The Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway was calm and smooth until the final couple of restarts. The restarts that caused confusion amongst drivers, media, and fans.
The first incident happened on the lap 245 restart. Ty Dillon was the control car. Justin Allgaier line up second and Kyle Larson third. As the field was about to hit the restart zone, T. Dillon accelerated before the zone. NASCAR reviewed the restart and deemed that Dillon did in fact jump the start and was to start at the end of the field. When T. Dillon was relayed the message, he was hot.
Dillon started in the back of the field because shortly after the green flag waved again, the caution flag flew on lap 247 for an accident that involved six cars in the third turn. That caution also brought out the red flag for two minutes and 43 seconds.
Larson was deemed the leader after passing Allgaier on the first restart. The second caution would send the race in NASCAR Overtime. With NASCAR’s Overtime procedures, the race is deemed official when the leader crosses a pre-determined line on the first lap of overtime.
On the restart, Larson and Allgaier were battling for position and crossed the overtime line as three cars made contact towards the back of the field that would bring out the caution to end the race. Larson and Allgaier were in the third and fourth turn when the caution lights were illuminated.
However, as they were about to take the white flag, the caution flag was not waving. According to the NASCAR Rule Book, the race is deemed under caution when the lights are illuminated and/or the yellow flag is waving.
After the race, NASCAR would not allow anybody near T. Dillon to talk and Allgaier went up to a NASCAR Official to express his displeasure of how the race was handled in the end.
Once cooled down, Allgaier made comments to the media about the debacle in the closing laps.
“I wanted to punch and kick the side of the car once the race was over, but I felt like there were enough camera around that it might look goofy. I am frustrated, very frustrated actually. When you have these races, every scenario we could do something different and you could change the way you did it. You look back on it. It sucks. I just wish I could have done a few things differently. I wish other competitors would have done things differently. I think being that close to victory and having that dominant of a car with not really anything to show for it was probably the hardest part,” said Allgaier post-race.
While sitting under the red flag, Allgaier mentioned that his heart rate was 205 to 210 because of his frustration in the final laps.
Larson had a different approach and viewpoint to the final few laps in the race.
“I figured he (T. Dillon) would take off early. Ty got a little aggressive taking off too soon. This is kinda a tougher place to see where the zone starts because we are still turning when we get to the zone. It’s hard to see the zone start. He pushed early and definitely jumped a few feet and NASCAR made the right call,” said Larson of the restart that ultimately have him the victory.
After serving the penalty, T. Dillon ultimately finished in the 19th position.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Sparks Energy 300 from Talladega Superspeedway.
AVONDALE, Ariz.-- Justin Allgaier held off a charge from Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones on a late race restart to win the DC Solar 200 from Phoenix Raceway snapping an 80-race winless streak. Allgaier also wins the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus. All four of JR Motorsports entries finished in the top-10.
“It’s hard work and perseverance. Last year was tough. We had really good runs all year, weren’t able to get to victory lane. These guys fought hard. Same group of guys we had last year here at Phoenix. This is a team effort,” said Allgaier post-race to FOX.
On the Dash4Cash victory, Allgaier told FOX, “To finish first, you must first finish. We gotten the first thing out of the way, we got three more to do. These guys (XFINITY) what they do for our series, the sport of NASCAR. We have the best fans in the world. This is what this series is all about.”
Allgaier started the race from the fifth position. In the first stage, Allgaier had a car strong on the short runs. Allgaier remained towards the front of the field for the whole stage. On the 20th lap, Allgaier gained the lead from Erik Jones. . Allgaier and E. Jones battled for numerous laps before Allgaier took the advantage. As Allgaier was in the lead, his car turned from well handling to an ill-handling machine. Allgaier went on to lead nine laps in that stint. Allgaier began to fall back. Allgaier was one position from clinching a spot in the Dash4Cash in this stage. E. Jones won the first stage, Austin Dillon was second, William Byron was third, Ryan Blaney was fourth, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-five. Allgaier finished sixth in this stage. Byron and Sadler clinched the first two Dash4Cash spots.
The second stage saw Allgaier start behind A. Dillon on the outside lane. E. Jones was unable to get a good restart moving Allgaier up to the second position. Off the backstrerch on lap 82, Allgaier was able to gain the lead. The caution flew for contact between Brendan Gaughan and Matt Tifft. On the restart, Allgaier gained the advantage. However, Blaney began to reel in Allgaier as he began to hit lapped traffic. Blaney grabbed the lead with 11 laps remaining to win the second stage. Allgaier finished second, A. Dillon finished third, Sadler was fourth, and E. Jones rounded out the top-five. Allgaier and Tyler Reddick were the final two drivers to compete in the Dash4Cash.
At the start of the final stage, A. Dillon restarted the race from the lead. However, Blaney and Allgaier continued to pressure Dillon for that lead. Allgaier was trying for the lead but the caution flew for an accident. Allgaier restarted on the inside lane for the restart, but A. Dillon took the advantage. Allgaier gained the lead at lap 139 to lead the next 21 laps. Allgaier lost the lead on put stops as he was the first driver to take four tires while everyone ahead of him took two tires in what would be the last pit stop of the day. Allgaier quickly jumped up towards the front of the field with four fresh tires to gain the lead on lap 165. The caution then flew for a spin by Drew Herring. On the restart, Allgaier made the decision to start on the bottom, a decision he quickly regretted. Allgaier lost the lead for for nine laps, but gained the lead coming into the third turn. As the laps began to wind down, cautions continued to breed caution. The caution flew again for a spin by Blake Koch. Allgaier learned from his mistake on the last restart. Allgaier restarted from the high line, but as quickly as he was clear for the lead, the caution flew for an accident involving A. Dillon, Ryan Sieg, and Cole Custer. That accident brought out the red flag. On the final restart, Allgaier gained an early jump on the field and set sail for his first victory of 2017. Blaney finished second, E. Jones finished third, Byron finished fourth, and Sadler rounded out the top-five.
There were 13 different lead changes among five different drivers. The caution flew nine times for 55 laps.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the 300-miler event from Auto Club Speedway. Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 will have race coverage on March 25th at 4:00 p.m. EST.
Through 13 NASCAR XFINITY Series events in 2016, Alex Bowman has competed in three races. With nine races on his schedule out of the division’s 33, the Arizona native understands he needs to run well to once again compete full-time.
It wasn’t until the 10th race of the season at Dover that Bowman got a shot to go out and drive the No. 88 car for JR Motorsports, which had won two prior races this season at Daytona and Richmond.
At Dover, Bowman started from fifth position after finishing third in the first qualifying heat, won by JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. During a long 71 lap green flag run that opened the event, the No. 88 car raced itself to the front to lead 33 laps en route to a third-place result.
“It was a way to prove that I still belong here,” Bowman told Speedway Digest of his race at Dover. “We drove pass Erik [Jones] and took the lead for a while. It showed that I can contend for wins and it just means a lot that JRM took this chance on me. It let me prove that I deserve to be here.”
Rewind to Jan. 21, the last day of the NASCAR Media Tour, when Bowman found out through Twitter he would not be returning to Tommy Baldwin Racing, replaced by former JR Motorsports driver Regan Smith.
In mid-December, TBR announced it had picked up Bowman’s option 2016 season to drive the No. 7 car in the Cup Series, with Toy State renewing its sponsorship for 13 events in 2016 and 17 in 2017. He is now in the midst of building a foundation to build a long-term relationship with JR Motorsports, with the hope of working with the team to put together a full-time deal next year.
“Dale [Earnhardt, Jr., majority owner] and I have become really close friends, but everyone at JR Motorsports is cool to work with,” Bowman elaborated. “It’s a big family. It’s probably the most fun that I’ve had with a race team. It’s just a lot of good people and a lot of good equipment, and we bring fast cars to the racetrack every week.”
In his second race – the inaugural race at Pocono Raceway for the XFINITY Series – Bowman started the event in 10th and maintained position around the back half of the top 10 all day, finishing right where he started. Since the race was cut 47 laps short due to rain, there is no telling if the No. 88 team could have improved his car to finish higher in the field.
Bowman ran the full XFINITY Series schedule in 2013, minus Homestead for RAB Racing, owned by Robby Benton. He was released of his duties due to a lack of sponsorship. Blake Koch replaced him and finished 13th after starting a career-high second.
Since then, he’s made a stop at BK Racing in 2014, competing for the Rookie of the Year award, along with the aforementioned Tommy Baldwin Racing last year.
Those two teams aren’t among NASCAR elites, with TBR going several races last year with blank cars.
“I just didn’t get chances to win races, but I think that everybody that gets to this point has pretty much won at everything that they have driven to get here,” Bowman said. “I think this year just helps me solidify on people’s minds that I deserve to be here.”
Winning the pole this past weekend in Michigan can’t hurt Bowman. In single-car qualifying trials, the No. 88 Chevrolet was atop the leaderboard. He led the first 11 laps before finishing seventh after restarting second on the final restart with 33 laps remaining.
Bowman has seen worse things than not recording a victory in his NASCAR career. When he was in the Cup Series, he was struggling to finish in the top 30 with a best average finish of 31.6 in 2015. However, his best finish in a Cup Series race, 13th came in 2014 in a rain-shortened event at Daytona in July.
“I think I learned a lot from those two years,” he said. “They were definitely not wasted. I made the most of the situations that I was given. We elevated race teams and helped those teams grow, and at the same time, I learned a lot racing against Cup guys every week for the last two years.”
Bowman’s stop at BK Racing was his first full-time gig in the Cup Series. He had no sponsorship following the 2013 for a ride in the XFINITY Series. It was the No. 23 car or nothing for the 2014 season.
“Yes, but I didn’t have a choice,” Bowman said on if he was rushed to the Cup Series. “It was either that or I was going to sit on the couch because I didn’t have anything else. When I took that first Cup deal, it was either that or sit on the couch and I’m glad I did it. I learned a lot and am able to use that experience that I gained every time that I’m on the racetrack.”
While wishing that it might have been better if he was in a competitive XFINITY Series ride the last two years, Bowman has no regrets. At BK Racing, teamed with Dave Winston as crew chief, he had an average finish of 32.6 with six DNF’s.
Now, Bowman, 23, knows that every race he is in, is a chance to up his stock. If he wants to be in a competitive ride, he feels that winning is a must.
“Anything that can win, I will get in,” Bowman said on what he will drive. “As far as full-time stuff goes, I would love to pull some things together here with JRM. We are working really hard on trying to find partnerships to try and do that. Obviously, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to jump right back into the Cup Series. I want to stay where I can win races.”
In order to get a full-time deal, Bowman needs more days like he has experienced in his first three races behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet. Having nine races to prove himself on the track, he realizes that those could determine his racing future.
With help of Advance Auto Parts, Cessna and Vannoy Construction, it’s all about building relationships with sponsors.
“It’s really frustrating,” Bowman said of not knowing his future. “I’ve proved that I can contend for wins and I feel like I’m as good as anybody out there, but I don’t have a big sponsor to write a check. It is frustrating at times, but I’m very thankful to be where I’m at and hopefully, we will work something out.”
The No. 88 car currently sits second in the owner standings, seven points behind Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 team. Bowman’s main goal this season is to help Earnhardt and co-owners Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Rick Hendrick win the owner’s championship.
Bowman admits that JR Motorsports brings some of the fastest racecars to the track each week. But in order to win an XFINITY Series race, mistakes need to be at a minimum.
“I think we’re working really hard to try and win this owners championship,” Bowman said. “There is a little pressure to do well for that, but beyond that, I just have to plug in and do my job. I just have to keep plugging in and doing my job the way that the other drivers did when they won their two races.”
Led by second year crew chief David Elenz, the No. 88 team has 12 top-10 finishes in 2016. The only race that the car finished outside of the top 10 was at Atlanta Motor Speedway, when Kevin Harvick finished 12th.
The XFINITY Series heads to Iowa this week, and so does Bowman in his third consecutive race driving for JR Motorsports.
Following that race, Bowman doesn’t have a ride until mid-July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – at least as of now. And though he doesn’t know his future, he knows that winning a race will solve a lot of hassles he has faced throughout his career.
“With the right partnerships and everything if it works out the right way I would love to be here,” Bowman said of wanting to drive for JR Motorsports. “Everyone from JR Motorsports as well as from my side is working really hard to make it happen. I’m pretty content with where I’m at. I don’t want to go anywhere else. I just want to put something together here.”
In what was supposed to be the rain free day of the weekend, rain halted the racing 53 laps into the 100 laps race and by the NASCAR rule book, once the race is passed halfway it is deemed official if weather comes. Pole-sitter Erik Jones was closing in on Larson when the rain hit the race track.
NASCAR waited an hour and 35 minutes before calling the event due to rain. Once the track was near dry it began to pour, which led the series director to call the remainder of the race.
Larson led on several different occasions for a total of 27 circuits. It marks the Chip Ganassi Racing drivers' fourth career win in 82 XFINITY Series starts, and his second career win at Pocono, winning an ARCA event two years ago.
"I'm happy with it," Larson said of the rain coming in and ending the race. "We were good, a little bit better than i thought we would be. We were more comparable to the Gibbs cars than I thought we would be based off practice and qualifying."
Jones finished second on the afternoon after starting from pole, but never leading a lap. For the majority of the 53 laps the No. 20 car was in the runner-up position, first chasing his teammate Kyle Busch then chasing Larson. He felt like this race was another race that she let slip away.
"We had by far one of the best cars in the field today, so it's unfortunate," Jones said of his second-place effort. "Our Camry was good, but just not enough time t get back to the lead and have a shot at it. It's pretty frustrating because this whole year has been a season of just missing it by that much. We missed it in a couple races by penalties and circumstances and today was another one of those days where we had another good shot at the win, but with the way it played out it just didn't work out for us."
Ty Dillon finished third, posting his fourth top-five finish of 2016.
After leading the opening 16 laps, Busch couldn't get back through traffic to take the lead back after making a pit stop under the first caution flag. Finishing fourth on the afternoon, he felt that the team was a step behind.
Joey Logano rounded out the top five after getting off-sequence with the competition.
Elliott Sadler, Paul Menard, Brandon Jones, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman rounded out the top 10.
Brennan Poole finished 12th, ending a streak of four consecutive top 10 finishes, which is a career-high in his rookie season.
On Lap 20, Justin Allgaier made contact with the wall in the "Tunnel Turn" which resulted in a 39th-place finish. The No. 7 team dropped to seventh in the points after starting the race third in the standings.
The series is set to return to action next Saturday at Michigan, where Busch is the defending winner of the event, which was his first race back in the XFINITY Series after his leg injuries last February in Daytona. .
For the fifth time in 2016, Erik Jones will start from the pole in an XFINITY Series race. In the second round of qualifying he laid down a lap of 175.926 mph, which was much faster than the rest of the field. In the first round of qualifying the No. 20 Toyota was over a half-second faster than second-place.
Kyle Busch has been fast since the No. 18 team unloaded on Thursday. He was second overall at 175. 203 mph. His only win at Pocono in NASCAR came last summer when he won in the Camping World Truck Series.
The third Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Daniel Suarez was third quick at 174.784 mph. It his 12th top-10 start of 2016, in 12 events.
Kyle Larson was fourth at 173.568 and Joey Logano rounded out the top five at 172.781 mph.
Elliott Sadler was sixth, Paul Menard seventh, Ty Dillon eighth, Justin Allgaier ninth and Alex Bowman rounded out the top 10.
The top 12 cars in the second round of qualifying were separated by two seconds.
Notable drivers to miss the top 12 cutoff were a pair of rookies led by Brennan Poole who posted the 13th best lap, with Brandon Jones 14th, Cup Series driver Aric Almirola 16th and Brendan Gaughan 17th.
Darrell Wallace, Jr. was the second to last car to attempt a qualifying lap in the opening round. The No. 6 Ford got loose getting into the corner and went for a long spin, keeping it off the wall. In doing so, Bowman was on track for his warm up lap and had to pull his car into the pits to cool the engine down.
Bowman posted the eight fastest lap even with a hot engine, while Wallace will have to come from the rear as he never made a full lap.
The green flag is set to wave shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET.