Four Top 10s for JRM in Richmond Playoff Opener

JR Motorsports | 9/20/2019

Brandt Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson PatientPop Pilot Flying J Playoffs Richmond Superior Essex XFINITY Series Zane Smith

Led by Justin Allgaier in fourth, JRM put all four cars in the top 10 in Friday night's NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Opener at Richmond Raceway.

Race 27 of 33: Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway
Track Specs: 0.75-mile D-shaped oval /250 laps
Weather: Clear; 64 degrees
Race Winner: Christopher Bell

Allgaier's Finish: 4th
Gragson's Finish: 7th
Smith's Finish: 8th
Annett's Finish: 9th

 

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier and the BRANDT Professional Agriculture team kicked off the NASCAR Xfinity Playoffs with a top-five finish, placing fourth at Richmond Raceway. The Friday night race was the JR Motorsports driver’s 300th career NXS start. Allgaier now sits fifth in the NXS Playoff standings with two races left before the field is narrowed down to eight.

Allgaier qualified second for the 250-lap event, but was forced to start from the back due to having to change a flat tire post-qualifying. Starting deep in the field didn’t stop the 33-year-old driver though, as he began to advance his position at the drop of the green flag. By lap 36, he was up to the 10th position, but shortly after, he reported that the BRANDT Camaro was tight in the center and free on exit. He continued to fight through the tough handling conditions to end the first stage in 10th, collecting a stage point.

Under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier brought the BRANDT Chevy to pit road for four tires, fuel, an air-pressure adjustment and a wedge adjustment. He took the green flag for Stage Two on lap 84 in the eighth position and battled his way to fourth by lap 85. As a long green-flag run ensued, Allgaier tracked down third-place Austin Cindric and worked his way by on lap 127. A few laps later a lapped car ahead of him had a mechanical issue and dropped parts on the track. Allgaier hit a big piece of debris, but no damage was discovered and he was able to continue on to finish Stage Two in the third position, earning more stage points.

Prior to the start of the final stage, the team called Allgaier in for their final stop of the race, giving the BRANDT Camaro four fresh tires, fuel and another round of adjustments. Lining up fourth to begin the last stage on lap 159, Allgaier wasted little time moving up to the third spot. Early into the run, he radioed to the team that the No. 7 Chevy was much tighter through the center of the turns. Allgaier continued to race inside the top five as the final stage went caution-free, coming home with a fourth-place finish in his 300th career NXS start. 

Christopher Bell won the first race of the 2019 NXS Playoffs and was followed by Cindric, with Cole Custer, Allgaier and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture team

“We had a really good BRANDT Professional Agriculture Camaro. Unfortunately at the end there we just didn’t have enough speed to keep up with those guys. It was still a solid day. To come from the back after running over something after qualifying, that was a disappointing way to start but I’m proud that we were able to come home with a top-five finish. Hats off to the guys and everybody back at JR Motorsports. It was a good start to the playoffs.”

 

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Superior Essex Chevrolet Camaro, earned his 15th top-10 finish in the last 17 races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series after taking the checkered flag in the seventh position on Friday night at Richmond Raceway. With the top-10 result, Gragson sits in the eighth and final cut-off position in the NXS Playoff Grid with two races remaining in the Round of 12. Following the completion of the Oct. 5 event at Dover International Speedway, the bottom four drivers will be eliminated from playoff contention.

Gragson lined up for the first event of the NXS Playoffs from the eighth position and wasted little time marching forward, racing into the top five and up to the fourth position just before a lap 50 caution period. The driver of the Superior Essex Chevrolet continued to push toward the front on the ensuing restart, taking advantage of the outside line to drive into the top three and take the green-and-white checkered flag to end Stage One on lap 75 in third. The stage result also earned Gragson eight valuable stage points.

During the stage-ending caution, crew chief Dave Elenz called the Las Vegas native to pit road for four tires and a slight air pressure adjustment after Gragson had reported that he was a little loose on the entry and exit of the corner. The rookie-of-the-year contender lined up for the beginning of Stage Two in fourth, but fell back to eighth after the initial restart. Despite the loss of track position, Gragson pressed on, utilizing the caution-free second stage to gain two positions in the closing laps to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 150 in sixth and earn an additional five stage points in the process.

While under caution following Stage Two, the driver of the Superior Essex Chevrolet came back to pit road for four tires and no adjustments, returning to the track for the third and final stage in fifth. As the caution-free final stage progressed, Gragson reported to Elenz that the loose-handling condition had returned through the corner. Although not handling to his liking, Gragson maintained his track position inside the top 10 throughout the final stage, ultimately taking the checkered flag in seventh.

With the result, Gragson is scored eighth in the NXS Playoff Grid with two races remaining in the Round of 12.

Christopher Bell earned the victory, with Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Superior Essex team

“Today was a solid day. We were able to accomplish our goals and earn stage points in both stages and come home inside the top 10, which is what we need to do to make sure we can move on to the next round in the playoffs. I just can’t say enough about all of the hard work by everyone on this Superior Essex team. It was a long day with this being a one-day show, but these guys fought hard all day and it feels good to come home with another good run and keep this momentum going. Hopefully we can carry this over into the Roval next week. I can’t wait.” 

 

Zane Smith

Zane Smith and the No. 8 PatientPop team rebounded from early issues to make huge gains when it mattered most, racing their way to an eighth-place finish in Friday night’s GoBowling 250 at Richmond Raceway in Xfinity Series action. The result gives Smith his fifth top 10 in eight starts with JR Motorsports and the No. 8 team its 18th top 10 on the year.

With a 15th-place starting spot in hand, the PatientPop team dealt with adversity from the outset in the form of brakes that were heating up quickly and glowing red after only a few laps. Smith reported a “brake shake” to crew chief Taylor Moyer who responded by having the rookie put more rear brake into the No. 8 from the cockpit. Compounded with a loose condition on entry, Smith focused on just maintaining during the opening stage and went on to finish Stage One in 12th.

The PatientPop team came to pit road with the field under the stage-ending caution and took on four tires, fuel and changes to help give Smith more drive off on corner exit. Smith lined up for the restart in 14th. Once up to speed, Smith radioed the changes helped and he set to work, racing into the top 10 for the first time on the night around lap 100. He went on to finish out Stage Two in 11th.

Smith told the team the PatientPop Chevy was handling much better but the brakes were less than ideal. Moyer called the No. 8 to the pit stall for a scheduled stop and the crew removed tape in an effort to help cool the brakes down in addition to the standard of four tires and fuel.

Smith fired off in 14th for the final stage and the crew’s adjustments paid dividends. The No. 8 charged back inside the top 10, but Smith didn’t stop there. With a PatientPop entry that seemed better as the run went on, he ultimately worked his way to eighth before the checkered flag fell.

Christopher Bell won the race. Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five finishers.

Zane Smith, driver No. 8 PatientPop Chevrolet team

“Man, I’ve got to give a big thanks to PatientPop and all the guys on the PatientPop team. They worked their tails off today. We unloaded well but had our work cut out for us with that starting position. I just couldn’t get back on the throttle like I needed to early on and the brake issue didn’t help. But we stuck with it, and in the final stage we ended up being pretty good on the long run. We just needed better track position. All-in-all it was a solid night.”

 

Michael Annett

In the opening round of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs on Friday night at Richmond Raceway, Michael Annett worked his plan to perfection, scoring 14 points in the first two stages and driving the Pilot Flying J Chevrolet to his 16th top-10 finish of the season in the Go Bowling 250. That advanced Annett to sixth place in series points and more importantly, the steady, solid opening-round run put some distance between himself and the cutoff to the Round of 8.

Starting 10th, Annett wasted no time moving forward at the initial green flag. By the time the field flashed under the flag stand for the first time, Annett was all the way up to seventh and he stayed in the top nine for the first 51 laps, when the initial caution flag of the race came out. Following the restart, another quick caution flag gave crew chief Travis Mack the chance to make a move by calling Annett to pit road at lap 62 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Entering pit road, Annett missed his pit stall and was forced to maneuver into it. The Pilot Flying J team handled the mishap with aplomb, and Annett went back out in 17th position with 12 laps left in Stage One.

With those fresher tires, Annett stormed toward the front when the green flag waved on lap 67, moving up four spots on the first green-flag lap and gaining four more over the next two to run ninth with six laps left in the 75-lap stage. Over the final few circuits, Annett blasted all the way to fourth place at the green-checkered, earning seven stage points in the process. On the break, Mack wasn’t done making moves. In an effort to maintain track position, he brought Annett down pit road again on the stage break and put on another set of sticker tires, saving the eight-lap scuffs for a possible stop late in the race.

As Stage Two got under way at lap 83, Annett rolled off sixth and stayed in the top eight for the first 10 laps before picking off Brandon Jones for seventh. Fifteen laps later he was sixth and chased down Chase Briscoe for fifth place on lap 129 when the latter slid up a groove in Turn 2. Annett kept coming and reeled in Austin Cindric for fourth with 11 laps remaining in the stage, finishing there and adding another seven points to his total for the night. Annett told Mack that his turn-in was good the entire run, but he was losing drive off over the final 25 laps. Mack responded with four more tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment.

Starting the final stage from seventh, Annett dropped to ninth in the first few laps after Harrison Burton got by and stayed there until lap 195, when JRM teammate Zane Smith caught him off Turn 2. Over the final 55 laps, Annett remained in 10th place as his car tightened up, but with just 10 laps remaining in a caution-free final stage, Annett passed Ryan Sieg for ninth and finished there at the checkered flag, earning 42 points on the night. The result puts Annett and the No. 1 team 18 points above the cut line for the Round of 8 with two races remaining in the Round of 12.

Christopher Bell won the race to become the first driver to lock himself into the Round of 8. Cindric was second, followed by Cole Custer, JRM’s Justin Allgaier and Briscoe. Burton led the second five, with JRM’s Noah Gragson, Smith, Annett and Tyler Reddick making up the top 10.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J team

“That’s a really great way to start the playoffs. It’s all about total points, and we gained a lot in the stages, which is the key to advancing to the Round of 8. This Pilot Flying J Chevrolet was really handling well in the stages, and we could gain spots on the long run as well as gaining 13 positions in eight laps at the end of Stage One thanks to a great call from Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) to come and get tires. On the last run, we were just a tick too tight in the center the whole way. It was a good night and we’re in good shape heading to the Roval next week.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • October 19 03:00 PM ET
    Kansas Lottery 300Kansas Speedway
  • November 2 08:30 PM ET
    O'Reilly Auto Parts 300Texas Motor Speedway
  • November 9 03:30 PM ET
    Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200ISM Raceway
  • November 16 03:30 PM ET
    Ford EcoBoost 300Homestead-Miami Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200

Dover International Speedway | 10/5/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Christopher Bell (P)30620
2Cole Custer (P)3050-12
3Tyler Reddick (P)3044-18
4Austin Cindric (P)3017-45
5Justin Allgaier (P)3014-48
6Chase Briscoe # (P)3013-49
7Michael Annett (P)3009-53
8Noah Gragson # (P)3005-57