Strong Night Nets Four Top-10s for JRM at Kentucky

JR Motorsports | 7/12/2019

FilterTime Florida Georgia Line Justin Allgaier Kentucky Michael Annett Nationwide Children's Hospital News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Ryan Truex XFINITY Series

JRM rebounded after a tough night a week ago to put all four cars in the top-10 Friday night in the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Race 17 of 33: Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile D-shaped oval / 200 laps
Weather: Clear; 73 degrees
Race Winner: Cole Custer

Annett's Finish: 4th
Gragson's Finish: 6th
Allgaier's Finish: 7th
Truex's Finish: 8th

Michael Annett

Friday night’s Alsco 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Kentucky Speedway belonged to the four drivers who have won NXS races so far this season. Michael Annett, winner of the season opener at Daytona in February, drove his No. 1 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish on the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval, finishing behind race winner Cole Custer, second-place Christopher Bell and third-place Tyler Reddick.

For Annett, Friday’s run continued a solid mid-season surge for him and his team. Over the past eight races, Annett has three top-five finishes and seven in the top 10, and his fourth-place effort saw him move up to seventh place in series driver points.

After qualifying 10th for the 200-lap race, Annett gained four positions in the first two laps of green-flag racing and was running sixth three laps later when the first caution flag of the day came out for a crash in Turn 3. Annett reported to crew chief Travis Mack that his Camaro felt good and was very neutral, and once the green flag replaced the yellow, Annett held sway in sixth until lap 34, when Reddick got past off Turn 4. Annett lost seventh to Brandon Jones four laps later as his car began to tighten up, and he ended the 45-lap Stage One in eighth place. Mack called for four tires, fuel, wedge and air-pressure adjustments on the ensuing pit stop at lap 49, and the Pilot Flying J crew got him off pit road without losing a position.

Firing off from eighth for Stage Two, Annett was ninth on lap 56 when Austin Cindric and Justin Haley tangled off Turn 4. Annett reported that something felt off in the front end of his Chevrolet, and Mack brought him back down pit road the next time by for more tires and to top it off with fuel. That seemed to fix the problem, and Annett returned to the track in 16th spot. Over the next several laps, Annett was on the move, rising to 10th place before the caution flag waved again at lap 68. Restarting in ninth, Annett passed Riley Herbst for eighth with eight laps left in Stage Two and got by JRM teammate Ryan Truex three laps later for seventh spot, where he finished five laps later.

Heading back down pit road to the attention of his pit crew, Annett took four tires and fuel and came out one position better than when he came in. That set him up for a run at the top five, and nine laps later, the Iowa native swept to fifth position. At lap 133 Reddick, who had been shaving tenths of a second off his deficit, got past off Turn 4 when lapped cars running two-wide balked Annett’s line down the front straightaway. Soon after that, Annett reported that the handle on his No. 1 machine had gone to the tight side during a long green-flag run. At lap 153, Annett came down pit road—still under green and from second place--for his final stop and Mack put four more tires on with adjusted air pressures and added fuel to the end, sending his driver back out in sixth position. Annett reported that the car was really free over the first few laps of the run, but settled down as the laps wore on. At lap 159, Annett took over fifth place but was still a bit edgy with his handling. Mack told his driver that even though he wasn’t comfortable, the lap times were going down. On laps 166 and 167, Annett was the fastest car on the track and began taking chunks of time out of fourth-place Chase Briscoe’s lead.

With 25 to go, Annett trailed fourth place by .741 seconds. At lap 180, he was within .139 seconds and the next time by, he took fourth place from the young Indiana driver. Annett would finish the race there 19 laps later.

Custer, Bell, Reddick and Annett were followed by Briscoe in the top five. JRM teammates Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Truex led the second five, with Ryan Sieg and Justin Haley rounding out the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J team

“That was a good, solid run for the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet tonight. We qualified in the top 10, finished in the top four and had no major problems all night long. Tonight was one of the better runs we’ve had all year. Man, this No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro was fast tonight. We had good strategy, our pit crew guys had a great weekend and Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) gave me both a solid car and good strategy. It was kind of cool that the four drivers who have won races finished in the top four tonight. Now all we have to do is move up to the front of that group. Another good run on a 1.5-mile track, too.”

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet Camaro, ran inside the top 10 throughout Friday evening’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Kentucky Speedway, earning valuable stage points in both Stage One and Two en route to a sixth-place finish. The result is Gragson’s sixth top-10 finish in the last seven races and keeps the JR Motorsports driver sixth in the championship standings.

Gragson lined up for the 200-lap event from the third position and continued to fight inside the top five until a tight-handling condition developed rolling though the corner. Despite not handling to his liking, the driver of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet remained in the top 10, closing out the opening 45-lap stage in the sixth position. The stage-ending result also earned Gragson five valuable stage points.

Before the beginning of Stage Two, crew chief Dave Elenz called Gragson to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of improving the tight-handling condition. Returning to the track following the stop in third, Gragson quickly moved up to the second position before the caution flag was displayed on lap 54. On the ensuing restart, Gragson charged into the race lead. The Las Vegas native held on to the top spot for eight laps before the tight condition returned, shuffling him outside of the top three in the closing laps of Stage Two to take the green-and-white checkered in fourth and earn an additional seven valuable stage points.

During the stage-ending caution, Gragson returned to pit road for four tires and another chassis adjustment, which put the 20-year old driver back out for the lap-96 restart in the ninth position. After quickly maneuvering two positions on the restart, Gragson settled his Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet in to seventh and remained there until the lone round of green-flag pit stops commenced on lap 148. Following a pit stop for four tires, air pressure and a chassis adjustment, Gragson re-entered the track in the sixth position.

Gragson remained in sixth for the final 52 laps of the caution-free final stage, ultimately earning his sixth top-10 result in the last seven races and his ninth overall in the 2019 NXS season.

Cole Custer scored the victory, with Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, JRM teammate Michael Annett and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Nationwide Children’s Hospital team

“We had a really good Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet all weekend long and I can’t thank them enough for coming on board. It’s an honor to carry their colors and hopefully the Patient Champions had a great time with us. It’s too bad we just couldn’t shake being tight through the corners but Dave (Elenz, crew chief) and everyone on this team worked their guts out and we were able to come home with another top-10 finish and keep this positive momentum going. This group never gives up and we’ll keep it going next week in New Hampshire.”

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the FilterTime team earned a seventh-place finish in Friday night’s Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway, claiming their ninth top-10 effort of the season. With 17 races complete, Allgaier currently sits fifth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings, just 147 markers outside the lead.

Allgaier rolled off the grid fourth for the 200-lap race and moved up to the third position before the first caution of the night came out on lap 5. Under the yellow, he radioed that the FilterTime Camaro was pretty good balance-wise. He restarted third, but the car ahead of him got a slow start and Allgaier lost a few positions. By lap 37, Allgaier had moved back to the third spot and remained there until the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end Stage One on lap 45.

During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Jason Burdett called Allgaier to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. A mishap during the stop caused the team to lose spots on pit road and Allgaier lined up 12th for Stage Two on lap 51. He made quick work of the field, moving into the sixth position before a yellow flag waved on lap 69. Allgaier restarted in sixth on lap 72 and gained one spot to finish Stage Two in fifth on lap 90.

Allgaier came to pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. A fast stop allowed the JR Motorsports driver to line up for the final stage in the fourth spot on lap 96. Allgaier continued to battle for position inside the top five once the stage got underway, settling solidly into the third position on lap 121. Allgaier was in that same spot when scheduled green-flag pit stops began for the field near lap 150. The Illinois native came to pit road for four tires and fuel, and upon exiting pit road, spotter Eddie D’Hondt gave the team the news that they had to serve a pass-through penalty for speeding.

Allgaier came down pit road to serve the penalty and got back out on track one lap down. Running in the 12th position on lap 154, Allgaier continued to track down the cars ahead of him who were also a lap down. He rejoined the top 10 on lap 160 and picked off a few more spots in the closing laps to take the checkered flag in the seventh position.

Cole Custer won the race and was followed by Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick, with JRM driver Michael Annett and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 FilterTime team

“I thought we were a third or fourth-place car tonight. Unfortunately we just had some mistakes on pit road and I sped getting onto pit road, which really hurt us. Our Filtertime Camaro was good. That’s the best mile-and-a-half that I feel like we’ve had so far speed-wise all year. We’ll keep plugging along. It wasn’t the night we wanted, but still a solid finish and a good points night.”

Ryan Truex

In only his second start of the season for JR Motorsports, Ryan Truex came home with an 8th-place finish in Friday night’s Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway, piloting the No. 8 Florida Georgia Line/ Chevrolet. It marked Truex’s second top-eight effort in as many races and hands the No. 8 team its 12th top 10 of the season.

Truex took the green flag in 12th and climbed three positions to ninth in the opening laps just before the initial caution came on lap five. Afterwards, as the field settled into a customary green-flag run, Truex radioed the team that his No. 8 entry was getting tighter as the run went on, particularly in Turns 3 and 4. He slipped back a few positions but held serve in 12th for end of Stage One.

Under the stage-ending caution, Truex came to pit road with the rest of the field for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help with the handling. He took the Stage Two restart in 14th and the adjustments gave him handling enough to surge forward. By lap 60 he’d reclaimed ninth. Then, 15 circuits later, he drove as high as fifth. “We made good progress on it,” Truex commented to the team. But still needing a bit more turn out of the machine, Truex settled into eighth, where he rode to the Stage Two conclusion.

More changes followed during the next pit stop, and Truex fired off for the final stage in ninth. Truex protected the position over a lengthy green-flag run, his progress hampered by the aero sensitivities of the car, which proved challenging in traffic. On lap 145, crew chief Taylor Moyer called the No. 8 to pit road for a schedule green-flag stop and used the opportunity to take two tires in an attempt to gain Truex premium track position. Truex leapfrogged to seventh as the field cycled through and rode there until the final lap when JRM teammate Justin Allgaier snatched the position away. Truex went on to take the checkered flag in eighth.

Cole Custer won the race. Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Michael Annett and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five finishers. 

Ryan Truex, driver No. 8 Chevrolet team

“To start the race, we were still too tight. We really spent the whole race freeing up the car and trying to get more front turn. We got better – I think we got up to fifth at one point. Obviously, it’s really hard to pass here. Any car you catch will slow your lap time by half a second. Clean air and track position were king. We took two tires at the end to get some track position. My left sides were just killed, so I really had to just ride and take care of it.

“I thought we were going to get seventh, but Justin [Allgaier] just got me on the last lap. He had four tires and I couldn’t hold him off. Overall, it was a net gain. We wanted to be further up in the field, but I’ll take this. A top 10 is always good.”

XFINITY Series Schedule

  • August 24 03:00 PM ET
    CTECH Manufacturing 180Road America
  • August 31 04:00 PM ET
    Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200Darlington Raceway
  • September 7 03:00 PM ET
    Indiana 250Indianapolis Motor Speedway
  • September 14 07:30 PM ET
    Rhino Pro Truck Outfitters 300Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • September 20 07:30 PM ET
    Go Bowling 250Richmond Raceway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Food City 300

Bristol Motor Speedway | 8/16/2019
1Tyler Reddick9780
2Christopher Bell924-54
3Cole Custer839-139
4Justin Allgaier819-159
5Austin Cindric785-193
6Chase Briscoe #742-236
7Noah Gragson #728-250
8Michael Annett695-283