Gragson Runner Up in Texas Thriller; Annett Follows in Sixth

10/24/2020

Bass Pro Shops Black Rifle Coffee Hellmann's Jeb Burton Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Playoffs Race Report Sam's Club State Water Heaters Texas Motor Speedway TrueTimber XFINITY Series

Noah Gragson came within half a straightaway of his third victory of the season at Texas Motor Speedway but still netted second place. Michael Annett was close behind in sixth place.

Race Results | Xfinity Series Points

 

Race 31 of 33: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway

Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval / 200 laps

Weather: Cloudy; 57 degrees

Race Winner: Harrison Burton

 

Gragson's finish: 2nd

Annett's finish: 6th 

Allgaier's finish: 26th 

Burton's finish: 30th 


Noah Gragon

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet, started from the ninth position and was in position to fight for the victory on the final lap of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Texas Motor Speedway. Leading for a total of 43 laps on the day, Gragson battled with Harrison Burton on the final lap, taking the checkered flag in the second position. Gragson ran within the top five for the majority of the event and scored stage points in Stage Two before earning his 15th top-five finish of the 2020 season. The No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro sits seventh in the championship standings, 24 points behind the fourth and final cutoff position with one race remaining in the Round of 8.

Stage One Finish: 13th

Gragson lined up ninth after the field was set earlier in the week by NASCAR’s new mathematical formula. The No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro quickly drove into the sixth position as the JR Motorsports driver utilized the bottom of the race track to gain those three positions on the opening lap. The first yellow flew on lap 10 as Gragson ran fourth and reported that the car was just a little too loose for his liking. Taking advantage of the bottom on the ensuing restart, Gragson held steady in the fourth position until the scheduled competition caution came out on lap 20.

 

Deciding to stay on track, Gragson chose to again restart from the bottom as the PJ1 on the high-side had not warmed up enough to provide extra traction. Gragson remained in fourth once back underway, but came to pit road during a lap 39 caution period for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment. This decision to pit moved the Las Vegas native back to 14th for the lap 44 restart.

 

With only one lap remaining in Stage One, Gragson utilized the high and low lines in an attempt to pass the slower traffic, ultimately gaining one position to earn a 13th-place finish in the opening stage.


Stage Two Finish 3rd

The driver of the No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Camaro did not pit during the stage-break and restarted from the third position. Using NASCAR’s new choose rule, Gragson chose to restart from the high-side of the 1.5-mile facility, placing him outside of the front row. The high line prevailed as Gragson took the lead on lap 54 and stayed there until lap 74 after falling to second in a battle with the No. 20 of Burton. The No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro lost one additional position in the closing laps to JRM teammate Justin Allgaier to finish third in Stage Two and earn eight extremely valuable stage points on the afternoon.

 

Final Stage:  

The JRM driver was called to pit road during the final stage break for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment as Gragson was battling a tight-handling Camaro. The No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro lined up on the inside of row two for the ensuing restart. Utilizing the shortest distance around Texas Motor Speedway, Gragson jumped into the third position before a caution slowed the field on lap 107. Staying on-track, Gragson chose the bottom once again but this time the high side prevailed as Gragson fell back to fourth and remained there until a lap 132 caution.

 

Bringing the Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro to pit road for four tires, fuel and another air pressure adjustment, Gragson came out of the pits in seventh as there were various tire strategies in play. The No. 9 restarted from the outside of row four and raced his way into the top five on lap 150. As lap 158 ticked across the pylon, a single-car incident in Turns 1 and 2 forced NASCAR to throw the yellow. With fuel strategy out of the window now, Gragson came to pit road for his last set of fresh tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.

 

Restarting from the inside of the fourth row Gragson drove his way into third before a lap 169 yellow. One additional yellow flag flew on the 200-lap event on lap 177 as Gragson ran in the runner-up position. Utilizing the bottom, Gragson cleared the leader on the ensuing restart and started to drive away from the field. Stretching the lead to just over eight tenths of a second, Gragson looked to punch his ticket to the Championship 4. Then, as the field took the white flag, Gragson tried to fend off a charge from Burton who dove to the bottom in the final corner that ultimately slid Gragson into the second position as they crossed the checkered flag on lap 200.

 

With one race remaining in the Round of 8, Gragson sits 24 points below the fourth and final position to move into the Championship 4 race at Phoenix.

 

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Camaro SS

“I don’t really know what to say. We had speed and Dave (Elenz, crew chief) made the right calls on top of the box to get the car where we needed it late in the run. The car was building tighter in those final laps and I think the front tires just overheated and I had to start turning the wheel more each lap. It’s not the ending we were hoping for but we will regroup and be ready for Martinsville.


Michael Annett

Michael Annett set a personal record for top-10 finishes in a season on Saturday with his sixth-place run in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, but he really wanted to finish one position higher and earn another top-five result in his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet. Annett finished fifth in the first race on the 1.5-mile quad-oval earlier this season. The top-10 run was Annett’s 20th in 31 races, one better than the 19 he posted in 2019, and he gained a position to 10th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series points as well.

Stage One Finish: 11th    

Annett started the 200-lap event from the 10th position and focused on moving forward from the drop of the green flag. Over the first 10 laps, Annett had advanced to eighth position and was running there when the first caution flag of the day waved for a spin in Turn 4. Annett told crew chief Travis Mack that his Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was a tick loose on entry to the corners at both ends of the track. When the green flag replaced the yellow, Annett began to climb the order again, taking sixth place from Austin Cindric at lap 16. When the competition caution waved at lap 20, Annett stayed on track. On the ensuing restart, Annett was caught up among cars that had pitted for fresh tires and dropped to ninth by lap 29. As the tires equaled out, Annett began to move back up the standings. When the caution waved again at lap 41, Annett was seventh. With five laps remaining in Stage One, Mack called Annett down pit road for four tires and fuel, sending his driver back out in 17th position. Taking the green flag for the two-lap shootout, Annett climbed six spots to finish 11th. Having stopped just before the end of the stage, Annett was able to stay on the track and gain positions.

 

Stage Two Finish: 4th      

Thanks to making his stop early, Annett advanced to second for the start of Stage Two. As the field raced into Turn 1, Annett lost two positions on the initial rush before settling in to run fourth and staying there for most of the next 35 laps, losing a position to fifth once, to Anthony Alfredo, and then getting back around the young driver for fourth with nine laps remaining in the second 45-lap stage. When the green-checkered flag waved to end it, Annett earned seven valuable points for the No. 1 team in their chase for their end-of-season points position. Under the caution, Annett came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment to help his handling for the 110-lap final segment. The Pilot Flying J pit crew held serve on the stop and Annett would start the final segment from fifth position.

 

Final Stage:

The final stage saw Annett settle out in fifth place in the initial running, but the handle got worse just a couple of laps into it. Telling Mack he was just hanging on at the exits of the corners, Annett dropped to seventh at lap 103 and to 10th a few laps later. A caution for Harrison Burton’s spin waved two laps after, which allowed Annett to pit for fuel, tires and another chassis adjustment. Returning to the track in 16th position, Annett wasted little time moving toward the front. He gained five positions to 11th in just six laps and rode at the cusp of the top 10 until lap 128, when he swept into 10th place. Five laps after that, the caution waved again for an accident, and Mack dialed up some strategy by bringing his driver in for left-side tires and a full load of fuel, with instructions to save all he could. That gained track position as well, with Annett exiting pit road in third position and inside his pit window to the end. On the restart, Annett dropped five positions in the first few laps as his car went loose almost immediately. Settling into 10th place, Annett stayed in contact until the caution waved again at lap 157. Mack again called for Annett to hit pit road for fuel only. That resulted in Annett starting the race from the front row at lap 163. A crash at lap 170 allowed Annett to put his last set of fresh Goodyear tires on for the 25-lap run to the finish.

 

On the restart, contact among the leaders happened directly in front of Annett as the field powered down the backstretch, and the Iowa native managed to avoid all contact with any of them. He gained seven positions in the dust-up and would start the final 16-lap run to the checkered flag from eighth. Annett needed just one lap to break into the top five before ultimately bringing the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet home sixth at the checkered flag.

 

Burton won the race with a last-lap, last-corner pass of JRM’s Noah Gragson, with Alfredo, Cindric and Brandon Brown rounding out the top five. Annett headed the second five with Justin Haley, Ryan Vargas, Josh Williams and Tommy Joe Martins the remainder of the top 10.

 

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet team

“It was a good run all day for this Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, we set a record for most top-10 finishes in a season, but I really wanted that top-five finish. I just couldn’t take off like I needed to at times, and over that last run the bump started to mess us up handling-wise. We had good strategy again, thanks to Travis Mack and our No. 1 team. We fought hard all day long.”


Justin Allgaier

What started out as a solid day for Justin Allgaier and the No. 7 Sam’s Club/Hellmann’s team went downhill after Allgaier was caught up in a late-race incident that ended his day early at Texas Motor Speedway. The Illinois native was relegated to a 26th-place finish after leading 35 laps. Allgaier will head into the final race in the Round of 8 just eight points above the cutoff line for the Championship 4 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.

Stage One Finish:  2nd

Allgaier rolled off the starting grid from fifth and steadily improved his position, running in the third spot when the first caution of the race came out on lap 11. He reported to his team that he was happy with the balance on his Sam’s Club/Hellmann’s Camaro. Restarting in the second position after utilizing the choose cone, he tried hard to maintain his position but dropped back to third and was in that same spot when the field was slowed for the lap-20 competition caution.

 

Opting to stay out under the yellow, he restarted second on lap 25 and after being caught on the outside of a three-wide battle for the lead, lost his momentum but worked his way back up to third before yet another yellow flag came out with five laps remaining in the first stage. He lined up third for a one-lap shootout and picked off one position to end Stage One in second, collecting nine valuable stage points in the process.

 

Stage Two Finish: 2nd

During the stage break, the driver of the No. 7 came to pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment after reporting a vibration late in Stage One. Firing off from the 16th position on lap 51 with some cars being on varying pit strategies, Allgaier made quick work of the field, advancing to fifth within just 10 laps under green. He relayed to his team that the vibration was gone with the fresh set of tires and continued his surge forward, advancing his position to second before the end of the caution-free Stage Two on lap 90.

 

Final Stage:

Allgaier was happy with the balance on his Sam’s Club/Hellmann’s Chevy, so the team opted to take just four tires and fuel during the pit stop under the stage-ending caution. He took the green flag for the final stage on lap 97 from the second position and powered his way to the lead on lap 91. He continued to pace the field until the caution flag waved for an incident on lap 108. Allgaier again took over the top spot after the race was back under way. He reported that the vibration had returned on his No. 7 Camaro, but didn’t let that deter him as continued to hold point.

 

When a caution came out on lap 132, Allgaier led the field to pit road. The No. 7 team made fast stop for four tires and fuel, but Allgaier would line up in third with cars ahead of him on older tires. The veteran driver got loose on the lap-137 restart and lost some ground to the race leaders, but with a fast Camaro he quickly made up positions and was back up to third before another incident brought out the yellow flag.

 

After coming to pit road for his last set of fresh tires and fuel, Allgaier restarted from the fifth spot on lap 163. He battled his way to second and was tracking down the leader before an inopportune caution came out on lap 170. Staying out, Allgaier restarted in the second position and got loose while battling for the lead. He lost some ground but was trying to recover when another car made contact with him, triggering a multi-car incident. The Sam’s Club/Hellmann’s Camaro suffered major damage after contact with the wall and Allgaier was forced to retire from the race early after completing 175 laps.

 

The JR Motorsports driver was ultimately scored with a 26th-place finish, but is still above the cutoff line for the Championship 4 with one race left in the Round of 8.

 

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Sam’s Club/Hellmann’s Chevrolet

“First of all, I’m just proud of everyone at JR Motorsports. The Camaro that we brought today, to get Sam’s Club and Hellmann’s that far up front and to be as good as we were, I’m just really proud of the effort. We had a lot of speed. It’s a shame for our team that our day ended early. It’s pretty disappointing. We’ll regroup. Thankfully we were able to get some good stage points today and we’re still in a solid position in the points. Hopefully we can head to Martinsville and have a good weekend.”


Jeb Burton

 

Jeb Burton, driver of the No. 8 State Water Heaters Chevrolet, led for seven laps and was running solidly inside the top 10 during the final stage of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Texas Motor Speedway before an incident on lap 157 sent the JR Motorsports driver hard into the outside retaining wall. Following a brief visit to pit road during the subsequent caution, the team realized that the damage was too severe to continue, ending Burton’s afternoon early and ultimately resulting in a 30th-place finish. Burton and the No. 8 team head into the final race in the Round of 8 as the eighth seed in the battle for the owner’s championship. 

 

Stage One Finish: 17th  

Burton lined up from the eighth position for the 200-lap event after the starting lineup was set via NASCAR’s mathematical formula earlier in the week. After battling inside the top 10 throughout the opening laps, Burton entered the middle of Turns 3 and 4 coming to the completion of lap 10 racing in the 10th position, but got sideways and went for a long slide through the exit of the corner with the State Water Heaters Chevrolet. Coming to pit road for four tires and fuel during the caution that followed, Burton returned to the track in the 35th position, one lap behind the race leaders. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Burton pressed forward, maintaining his position as the first car one lap down and earning his way back onto the lead lap via the free pass when the scheduled competition caution was displayed on lap 20.

 

Now back on the lead lap, the driver of the State Water Heaters Chevrolet ascended up the leaderboard, methodically navigating his way through the field to rejoin the top 20 just before the caution flag was displayed once again on lap 39. During this caution period, crew chief Taylor Moyer decided to bring Burton to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment after the JRM driver had reported that he was fighting a loose-handling condition. Lining up in 19th for the one-lap shootout to end Stage One, Burton gained two positions to take the green-and-white checkered on lap 45 in the 17th position. 

 

Stage Two Finish: 16th   

Having just come to pit road prior to the end of Stage One, Moyer made the call to have Burton stay out on the track while the majority of the front runners came to pit road. That decision paid off as Burton lined up for the beginning of Stage Two in the sixth position on lap 51. Despite restarting inside the top 10, the Halifax, Va. native continued to fight a loose-handling condition rolling through the corners. This handling condition ultimately shuffled Burton back outside of the top 10 through the caution-free second stage as the driver of the State Water Heaters Chevrolet patiently waited for the second groove covered with the PJ1 substance to come in. That top line finally came in throughout the closing laps of the second stage, but Burton didn’t have enough time to use it to his advantage. Burton took the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 90 in 16th.

 

Final Stage:

Prior to the beginning of the final stage of the afternoon, Moyer brought the driver of the State Water Heaters Chevrolet back to pit road for another set of fresh tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of alleviating the loose-handling condition. Taking the lap-97 restart in 14th following the stop, Burton charged forward, gaining five positions and moving up to ninth before the field was slowed once again on lap 107. The JRM driver’s march didn’t stop there, as Burton took advantage of the outside line on the ensuing restart to drive up to the seventh position. Burton held steady in seventh until a lap-131 caution period gave Moyer an opportunity to play with some strategy. As the race leaders came to pit road, Moyer made the call for Burton to come in for fuel only as opposed to taking their final set of fresh tires.

 

This strategy call moved the 28-year-old driver into the race lead for the lap-137 restart. Burton fought hard once out front, utilizing the clean air to his advantage and holding on to the top spot for seven laps before succumbing to the cars with fresher tires. After weathering the charge from the cars with fresher tires, Burton settled into the sixth position and looked to ride there until the window opened for the team to pit for their final set of fresh tires. However, that opportunity never came as an issue with the right-rear tire entering Turn 1 on lap 157 sent Burton hard into the outside retaining wall and badly damage the right-side of the State Water Heaters Chevrolet.

 

After initially coming to pit road in the hopes of making repairs, it was determined that the damage was too severe to continue, relegating Burton to a 30th-place finish.

 

With the result, the No. 8 team now sits eighth in the owner’s championship playoff seeding with one race remaining in the Round of 8.

 

Jeb Burton, driver No. 8 State Water Heaters Chevrolet team

“We had made a lot of gains with our State Water Heaters Chevrolet today and I can’t thank Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and all the guys on this JR Motorsports team enough. We were holding steady there with our older tires and I feel like we would’ve had a real shot at fighting for the win if we didn’t run into our issues there in Turn 1. It’s really unfortunate that that happened but this team doesn’t give up and we will rebound next week at my favorite track in Martinsville.”  

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XFINITY Series Schedule

XFINITY Series Standings

After Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200*

Phoenix Raceway | 11/7/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Austin Cindric (P)40400
2Justin Allgaier (P)4032-8
3Justin Haley (P)4029-11
4Chase Briscoe (P)4028-12
5Noah Gragson2306-1734
6Brandon Jones2273-1767
7Ross Chastain2270-1770
8Harrison Burton #2248-1792
9Michael Annett2202-1838