Justin Allgaier wins Phoenix Xfinity race, $100k bonus and playoff berth

3 Comments

In a sense, Justin Allgaier earned three victories in Saturday’s DC Solar 200 Xfinity Series race at Phoenix Raceway.

First was Allgaier taking the checkered flag, his fourth career Xfinity Series win and his first since August 2012 at Montreal, snapping an 80-race winless streak. It was also the first career Xfinity win for JR Motorsports at Phoenix.

Second, the Illinois native also earned an automatic berth in this season’s Xfinity Series playoffs.

Third – and perhaps the best part of all for Allgaier and his JR Motorsports team – was winning $100,000 in the first of four Dash 4 Cash races this season in the Xfinity Series.

“I knew it was going to come down to a short run at the end,”said Allgaier, who jumped ahead of the pack with four laps to go on the final restart. “I knew we had the car and just needed a good restart and we got that.”

MORE: Results from DC Solar 200 Xfinity Series race at Phoenix

MORE: Xfinity standings after Phoenix: Sadler remains No. 1, leads Byron by 11 points

If Allgaier goes on to win the other three Dash 4 Cash races this season, the spring events at Bristol, Richmond and Dover, Allgaier has the potential to earn $1 million in total.

Ryan Blaney finished second, followed by Erik Jones, pole-sitter William Byron and Elliott Sadler.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth, followed by Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole, Michael Annett, Ty Dillon and Ryan Reed.

Also of note:

* Erik Jones led 51 of the first 60 laps to win Stage 1. William Byron (finished third) and Elliott Sadler (fifth) advanced into Dash 4 Cash eligibility for the final stage of the race (Laps 121-200).

* Ryan Blaney won Stage 2 (Laps 61-120), while Allgaier finished second and Tyler Reddick sixth, earning the other two Dash 4 Cash positions for the final stage.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: In only his fourth career Xfinity race, rookie William Byron not only won the pole but also finished a very strong fourth. Byron now has three top-10 finishes in his first four starts (ninth at Daytona, seventh at Atlanta and 14th at Las Vegas).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Defending Xfinity Series champ Daniel Suarez (finished 39th) saw his day end early, blowing a tire after making contact with Jeremy Clements and wrecking on Lap 11. … Joey Gase lost a tire on Lap 151, but things got worse when his car caught fire. Gase, who finished 35th, was uninjured. … With 11 laps left, Austin Dillon was running in sixth place when he was clipped by Cole Custer, spun and collected Ryan Sieg. Dillon finished 33rd while Sieg ended up 34th. The ninth caution of the race resulted in a red flag period to clean up oil in Turns 1 and 2.

NOTABLE: Austin Dillon and crew chief Justin Alexander were called to the NASCAR trailer after the race due to the apparent retaliation of Dillon intentionally running into Custer’s Ford during the caution period after his wreck with Sieg. On his way to the NASCAR hauler, Dillon was asked by Fox what he expected to happen. “I don’t think it’ll be that bad,” Dillon said. “We’ll probably just have a Coke, discuss things and it’ll be all good.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “To finish first, first you must finish. We’ve gotten the first finish out of the way. We’ve got three more to do.” – Race winner Justin Allgaier on winning not only Saturday’s race but also the first of four Dash 4 Cash events in 2017.

WHAT’S NEXT: NXS 300, March 25, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Long: Hall of Fame moment is special for father and son

Photo by Dustin Long
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE — Sleep has not come easy for Doug Yates in some time.

It has only gotten worse lately.

He can’t stop thinking of his father, Robert, who battles liver cancer. Robert has undergone chemotherapy, but at one point doctors said they weren’t sure what how to treat the 74-year-old former NASCAR team owner and engine builder who was selected to the 2018 Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday.

That helpless feeling of not solving a problem counters what Robert and Doug have done all their lives. If there was an issue with an engine, they worked harder and longer until they fixed the matter.

This they can’t.

While Robert Yates undergoes experimental treatments, Doug is there to help take care of his father. There are bad days, Doug says, wincing.

“What I see is a man who is broken down and built back up because he is watching his father,’’ said Whitney Yates, Doug’s wife. “Sometimes (Robert) is so sick he can’t do anything and Doug is there.’’

They are more than father and son. They share a treasured relationship not every boy and his dad experiences, their bonds woven early and strengthened with each day together.

Doug fondly recalls sleeping on a cot in a race shop when he was about 5 years old while his father worked on an engine through the night. They traveled to races together. Doug reminisces of a trip to Richmond where his father, tired from work, told his son, then 12, to take the wheel while he slept. Yet, when a deer ran across their path, it was Robert who asked his son if he saw that.

They often went to the race shop together. Although family, Robert was still the boss. He would be hard on his son at times, but Doug cherishes even those memories.

Robert was only teaching his son what it took to succeed. Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett won two Daytona 500s and Davey Allison won another for Robert Yates Racing. Jarrett won the 1999 Cup championship with the team. As an owner, Robert Yates won 57 Cup races and 48 poles.

Now, Doug is the boss. He oversees the “vision” his father had of the Roush Yates Engines shop, which powered Kurt Busch to a Daytona 500 win and Ford teams to four other victories in the season’s first 11 races.

“He wants to make (his dad) proud,’’ Whitney said of Doug. “He’s always trying so hard.

“Doug is always moving the bar. I think Robert is so proud of that.’’

While Doug does what he can for his father and the family business, he couldn’t control what happened at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The past three years Robert, Doug and the rest of the family came to the Hall of Fame to see if Robert would be selected. Five are chosen each year. Robert ranked sixth in votes received twice, just missing enshrinement.

Robert Yates reacts after he is announced to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Each time, Robert said the voting panel got it right.

“Selfishly, I didn’t think so, but he did,’’ Doug said. “That was a lesson for me. Everything happens for a reason.’’

As Wednesday approached, Doug Yates’ anxiety grew. It was worse Wednesday morning and throughout the day.

As Doug walked into Hall of Fame, ahead of his father, he conceded he was “nervous.’’

He also was prepared.

Doug stocked multiple tissues in the pockets of his slacks.

“If he didn’t make it, I was going to break down,’’ Doug said of his father making the Hall of Fame. “If he did, I was going to break down.’’

Robert also felt nervous.

“If I don’t get in,’’ Robert told himself before the announcement, “that’s the reason to work real hard to be here next year to get in.’’

The family didn’t have to wait long to celebrate.

Robert Yates, who received 94 percent of the vote, was announced first.

“Wow,’’ Doug said. “I’m glad that’s over.’’

His father, sitting a row in front of Doug, reached back. Doug leaned forward. They held hands. 

After that it was a matter of relishing what had happened as four other men — Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ken Squier and Ron Hornady Jr. — were selected to join Robert Yates in the next Hall of Fame Class.

Doug stay composed throughout. He wiped his eyes once.

When the ceremony ended, Robert Yates reached his arm around wife Carolyn and embraced her.

“My family means so much to me because they allowed me to work night and day,’’ Robert Yates said. “Do I love engines? Yes, whether one cylinder, two cylinders, six or 12 or 24. I love engines.’’

That passion led him to this moment.

“I feel like I could take a jack,’’ said the former jackman.

“I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight.’’

Doug Yates will.

His father will be in the Hall of Fame.

 and on Facebook

Announcer Ken Squier elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

Leave a comment

With 40 percent of the vote, announcer Ken Squier was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Squier, 82, is one of the most iconic voices in NASCAR history.

A co-founder of the Motor Racing Network, Squier is famous for his call of the 1979 Daytona 500 on CBS, which was the first NASCAR race to be broadcast live on TV flag-to-flag. It was Squier who nicknamed the Daytona 500 the “Great American Race.”

Squier called races on CBS and TBS until 1997. For the last two years he has been a regular contributor to NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage, including calling select portions of the Southern 500.

“It feels pretty darn good,” Squier told NASCAR America. “I announced so many races in so many places and met so many people. That’s the overwhelming feeling. To get this honor from the stock car crowd, that to me is beyond belief because there’s so many others that are doing similar things. So many people who are so committed and so caring about this sport and to think that I’ve been sort of singled out, I’ve never quite understood that.”

 

 

Four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

2 Comments

With 38 percent of the vote, Ron Hornaday Jr. was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Hornaday, 58, is a four-time champion of the Camping World Truck Series and holds the series’ wins record with 51 victories.

Hornaday raced in the series from its inception in 1995 through 1999 and then from 2005 through 2014.

He’s the first Truck Series champion to be elected to the Hall of Fame.

“There wasn’t even a Hall of Fame when I started racing, you just do it to put food on the table and enjoy it,” Hornaday told NASCAR America. “There’s so many people (to thank) … I don’t know who to thank and where to start.”

Hornaday won two of his championships driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and two for Kevin Harvick.

Ray Evernham, leader of the ‘Rainbow Warriors,’ elected to NASCAR Hall of Fame (video)

Leave a comment

With 52 percent of the vote, Ray Evernham was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s 2018 class.

Evernham, 59, was the crew chief for Jeff Gordon and the “Rainbow Warriors” when they won three Cup Series championships from 1995-1998.

Evernham and Gordon won 47 races together before Evernham left Hendrick Motorsports in 1999 to lead Dodge’s return to NASCAR.

Evernham was in Indianapolis when he learned of his election to the Hall of Fame.

“I got my first NASCAR license in 1978 and that’s a long time ago,” Evernham told NASCAR America. “It’s a huge sense of relief but it’s also a very, very humbling feeling. There’s so many of my heroes who are in the Hall of Fame and so many of them that are nominated. When you have your name even mentioned in that, it’s incredible. This sport has been everything to me. It’s all I ever wanted to do, It’s all I’ve ever done.”