JRM Teams Face Playoff Cutoffs with Different Objectives, Plans

Ron Lemasters | 10/8/2021

News Playoffs XFINITY Series

The NXS heads to the Roval for the Round of 12 cutoff race. JRM is looking to advance in both the driver and owner playoffs.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Oct. 8, 2021) -- All four JR Motorsports teams are in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, two in the driver's championship and all four in the owner's, heading into Saturday's cutoff race for the Round of 8.

Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, is the only one of the three without some question as to whether he and his team will advance. Allgaier is second on the driver's grid, 55 points above the cutoff, and the No. 7 team is 47 points ahead of the cut in the owner's standings.

The No. 1 team is seventh in the owner's standings and is already in the Round of 8 thanks to Josh Berry's win at Las Vegas in the playoff opener.

For Noah Gragson and the No. 9 team and Sam Mayer's No. 8 group, it's a little less cut-and-dried.

Gragson, who was taken out of the most recent race at Talladega after being swept up in a crash behind him while leading, has a narrow road to the Round of 8, sitting seventh in the driver's standings and eighth in the owner's race. The margin for Gragson and the No. 9 team isn't quite razor-thin, but it is close enough. Gragson is 18 points above the cut line in the driver's championship and just 10 markers ahead in the owner's.

"I wish we would have gotten some stage points at Talladega and be closer to a 30-point buffer going into this weekend," crew chief Dave Elenz said going into Saturday's race. "It will be a little tougher to run the race, because you're going to have to run them out to get stage points in both of them. That's a pain because track position is everything, and we will have to go to the end rather than short-pit just to get as many points as we can. It kind of takes the fun out of racing the Roval."

Unlike last year, when Gragson had a much bigger margin in the driver points, Elenz said he had to refine his strategy.

"Last year was pretty care-free for us, because we had a decent cushion and you didn't have much to worry about," he said. "This year, we'll have to be a little more on our game to make sure we get those points."

The Talladega crash put the No. 9 team in a position where it will be focused on points rather than winning the race, but that is always the goal anyway.

"We were leading the race on the bottom, and the guy on the top wrecked us," Elenz said. "It's normally the other way around. It was most unfortunate. We're just points-racing this weekend. If we can get the right number of points in the stages and get locked in, hopefully we can let him go race and put on a show, but it's going to be tough to do that. We have to have those points."

Mayer's early exit at Talladega - thanks to contact from eventual race winner Brandon Brown - put the No. 8 team in a bind, points-wise, as the young driver has a 61-point deficit to make up this weekend at Charlotte. Essentially, it's a must-win for Mayer and his QPS Employment Group team to reach the Round of 8.

"The only way we'll move on is to win, and that's the focus this weekend," crew chief Taylor Moyer said. "We're too far back to worry about stage points and all that, so our focus is going to be on winning the race."

Jason Burdett, crew chief for Allgaier and the No. 7 team, has an open book to draw on for Saturday.

"We have had a couple of solid finishes and we have a decent number of points going in," Burdett said of his team's approach. "I think our plan is pretty open right now: just race the race and try to get an opportunity to win it. I think we need five or six points to lock in. We don't have to race for every point; we can still kind of race for a finish."

The last few weeks have been good for Allgaier and the No. 7 group, especially coming out of Talladega unscathed. With his spot in the Round of 8 all but assured, there's time to look ahead a little bit.

"We have been fortunate," Burdett said. "Talladega was a dice-roll at best and we were fortunate to come out of there with a good finish and points in both stages. We got a top-five finish out of it and led some laps. Las Vegas was a good weekend, solid car, and we were good most of the night. We've had good races going at Texas the last two or three trips there, really solid runs, and we look forward to going down there. It gives you something to look forward to. We're taking it one week at a time, hopefully we'll get through this weekend with a solid night and keep a little momentum going. We can then move on to think about the next steps."

Mike Bumgarner, crew chief of the No. 1 TMC Transportation Chevrolet, is the only crew chief in the building whose car is definitely in the Round of 8 for the owner's title, and his plan is to take advantage of that to look forward to the next three races.

"We're just going to make laps," he said. "We're kind of waiting on the weather, because that can change the whole way you run the race. We might take a chance to get a stage win if our place in the running order makes sense to do that, and we're trying get as many stage points as we can. If not, we'll just go for the best finish we can get."

Looking ahead, Bumgarner is focused on making the Championship 4 on the owner side.

"We're taking it one race at a time: focus on Texas, focus on Kansas and focus on Martinsville," he said. "We'll see where it all ends up at the end of the day."

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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
RankDriverPointsBehind
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