JRM Bid for NXS Championship Comes Up Short at Phoenix Raceway

JR Motorsports | 11/6/2022

News Race Report

Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier finish second and third in the championship race as Ty Gibbs takes home the title.

Race 33 of 33: NXS Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway 
Track Specs: 1-mile oval / 200 laps                     
Race Winner: Ty Gibbs

Gragson's Finish: 2nd

Allgaier's Finish: 3rd

Berry's Finish: 13th

Mayer's Finish: 34th


Noah Gragson

Noah Gragson's bid to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship on Saturday night at Phoenix Raceway fell one spot short, as the Nevada native ended his career at JR Motorsports with a second-place finish. The 24-year-old battled back from a slow pit stop with just 40 laps remaining to challenge Ty Gibbs for the lead, but fell .397 seconds behind under the checkered flag.

Race Rundown

  • Gragson qualified in the fourth position for the 200-lap shootout to determine the series champion. In the opening laps, Gragson steadily moved forward, needing just five laps to get third place and four more to run second behind the polesitter Gibbs.
  • At lap 32, just after the leaders had entered lapped traffic, the first caution flag of the day waved for an accident. Gragson told crew chief Luke Lambert that his No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet was tight in the center of the corners and free on exit.
  • On the restart, with just eight laps remaining until the end of the 45-lap Stage One, Gragson kept pace with Gibbs and crossed the line just behind to finish second. Lambert called for four tires, fuel, a chassis adjustment to help Gragson's handling and some tape on the front end. Several cars had pitted before the stage break, and Gragson would line up eighth for the Stage Two restart.
  • On the break, Gragson was pinned on the high side and dropped a position to ninth when the green flag was again displayed. He had worked his way to sixth by lap 60 when the caution flag waved again. On the ensuing restart, Gragson again chose the top line and made it work, sprinting into the top five thanks to a big move in Turns 1 and 2.
  • With a head of steam, Gragson made it to third at lap 67. Two laps later, he regained the runner-up position. At lap 75, Gragson finally gained the lead and held it for the next four laps before Gibbs got around to take the top spot.
  • With time running out in Stage Two, Gragson battled in the top three with Gibbs and fellow Championship 4 teammate Justin Allgaier, who passed Gragson at lap 80. Over the final 10 laps of Stage Two, Gragson held station in third until the green-and-white checkered flag waved over the field.
  • Telling Lambert that his Bass Pro Shops/TrueTimber/Black Rifle Coffee Chevrolet was better in the center of the corners but needed right rear grip, Gragson headed to pit road on the break to take four tires, fuel and two more adjustments for the run to the checkered flag and the championship.
  • Lining up fourth for the restart to begin the final stage of the season, Gragson had moved into second place just four laps into the run when the caution waved again for a crash involving JRM teammate Sam Mayer. Just a few laps later, once action had resumed, another crash slowed the action, again with Gragson in second place.
  • On the restart at lap 116, Gragson took the lead on the restart, taking the high line in Turns 1 and 2. He would hold the top spot for the next 31 laps until Allgaier and Gibbs got around at lap 148. Gragson, running the high line, had worn his right front tire working the high line at both ends of the track.
  • Gragson stayed in third until lap 156, when the caution waved again for fluid on the track and he had the opportunity to get back to pit road at lap 160. Lambert called for four tires, fuel to the end and a slight air-pressure adjustment. Problems on the stop cost the team five positions in the order. Gragson would line up eighth for the restart.
  • Digging in, Gragson set out to regain his lost positions as quickly as possible, and off Turn 2 on the first lap of green, another yellow flag waved for a single-car spin at lap 167. A quick cleanup saw the cars ready to go green again at lap 170.
  • On the restart with 30 laps to go in the season, Gragson nailed it, driving from eighth to fourth on the first lap and rising to third on the following circuit, behind Gibbs and Allgaier. At lap 181, Gragson got past Allgaier and set out after Gibbs.
  • Over the remaining laps, Gragson reeled in the leader, but fell just .397 seconds short of victory and the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship. It was the 21st top-five and 26th top-10 finish of the season for Gragson, who was runner-up in the final standings.

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

"I drove my butt off tonight, but I was just too tight there at the end to catch the 54. I'm just super thankful to Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops, TrueTimber and Black Rifle Coffee. We had a really great year with this No. 9 team at JR Motorsports, and I really wanted that championship. We just weren't close enough at the end. We had to regroup and refocus after the pit stop, and we drove back to second in 25 laps on a track that's hard to pass on. I'm so proud of everyone's efforts this year. Thanks to all the fans for their support. We just came up one spot short. I'm going to miss this whole JR Motorsports team."


Justin Allgaier

Championship 4 contender Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, battled throughout the 200-mile event with fellow playoff contenders Ty Gibbs and JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Josh Berry during Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series season-finale at Phoenix Raceway. Swapping the lead back-and-forth with Gragson and Gibbs, Allgaier fought hard before ultimately taking the checkered flag in the third position. With the top-three result, the veteran driver brings to a close a 2022 season that saw Allgaier score three wins, 16 top fives and 23 top 10s to go a long with a third-place finish in the point standings. 

Race Rundown

  • Allgaier took the green flag for the final event of the 2022 season from the 11th position following Saturday morning's qualifying session. 
  • Despite starting outside of the top 10, Allgaier charged forward, as the driver of the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet needed just 17 laps to race into the top five for the first time. Once inside the top five, Allgaier continued his climb toward the front, racing into the third position on lap 25 and remaining there through the final 20 laps of the opening stage of the day.
  • While under the stage-ending caution, crew chief Jason Burdett called Allgaier to pit road for four tires, fuel and adjustments. However, varying pit strategies played out during this caution, sliding Allgaier back to 11th for the start of Stage Two on lap 53.
  • Undeterred by the loss of track position, Allgaier powered forward once back underway as the Illinois native rejoined the top five on lap 66 before driving his way up to second on lap 80. Allgaier held steady in the runner-up position for the final 10 laps of the stage to take the green-and-white checkered flag in second on lap 90.
  • A strong four-tire stop by the BRANDT Professional Agriculture crew prior to the start of the third and final stage sent Allgaier out with the race lead. The JRM driver held on to the top spot until lap 100, when Allgaier settled in to second. From there, Allgaier patiently bided his time inside the top three through a series of cautions, before retaking the race lead on lap 148.
  • Now back out front, Allgaier was poised to set sail, until an untimely caution on lap 154 brought the leaders back together. Burdett opted to use this caution as one last opportunity to make changes to the BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet and called Allgaier to pit road for four tires and a chassis adjustment
  • Lining up in second for the lap-164 restart, Allgaier looked to reclaim the top spot, but a flurry of cautions halted his progress. Then, utilizing the inside line on a lap-170 restart, Allgaier powered back into the race lead and again looked to fend off challenges from his Championship 4 counterparts.
  • However, as the green-flag run to the finish progressed, Allgaier began to develop a loose-handling condition. Fighting for every square inch of real estate around the 1-mile oval, Allgaier battled all he could to keep the race lead before sliding back to the third position.
  • Allgaier remained inside the top three for the final laps to take the checkered flag in third and bring a close to the 2022 NXS season.
  • With the result, Allgaier ends 2022 with three wins, 16 top fives and 23 top 10s.

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

"We gave it all we had today with our BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet. I was doing everything I could in those closing laps to hold on to the race lead, but it just wasn't meant to be unfortunately. I can't thank Jason (Burdett, crew chief) and everyone on this JR Motorsports team enough for everything this season. We had a great year and were able to accomplish a lot. This is a great group and we will come back even hungrier next season." 


Josh Berry

Josh Berry, driver of the No. 8 Tire Pros Chevrolet, fought hard inside of the top five, despite battling a car not handling to his liking during Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway, before dropping outside of the top 20 following a late restart. Using a never-give-up attitude, Berry drove the Tire Pros Chevrolet back to the 13th position before the checkered waved on lap 200. With the result, Berry finished fourth in the championship standings in only his first full-time season in the NXS.

Race Rundown

  • Berry and the No. 8 Tire Pros Chevrolet team started from the ninth position following Saturday morning's qualifying session. Berry remained in ninth before racing into seventh just before a lap-31 caution period bunched the field. Remaining on track, Berry restarted from the inside of row three. The No. 8 joined the top five immediately following the restart and up to the fourth position as the green-and-white checkered flag waved on lap 45 to end Stage One.
  • Pitting for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to alleviate a loose-handling condition, Berry exited the pits 14th as a few frontrunners had remained on track. Once back underway, Berry wasted little time moving forward as he rejoined the top 10 on lap 56 and remained there through a lap-60 caution period. The No. 8 went on to finish Stage Two in the 10th position.
  • Pitting during the stage break for four tires, fuel and a large chassis adjustment, Berry exited the pits in the 10th position for the start of the third and final stage. Berry went on to gain three additional spots through two quick caution periods and raced back inside of the top five on lap 117. The JR Motorsports driver's climb didn't stop there, as Berry drove up to the fourth position right before the caution waved once again on lap 154.
  • Pitting for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment, Berry restarted from the third position and held course there through a lap-166 caution period. Restarting from the outside of row two, Berry entered Turn 1 and slid up the track, bouncing off the outside retaining wall and sliding back to the 22nd position.
  • Berry went on to gain nine positions in the green-flag run that followed before crossing under the checkered flag on lap 200 in the 13th position.
  • With the result, Berry finished fourth in the championship standings in only his first full time season in the series.

Josh Berry, driver No. 8 Tire Pros Chevrolet team

"We really struggled to find the right balance today, but I can't thank Mike (Bumgarner, crew chief) and this entire Tire Pros team enough for what we were able to accomplish this season. We set a goal to reach the Championship 4 and that is exactly what we did. We will build off of this during the offseason and come back stronger next season."


Sam Mayer

Sam Mayer's strong 2022 season concluded with a stroke of misfortune for the No. 1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions team. Mayer, who drove as high as sixth with a ton of speed in the event, was hit from behind by an aggressive Sammy Smith in the race's final stage. The contact sent Mayer spinning and triggered a multi-car wreck that resulted in damage to the rear of the No. 1 machine, relegating the team to a 34th-place finish.

The uncharacteristic finish bookends a solid year for Mayer that includes 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes along with one pole. Mayer raced his way to the Round of 8 in the NXS Playoffs and ended the year seventh in the championship points battle while the No. 1 team secured the eighth spot in the owner points championship.

Race Rundown

  • Mayer started the race from the 13th spot, and once settled in, began to steadily improve his lap times. He rose to 10th by the stage's halfway point but his times were equal to third-place on the track.
  • Mayer worked as high as eighth in the opening stage, commenting the car was "pretty good, a little on edgy side," but he was happy with it. On a late-stage restart, Mayer slipped to 13th where he would ride out the stage.
  • The Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions team pitted under the stage-ending caution. Mayer was still dealing with a free condition and the call came for four tires, fuel and adjustments.
  • The No. 1 machine lined up in 14th for the start of Stage Two. Mayer made major gains over next 45 laps. He broke back inside the top 10 and drove as high as sixth when the stage concluded. The team pitted with the field for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. 
  • Mayer fired off in eighth for the final stage. Only 11 laps into the stage, Mayer was caught in the thick of the pack, racing hard for track position with several competitors when the No. 18 of Sammy Smith hit Mayer from behind. When Mayer slipped up, Smith drilled him a second time and sent the No. 1 careening onto the apron with several cars spinning to avoid the carnage.
  • The damage to Mayer's machine brought him to pit road where the No. 1 team made the necessary repairs to return him to the track. Mayer finished the race well off the pace in 34th  due to the damage sustained. 

Sam Mayer, driver No. 1 Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions Chevrolet team

"It was a tough day. We had so much speed before getting spun. It just wasn't meant to be. I'm proud we were able to race everyone clean today. There's so much and a lot of positives we have to build on for next year. I've got to give a big thanks to everyone who's supported me this year, especially the folks at Accelerate Professional Talent Solutions, Huck's Market and BUSDX. It's been a really fun year."

Articles

image

XFINITY Series Schedule

XFINITY Series Standings

After Dead On Tools 250

Martinsville Speedway | 10/29/2022
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Noah Gragson (P)40000
2Ty Gibbs (P)40000
3Josh Berry (P)40000
4Justin Allgaier (P)40000
5AJ Allmendinger (P)2297-1703
6Austin Hill # (P)2245-1755
7Sam Mayer (P)2231-1769