Promising Night Ends in Heartbreak for JRM in Wild Regular Season Finale

JR Motorsports | 9/18/2021

Bass Pro Shops Black Rifle Coffee Brandt Bristol Motor Speedway Josh Berry Justin Allgaier News Noah Gragson Pilot Flying J Race Report Sam Mayer Tire Pros TrueTimber XFINITY Series

Justin Allgaier and Sam Mayer combined to lead 141 laps at Bristol, but late-race incidents took away the opportunity for a win. Allgaier finished fourth, the highest of the JRM cars.

Race Results | Xfinity Series Points

Race 26 of 33: Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Track Specs: .533-mile oval / 300 laps                       
Weather: Partly cloudy; 69 degrees
Race Winner: AJ Allmendinger

Allgaier's Finish: 4th

Mayer's Finish: 9th

Gragson's Finish: 12th

Berry's Finish: 35th 


Justin Allgaier

Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, earned a hard-fought and resilient fourth-place finish in Friday evening's NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway. For Allgaier, the result didn't come easy, as the JR Motorsports driver had to overcome a spin late in Stage Two and a speeding penalty prior to the start of Stage Three to score his 12th top-five finish of the season. Additionally, with Allgaier scoring a stage win in Stage One and earning one additional playoff point, the Illinois native solidified his claim as the third seed for the opening round of the NXS Playoffs, just 24 points behind first. 

Stage One Finish: 1st

Lining up on the outside of the front row by virtue of NASCAR's mathematical formula, Allgaier bided his time in the opening laps of the 300-lap event, settling into the third position before the first caution flag of the night was displayed on lap 9. Opting for the preferred outside line on the lap-16 restart, the driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet charged forward, quickly moving back into second before taking the race lead for the first time on lap 36. Allgaier would hold on to the top spot through the scheduled lap-40 competition caution and methodically drove away from the field on the restart that followed, pulling away from second over the green-flag run to close Stage One and taking the green-and-white checkered in first on lap 85. With the stage win, Allgaier earned an extremely valuable playoff point that he can carry throughout the playoffs.

Stage Two Finish: 2nd

While under the stage-ending caution, Allgaier reported to crew chief Jason Burdett that the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet was just a little bit free on entry and a little bit tight through the center of the corner. As a result, Burdett called Allgaier to pit road for four tires and an air-pressure adjustment, sending the JRM driver back out with the race lead for the start of Stage Two on lap 93. Allgaier held steady out front through a lap-102 caution period, but got loose on the ensuing restart and slid back to fourth before the caution flag was again displayed on lap 109. Undaunted by the loss of track position, Allgaier pressed forward once back under way, needing just 20 laps from the lap-116 restart to reclaim the race lead. Once back out front, Allgaier looked poised to score another stage victory, but contact with a lapped car on lap 153 knocked the driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet sideways, sending Allgaier into a half-spin that brought the caution flag out once again.

As a result of the slide through the corner, Allgaier was shuffled back to the third position for the nine-lap sprint to end Stage Two, but was able to march back into the top two to take the green-and-white checkered flag in second on lap 170 and earn an additional nine stage points on the evening.  

Final Stage:

Following the strong recovery to end Stage Two, Allgaier returned to pit road for four fresh tires and a slight air-pressure adjustment, but a penalty for speeding forced the JRM driver to relinquish his top-five track position and take the green flag for the start of the third and final stage from the rear of the field. Despite restarting in the back, Allgaier rapidly ascended up the leaderboard, improving 16 positions over the 58 laps that followed to race up to the sixth position before a lap-237 caution period gave the driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet a chance to close back in on the race leaders.

Lining up as the third car on the outside line for the lap-247 restart, Allgaier quickly mounted a charge and worked his way back up to third behind Austin Cindric and JRM teammate Sam Mayer. An intense battle for the race lead would ensue as the trio worked to navigate lapped traffic, with Allgaier settling into third as the long green-flag run progressed. Then, with four laps remaining, Allgaier made his move, driving to the inside of Mayer as they entered Turn 1, but as the pair looked to work through lapped traffic, contact was made, leading to the caution being displayed once again on lap 296.

This caution set up NASCAR's version of overtime and saw Allgaier line up as the second car on the preferred outside line. As the field exited Turn 2 on the second-to-last lap, the top two made contact and Allgaier dove to the bottom to make it three-wide for the race lead. However, Allgaier's momentum prevented him from holding onto the lead, allowing eventual race winner AJ Allmendinger to get to his inside.

In a no-holds-barred final lap, Allgaier battled with Riley Herbst door-to-door for position before taking the checkered flag in the fourth position to close out the NXS regular season.

Allgaier enters the 2021 NXS Playoffs as the third seed on the heels of a regular season that saw the JRM driver score two wins, 12 top fives and 17 top 10s.

The opening round of the playoffs kicks off next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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

"We had such a fast BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet tonight and I can't thank Jason (Burdett, crew chief) and everyone on this JR Motorsports team enough. This group is ready to go with the playoffs here and I can't wait to see what we can do. There's one goal from here and I know that this group is ready to get it done."

Sam Mayer

Sam Mayer and the No. 8 Tire Pros team put on a stellar showing in Friday night's Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading 49 laps and cementing themselves among the frontrunners in the final stage. Running second and attempting to run down leader Austin Cindric in the closing laps, Mayer received contact from teammate Justin Allgaier who was running in third. The resulting spin dropped Mayer out of contention for the win but the Wisconsin native rallied to a ninth-place finish, his third top 10 of the season.

With the Xfinity Series regular season now concluded, the No. 8 team will do battle for the owner's title beginning next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Tire Pros team is seeded 10th out of the 12 playoff contenders. 

Stage One Finish: 5th

Mayer began the race in 22nd and worked his way inside the top 15 with a Tire Pros Chevy that fired off "pretty good" but took on a predominant loose condition as the run went on. Mayer climbed to 11th with the No. 8 machine by the opening stage's halfway mark and utilized a lap-52 restart to rocket inside the top 10. Mayer didn't stop there, however, and sliced his way up to fifth for the conclusion of the stage.

Stage Two Finish: 11th

After pitting for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to help tighten up the handling, the No. 8 took off eighth for the start of Stage Two. Mayer settled in and produced a "good pace" with the Tire Pros Chevy. The youngster was patient, taking what the track and car would give him. He was scored in ninth when a caution waved on lap 155. Within their self-described fuel window, crew chief Taylor Moyer called Mayer to the pits for fresh rubber and adjustments. With other competitors staying out, this would drop the team to 18th for the ensuing restart. But it would be a strategic call because Mayer would cycle back to the front under the stage-ending caution with nearly fresh tires and track position. Once back to green, Mayer brought the No. 8 machine to the end of Stage Two in 11th.

Final Stage:
Leveraging their pit strategy, the Tire Pros team remained on the track as the stage concluded and lined up for the restart in third. Mayer wasted little time jumping to the front under green-flag conditions, finding the lead on lap 181. He look poised out front and would lead the next 49 circuits until an errant lap car slowed him. It was enough that the second-place car of Austin Cindric managed to sneak by, but not before pushing Mayer and his No. 8 machine into the wall.

With what appeared to be only visible damage, Mayer hung on to the bumper of Cindric, making marginal gains in lap traffic only to give up his advances in cleaner air. But as the race wore on into the closing laps, the No. 7 of teammate Justin Allgaier began reeling Mayer in. The youngster was fending off Allgaier's challenges with two laps remaining when another lap car held up Mayer enough for Allgaier to put a nose inside the No. 8's quarter panel. The resulting contact spun Mayer off the front of the No. 7 machine and brought out a caution for an overtime finish. Mayer fell to 11th for the restart but pulled ahead two positions to take the checkered flag in ninth.

AJ Allmendinger won the race. He was followed to the line by Austin Cindric. Riley Herbst, Allgaier and Brandon Jones.

Sam Mayer, driver No. 8 Tire Pros Camaro

"We had a really good pace with our Tire Pros Chevy tonight. It was loose for most of the race but Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) and the guys did a nice job adjusting on it so it was more manageable. The goal tonight was patience and to let things come to us. We were able to work our way to the front with some strategy and lead a bunch of laps and that was a good learning experience for me.

"Obviously, I was frustrated that the 7 made contact with us. You know, we're buddies, we're teammates. Stuff happens, but that's tough and it still sucks...It's like man, can't catch a break. It's always something."

Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson's bid to make it three straight NASCAR Xfinity Series victories fell short on Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the young Nevada driver enters the NXS playoffs with a ton of momentum despite finishing 12th in the regular season finale on the .533-mile oval known as "The Last Great Colosseum." Gragson and the No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber®/Black Rifle Coffee team will enter the seven-race playoffs next week in fourth place among the 12 drivers in the running.

Stage One Finish: 3rd  

Starting from the pole after the application of NASCAR's mathematical formula earlier in the week, Gragson led the first four laps of the 300-lap event before former teammate Daniel Hemric took the top spot on lap 5. Gragson stayed in the runner-up position until the caution flag waved at lap 9 for a crash in Turn 2. Crew chief Dave Elenz told his driver that his car would come to him the longer the race went on. As the race got back under way, Gragson slipped to third in traffic and he would run the remainder of the laps until the competition caution in the top five. The young driver told Elenz that the rear of his car was a bit too tight for his liking, but Elenz kept him on the track for the restart. Gragson chose the bottom lane and would start on the inside of the front row for the 34-lap conclusion of Stage One. After a blazing restart, Gragson jumped from fifth to third in a battle with Justin Haley. He would stay third for the duration of the 85-lap Stage One, gaining eight valuable stage points in the process. Under caution, Gragson said his Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet needed more front turn, but stayed consistent all the way through the run. Hitting pit road for four tires and fuel, along with an adjustment, 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 place.

Stage Two Finish: 4th      

On lane-choice for Stage Two, Gragson chose the bottom lane and wound up on the inside of the front row for the restart. Gragson settled into third place and ran there until lap 103, when the caution flag waved for a two-car incident on the backstretch. Gragson reported to Elenz that the adjustment helped his handling turn more neutral. Elenz reminded his driver that there was still a long way to go and to take care of the car. Settling into third place, Gragson was still there as another quick caution flag waved three laps later. He told Elenz that his Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro fired off tight, then progressed to neutral as the runs went on. Debating whether or not to pit, Elenz and Gragson decided to stay out and take a chance at winning the stage to earn another playoff point. Starting from the top of the second row at the green flag, Gragson held third place until the end of Stage Two, earning eight more critical stage points on the day. On pit road at stage end, Gragson took four fresh tires and fuel, but was called for a speeding penalty in the process. That would result in his having to drop to the rear of the field for the restart to kick off the final segment.

Final Stage:

Starting deep in the field, Gragson began his trek back to the top of the order in fine fashion, climbing to 21st in just five laps. After 20 laps, Gragson had risen two more positions to 17th when the caution came out at lap 198. After some debate about taking their last set of sticker tires for the rear grip it would give the car, Gragson and Elenz elected to stay on the track. Firing off from 17th position, Gragson cracked the top 15 just a handful of laps after the restart. That was as far as he would go, stalling out in 15th and unable to advance. The caution flag waved again at lap 238, and Gragson told his crew chief the last adjustment might have gone too far, as his Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Camaro was very loose in traffic and around other cars. Elenz elected to bring Gragson in for tires, fuel and a fix on the earlier adjustment.

Restarting from 15th position on the top lane, Gragson's car was a handful and the Las Vegas native slid high and into the wall on lap 251. By the time he gathered it up, he had lost a position. Resetting for the run to the checkered, Gragson began to move forward and took 13th place on lap 262 before dropping back to 15th just seven laps later. The final caution flag waved with just two laps remaining in regulation, sending the race to overtime. Under the yellow flag, Elenz brought Gragson back to pit road for four tires, hoping to gain positions over the green-white-checkered finish. Gragson gained one spot over the remaining laps to finish 12th. Gragson finished seventh by a single point to Justin Haley in the regular-season driver point standings and will begin the Playoffs next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the fourth seed in the playoff standings.

AJ Allmendinger won the race in wild fashion, sliding across the finish line first alongside a spinning Austin Cindric to clinch the regular-season championship and the 15 playoff points that go with it. Riley Herbst was third, with JRM teammate Justin Allgaier fourth and Brandon Jones in fifth. Haley was sixth, with Harrison Burton, Myatt Snider, JRM's Sam Mayer and Daniel Hemric the rest of the top 10.

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

"I made a mistake at the end of Stage Two, running third and coming to pit road, I sped through the corner. I was trying to get all I could get, but I should have trusted my pit crew. They're good enough to get me positions, but I squeezed a little too much. Hopefully, I'm getting all my anxiousness out before next week when we go to Las Vegas, my hometown. Overall, it was a solid day, and it's a privilege to race here. Thanks to Johnny Morris and the rest of the Bass Pro Shops group, and I'll clean it up for Vegas."

Josh Berry

Josh Berry, filling in for Michael Annett for the third time this season, came from the back of the field at the start of Friday night's Food City 300 for NASCAR Xfinity Series cars at Bristol Motor Speedway and looked set for a solid finish. A mechanical issue with the rear end of his No. 1 Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker Chevrolet, however, required an extended repair period and the Tennessee native was relegated to a  35th -place finish, 91 laps down. The finish was good enough to ensure the No. 1 team will battle for the owner's championship beginning next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the site of the opening race of the NXS Playoffs.

Annett, scheduled to drive on Friday night, re-aggravated a leg injury that had kept him out of four races earlier in the season prior to this evening, and was not able to start the event. Berry, who traveled to Bristol with the team, took Annett's place behind the wheel on Friday night.

Stage One Finish: 37th     

Annett was slated to start the scheduled 300-lap event from 15th position, but after the driver change was announced, Berry was forced to drop to the rear of the field for the initial start. At the end of the first lap, Berry was up to 34th, and by lap 4 he had cracked the top 30. The 30-year-old driver was 27th when the first caution flag of the race was displayed at lap 9. Berry told crew chief Mike Bumgarner that he had fired off on the free side, but his entry to the corners was still good. When the race went back under the green flag, Berry resumed his march toward the top 20, taking the Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker Chevrolet there 11 laps later. He was 19th when the competition caution waved at lap 40. Under the caution flag, Berry told Bumgarner that his handling had tightened up through the center and off the corners as the run went on. Bumgarner responded by saying his entry at both ends of the track was as good as anyone else on the track. Several cars ahead of Berry pitted, which moved him up to 16th for the restart, and Berry was in good shape for the run to the finish of the 85-lap Stage One.

Berry was running 14th at lap 72 when white smoke began to billow out from under the No. 1 Camaro. After several laps of trying to localize the problem, NASCAR put out the black flag, which sent Berry to pit road under green-flag conditions. In the process of determining what the problem was, Berry lost several laps and fell to 37th position at the end of Stage One.

Stage Two Finish: 37th        

Repairs continued for more than 85 laps, and Berry was finally able to rejoin the field just after the green-and-white checked flag waved over Stage Two at lap 170. Over the remainder of the race, Berry clicked off lap after lap and rose two positions in the final rundown to end the race in 35th position, completing 215 of the 306 laps.

Despite the mechanical issue, Berry's finish clinched a spot in the owner's championship for the No. 1 Pilot Flying J #ThankATrucker team. After finishing 10th in regular-season owner points, 40 points over the cut line, the team will begin the playoffs 12th in the 12-car field after the reseeding, 43 points behind the lead. Annett's injury also denied the Iowa driver a chance to compete in the driver's championship, as he finished one spot below the cut line.

AJ Allmendinger won the race in a wild finish over Austin Cindric, clinching the regular-season point championship and the 15-point playoff bonus. Cindric was second, with Riley Herbst, JRM teammate Justin Allgaier and Brandon Jones the rest of the top five. Justin Haley led the second five, with Harrison Burton, Myatt Snider, JRM's Sam Mayer and Daniel Hemric the remainder of the top 10.

Josh Berry, driver No. 1PIlot Flying J Driver Appreciation Chevrolet team

"I hate that Michael was unable to start this race. I know that he and the No. 1 team have been really fast here the last couple of times we've run here. I started off a little loose, but Bummy (crew chief Mike Bumgarner) had a plan to fix it on the pit stop. Before we were able to get that done, something let go in the rear end and we had to come to pit road. After the team got it fixed, we went back out and were able to come home in 35th. I'm glad the No. 1 team is in the owner playoffs with the other three JR Motorsports cars. It's always fun to drive here at Bristol."



XFINITY Series Schedule

  • October 30 06:00 PM ET
    Dead On Tools 250Martinsville Speedway
  • November 6 08:30 PM ET
    NXS ChampionshipPhoenix Raceway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Kansas Lottery 300

Kansas Speedway | 10/23/2021
1Austin Cindric (P)31390
2AJ Allmendinger (P)31390
3Justin Allgaier (P)3101-38
4Daniel Hemric (P)3099-40
5Justin Haley (P)3092-47
6Noah Gragson (P)3075-64
7Brandon Jones (P)3059-80
15Michael Annett603-2536
27Sam Mayer #281-2858