Brendan Gaughan

William Byron wins Phoenix playoff race, clinches spot in Xfinity title race with Allgaier, Sadler and Hemric

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William Byron led the final 13 laps to win the Ticket Galaxy 200 at Phoenix Raceway and cement a spot in the Xfinity Series championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

On just two fresh tires, Byron fended off Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones to score his fourth win of the year and his first since July at Indianapolis. Blaney was on four fresh tires while Jones was on two.

The top five was Byron, Blaney, Jones, Christopher Bell and Daniel Hemric.

Byron and Hemric, both rookies, will join Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler in the championship race. Byron, Allgaier and Sadler all drive for JR Motorsports.

With Richard Childress Racing’s Hemric in the championship race, all four title contenders will be Chevrolet teams.

Byron scored the win with a patched together pit crew. Twenty-two of JR Motorsports’ 24 regular pit crew members did not take part in the race after a plane they were traveling on to Phoenix made an emergency landing in Arkansas due to an electrical problem.

“We grinded all day, great job by this team,” Byron told NBCSN. “To make that pit call (for two tires) by (crew chief) Dave (Elenz) is awesome. This one got robbed from me last year at Phoenix. Got it back and just can’t thank these guys enough for that. Awesome job.”

Elenz said that the two-tire strategy was necessary as the team had trouble lifting the left side of Byron’s car to change tires.

Last year as a rookie in the Camping World Truck Series, Byron was 10 laps from winning at Phoenix when his engine blew. Byron didn’t finish and failed to advance to the championship race.

Hemric clinched his spot in the playoffs after a battle with playoff driver and fellow rookie Cole Custer that ended with Hemric, who only had two new tires, pulling ahead of Custer and his four fresh tires as they exited Turn 4 to take the checkered flag.

MORE: Justin Allgaier fails post-race inspection, expected to be without crew chief at Homestead

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

MORE: Points standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Blaney led 147 laps before losing the lead on the final pit stop of the race … Blake Koch finished sixth for his fifth top 10 of the season and his best finish of the year. … Alex Bowman finished eighth in his second and final Xfinity start of the year for Chip Ganassi Racing.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Brennan Poole was eliminated from title contention after a crash on Lap 23 when he made contact with the lapped car of Caesar Bacarella in Turn 1. A cut tire sent his No. 48 Chevy into the wall. He finished 38th. … Brendan Gaughan finished 32nd after he crashed with 20 to go. Gaughan also caused a Lap 1 caution when he spun in Turn 3 with Corey LaJoie.

NOTABLE: William Byron is the only Xfinity regular to win in the playoffs … Daniel Hemric advances to the championship race after having his crew chief Danny Stockman Jr, his car chief and an engineer suspended for the past four races for an infraction at Dover. Richard Childress told NBC Sports he will keep interim crew chief Randall Burnett and the other two replacements in their roles in the title race.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That’s what the playoffs are all about. So intense, man. I’m so proud of all these guys. Awesome pit stops all day. It kept us with a little faith in our souls the rest of the race.” – Daniel Hemric after clinching his spot in the championship race.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity Series ends the season Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Ross Chastain gives his side of Brendan Gaughan tangle, says he was hit in back of head

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The war of words that followed the scuffle between Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan after Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Texas continued Tuesday morning.

Gaughan gave his side of the incident on Sunday during the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show, which he co-hosts.

Tuesday, Chastain appeared on TMD and said he was hit several times by Gaughan and several members of his team, including being blindsided and punched at least once in the back of the head.

Chastain also revealed that a crew member for teammate Garrett Smithley – which Chastain did not identify – was punched in the back of the head and taken to a local hospital. Chastain said the crew member was back in the shop working Tuesday.

Here’s Chastain’s side of the story:

“When we pulled down off the track, for some reason we pulled behind victory lane, which didn’t help things because it was dark and no lights back there,” Chastain said. “As I was getting out of the car, I was kind of surprised to see him (Gaughan) and a legion of RCR guys. I thought there was only a couple when I first looked.

“By the time he had me by the neck, I was still coming out of the car with my feet in my race seat and I was sitting on the door, I realized there was about 20 guys there surrounded us, and I had three guys at the time.

“It was ugly. It was not something that was pretty to think back on. They definitely had the numbers and it showed. I had a couple guys from the 0 car (Smithley) jump in to help, and I’m thankful for that.

“They really did keep me and my guys from probably getting hurt to any extent.”

Chastain thought things had ended at that point, only to see them resume.

“We thought we had it calmed down and I got hit in the back of the head and taken down into a golf cart and rolled around a lot,” Chastain said. “I don’t know if it was just fists or stomped on a little bit. That’s pretty scary stuff. Definitely had a lot of things going through my mind at that point on how to get out of that situation.

“But a lot of things flash before your eyes when that’s happening. Luckily, some of my guys came back, realized where I was at because we all got separated there in the darkness and the crowd of people, and got me out of that situation. That was relieving to see their faces. That was pretty much it there.

“A lot happened real quick and definitely not impressed by the amount of people that came down there with Brendan and went to wailing. I got hit in the back of my head and one of the 0 guys did, as well.

“It’s some scary stuff, for sure. I’m glad the cameras weren’t there because that’s not the kind of publicity the sport needs at all. I’m all for arguments and stuff, but it was ugly and that’s not something I want people seeing.”

NASCAR officials called both drivers to the hauler after the incident, but officials did not make any statements regarding the two drivers.

Of his tangle with Chastain, Gaughan said on SiriusXM, “It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.”

Brendan Gaughan on issue with Ross Chastain: ‘I finally just had enough’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Brendan Gaughan admits  he could have handled his disagreement with Ross Chastain after Saturday night’s Xfinity race differently but said Sunday “at this point in my life, I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Gaughan and Chastain were involved in a scuffle after the race. Both were called to the NASCAR hauler and met with series officials.

Gaughan deflected questions about the scuffle after leaving the hauler. Sunday morning, he spoke about the incident on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio “Fantasy Racing Preview” show he co-hosts.

“Texas is tough,’’ Gaughan said on the show. “With the night race, the groove narrowed down. It isn’t the first issue that we’ve had and the first issue that others have had (with Chastain), and I finally just had enough. Should I have done something differently? Maybe, but at this point in my life I’m kind of to the (point of) don’t care.’’

Chastain said after the race that issues started when he and Gaughan were racing together.

“There was a slow car we were passing on the backstretch and (Gaughan) tried to split the middle,’’ Chastain said. “I wasn’t going to let him because it’s so much track position, there was clean track in front of us. We stayed side-by-side into (Turn) 3. I tried to arc from the bottom, and he tried to pinch me.

“I got really loose, saved it. All good. From then on, he was out to wreck me. My spotter could tell. (Gaughan) tried to get me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“That’s just not acceptable. The speeds we’re going, we’ve seen guys get upside down in the catch fence on purpose before. I do not want to collect on my life insurance policy at 24 years old. That was my biggest thing in the (NASCAR) trailer, that I was upset with that needed to be taken care of.’’

Chastain said Gaughan approached him as he was exiting his car behind pit road after the race.

“I was just getting out of the car and was sitting on the door and was getting ready to swing my legs out and there he was,’’ Chastain said of Gaughan. “He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on.’’

Said Gaughan on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “These millennials, they love to talk and text. I believe in this. This was taught to me by Butch Miller and Parnelli Jones, by some of the old greats, that if you have a problem, you make sure you get eye-to-eye contact, let them know you’ve got a problem, let them know it was intentional, accidental, whatever.’’

Gaughan said he’s heard from other competitors after the incident.

“I’ve got a lot of text messages from a lot of our peers that seem to be happy,’’ Gaughan said.

“There’s a lot of guys that don’t see eye-to-eye with Ross.’’

Chastain admits he might not be the most popular in the garage but also notes he’s not going after a popularity title.

“I race hard,’’ Chastain said. “I understand that. I know I make drivers mad. I know I make crew chiefs mad, guys thinking that I don’t get out of the way enough. It’s really hard out there to get out of the way. It’s hard for me to do that and go back to (sponsor) Flex Seal and tell them I did 100 percent and I tried to get the best finish.’’

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NASCAR meets with Brendan Gaughan, Ross Chastain after scuffle

Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway
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FORT WORTH, Texas — NASCAR met with drivers Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan after they were involved in a scuffle following Saturday night’s Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The incident happened behind pit road and victory lane where non-playoff cars parked after the race.

“I was just getting out of the car and was sitting on the door and was getting ready to swing my legs out and there he was,’’ Chastain said of Gaughan. “He just came right at me with his guys. There were just swings from that point on.’’

Gaughan declined to discuss the incident when asked about it. Asked if he threw a right hook, Gaughan said: “I’m a lefty” and walked away.

Chastain said “there were no cameras (of the incident) … it would make me look better if there was, but, unfortunately, I’m sure there wasn’t for the start. Some derogatory things were said beyond just cuss words.’’

Chastain wouldn’t say what was said to him.

Chastain said what happened on track led to the off-track incident.

“There was a slow car we were passing on the backstretch and (Gaughan) tried to split the middle,’’ Chastain said. “I wasn’t going to let him because it’s so much track position, there was clean track in front of us. We stayed side-by-side into (Turn) 3. I tried to arc from the bottom, and he tried to pinch me.

“I got really loose, saved it. All good. From then on, he was out to wreck me. My spotter could tell. (Gaughan) tried to get me in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“That’s just not acceptable. The speeds we’re going, we’ve seen guys get upside down in the catch fence on purpose before. I do not want to collect on my life insurance policy at 24 years old. That was my biggest thing in the (NASCAR) trailer, that I was upset with that needed to be taken care of.

“The off-the-track stuff, hey, I’ll go out anywhere and do what we need to do to defend myself and my crew. The on-track is unacceptable at 180 mph.’’

NASCAR had no comment on the matter. It continues to investigate the incident after speaking to both drivers and others involved.

Gaughan finished 17th. Chastain finished 19th.

In April, Chastain punched Jeremy Clements during a red flag in the Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Chastain said he reacted with a punch when Clements grabbed him from behind and spun him around.

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Erik Jones dominates to win Xfinity race at Texas again, Sadler now No. 1 in points

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NASCAR Cup regular Erik Jones showed the eight remaining NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contenders how it’s done, winning Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Jones won his second consecutive Xfinity race (and third in his career) at TMS, dominating throughout the night, starting from the pole and leading 142 of the race’s 200 laps, including winning Stage 1 and Stage 2. Jones, who also won April’s Xfinity race at TMS, has made six career Xfinity starts there. Including his three wins, he has an average finish there of 2.2.

“It’s sure been a good place for me, just been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to,” Jones told NBCSN. “First time I came here in a Truck, I never thought I’d like the place. But since then, it’s just kind of clicked for me.”

Jones led most of the race, but gave up the lead when he and most of the other drivers pitted for fuel on Lap 185, 15 laps from the finish.

Jones then worked his way back up to the front, regaining the advantage on Lap 192 when Ty Dillon was forced to pit for fuel. From that point on, it was a drag race to the finish between Jones and Ryan Blaney, with Jones reaching the start-finish line first. It was Jones’ third Xfinity win in 17 starts this season.

Blaney finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Elliott Sadler and Cole Custer. Sadler moves into first place in the Xfinity standings.

This was the second of three races in the Round of 8 semifinal round. With Jones’ win tonight and Christopher Bell’s win at Kansas, that means at least three of the four finalists for the championship race at Miami in two weeks will qualify on points.

MORE: Results from Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 Xfinity race at Texas

MORE: Xfinity standings: Elliott Sadler now No. 1, takes big step closer to first title

STAGE WINNERS: Erik Jones (Stage 1), Erik Jones (Stage 2)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: With a fourth-place finish, Elliott Sadler moves into first place in the standings. Sadler leads William Byron by five points, Justin Allgaier by nine and Brennan Poole by 24. … Cole Custer bounced back from a cut tire early and also rallied from one lap down to finish fifth and helped improve himself in the standings. He was eighth coming into tonight’s race. He leaves Texas in sixth, 13 points shy of the cutoff line heading to Phoenix. … Matt Tifft is five points below the cutoff line, followed by Custer, Daniel Hemric (-18) and Ryan Reed (-33).

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ryan Reed had a disappointing 23rd-place finish. Given that he’s 33 points below the cutoff line and 62 points behind Sadler, Reed is in a must-win situation at Phoenix if he hopes to make the championship race in Miami. … Brandon Jones suffered a hard hit on the restart on Lap 61.

NOTABLE: NASCAR met with Ross Chastain and Brendan Gaughan because of a post-race scuffle that involved them.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We came to Texas with a plan and tried to do some stuff for Homestead. … I’m just living the dream. I had so much fun tonight. All in all, it was a great night for us.” – Elliott Sadler, who takes over the Xfinity points lead.

WHAT’S NEXT: Ticket Galaxy 200; Saturday, Nov. 11, 3:30 p.m. ET; Phoenix Raceway.