett third at the checkered.

After posting another solid qualifying run, Annett started seventh in the field and maintained station in the top nine for the entire 25-lap Stage One, finishing ninth at its end. With eight laps remaining, Annett narrowly missed the spinning Chevrolet of JRM teammate Jeb Burton off Turn 2 when the latter broke loose to his outside. After pitting at the end of the stage for four tires, fuel and adjustments to air pressure and chassis, Annett’s crew gained three spots on the exchange to line up sixth for the 25-lap Stage Two.

When the green flag waved again, Annett’s machine immediately turned to the loose side and he spent the remainder of the run battling around seventh place. After a heated battle with JRM’s Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones, Annett finished Stage Two in eighth spot. Mack immediately called for changes to the chassis and air pressure to help the loose condition and sent his driver back out one spot better than he finished thanks to the quick work of the No. 1 team crew. Starting on the inside line, Annett dropped to 11th the first time by the flag stand, but rallied to gain two spots before the next lap went by. A caution flag waved for a tangle in Turn 4, which set up the strategy Annett would use to earn his best career finish at the 2-mile MIS oval.

Reddick won the race, followed by Gragson, Annett, Menard and Allgaier. Jones, Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Burton and Justin Haley rounded out the top 10. It was Annett’s third top-five finish of the season and his fourth straight in the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Allstate Parts and Service Group team

“I don’t know how much Tyler (Reddick) was playing the fuel strategy. We were really tight and he was on the same plan along with Noah (Gragson). When I realized that Tyler was probably going to make it to the end it just came down to keeping ahead of Noah and Menard. I over-drove Turns 3 and 4 at the end and that allowed Noah to get by us. It was a really great call from Travis Mack to come in when we did, get four tires and fill it up, then we came in with one to go to splash it back up and we were able to stay out and get that track position. That’s what today was about. You have to unload fast, fast cars are going to run at the front and we put ourselves in position to play that strategy. Thank you to everybody at JRM. Allstate Parts and Service Group came onboard for the first time this year and it was good to get them in the top five and get us back in the top five. Top-10s are good, but they’re kind of a moot point in the series now. You have to be up there for wins and bonus points. We’re up there, we have a chance for them now and that’s good.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier drove the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevy to his sixth top-five finish of the season, placing fifth in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Michigan International Speedway. The 33-year-old driver remains fifth in the NXS point standings 13 races into the season.

Qualifying 12th for the 250-mile race, Allgaier advanced his position to ninth before the first caution flag of the day waved on lap 5. Under the yellow, Allgaier relayed that the BRANDT Camaro was good in Turns 1 and 2 and free into Turn 3. He restarted in ninth and continued to battle for position for the remainder of the first stage, taking the green-and-white checkered flag in seventh. Crew chief Jason Burdett called Allgaier to pit road under the stage-ending caution for four tires, fuel and adjustments.

Allgaier took the green flag for Stage Two in seventh on lap 37 and fell back to 10th, but moved his way back forward as the stage went on. He radioed to the team that the balance was the same on the BRANDT Chevrolet, but fought through it to end the second stage in seventh. During the caution, Allgaier reported that the No. 7 Camaro was chattering the front through the center of the turns and was still free into Turn 3. He came to pit road for four tires, fuel and multiple adjustments. 

A fast stop by the team helped Allgaier gain positions on pit road and he lined up for the final stage in the fourth spot. He quickly moved to second and continued to race inside the top three until the caution flag waved on lap 71. The JR Motorsports driver communicated to the team that the most recent changes made the BRANDT Chevrolet tight. Deciding not to pit, Allgaier restarted in third, but a wreck brought out another caution before the field could complete a lap under green. Under the yellow, Burdett called the driver of the No. 7 Camaro to pit road for a fuel-only stop in an effort to not have to pit again if the remainder of the race went green.

Allgaier restarted in 11th on lap 81 and was quickly back inside the top 10. The strategy ended up working out in the team’s favor as the remainder of the race went caution free. Allgaier was running in seventh and with the top-two cars needing to pit in the closing laps, he was able to advance his position to fifth before the checkered flag waved.

Tyler Reddick won the race and was followed by JRM drivers Noah Gragson and Michael Annett, with Paul Menard and Allgaier rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture team

“Having that pit stop helped us tremendously, coming in and getting fuel and not having to come back down pit road. We couldn’t quite find the balance we needed on this BRANDT Professional Agriculture Camaro, but we battled through it and got a great finish. Hats off to everybody at JR Motorsports. To have all four cars finish inside the top 10, and three in the top five, is pretty awesome.”

Jeb Burton

Jeb Burton and the No. 8 LS Tractor team rebounded from an early-race spin during Stage One of the LTi Printing 250 at Michigan International Speedway to bring the team their 10thtop-10 finish of the season, coming to the checkered flag in ninth. The finish is the fourth-consecutive top-10 finish for the No. 8 team, dating back to Dover International Speedway on May 4th.

Burton qualified 11th, and quickly set his sights on moving to the front during the opening 10 laps of Stage One. With an early caution on lap 5, Burton radioed to crew chief Taylor Moyer that he was free everywhere, but his LS Tractor Chevrolet was coming to him as the run went on. The team stayed out during a caution on lap 7 to restart in the top 10.

Running side-by-side with the No. 2 car, Burton suddenly got loose and spun off of Turn 2 on lap 11, blowing a right front tire in the process. Moyer called Burton to pit road for four fresh sticker tires and to fix damage to the hood and right front of the No. 8 Chevrolet, sending him back out on track once the damage was fixed. Since the team was already one lap down, Moyer called Burton back down pit road for a trackbar adjustment to tighten the LS Tractor Chevrolet up. Burton restarted in the 34th position with 13 laps to go in the stage and quickly set his sights on earning the Lucky Dog.

In position for the Lucky Dog when the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end Stage One, Burton pitted for fuel and a chassis adjustment, taking no tires with the intentions of being back on the same tire strategy as the leaders. He restarted Stage Two in the 26th position with a plan on getting back to the front.

By the end of Stage Two, Burton was building tight through the run in the No. 8 Chevrolet, but was back in dirty air navigating through traffic and running 14th. He pitted at the stage-end for four tires and fuel, and was back on the same tire strategy as the leaders once again. A solid pit stop by the LS Tractor team earned him four positions on pit road, and Burton restarted the final stage ninth as a result.

A caution on lap 77 saw Burton on pit road again for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment to tighten the car up. With several cars staying out, Burton restarted in the 18th position to fight for the final 45 laps.

Burton continued to charge forward after the restart, steadily moving back into the top 10 with less than 20 laps to go. When the checkered flag waved, Burton brought home his third top-10 finish of the season in his third start for JR Motorsports, finishing ninth. 

Tyler Reddick scored the victory, with JRM teammates Noah Gragson and Michael Annett, Paul Menard and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier rounding out the top five.

Jeb Burton, driver No. 8 LS Tractor team

“Overall, I can’t thank LS Tractor and JR Motorsports enough for the opportunity to race at Michigan International Speedway today. We worked really hard yesterday during practice to get the final adjustments and make our LS Tractor Chevrolet race-ready today, and the team did an awesome job to get us a good car to race with. Stage One did not turn out the way we were planning, but we were able to make the right adjustments and get back on the lead lap and navigate through traffic to get back to the top 10. It was a solid day and I’m really proud of Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and our team to get the No. 8 a fourth-consecutive top-10 finish.”

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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