Top-10 Finishes All Around for JRM at Dover

JR Motorsports | 10/5/2019

Dover Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Northeastern Supply PatientPop Playoffs PubG Mobile TMC XFINITY Series Zane Smith

JRM once again saw all four cars finish in the top 10 on Saturday at Dover International Speedway with our three playoff drivers advancing to the Round of 8 as well.

Race 29 of 33: Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway
Track Specs: 1-mile concrete oval / 200 laps
Weather: Partly cloudy, 62 degrees
Race Winner: Cole Custer

Allgaier's Finish: 2nd
Annett's Finish: 6th
Gragson's Finish: 7th
Smith's Finish: 9th

 

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier swept the first two stages of Saturday’s race at Dover International Speedway and led 67 laps, bringing the Northeastern Supply Chevy home with a second-place finish. The runner-up effort was Allgaier’s fifth consecutive top-five finish and locked him into the Round of 8 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. He currently sits fifth in the standings, just three points below the cutoff line with three races to go before the playoff field is narrowed down to the Championship 4.

The Illinois native qualified eighth for the 200-lap race. Once the green flag dropped, it didn’t take long for trouble to brew on the track as a multi-car incident brought out a caution on lap 1. Allgaier was able to escape the carnage and continue on to restart in the fourth position on lap 6. Back under green, the JR Motorsports driver surged forward in a hurry, moving into the second position by the next lap. He was in that same spot when another caution flag came out on lap 21.

Under the yellow, Allgaier relayed to crew chief Jason Burdett that the Northeastern Supply Camaro was losing corner exit grip. Opting to stay out, Allgaier restarted in the second position and took over the lead on lap 27. He continued to pace the field until the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end the first stage. With the stage win, he gained a coveted playoff point.

During the stage-ending caution, Allgaier came to pit road for four tires, fuel and multiple adjustments. A fast stop by the No. 7 pit crew allowed Allgaier to win the battle off of pit road. Taking the green flag in the top position, Allgaier held on to the lead for the entirety of the caution-free second stage, allowing him to rack up another playoff point. Under the caution to end Stage Two, the team called Allgaier to pit road for four tires, fuel and more adjustments.

The driver of the Northeastern Supply Camaro started the final stage from the third position on lap 98 and quickly maneuvered his way to second. He radioed to the team that the last adjustment made the No. 7 Camaro too tight through the center of the turns. As a long green-flag run ensued, the team began getting their game plan together for the next stop.

Allgaier came to pit road for a scheduled green-flag pit stop near lap 165 for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Pit stops continued to cycle through for the field until an ill-time caution came out with only three lead-lap cars left to pit. Allgaier was caught as the first car lap down in the fourth position and was given the free pass. He restarted in fourth on lap 186 and was back up to second before yet another caution flag waved on lap 188. Allgaier lined up in second beside Cole Custer for the restart with less than 10 laps to go. He fought hard for the lead but wasn’t able to get around Custer in the closing laps, ultimately finishing the race in the runner-up spot and locking himself into the Round of 8.

Custer won the race and was followed by Allgaier, with Austin Cindric, Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 Northeastern Supply team

“Our Northeastern Supply Camaro was really good today. We made good changes throughout the race and got track position and we were able to maximize points. I feel like if there hadn’t been that caution there during green-flag pit stops we would have been in really good position to get the win. That’s a little disappointing, but it was still a really solid day and to move on to the next round of the playoffs is a big deal.”

 

Michael Annett

When it came down to the final laps of Saturday’s Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway, Michael Annett and the No. 1 TMC Transportation Chevrolet were in prime position to ensure advancement in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. Restarting third with just seven laps remaining, Annett brought his black-and-gold Camaro home in sixth place and punched his ticket to the Round of 8, his best performance in the postseason so far. The top-10 finish was also the Iowa driver’s 17th of the season, which tied his career-best season total (2012) in the NXS with four races yet remaining this year.

Strategy from crew chief Travis Mack played out perfectly near the end of the 200-lap event and helped Annett end the Round of 12 with a 10-point lead on ninth-place driver John Hunter Nemechek for the final transfer spot. After finishing Stage Two in ninth place, Mack brought his driver down pit road at lap 94 for four tires, fuel, an air-pressure adjustment and some tape on the nose. It would be the last time Annett would see the pit lane until lap 182, as he ran the majority of the final stage in sixth position and stayed on the track while the other lead cars pitted for the end of the race. That allowed Annett to advance to the runner-up spot at lap 169, and he was running there on lap 177 when the yellow flag came out for a spin in Turn 4. The caution flag trapped all but the top three cars a lap down. Annett was scheduled to stop the next time by, but stayed out to make his stop under caution, setting up the final flurry for the right to advance to the next round. He also led lap 181 as the pit stops played out.

Once he made his pit stop, he lined up next to Cole Custer at the front of the field for the restart on lap 185. Justin Haley and JRM teammate Justin Allgaier—the only other cars on the lead lap--lined up in positions three and four for the restart, and Allgaier got past on the first lap of green-flag racing to put Annett third. It stayed that way for five more laps until another caution waved for a multi-car crash in Turn 2, setting up the final seven-lap run to the checkered flag. Starting on the low line behind Custer, Annett gave up two positions on the first lap and one to polesitter Chase Briscoe with five to go to earn the sixth-place finish. The result put him 10 points to the good in the race for the Round of 8 and ensures he and his team will be in the battle for the Championship 4 over the next three races.

After qualifying 16th, Annett was forced to drop back to 36th position for the start after his team was forced to change an engine. That set up a much-different Stage One than originally planned, and Annett put his head down to charge toward the front. He was 24th at the end of the first lap, cracked the top 20 on lap six and was in the top 15 by the time 10 laps had ticked off the scoreboard. Over the next 35 laps, Annett ran a steady, patient race, passing Ross Chastain for 10th just two laps before Stage One ended to earn a valuable stage point. Pitting on lap 49, Annett took four tires and fuel and went back out one spot better than where he finished thanks to a superb stop by his TMC pit crew.

The same scenario played out in Stage Two, as Annett ran either ninth or 10th every lap before passing Ryan Sieg with just five laps remaining to post a ninth-place finish and pick up two more stage points. With that result, Annett had six points in hand over Nemechek for the final transfer spot. Mack called Annett down pit road at that point for four tires, fuel, an air-pressure adjustment and some tape on the grille, and the pit crew added four positions gained to the one they had earned on the first stop to put Annett fifth for the final stage.

Custer won the race over Allgaier, with Austin Cindric, Haley and Briscoe rounding out the top five. Annett led the second five, with JRM’s Noah Gragson, Nemechek, JRM’s Zane Smith and Ryan Sieg completing the top 10. The final three drivers finished one lap down.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 TMC Transportation team

“That was awesome strategy that Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) had for us today, and it put us in position to advance to the Round of 8. That is the second race in the playoffs we’ve been able to make it work. At the end, I knew Cole (Custer) was going to be really tough and I didn’t want anything stupid to happen (on the restart) that close to the end. It was all about the big picture today, and this is the best run we’ve had in the playoffs since they started. The good thing is, we have a lot of really good tracks ahead of us.”

 

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 PUBG Mobile Chevrolet Camaro, successfully advanced to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs following a seventh-place finish in Saturday afternoon’s Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 elimination race at Dover International Speedway. With the result, Gragson has now finished eighth or better in the last seven NXS starts and heads into the second round of the playoffs as the eighth seed, just 12 points behind the fourth and final cutoff position with three races remaining in the Round of 8.

Gragson avoided near disaster when the green flag waved for the final race in the Round of 12, narrowly missing a spinning No. 18 off of Turn 2 to move into the top five in the opening lap. Lining up fifth for the ensuing restart, Gragson continued to fight for position until he was forced into a three-wide situation and shuffled back to eighth. Despite the loss of track position, Gragson pressed on, improving two positions over the final 20 laps of Stage One to take the green-and-white checkered flag in sixth and earn five valuable stage points.

During the stage-ending caution, the driver of the PUBG Mobile Chevrolet radioed to crew chief Dave Elenz that he needed help on the entry of the corner. Elenz then opted to bring Gragson to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment, sending the JR Motorsports driver out for the beginning of Stage Two in the third position. Gragson remained inside the top five throughout the caution-free second stage, battling with Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer before taking the green-and-white checkered flag in fourth. The stage result also earned Gragson an additional seven stage points in the process.

Prior to the beginning of the third and final stage, the Las Vegas native returned to pit road for four tires and another round of chassis adjustments. However, an issue during the stop with the air gun forced Gragson to make a return trip to pit road, sliding the rookie-of-the-year contender back to 16th for the coming restart. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Gragson charged forward, needing just 15 laps to rejoin the top 10. The driver of the PUBG Mobile Chevrolet continued his climb up the leaderboard from there, racing up to seventh before being called to pit road during the lone round of green flag pit stops on lap 159.

Although initially appearing to be a routine stop, an issue with the left-rear caused a delay that ultimately trapped Gragson off of the lead lap as an inopportune caution came out just a handful of laps later. Utilizing a never-give-up attitude, Gragson powered forward, gaining five spots to race back into the top 10 and into the free pass position just before the final caution of the day was displayed on lap 187.

Lining up in seventh for the final restart of the afternoon, Gragson maintained his top-10 track position throughout the closing laps to ultimately record his 17th top-10 finish in the last 19 races and lock himself into the Round of 8 in the NXS Playoffs. 

The top-10 result also gives Gragson a career-high streak of seven-consecutive top-10 finishes dating back to his eighth-place finish at Road America in late August.

Custer earned the victory, with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric, Justin Haley and Briscoe rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 PUBG Mobile team

“We fought hard today with our PUBG Mobile Chevrolet and were able to rebound from some issues late in the race to bring home another top 10. I can’t thank these guys enough on this JR Motorsports team for all of their work. It feels good to move on to the Round of 8 but we know that we still have work to do to make sure we get to Homestead as part of the Championship 4. I’m ready to get going.”

 

Zane Smith

Zane Smith was on the verge of a top-five finish Saturday at Dover International Speedway until a late-race caution during a series of green flag pit stops derailed things for the No. 8 PatientPop team. Smith eventually rallied to finish ninth, his sixth top-10 finish in nine starts for JRM in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

Smith fired off from the 10th position, moving up three positions on the first lap of the race before an early caution slowed things. The native of Huntington Beach, Calif. restarted sixth and quickly moved up into the top five by lap 15. As the first 45-lap stage played out, Smith reported his Chevrolet was too free firing off but was overall neutral for the most of the stage, going on to finish the first stanza in fourth.

Crew chief Taylor Moyer would call Smith to pit road during the caution at the end of the first stage for four tires and fuel and to make an adjustment to help with the handling of his car to combat a loose condition on landing in the corners.

Smith started Stage Two from fifth and would stay within sight of the leaders for much of the next 45-lap run, eventually finishing the second stage in sixth. Smith reported his car had gone to the tight side during the run, but was overall better than earlier in the race. A stop for four more tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment was the call during the caution following the conclusion of the stage.

Going from sixth to start the final stage, Smith quickly moved up into the top five on the restart where he would be a fixture during the course of the final 110-lap run to the checkers. Smith remained quiet on the radio before reporting his car was once again tight as the race reached the race’s three-quarter mark. As the race neared its conclusion, Moyer and the No. 8 team began working on a plan for the final scheduled stop of the day, calling Smith to pit road with 35 laps to go for four tires and fuel as the field continued to circulate under the green flag.

Smith was poised to regain his place in the top five as he patiently waited for a handful of cars to make their way to pit road who were stretching fuel further than most. The gamble for those cars paid off and stalled Smith’s rise back towards the top of the leaderboard as a car spun coming to pit road on Lap 179, trapping Smith two laps down.

Restarting one lap down in sixth with 15 laps to go, Smith battled teammate Noah Gragson for the free pass hoping for another caution to wave. The yellow did come out with 12 laps to go but Smith wasn’t in position to get back on the lead lap. He would restart eighth on Lap 193, losing one spot on the restart, eventually taking the checkered flag in ninth.

Cole Custer won the race with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier finishing second. Austin Cindric, Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top-five finishers.

Zane Smith, driver No. 8 PatientPop Chevrolet team

“We ended up ninth after running in the top five all day. This was definitely the best car I've had all year. Pit strategy kind of bit us there at the end a little bit. This place is a ton of fun to come to and I really enjoyed the two races here this year. I've got to thank PatientPop and JR Motorsports and this whole No. 8 team for everything. It's awesome working with them.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • 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 Kansas Lottery 300

Kansas Speedway | 10/19/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Christopher Bell (P)31060
2Cole Custer (P)3095-11
3Tyler Reddick (P)3094-12
4Justin Allgaier (P)3059-47
5Chase Briscoe # (P)3057-49
6Michael Annett (P)3047-59
7Noah Gragson # (P)3042-64
8Austin Cindric (P)3029-77