Challenging Night for JRM at Daytona

JR Motorsports | 7/6/2019

Chevrolet Daytona Drivers Edge Development Justin Allgaier Michael Annett NASCAR Salutes News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Sheldon Creed Switch Vannoy XFINITY Series

JRM endured a challenging night on Friday at Daytona where multiple crashes took away chances for contending for a trip to Victory Lane.

Race 16 of 33: Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile tri-oval / 100 laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 76 degrees
Race Winner: Ross Chastain

Gragson's Finish: 15th
Allgaier's Finish: 17th
Annett's Finish: 25th
Creed's Finish: 34th

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Switch Chevrolet Camaro, had a strong run come to an abrupt end in Friday evening’s rain-delayed NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Daytona International Speedway after getting collected in a multi-car incident on lap 86 while battling for a top-five running position. The resulting damage from the incident ultimately relegated the JR Motorsports driver with a 15th-place finish.

Following a two-hour delay for heavy rain, Gragson took the long-awaited green flag in the 16th position and wasted little time drafting toward the front, taking advantage of the outside line to move into the top 10 by the completion of lap 2. The driver of the Switch Chevrolet maintained his track position until the first caution of the day on lap 8 provided crew chief Dave Elenz with an opportunity to bring Gragson to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of improving a loose-handling condition. Returning to the track following the stop in 27th, Gragson once again charged forward, improving 19 positions to eighth before the caution flag was displayed once again on lap 23.

Opting to stay out during this caution period, the Las Vegas native found himself scored in seventh for the two-lap shootout to end Stage One. After initially having his run stalled out, Gragson utilized the inside line to draft into the top five and up to the fourth position by the time the green-and-white checkered flag was displayed on lap 30, netting the JRM driver seven valuable stage points in the process.

During the stage-ending caution, Gragson was called back to pit road for fuel-only while a handful of cars chose to remain on-track. As a result of this decision, the driver of the Switch Chevrolet lined up for the beginning of Stage Two in seventh. Once back underway, Gragson pressed forward, drafting up to as high as fourth before another incident slowed the field on lap 45. While under caution, Elenz decided to make a strategy call and brought Gragson back to pit road for four fresh tires in the hopes of not having to take new tires for the remainder of the night. With the majority of the leaders staying out, Gragson took the lap 50 restart in 17th and quickly worked his way back forward behind JRM teammate Justin Allgaier. The duo methodically drafted back into the top 10 in the final laps of the second stage before ultimately taking the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 60 in the seventh position. The stage result also earned Gragson an additional four stage points.

Prior to the beginning of the third and final stage, Gragson returned to pit road for another fuel-only stop, sending the driver of the Switch Chevrolet back out for the lap 65 restart in the second position. After swapping the lead back-and-forth with teammate Allgaier, Gragson settled in to third before a lap 72 caution bunched the lead pack back together. On the ensuing restart, Gragson continued to draft with Allgaier until a multi-car incident broke out on lap 86 down the back straightaway, leaving the 20-year-old driver with nowhere to go and severely damage the right-side of the Switch Chevrolet.

After pitting several times for repairs, Gragson was scored in 20th but was able to steadily move forward in the final 10 laps to take the checkered flag in the 15th position.

Ross Chastain earned the victory, with Justin Haley, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Stephen Leicht rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“We had a really fast Switch Chevrolet tonight and I can’t thank Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and all of my guys on this team for their hard work. We drafted up to the front several times and got to take the lead at one point. But it’s just unfortunate that we had nowhere to go and got collected in that wreck on the backstretch. We were working our way back forward and just couldn’t miss them all. It’s a tough break but we are ready to get back after it and have a strong run next week in Kentucky.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the Vannoy Construction team overcame damage from a mid-race wreck to lead laps in Friday night’s Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. However, the No. 7 Camaro was turned in the final laps, leaving Allgaier with a 17th-place finish.

The Illinois native qualified 12th for the 100-lap event, and was able to quickly maneuver his way inside the top-10 once the race was underway. Running in seventh when the first caution of the day came out on lap 9, he relayed to his team that the Vannoy Construction Camaro was good and was only free in the tri-oval.

Staying out, he restarted in seventh and used the draft to work his way to second, with the top three cars running single file. Just two laps later he was shuffled to the middle and dropped back to seventh. Staying with the main pack, he moved to the bottom and then was back in the top line when a wreck brought out a caution on lap 23. Allgaier restarted in eighth and was running in seventh when the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end the first stage on lap 30.

Under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier talked to the team about an issue he was having the with brake pedal. The team opted to take the time to diagnose and begin repairs under the yellow after a normal pit stop for four tires, fuel and adjustments. After two pit stops total, Allgaier rejoined the field, starting Stage Two towards the back of the pack on lap 35. By lap 43, the JR Motorsports driver had rejoined the top 10. Soon after, a multi-car wreck ensued and the No. 7 Camaro suffered damage to the nose. The team called Allgaier to pit road to survey and repair the damage before bringing him down a second time for four tires, fuel and to finalize the repairs.

Once again restarting near the back of the pack, Allgaier made quick work of the field, coming back to end Stage Two in the fifth position on lap 60. Allgaier radioed to the team under the yellow that the No. 7 Camaro was still in pretty good shape. Opting for a fuel-only stop, the driver of the No. 7 won the race off pit road, setting himself up to start the final stage from the point position.

Allgaier chose the outside line to begin the final stage on lap 61 and was side-by-side with teammate Noah Gragson as the two battled for the lead. Allgaier took the spot, but the No. 16 of Ross Chastain was able to work his way around to take the race lead. Allgaier was shuffled to second, but was able to get back up to Ross to continue to battle for the top spot before the top four cars went single file. When the caution came out on lap 73, Allgaier was in the second position. With a majority of cars staying out, Allgaier and Chastain restarted in the front row and continued their battle. Allgaier held point at first, but Chastain eventually retook the lead.

Less than 10 laps later, a multi-car incident brought the race to a halt, with the red flag lasting nearly 18 minutes. Once the red flag was lifted, Allgaier lined up fifth for the restart with 10 laps to go. He was battling for position when the No. 7 Chevy was turned. Allgaier was able to avoid contact with the inside wall and came to pit road under green-flag conditions for four fresh tires. Stuck one lap down, Allgaier was limited in the ground he could make up as the remainder of the race went caution-free.

When the checkered flag waved, Allgaier was scored with a 17th-place finish.

Chastain won the race and was followed by Justin Haley with Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Stephen Leicht rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Vannoy Construction team

“Man, we had a fast Vannoy Construction Camaro. We got involved in that wreck early and had some minor damage, but we were still able to lead laps after that and be competitive. It’s unfortunate that we were turned in the final laps and weren’t able to get the finish we deserved. I’m so proud of this team though. They’ve been working so hard. We’ll regroup and get ready for Kentucky, a place where we’ve been strong in recent years.”

Michael Annett

Michael Annett had his patriotically-painted No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet in the top three with 13 laps remaining on Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, solidly in the mix to repeat his NASCAR Xfinity Series victory from February. Unfortunately, on his way down the backstretch directly behind leader Tyler Reddick, the repeat bid came to an end in a multi-car crash.

In the high line off Turn 2, second-place runner Justin Haley slipped to the inside of Reddick about halfway down the backstretch. Annett tried to follow Haley, but was unable to make the move quickly enough. The side-draft had slowed Reddick’s car enough to where Annett popped the rear bumper of the No. 2 machine, which slowed Annett’s machine slightly. Christopher Bell, directly behind Annett, had no place to go and turned the Iowa driver into the outside wall in front of the majority of the field.

Up to that point, the race had gone according to plan for Annett and crew chief Travis Mack. Starting third, Annett had run no worse than fourth over the first 16 laps of the opening 30-lap Stage One, leading lap six, before getting suckered by the middle lane and falling back to 12th. He was back to fifth just prior to the first caution flag on lap 24, and Mack brought his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Annett had said his car was edgy in traffic and needed to be tightened up. He exited pit road in 16th spot and finished Stage One in 17th, but had already made his stop and started fourth in the 30-lap Stage Two.

As Stage Two broke, Annett advanced to second spot behind A.J. Allmendinger and rode the high line until lap 42, when the lines split apart and he dropped to seventh. Three laps later, Reddick’s flat tire caused another caution and slowed the field. When the green flag waved with 10 laps to go in the stage, Annett was fifth on the inside line and kept coming, getting to third with nine laps remaining. Trailing Allmendinger and Ross Chastain, Annett worked his way past Chastain and held off JRM teammate Justin Allgaier on the final lap to finish second in Stage Two.

After Annett asked for the car to be tightened up a little more so that he could be aggressive in traffic, Mack brought him down for right-side tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment and sent him back out in eighth position for the final 35 laps. In the scramble for position on the green flag, Annett rose to fifth place in the initial rush and was running eighth on lap 74 when an 11-car melee erupted down the backstretch to bring out the caution flag. After the cleanup, the green came back out with 21 laps remaining, and Annett used the top line to advance four spots at the end of the first lap. The field bobbed and weaved and Annett was running third off Turn 2 on lap 87 when the accident that caught him out occurred. His damaged Pilot Flying J Chevrolet wound up in the infield with extensive damage, and that ended the night for Annett in 25th place. His streak of top-10 finishes ended at six with the result.

Chastain won the race over Haley, Bell, Austin Cindric and Stephen Leicht

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J team

“I got hit from behind, and there were a lot of blocks being thrown out there. That’s a shame for all the guys who work their tails off on this car. We got torn up at Talladega and they got it back together and had it just as fast. It was really strong. This was definitely a lot more eventful Daytona race than February, but it was a lot of fun while we were out there. It’s a shame we didn’t get a chance to race to the checkered, because I think we had a really good shot at it. We knew it was going to be like this; we don’t do very well sitting around waiting for stuff. The cooler temperatures gave us more grip, and guys were really aggressive. It’s amazing how quickly they can change lanes and stop the runs. It’s just unfortunate. I’d like to thank Pilot Flying J for everything they do and for the really cool paint scheme. It’s a shame we didn’t get a shot at it.”

Sheldon Creed

What began as a promising night of NASCAR Xfinity Series action in Friday’s rain delayed Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway for Sheldon Creed and the No. 8 Drivers Edge Development / Chevrolet Accessories team ended in frustration. Creed finished 34th after falling victim to a chain reaction that resulted in the No. 8 getting punted through the infield grass and taking on extensive damage.   

Starting in only his third career NXS event and first with JRM, Creed rolled off ninth for the 100-lap race and held fast to a spot inside the top 10 in the opening circuits. As competitors shuffled positions in the field, Creed found the bumper of teammate Michael Annett. Working the high line, the pair ran nose-to-tail and Creed climbed to seventh. That would be the team’s high point on the night. At the front of the field, the inexperience and aggressive driving of Ross Chastain on lap 23 took an early toll. Chastain stacked up the field off Turn 4, creating a 190 mile-an-hour traffic jam that sent Creed careening through the grass after contact from behind. Soaked from earlier rains the off-track excursion netted extensive damage to the No. 8 machine.

Under the ensuing caution, crew chief Taylor Moyer called Creed to pit road multiple times for repairs, with the pit crew doing all they could to get the car repaired and in drivable condition. With the damage, Creed finished Stage One in 35th and moved up to 33rd to conclude Stage Two, one lap down.  Despite the night’s woes, Creed and the No. 8 team positioned themselves for the free pass award, but another multi-car melee completely ended the team’s night, relegating Creed to the 34th-place finish. 

Ross Chastain won the race and was followed to the stripe by Justin Haley, Christopher Bell, Austin Cindric and Stephen Leicht.

Sheldon Creed, driver No. 8 Drivers Edge Development / Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet team

“Our night started off good. We had a good car. I was just being patient early on. We restarted on the top and were starting to get organized up there, and I think the top was going to roll in another lap or two. Ross [Chastain] was leading and he just blocks the whole field like he does. He checked the line up and whoever was behind me just drove through me. We were just fighting to get a lap back after that. When they started wrecking in front of us, there was nothing you can really do.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • July 20 04:00 PM ET
    Lakes Region 200New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • July 27 05:00 PM ET
    U.S. Cellular 250Iowa Speedway
  • August 3 03:00 PM ET
    Zippo 200Watkins Glen International
  • August 10 03:00 PM ET
    B&L Transport 170 at Mid-OhioMid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • August 16 07:30 PM ET
    Food City 300Bristol Motor Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Alsco 300 at Kentucky

Kentucky Speedway | 7/12/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick7640
2Christopher Bell697-67
3Cole Custer689-75
4Austin Cindric621-143
5Justin Allgaier617-147
6Noah Gragson #569-195
7Michael Annett540-224
8Chase Briscoe #531-233