Allgaier Third, Leads JRM at Iowa Speedway

JR Motorsports | 6/17/2019

Brandt Iowa Justin Allgaier La Paz Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Switch TMC XFINITY Series Zane Smith

Justin Allgaier finished third and Zane Smith fifth to lead the way for JRM on Sunday at Iowa Speedway where once again all four JRM teams brought home top-10 finishes.

Race 14 of 33: CircuitCity.com 250 at Iowa Speedway
Track Specs: 0.875-mile D-shaped oval / 250 laps
Weather: Fair; 75 degrees
Race Winner: Christopher Bell

Allgaier's Finish: 3rd
Smith's Finish: 5th
Gragson's Finish: 6th
Annett's Finish: 9th

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the BRANDT Professional Agriculture team earned their second consecutive top-five finish, placing third in Sunday’s CircuitCity.com 250 at Iowa Speedway. It was their seventh top-five effort overall in 14 races this season. The strong finish allowed Allgaier to move up one spot to fourth in the NACAR Xfinity Series point standings, just 122 markers outside the lead.

Rolling off the grid in the 14th position for the race, Allgaier wasted no time working his way forward. The Illinois native was up to fifth before the first caution flag of the day waved on lap 31. Under the yellow, Allgaier reported that the BRANDT Camaro was good on entry, tight center and was tighter off of Turn 4 than Turn 2.

He restarted in the same position and continued his surge forward, running in third by lap 40. He remained there until another caution came out with 13 laps to go in Stage One. Crew chief Jason Burdett called Allgaier to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. With some cars opting not to pit, Allgaier restarted in the seventh position and powered his way back to third before the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end the first stage.

Staying out under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier took the green flag for Stage Two in the third spot on lap 68. He battled within the top five during the caution-free stage and was scored in the fifth position at the end of Stage Two on lap 120. The JR Motorsports driver had relayed during the stage that the BRANDT Camaro was still tight through the center of the turns, so he pitted for four tires, fuel and a trackbar adjustment.

Allgaier lined up for the final stage in sixth and was running in fourth when a caution came out on lap 179. The BRANDT Chevy was still on the tight side through the center of the turns, so Burdett called Allgaier in for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. He restarted in fourth on lap 186 and quickly moved up to third, solidly maintaining his position until another caution flag waved with 35 laps to go.

The JRM driver reported under the yellow that the BRANDT Camaro was the best it had been so far and the team decided to take the opportunity to pit for the final time for fresh tires and fuel, setting them up for the end of the race. Allgaier restarted well inside the top five and battled hard in the closing laps, holding off Harrison Burton on the final lap to take the checkered flag in third.

Christopher Bell won the race and was followed by Cole Custer and Allgaier, with Burton and JRM driver Zane Smith rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture team

“This BRANDT Professional Agriculture team did a fantastic job today. We made good adjustments and the pit crew had fast stops. We didn’t get to turn as many laps in practice as we wanted yesterday because of the weather, but this team worked hard all day and we were able to get a great finish. All-in-all it was a solid day.”

Zane Smith

Zane Smith earned his top finish of the season with JR Motorsports in the CircuitCity.com 250 at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, driving the No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix Camaro to the checkered flag in the fifth position. The top-five finish comes in Smith’s fifth start with JR Motorsports in the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Inclement weather shortened first practice on Saturday and canceled final practice, leaving Smith with only 21 laps of practice to get a feel for how his No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix Chevrolet would race in his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway. However, this proved to be enough for the Huntington Beach, Calif.-native, who earned the team’s top qualifying effort on Sunday to start the 250-lap race from the third position.

Smith was running three-wide through the first two laps on the bottom groove, and was shuffled back several positions. He was quiet on the radio until the first caution flag came on lap 32, reporting to crew chief Taylor Moyer that his No. 8 Chevy was free getting in to start the run, then was tight in the center of the corner through the exit. Staying out, he restarted ninth and went to work. Gaining track position in the second half of the stage, Smith finished Stage One sixth.

Smith was in a heated battle through Stage Two with the No. 22 car, fighting for the fifth and sixth position. Adjustments made during the first pit stop of the day at the end of Stage One proved to be beneficial, as Smith radioed that the changes were positive as he maneuvered through the field and he needed more in that direction. He finished Stage Two sixth, and came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The No. 8 pit crew had a solid stop to put Smith back into the top five and go to work in the final stage.

Positive changes continued to be an advantage for Smith, as he gained two positions on the restart and ran in the second position for the first 10 laps of the final stage. A caution came on lap 178 and Smith radioed to the team that he was too tight early in the run and it made him free off the corner. He wanted just a little less adjustments in the same direction to race to the checkers. Running in the top five for the final 75 laps, Smith brought home his top finish of the season with the No. 8 team, finishing fifth.

Christopher Bell won the race, with Cole Custer, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton and Smith completing the top five.

Zane Smith, driver No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix team

“That was a really fun day in our No. 8 La Paz Cocktail Mix Chevy. I believe this is the fifth consecutive top-10 finish, and for this team and for La Paz it was super cool to be able to run up front. I only get a limited amount of starts, so I want to make sure that each one counts when I have the opportunity. Running in the top five for me and for the team gives us a lot of momentum. I’m lucky to have Chicagoland Speedway as my next race, so we’ll have a little bit of consistency and run back-to-back and hopefully get a good finish there.”

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson and the No. 9 Switch team showed what perseverance is all about in Sunday’s CircuitCity.com 250 at Iowa Speedway. Gragson and company rebounded from an early tire issue that dropped the team as low as 26th, two laps down, and fought their way back to a sixth-place finish. The result nets Gragson and the team their fourth consecutive top-six finish.

Gragson’s day started off strong. He qualified fourth for the 250-lap race, a result which tied his season-best effort. When the green flag waved, Gragson immediately went to work with the Switch Chevrolet. With the action picking up at the front of the field, he snagged a spot and drove to third. A few laps later, Gragson found himself wheel-to-wheel with the No. 7 and 18 cars and relinquished third but held serve on a spot inside the top five. As the laps clicked off in the opening stage, Gragson radioed crew chief Dave Elenz to report that “something felt weird” on the right-front tire.  A caution 12 laps shy of the stage-ending caution brought the field to pit road, and in addition for fresh tires and fuel, the No. 9 team made adjustments to help the handling for Gragson. He went on to end Stage One in fourth.

With the onset of Stage Two, Gragson drifted back to eighth, reporting it “felt like something broke” on his race car. While the field stayed under green, Gragson dropped onto pit road to the attention of the crew where a loose wheel turned out to be the culprit. Despite quick work by the Switch pit crew, Gragson emerged back onto the racing surface in 26th, scored two laps down.

The rest of the race became a matter of playing sound strategy to get their track position back. It just took time over the remainder of the race. On three separate occasions, Elenz elected to take the wave around. It was a tactical decision that netted positive results in the race’s closing laps and left Gragson fighting to be the first car one lap down and in position for the free pass. Gragson fended off challenges for the sought-after position but occupied it when the caution flag flew with 16 laps to go. Now back on the lead lap, Gragson came to pit road for his last set of tires under caution, making him one of the few cars with the benefit of fresh rubber. He restarted 14th and diced his way through the field, rapidly finding a spot among the top 10 and then climbed four spots further to take the checkered flag in sixth.

Christopher Bell won the race and was followed to the line by Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton and Zane Smith.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Switch team

“I feel like we were really fast and had a good Switch Camaro all day. Something happened with the car in Stage One and set us back, and we ran two or three laps down. It was rough but we hung in there. Somehow, we came back and finished sixth. I think that’s a true testament to this JR Motorsports / Switch team and our mentality, and that’s just not to quit. We keep on going every chance we get. We have a strand of good finishes over the past few weeks. It feels good collecting these top 10s.”

Michael Annett

Michael Annett drove his No. 1 TMC Transportation Chevrolet to a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s CircuitCity.com 250 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars at Iowa Speedway, earning his fifth straight top-10 finish and 10th of the season in 14 races.

Annett, an Iowa native, ran as high as sixth during the 250-lap event on the 0.875-mile oval and stayed in the top 10 for the vast majority of the laps despite battling both a slight handling problem and the wild restarts that are a staple of racing on the Iowa oval.

Rolling off 12th, Annett wasted little time getting to the top 10. The second time by, Annett’s black-and-gold Chevrolet Camaro crossed the line in 10th spot, and he passed JRM teammate Zane Smith for the eighth position on lap 25. During the 60-lap Stage One, Annett reported to crew chief Travis Mack that his car was tight in the center of the corners and loose getting back to the throttle. It would be a familiar refrain.

When the caution waved on lap 48, Mack brought his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment and some tape on the nose to help his driver’s handle, and sent him back out in 16th spot. Restarting with four laps to go in the stage, Annett was able to gain six spots to finish 10th. Since Annett had pitted early, he stayed out over the break and lined up ninth for the beginning of Stage Two.

Forced to start on the inside line, Annett dropped a spot to 10th on the initial break, but had advanced back to ninth when teammate Noah Gragson was forced to pit road with a loose wheel. That put him eighth, where he ran for much of the rest of the 60-lap Stage Two. With eight laps left before the green-checkered flag, Annett pulled off a nifty move to pass both John Hunter Nemechek and Brandon Jones and move to seventh place, which is where he finished the stage.

The handling issues from Stage One were still there for Annett in Stage Two, but Mack’s adjustments had improved his lot. Heading down pit road at the end of Stage Two, Annett took four tires and fuel with an air-pressure adjustment, but trouble on the left front tire cost the team three spots on the exchange. Firing off in 10th spot for the run to the finish, Annett gained two spots on the initial break to run eighth, but got caught in a traffic jam that put him back to 11th after just five laps. At lap 157, he worked his way back into the top 10, where he ran in a gaggle of cars that included Chase Briscoe, Justin Haley and Austin Cindric.

The yellow waved again at lap 178, and Annett had another shot at improving the handle on his No. 1 Chevrolet.  On the stop, however, a lug nut got caught in the wheel and cost the team time on pit road, which also cost him a spot when the field lined up to restart a few laps later. Taking the green flag with 64 laps remaining in the race, Annett passed Jones for 10th, and three laps later got past Haley for ninth place. When the caution flag waved again at lap 216, Mack called Annett to pit road for the last set of tires and an air-pressure adjustment for the final 34 laps. The pit crew pulled off a blazing-fast stop and earned three spots for their driver, putting Annett sixth for the restart.

With 15 laps to go and Annett holding the seventh position, the yellow came out again, which set up a 10-lap shootout to the finish. Annett started from the low line again and dropped three spots before getting sorted out into the line he wanted to run. Over the final five laps, Annett gained one of those spots back by nudging past Cindric to earn the ninth-place finish.

Christopher Bell won the event, topping Cole Custer, JRM’s Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton and Smith. Gragson was sixth, followed by Briscoe, Nemechek, Annett and Cindric.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 TMC Transportation team

“We were pretty good most of the day, just too tight in the center and too loose back to the gas, but it’s Iowa and that’s what the cars do here. We made some good changes throughout the day to help the drive off and lateral grip, but at the end, our TMC Transportation Chevrolet just wouldn’t come off the bottom like it needed to. It’s a top-10 finish, and that’s a good day. We get to come back here in a month and have another shot at getting a home-track victory.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • November 16 03:30 PM ET
    Ford EcoBoost 300Homestead-Miami Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200

ISM Raceway | 11/9/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Justin Allgaier (P)40000
2Christopher Bell (P)40000
3Tyler Reddick (P)40000
4Cole Custer (P)40000
5Austin Cindric (P)2252-1748
6Chase Briscoe # (P)2252-1748
7John Hunter Nemechek #2212-1788
8Michael Annett (P)2210-1790
9Noah Gragson # (P)2208-1792