JOLIET, Illinois – Justin Allgaier had a great restart with eight laps to go to hold off Kyle Larson and JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler to capture Saturday’s TheHouse.com 300 NASCAR Xfinity race at Chicagoland Speedway.
While Erik Jones made a surge to catch Allgaier on the restart, Jones was penalized for changing lanes prior to reaching the start-finish line.
Allgaier earned the second Xfinity career win at Chicagoland Speedway (other was in 2011) in his home state (he was born in Riverton, Ill., about 2 1/2 hours from Joliet), his second of the season and fifth of his career.
Allgaier was consistently in the top-five for much of the race but did not take the lead until Lap 185, passing low and then held on for the remaining 15 laps of the 200-lap event, including the last restart.
“How cool is that? This is awesome,” Allgaier said over his team radio shortly after taking the checkered flag.
Sadler earns the first Xfinity regular season championship and both drivers will carry the momentum into next weekend’s start of the Xfinity playoffs at Kentucky Speedway.
“It means a lot to me and my family,” Sadler said. “We were able to win the first Xfinity playoff race last season and now this. There’s a lot of firsts in my career, which means a lot to a small-town boy from Virginia.
“This just gives us some incentive to try and get both trophies at Homestead.”
Larson finished second after a last lap surge past Sadler.
“I had a shot to win it, sped on pit road and had to restart at the back,” Larson said. “I definitely didn’t anticipate coming back and finishing second.”
Due to the restart zone penalty, Jones saw a great day go for naught. Jones dominated the race, leading 94 of the event’s 200 laps, but the miscue cost him deeply, finishing a disappointing 18th place.
“I was surprised for sure,”Jones said. “It was close, yeah, for sure, but NASCAR said they’re not in the business of really making calls, but I’d say that was a race-affecting call.
“It is what it is. We were either going to see a really good finish between me and the 7 (Allgaier) or him run away. It’s unfortunate. It was close. I was surprised to see the call.’’
The race determined the 12 drivers that will advance to the seven-race Xfinity playoffs: William Byron will start as the points leader (2,025), followed by Allgiaer (2,023), Sadler (2,020), Daniel Hemric (2,009), Brennan Poole (2,006), Ryan Reed (2,005), Jeremy Clements (2,005), Cole Custer (2,005), Blake Koch (2,005), Matt Tifft (2,004), Brendan Gaughan (2,003) and Michael Annett (2,001).
Dakoda Armstrong fell short of making the playoffs.
STAGE WINNERS: Erik Jones (Stage 1, Laps 1-45), Erik Jones (Stage 2, Laps 46-90)
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Cole Custer led 41 laps and looked like he may have a chance to win, but tailed off near the end. Still, he finished seventh.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: William Byron pitted on Lap 28 and took his car to the garage with reported transmission problems. While he returned to the race, he finished 33rd, 34 laps behind the leaders.
NOTABLE: Allgaier becomes the first Xfinity Series regular to win on a 1.5-mile track this season.
QUOTE OF THE RACE: “It’s an honor and humbling to become the first regular season Xfinity Series champion.” – Third-place finisher Elliott Sadler
WHAT’S NEXT: VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300,Saturday, Sept. 23, Kentucky Speedway, 8 p.m. ET (NBCSN).
Contributing: Dustin Long.