Allgaier Punches Ticket to Homestead with Phoenix Victory

JR Motorsports | 11/9/2019

Brandt Justin Allgaier La Paz Lockheed Martin Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Phoenix Pilot Flying J XFINITY Series Zane Smith

Justin Allgaier scored the win Saturday at ISM Raceway to lock himself in to the Championship 4 next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with all four JRM Chevys scoring top-10 finishes.

 

Race 32 of 33: Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200 at ISM Raceway
Track Specs: 1-mile oval / 200 laps
Weather: Mostly cloudy; 85 degrees
Race Winner: Justin Allgaier

Allgaier's Finish: 1st
Smith's Finish: 5th
Annett's Finish: 9th
Gragson's Finish: 10th

 

Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Camaro, is heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway to battle for the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship after earning the victory in Saturday’s race at ISM Raceway. This marks the third time in four seasons that Allgaier and the No. 7 team have advanced to the Championship 4. Saturday’s win was the Illinois native’s 11th in NXS competition, second at ISM Raceway and first of the 2019 season. Allgaier now has eight wins since joining JR Motorsports in 2016, the most victories by a driver in the team’s history.

Entering the weekend, the team knew they needed to have a strong race and they got off on the right foot by qualifying fifth for the 200-lap event. From the drop of the green flag, Allgaier’s BRANDT Chevy showed speed. When the first caution of the day waved on lap 14, he was running in the fourth position and relayed to the team that the No. 7 Camaro was lacking right-rear security. Opting to stay out, Allgaier restarted in the fourth spot and quickly advanced to second, holding on to the position until the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end the first stage on lap 45.

During the stage-ending caution, the team made a pit stop for four tires, fuel and multiple adjustments after Allgaier reported that the BRANDT Camaro was tight through the center and free on exit. He took the green flag for Stage Two from the fourth position on lap 54 and retook the second spot in a hurry. The second stage went caution free and Allgaier maintained the runner-up spot, claiming nine more stage points when the green-and-white checkered flag waved on lap 90. Under the yellow, Allgaier brought the No. 7 Chevy to pit road for four fresh tires and fuel.

Kicking off the final stage of the race from the second position, Allgaier powered his way to the top spot to lead for the first time of the day on lap 99. He was still running point when a caution came out on lap 116. Allgaier reported that the BRANDT Camaro had better balance in Turns 1 and 2 and was still a little tight through the center of Turns 3 and 4. The team opted to make what would be their final stop of the race for four tires and fuel.

Due to varying pit strategies, Allgaier restarted in the 10th position, the furthest back he had been all day. Up for the challenge to get back to the front, the 33-year-old driver made quick work of the field, finding himself in fourth within five laps. By lap 132, he was up to second and closing in on the leader, ultimately retaking the top spot on lap 135. The remainder of the race went caution free, allowing Allgaier to stretch out his lead during the long green-flag run. Cole Custer started tracking him down in the closing laps, but Allgaier was able to stay out front and cruise on to the victory, earning a spot in the Championship 4.

Allgaier led 85 laps on his way to the 11th win of his NXS career. Custer took the runner-up spot and was followed by Tyler Reddick, with John Hunter Nemechek and JRM driver Zane Smith rounding out the top five.

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture team

“I am so proud of everyone on this BRANDT Professional Agriculture team. To have the season we’ve had, to have the speed we’ve had and to not have a win to show for it has been disappointing for us. Coming into this weekend, we had a goal of coming here and winning the race so that we could go compete for the championship and we did it. This was our race and it feels amazing to finally get back to victory lane. Now we get to go have some fun next weekend and hopefully bring the championship home for everybody at JR Motorsports.”

 

Zane Smith

Rookie Zane Smith ran a smart, fast race in Saturday’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200 for NASCAR Xfinity Series machines at ISM Raceway, earning his second top-five and seventh top-10 finish of the season with a fifth-place run on the 1-mile desert oval. Smith, making his 10th and final start of the season for JR Motorsports, earned both top-five finishes this season with sponsor La Paz Cocktail Mix on the side of his No. 8 Chevrolet.

The 20-year-old California driver fired off from sixth position on the initial start and, after the scramble to claim racing lines, moved into the top five by the time the first caution flag waved at lap 14. On the restart, Smith got caught up in the rush and dropped to ninth place by lap 25. He picked up a position to run eighth, and eventually told crew chief Taylor Moyer that his Chevrolet was beginning to get tight from the center of the corner off. After Stage One ended at lap 45, with Smith still in eighth, the young driver came down pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. Smith said the car was tight at both ends, but did not want to be freed up for the next run.

Returning to the track in eighth place after a stellar stop from his pit crew, Smith soon reported that the changes made had turned his car from tight to loose on entry. As the laps wound down, Smith maintained his place in the order despite his car’s continued slide toward the loose side. He finished 10th in Stage Two, telling Moyer on the break that the right rear tire was chattering and the car was snappy loose in the center of the corners, especially in Turns 3 and 4. The chatter prevented him from getting to the bottom of the track. Moyer made another adjustment in addition to four tires and fuel on the Stage Two stop. Smith was scored 10th off pit road, but advanced two spots to eighth for the restart when two cars received pit-road speeding penalties.

Shortly after the restart at lap 99, Smith set to work improving his position. He was seventh on lap 117 when the caution waved for Christopher Bell’s spin in Turn 2, and Moyer called him back down pit road for his last set of tires and another adjustment. Smith had reported that he still had a chatter in the right rear tire in Turns 3 and 4, but it was better, and that his machine had fired off faster than the previous restarts. Restarting from 14th, Smith needed just three laps to gain seven positions, and continued to advance. By lap 140, Smith was sixth, and he advanced to fifth 16 laps after that. Racing with playoff contender Chase Briscoe, Smith kept working to move up. Briscoe got past in traffic at one point, but Smith regained the position a few laps later. He raced the final 19 laps in fifth place and finished there at the checkered.

JRM’s Justin Allgaier came through for his first victory of the season to qualify for the Championship 4, with Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick in second and third. Both drivers clinched a shot at the championship as well, along with Texas winner Bell. John Hunter Nemechek and Smith rounded out the top five while Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Briscoe, Annett and JRM’s Noah Gragson completed the top 10.

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

“It was just really hard to fire off today. It was a strong day, and it’s good to have La Paz Cocktail Mix on the car. They were on the car for both of my top-five finishes this year. Thank you to JR Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to come here and run. They gave me a shot. I gave it everything I had. I don't know what there is for me for 2020 but I'm happy as hell how we ended up here. It was my first time here, first time I've ever seen this place, and it turned out well.”

 

Michael Annett

Michael Annett and crew chief Travis Mack went into Saturday’s Desert Diamond West Valley 200 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars with knowledge that the No. 1 Pilot Flying J “Thank You Veterans” Chevrolet would have to contend for victory to have a chance at making the Championship 4 next week in Miami. Annett and the No. 1 team did indeed challenge for victory, spending most of the first two stages in the top six and running as high as third on the afternoon, but the stirring drive fell short at the end with a ninth-place result.

The key to Annett’s drive for the victory came on lap 117, when Mack called him down pit road for fuel only as a way to advance his track position for the final 83 laps. The extra set of Goodyear tires in the pit box would hopefully come into play under caution later in the race, as the remainder of the lead pack opted to use their last sets on that caution period. The hoped-for caution never came out, however, and Annett rallied to earn his 19th top-10 finish of the season, two better than his previous season-best total set in 2012.

Once Annett exited the pits, in third position thanks to a quick pit stop from his Pilot Flying J pit crew, the die was cast. Restarting from the inside of the second row, Annett dropped a spot on the first lap of green-flag racing and lost two more three laps later. His Chevrolet had developed a loose condition and as a result, Annett ran 12th after just seven laps of green-flag racing. Annett told Mack that he was sideways most of the time and thought he might have had a flat tire. The handling stabilized soon after that, and Annett took 11th place just 12 laps later. At that point, Annett told Mack that the handling had gone to the tight side. From there, it was a matter of advancing as far as possible with the car that he had, still waiting for the caution to fly.

It never did, and Annett’s lap times started to pick up despite the fact that he was on older tires. He passed JRM teammate Noah Gragson for 10th place on lap 163 and passed Brandon Jones on lap 181 to run ninth, a position he held to the finish.

After starting ninth, Annett was maintaining his position on lap 14 when Riley Herbst got loose underneath Annett’s Camaro, making contact with the left rear fender and knocking Annett off his line. Herbst spun and hit the wall, but Annett was largely unaffected by the incident. When green-flag racing returned, Annett promptly moved up to sixth spot in just seven laps. He would maintain that position until the green-checkered flag waved at lap 45, banking five stage points in the process. At the break, Mack called him down pit road for four tires and fuel with no adjustments, and he fired off sixth for the Stage Two restart.

Annett, who said prior to the race that he would have to excel on restarts all day to have a chance to move on, pulled off a beauty as the field returned to racing. Following teammate Justin Allgaier, Annett went to the high line and swept up to third place the next time by the flag stand. Over the remaining laps Annett was able to hang in the top four, battling with defending series champion Tyler Reddick until the latter got past with nine laps remaining in the stage. When Stage Two ended, Annett was fifth, which was worth another six points.

Allgaier came through for his first victory of the season to qualify for the Championship 4. Cole Custer and Reddick finished second and third, respectively, to also clinch a shot at the championship. John Hunter Nemechek and JRM’s Zane Smith rounded out the top five. Playoff contender Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, playoff contender Chase Briscoe, Annett and JRM’s Noah Gragson completed the top 10. Texas winner Christopher Bell was already set to race in the Championship 4 by virtue of his victory.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J ‘Thank You Veterans’ team

“We had a really good Pilot Flying J Chevrolet for the first two stages, but I don’t know if we could have gone up there and competed with Justin (Allgaier). It was as close as we have been to doing that in some time. Travis (crew chief Travis Mack) made the call not to take tires because we had to do something different. We had to win, and that gave us a chance to do that. I can’t believe we didn’t get a caution over the last half of the race. Usually you get one with 40 laps to go and then 10 more after that. We’ll go to Homestead next week looking to win it and finish in the top five in points. After not making the playoffs last year, that’s a pretty good deal.”

 

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 9 Lockheed Martin Chevrolet Camaro, earned a 10th-place finish in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at ISM Raceway. Although finishing inside the top 10, Gragson’s bid to advance to the Championship 4 fell just short. Despite not advancing, the JR Motorsports driver did score his 18th top-10 in the last 22 races and his 21st of 2019 as the series heads in to next weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Taking the green flag for the 200-lap event in 12th, Gragson maintained his track position inside the top 15 through much of the opening stage despite reporting to crew chief Dave Elenz that the Lockheed Martin Chevrolet was loose all the way through the distinct corners at ISM. Undeterred by the handling condition, Gragson fought hard throughout the stage, ultimately racing up to the 11th position by the time the green-and-white checkered flag was displayed on lap 45.

While under the stage-ending caution, Elenz called the Las Vegas native to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of alleviating the loose-handling condition. Following a great stop by the Lockheed Martin crew, Gragson lined up for the beginning of Stage Two inside the top 10 in the seventh position. The rookie-of-the-year contender continued to fight inside the top 10 throughout the caution-free second stage, battling two and three-wide for position before taking the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 90 in ninth. The stage result also earned Gragson two valuable stage points in the process.

Once back under caution, Gragson reported to Elenz that the Lockheed Martin Chevrolet was still free rolling through the corners. As a result of the feedback, Elenz brought Gragson back to pit road for four tires and a trackbar adjustment. Another solid stop by the Lockheed Martin crew moved Gragson up to the sixth position for the beginning of the third and final stage on lap 98. After quickly moving into the top five following the restart, Gragson reported that the balance had now shifted toward the tight-side. Then, an opportune caution on lap 115 provided Elenz with another opportunity to make adjustments to the JRM Camaro.

During a pit stop cycle that saw a variety of strategies take place, Gragson returned to the track for the ensuing restart in 12th as a number of the race leaders chose to just take fuel only. The driver of the Lockheed Martin Chevrolet needed just one lap to rejoin the top-10 once back underway and remained there throughout the 79-lap green flag run to the finish, battling with Brandon Jones and JRM teammate Michael Annett before taking the checkered flag in the 10th position.

The top-10 result is Gragson’s 21st of the season and his 18th in the last 22 NXS races.

JRM teammate Justin Allgaier scored the victory, with Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick, John Hunter Nemechek and JRM teammate Zane Smith rounding out the top five.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Lockheed Martin team

“We fought hard today with our Lockheed Martin Chevrolet. We battled all race long and gave it everything we had. A big congrats to my teammate Justin Allgaier on getting the win and advancing to Homestead. It was a good day for JRM overall and I can’t thank everyone on this No. 9 team enough for all of their hard work. We aren’t going to let not moving on define our season this year. I feel like we learned a lot and I can’t wait to finish this year off on a strong note next weekend.”

XFINITY Series Schedule

XFINITY Series Standings

After Ford EcoBoost 300

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/16/2019
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick (P)40400
2Cole Custer (P)4035-5
3Christopher Bell (P)4032-8
4Justin Allgaier (P)4023-17
5Chase Briscoe #2302-1738
6Austin Cindric2294-1746
7John Hunter Nemechek #2253-1787
8Noah Gragson #2246-1794
9Michael Annett2239-1801