JR Motorsports Tallies Solid Finishes Despite Adversity At Iowa

5/17/2015

Alpha Energy Solutions Ben Rhodes Chase Elliott Iowa NAPA News Race Report Regan Smith XFINITY Series

JR Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott, Ben Rhodes, and Regan Smith all ended the day in solid positions after each facing frustrating situations during the race.

Race 10 of 33: 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway

Track Specs: 0.875-mile oval / 250 laps

Weather: Partly cloudy; 76 deg.

Race Winner: Chris Buescher

Elliott’s finish: 2nd

Rhodes’ finish: 7th

Smith’s finish: 11th

Chase Elliott

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, finished second in Sunday’s 3M 250 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway.  After leading two times for a race high 114 laps, Elliott notched his highest finishing position of the 2015 season.  Elliott now trails championship points leader Ty Dillon by 31 points after 10 races – picking up six points on Dillon in Iowa.  Chris Buescher led four different times for a total of 94 laps en route to capturing his second career XFINITY Series victory and first of the 2015 season.

After qualifying in the sixth position Saturday, Elliott moved forward quickly in the early going of Sunday’s race – picking up two positions by the time the first caution flag fell on lap two.  There was minimal concern early in the NAPA camp, as Elliott’s Chevrolet briskly paced the .875-mile oval.  After the competition caution flag on lap 62, crew chief Ernie Cope brought Elliott in for a slight air pressure adjustment to compliment four fresh tires and two cans of fuel.  Prior to entering pit road in the second position Elliott radioed in telling his team he was extremely pleased with the way the NAPA Camaro was firing off.  After a lighting fast pit stop by the No. 9 JR Motorsports (JRM) team, Elliott would restart second on lap 67.

On lap 68 Elliott drove by Buescher for the race lead.  Elliott proved that clean air was a solid recipe for success Sunday in Iowa, as he was able to build a two-second cushion on the No. 60.  Under another caution on lap 143, Cope would bring Elliott in for fuel and four tires.  Unfortunately, the team gave up one position on pit road, dropping Elliott to second on the ensuing lap 151 restart.  As a caution-plagued 30-lap segment began, Elliott would fight buoyantly throughout before eventually making a key pit stop on lap 180.

Cope, maximized the team’s pit stop under caution on lap 180, by checking for right-side damage and also filling Elliott’s Chevy with enough fuel for the distance.  On the succeeding lap 182 restart, Elliott would battle from 14th place, to eventually retake the lead from Buescher on lap 221, all before a heartbreaking finale.  A half a lap from taking the white flag, a caution flag fell, forcing the field into a green-white-checkered finish.  Without a set of fresh tires, Cope kept Elliott out for the upcoming restart.  Elliott gave it all he had, but slipped back to a second-place finish after a commanding effort on the day.

Buescher defeated Elliott, Erik Jones, Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney to round out the top-five.

Chase Elliott, driver No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team

“That is racing some days.  We had some right side damage and I think it was a good call to come in and make sure that was ok rather than face the opposite, like cutting down a tire and having a day like we did in Talladega.  It was certainly the right move by Ernie (crew chief Ernie Cope) to come in and put on right-side tires.  I was able to have a good restart and get back up to the front.  We had a super-fast NAPA KNOW HOW Chevrolet today, especially on the long-runs.  We took the lead back, but ended up coming up a half a lap short.  Overall I was very pleased with the way we unloaded this weekend in Iowa.  We were fast in practice and that’s what you want to have, consistency throughout the weekend.  We’ll set our sights on Charlotte and get the job done next weekend.”

Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes gained five positions on a wild green-white-checkered finish in Sunday’s 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway, earning a seventh-place finish in his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut. The 18-year-old had quite a day, receiving his high school diploma on stage at driver introductions prior to piloting the No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet to a top-10 finish.

Rhodes was phenomenal on restarts all race long, which boded well for when the caution flag was waved just two laps prior to the scheduled 250-lap distance. The rookie driver looked like a veteran when he made a three-wide pass to pick up positions on the final green-white-checkered run.

After starting 14th, Rhodes quickly raced his way into the top 10. He reported that his Alpha Chevy was loose on entry and tight through the center of the corners, a handling condition which persisted for most of the 259-lap event. At the competition caution on lap 60, crew chief Dave Elenz called for significant adjustments to the race car. Rhodes was penalized for speeding as he exited pit road and the No. 88 team was sent to the tail end of the lead-lap cars, which put him 24th for the restart.

While battling handling issues, Rhodes struggled to gain ground on long green-flag runs and was outside of the top 15 for most of the race, even going a lap down near the halfway mark. However, several late-race cautions favored the driver of the No. 88 Chevy, combined with Elenz and the team making solid adjustments on pit road and Rhodes was able to work his way back on the lead lap and just outside of the top 10. On the final restart, Rhodes drove from 12th to seventh after a four-tire pit stop.

Chris Buescher earned his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory of 2015, with Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top five.

Ben Rhodes, driver No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions team

“I think it was a good day overall. I was learning a lot early on and as the race went on, I was able to get a little more aggressive in the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevy - maybe a little too aggressive at times as I hit the wall a little bit. I was trying to find as much grip as I could, changing my lines and moving around. We had a pretty decent setup today. Our car worked well on longer runs as other cars slowed down; I think we were able to stay with them then. On the restarts was where we made up all of our ground. I was praying for restarts - every time there was a restart and I could be on the high side, or even the low side on that last restart, it worked out really well for us and we were able to pick up some spots.”

Regan Smith

Regan Smith concluded Sunday’s 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway with an 11th-place finish in the No. 7 NAPA Synthetic Motor Oil Chevrolet.  For a weekend that began with such promise, it was a disappointing and uncharacteristic ending for Smith and the 7 team. 

After starting the day in seventh, the early stages of the race showed Smith as one of the few competitors who could carry speed on the bottom of the track.  The team seemed poised for a strong showing over long green-flag runs.  But following the competition caution on lap 60, it became clear the team was battling negative handling characteristics.  The No. 7 NAPA Synthetic Motor Oil Chevy would only run as high as seventh before fading to 10th while the team attempted to alleviate the handling issues with several calls for chassis adjustments through its pit stops.  Smith stayed the course but still drifted to 12th by lap 150 as a result. 

With the final caution waving on lap 248, Smith, now running in 11th, seized the opportunity to bring the No. 7 to pit road for a two-tire stop.  He lined up in seventh for the ensuing green-white-checkered restart.  When the field rumbled back to life, the No. 7 sputtered due to a fuel issue.  The issue forced the team to give up several position in the closing laps and come home 11th

Chris Buescher won the race.  He was followed to the line by Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 NAPA Synthetic Motor Oil team

“This was a tough day for the 7 team.  We had such a strong car during practice and we really felt that over the long run, we were going to be one of the teams to beat today.  But we struggled from the very beginning.  We’re all disappointed with the results.  We could never get a handle on the car for the entire day.  It started off really loose then went tight there at the end.  And not enough fuel on the last restart, the engine stumbled all the way to turn one. I wasn't expecting that. Added to a long frustrating day.”

 

 

No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS

Chevrolet Camaro

Chase Elliott

Start

6th

Finish

2nd  

Laps Completed (Led)

259 of 259 (114)

Points (Bonus)

44 (2)

Standings (from leader)

3rd (-31)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 88 Alpha Energy Solutions

Chevrolet Camaro

Ben Rhodes

Start

14th

Finish

7th

Laps Completed (Led)

259 of 259 (0)

Points (Bonus)

37 (0)

Standings (from leader)

4th (-76)

Status

Running

 

 

No. 7 NAPA Synthetic Motor Oil

Chevrolet Camaro

Regan Smith

Start

7th

Finish

11th 

Laps Completed (Led)

259 of 259 (0)

Points (Bonus)

33 (0)

Standings (from leader)

6th (-48)

Status

Running

 

Articles

image

XFINITY Series Schedule

  • May 23 01:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300 at CharlotteCharlotte Motor Speedway
  • May 30 01:00 PM ET
    Mid-Ohio 170Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
  • June 6 01:30 PM ET
    LTi Printing 250Michigan International Speedway
  • June 13 08:30 PM ET
    Iowa 250Iowa Speedway
  • June 20 04:00 PM ET
    Chicagoland 300Chicagoland Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After LS Tractor 200

Phoenix Raceway | 3/7/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Harrison Burton #1760
2Chase Briscoe173-3
3Austin Cindric155-21
4Brandon Jones148-28
5Ross Chastain146-30
6Noah Gragson143-33
7Ryan Sieg143-33
8Justin Haley140-36
9Justin Allgaier138-38
10Michael Annett119-57