Gragson Goes Back-to-Back as he Wins at Richmond on 9/11

JR Motorsports | 9/11/2021

Bass Pro Shops Black Rifle Coffee Brandt Dale Earnhardt Jr. Justin Allgaier Michael Annett News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J TrueTimber Unilever

Gragson picks up his second straight NXS win. Dale Jr. finishes 14th in his lone race of the year while Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett finish fourth and 22nd, respectively.

Race Results | Xfinity Series Points

Race 25 of 33: Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway
Track Specs: .75-mile tri-oval / 250 laps                       
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 80 degrees
Race Winner: Noah Gragson

Gragson's Finish: 1st

Allgaier's Finish: 4th

Earnhardt Jr.'s Finish: 14th

Annett's Finish: 22nd 

 


Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson made the most of an emotional weekend at Richmond Raceway on Saturday, leading the final 14 laps of the Go Bowling 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series event to earn his second straight series victory. The triumph was the third consecutive on the .750-mile oval for JR Motorsports after Justin Allgaier swept the races there in 2020, and also the third for JRM in races run on the anniversary of the terror attack in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. Gragson’s double, in the No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber®/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet, also boosted him past his teammate into third place in the NXS playoff grid.

Stage One Finish: 8th 

Starting from the third position after the application of NASCAR’s mathematical formula earlier in the week, Gragson lost two spots on the initial start before stabilizing in fourth after four laps. At the competition caution at lap 35, Gragson was running sixth and told crew chief Dave Elenz that his Camaro was loose everywhere on the track and lacked drive off the corners and lateral grip. Elenz elected to keep Gragson on the track and save a set of tires for the stage break at lap 75. Running in the second half of the top 10, Gragson fell to eighth at lap 53 as cars who did come down pit road for tires began to show their strength. That prompted Gragson to move up to the second groove, quickly getting back to the sixth position. The high line proved to be beneficial to his forward drive despite the fact that more cars with fresh tires were coming, and the young driver held onto eighth position until the green-and-white checkered flag waved to end Stage One. That finish earned three valuable stage points for Gragson and the No. 9 team. Under the caution flag, Gragson told Elenz that his Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet was still on the free side but it got more manageable the long the run went. Hitting pit road for four tires and fuel, Gragson’s No. 9 pit crew pulled off a blazing-fast stop to pick up four positions and sent their driver back out for Stage Two in fourth.

Stage Two Finish: 4th      

Gragson chose the inside line to start Stage Two, quickly picking up a position on the initial break. As the run went on, Gragson was silent on the radio and stayed inside the top five through lap 114, running as high as third during that span of laps. Just before the end of Stage Two, a two-car incident in Turn 3 brought out the caution flag and the stage would finish under the yellow and add seven more stage points to Gragson’s total for the day. Talking to Elenz under the yellow flag, Gragson told his crew chief he wanted more of the adjustment made at the end of Stage One, because his handling fell off about halfway through the 75-lap run. Dialing up four tires, fuel and more of that same adjustment, Elenz sent his driver back out onto the track in second place after another rapid pit stop from the No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee pit crew.

Final Stage:

Starting from the front row for the final stage, which was scheduled for 100 laps, Gragson bolted to the lead and stayed at the front for eight laps before losing the top spot to Ty Gibbs. The caution came out at lap 170 thanks to a two-car scrum in Turn 4 with Gragson in third place, and both Gragson and Elenz were discussing whether or not to come to pit road for fresh tires. Gragson told Elenz he was saving tires and making his rivals use the high line to get around, so Elenz left him on the track to start on the inside of the second row. The caution waved again at lap 183, and this time, Elenz was ready to call his driver to pit road for service. Four tires went on the Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet at that point, along with a full tank of fuel, and Gragson returned to the track in 15th. Several cars decided to stay out, which put Gragson farther down the order. Five laps into the green-flag run, Gragson had used his new tires to rise back into the top 10, continuing to pick off drivers on older tires. At lap 221, Gragson passed JRM teammate  Allgaier for sixth place. Another caution, this one at lap 223, allowed Elenz to bring his driver back to the pits for a set of 15-lap scuffed tires. Restarting from fifth position, Gragson was third at lap 232, when a quick caution flag slowed the running once more.

Restarting from the inside of the second row, Gragson again charged to the lead, only to see the caution wave yet again for an incident on the frontstretch. On the final restart of the day, with seven laps remaining, Gragson again selected the bottom lane and raced away from AJ Allmendinger and John Hunter Nemechek. As the remaining laps wound down, Gragson fell under attack from Justin Haley, but was able to hold off Haley’s fresher tires to earn his fourth career NXS victory, second of the season and first at Richmond.

Haley finished second, with Nemechek third, Allgaier fourth and Riley Herbst in fifth. Daniel Hemric was sixth, with Gibbs, Brandon Brown, Harrison Burton and Jeb Burton the remainder of the top 10.

Noah Gragson, driver No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevrolet team

“I knew they had tires, but the thing that really saved us was those two cautions at the end. Today is not about this team or this win, it’s about everyone who lost their lives 20 years ago. We have a lot of heavy hearts and I love to see America come together on this day. It’s an emotional day, a special day. I’m very thankful for Johnny Morris, everybody at Bass Pro Shops, TrueTimber and the guys at Black Rifle Coffee. It’s very special to be able to come here to Richmond, and we’re starting to gain momentum for the playoffs.”


Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, charged through the field in the final stage of Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Richmond Raceway to earn a hard-fought fourth-place finish. The top-five result is the 11th of the season for Allgaier and marks the 10th time in the last 12 NXS races that the JR Motorsports driver has finished inside the top 10. Additionally, Allgaier remains third in the NXS championship standings with just one race remaining in the regular season next weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. 

Stage One Finish: 23rd 

Allgaier lined up for the 250-lap event from the fifth position after the field was again set via NASCAR’s mathematical formula earlier in the week. Throughout the opening run, Allgaier held steady inside the top five despite reporting to crew chief Jason Burdett that the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet was tight rolling through the center of the corner. Although not handling to his liking, Allgaier remained in the fifth position through the scheduled competition caution on lap 35. Lining up as the second car on the outside line for the lap-42 restart, Allgaier pressed forward, utilizing the momentum from the top of the track to march into the second position. Despite making his way to the runner-up position, the tight-handling condition worsened. These handling woes drastically affected the way Allgaier could navigate through the corner, ultimately shuffling the JRM driver back through the field.

Hanging on for the final laps of the opening stage, Allgaier took the green-and-white checkered on lap 75 in the 23rd position.

Stage Two Finish: 13th 

During the stage-ending caution, Burdett called Allgaier to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment in the hopes of improving the handling of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet. Returning to the track following the stop in 29th, Allgaier quickly improved five positions to 24th before the field was slowed by a lap-85 caution period. On the ensuing restart, Allgaier methodically moved forward, taking advantage of the green-flag run that followed to race back into the top 15 by lap 115. The Illinois native’s climb didn’t stop there, as Allgaier improved an additional two positions over the final laps of Stage Two to take the green-and-white checkered flag on lap 150 in the 13th position.

Final Stage:

While under the stage-ending caution, Burdett called Allgaier back to pit road for four tires and another round of chassis adjustments. A strong stop by the BRANDT Professional Agriculture pit crew gained Allgaier three positions, moving the JRM driver up to 10th for the start of the third and final stage on lap 158. Once back underway, Allgaier began to attack, improving four positions to sixth before the field was again slowed by the caution flag on lap 169. Lining up as the third car on the outside line for the lap-176 restart, Allgaier again used the outside line to his advantage as the JRM driver quickly made his way back into the top five and up to fourth before another incident brought the caution out on lap 182.

With a variety of strategies taking place during this caution, Burdett made the call to bring the driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet to pit road for the final set of four fresh tires and fuel. Due to the top-10 cars remaining on-track following the stop, Allgaier lined up for the lap-187 restart in the 13th position. Undeterred by the loss of track position, Allgaier powered forward, making a four-wide move to race back into the top 10 on lap 193. From there, the JRM driver took advantage of his fresher tires to move back up to the seventh position before a lap-223 caution provided Burdett an opportunity to work with some strategy.

Due to the vast majority of the field being out of fresh tires, Burdett called Allgaier back to pit road for a set of four 13-lap scuffed tires in the hopes that the slightly worn rubber would help the driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet navigate through the field. Scored in sixth following the stop, Allgaier again made his way toward the front, moving up to the fourth position before the final caution flag of the day was displayed on lap 237.

Restarting fourth on lap 243, Allgaier battled hard to try to break back into the top three, fighting for position with John Hunter Nemechek and Riley Herbst before taking the checkered flag in fourth.

With the result, Allgaier holds steady in third in the NXS championship standings with just one race remaining left in the regular season. 

Justin Allgaier, driver No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet team

“It feels good to come away with another strong result today for everyone on this BRANDT Professional Agriculture team. We fought hard all race long and never gave up. It is days like today that show how tough everyone on this No. 7 team is and I can’t thank everyone enough. Now it’s on to Bristol where we can hopefully keep this momentum going and end the regular season on a strong note.”


Dale Earnhardt Jr,

Driving a tribute No. 8 Unilever United for America Chevrolet that honored the victims of 9/11 on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to a 14th-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Go Bowling 250 at Richmond Raceway. In his only NXS start of the season, Earnhardt Jr. raced through the thick of the field early on and eventually climbed inside the top 10 during the race’s second stage. But a pit-road speeding penalty late in the event handed the No. 8 team the 14th-place result.

Stage One Finish: 19th

The No. 8 team faced an uphill battle from the race’s onset. With a 30th-place starting position at the short .75-mile oval, it would take time and patience for Earnhardt Jr. to climb his way forward. The Unilever United for America Chevrolet “fired off ok” and by the competition caution on lap 35, Earnhardt Jr. was scored in 19th. He’d remain there as he raced among aggressive drivers in the mid-pack for the remainder of the stage. The team would conclude Stage One in 19th.

Stage Two Finish: 12th

Following a call to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments under the stage-ending caution, one that netted the No. 8 team seven spots on pit road, Earnhardt Jr. lined up for the start of Stage Two in 13th. Within sight of the top 10, Earnhardt Jr. broke through by lap 100 but reported needing “more turn and more drive” out of the No. 8 machine to improve further. He took the checkered flag for Stage Two in 12th.

Final Stage:
Crew chief Taylor Moyer elected to go back on previous changes in an effort to better the handling on the Unilever United for America entry. Following another round of stage-ending pit stops, Earnhardt Jr. took the restart for the final stage in 10th and climbed to seventh by lap 167. The No. 8 Chevy was scored in eighth when a caution emerged on the race’s 183rd circuit. In an effort to strategically save the team’s last set of fresh tires for later in race, Earnhardt Jr. remained on the track while many competitors pitted. This cycled the team to third for the restart.

Back up to speed, Earnhardt Jr. was forced to give way to cars with fresher tires, and the Unilever United for America Chevy drifted back through the field to 20th. The caution flag that waved on lap 223 was just what the team needed for their strategy to play out. They would now have the advantage of fresh tires while the bulk of their competitors would be on old or used rubber. But a pit-road speeding penalty negated the team’s chances of victory as they had to fall to the rear of the field to 24th. With only a limited number of laps remaining, Earnhardt Jr. managed to improve 10 positions and take the checkered flag in 14th.

JRM teammate Noah Gragson won the race. He was followed to the line by Justin Haley, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier and Riley Herbst.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver No. 8 Unilever United for America Camaro

“Our United for America Chevy got pretty banged up, but it was a lot of fun out there today. I love racing in the Xfinity Series. These [drivers] have so much heart and they race so hard. We got to beating on some of those guys and they were beating right back, so it was good short-track racing.

“We didn’t have the car I was looking for, but we tried hard and made adjustments. We had great pit stops all day, and that was a huge help. It was a wild one out there, they were racing all over the place. I’d like to do another one of these races. I can’t wait to get back in there.”


Michael Annett

For the second straight week, Michael Annett’s chances of closing the gap in his effort to make the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs was derailed by virtue of contact with the outside wall midway through Stage One, as well as a cluster of late-race restarts in the closing laps of the afternoon. Annett, who was running on the cusp of the top 10 as the laps wound down in Saturday’s Go Bowling 250 at Richmond, was caught in a scramble over the final two restarts and dropped his No. 1 Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker Chevrolet to 22nd at the finish of the race. That puts the Iowa native 66 points out of the final playoff spot with just next week’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway remaining in the regular season.

Stage One Finish: 15th     

After a solid 14th-place finish last week at Darlington Raceway knocked 18 points off his deficit to 12th place, Annett started 10th on Saturday, thanks to NASCAR’s mathematical formula used to set the starting lineup earlier in the week. Once the initial green flag waved to start the race, Annett spent the first 15 laps working on the handling of his Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker Chevrolet. Falling to 15th place in the first four laps, Annett steadily worked his way back to the cusp of the top 10 by the time the competition caution waved at lap 35. Annett told crew chief Mike Bumgarner that his entry was secure, but he had to be precise on the low line to get his Camaro pointed well off the corners. Bumgarner elected to stay out, opting to save a set of tires for later in the race. When the green flag replaced the yellow, Annett was in the top 10 and stayed in the top 11 until lap 53. On that lap, Annett was on the top side coming off Turn 2 with a crowd of cars to his inside. At the entry to Turn 3, Annett was forced up and into the wall, which did damage to the bodywork on his Camaro and caused a fender rub. Further contact on the left front damaged the fender and the splitter rail. The subsequent damage was affecting the handling of his Chevrolet and Annett dropped to 16th at the end of Stage One. Bumgarner called Annett to pit road for tires and fuel and got started on the body damage. Sending his driver back out, Bumgarner immediately called him in again for further damage repair, which put the Iowa native 32nd in the lineup for the beginning of Stage Two after he was assessed a speeding penalty on pit road.

Stage Two Finish: 20th       

Near the rear of the field for the 75-lap stage, Annett worked on his handling and took his time, patiently working to get his Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker back into racing form. Over the course of the next 30 laps, Annett got back to the top 25, and at lap 122, he was 22nd. Annett kept moving forward, finally cresting the top 20 with five laps remaining in the stage. He would finish there, having solved most of the handling issues caused by the body damage. Pitting again at lap 153, Annett asked that Bumgarner not affect his entry with any adjustment, having finally worked out what he needed. Bumgarner responded with four tires and fuel, and sent his driver back out for the final stage in 19th position after the Pilot Flying J pit crew pulled off a quick pit stop.

Final Stage:

Staying in 19th, Annett worked to advance up the order. A caution flag at lap 170 saw one of the drivers ahead of him in line come to pit road, which boosted the 35-year-old to 18th. Annett was 20th when the next caution waved at lap 182 for a stopped car in Turn 4. That gave Bumgarner a chance to give his driver fresh tires for the run to the finish, and Annett came down pit road on lap 184 for four of them as well as fuel. The changes paid off immediately, as Annett was able to crack the top 15 in just nine laps. At lap 200, Annett ran 13th, sliding up to 12th two laps later, the highest he’d been since running ninth at lap 41. The caution flag waved again at lap 223 for a two-car incident in Turn 4, and Bumgarner called Annett back to pit road to bolt on a set of scuffed tires and make an adjustment for the final flurry. Returning to the track in 11th, Annett ran two laps before another caution flag came out, and once that was cleaned up, the field line up for another restart. Mired in heavy traffic, Annett dropped to 14th just in time for the final slowdown of the race at lap 238. The final green flag of the day came out with seven laps remaining, and the rush for finishing positions caught out Annett, who had started 14th. The field battled for position all over the track and in the process, Annett was shuffled out of the preferred grove over the remaining laps, sliding back to the 22nd position at the finish.

JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson won the race for the second straight week, topping Justin Haley, John Hunter Nemechek, JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier and Riley Herbst. Daniel Hemric, Ty Gibbs, Brandon Brown, Harrison Burton and Jeb Burton completed the top 10. The result leaves Annett 66 points behind Herbst for the final spot in the 12-driver playoffs with just next week’s race at Bristol remaining in the regular season.

Michael Annett, driver No. 1 Pilot Flying J Driver Appreciation Chevrolet team

“We have one more week to get this done, one more chance, so we need to take it. I just needed another set of tires for the Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker Chevrolet. I liked the call that Bummy (Bumgarner) made at the end to come and get scuffs for the end, and I wouldn’t have changed it. We knew with the tires we were on, we didn’t have the speed to keep up with the newer sets, so scuffs made the most sense. We battle as a team, and we’ll be battling next week at Bristol. We have one more shot and we’re going to take it.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • September 25 07:30 PM ET
    Alsco Uniforms 302Las Vegas Motor Speedway
  • October 2 04:30 PM ET
    Talladega Superspeedway
  • October 9 03:00 PM ET
    Drive for the Cure 250Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval
  • October 16 03:00 PM ET
    Andy’s Frozen Custard 335Texas Motor Speedway
  • October 23 03:00 PM ET
    Kansas Lottery 300Kansas Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Food City 300

Bristol Motor Speedway | 9/17/2021
RankDriverPointsBehind
1AJ Allmendinger10430
2Austin Cindric1033-10
3Justin Allgaier924-119
4Daniel Hemric895-148
5Harrison Burton871-172
6Justin Haley864-179
7Noah Gragson863-180
14Michael Annett524-519
34Sam Mayer #186-857