Noah Gragson wins Bristol Xfinity race in overtime

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Noah Gragson won Monday’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, holding off Chase Briscoe and Brandon Jones in an overtime finish.

The finish was set up by an accident between Gragson and JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier with five laps to go in the scheduled 300-lap distance. Following a restart with seven laps to go, Gragson was challenging Allgaier for the lead when the two made contact in Turns 1 and 2. The contact sent Allgaier up into the outside wall. Unable to collect his car, Allgaier then slid into the inside wall. Allgaier, who led a race-high 156 laps, was unable to finish the race. He placed 18th.

Allgaier has led 47% of the laps in the last three Bristol races but failed to win all three.

The win is Gragson’s second of the year after he won the season-opener at Daytona.

“I really apologize to Justin and the seven team, that’s not how I want to race,” Gragson told FS1. “I saw that position open up, he kind of slipped off the bottom the lap before. I tried to get to the bottom. I just got too loose. All of us top-five guys, really anybody in the field, this track is like ice out there right now. We were slipping and sliding.”

Later in a post-race press conference Gragson was asked if could expect retaliation from Allgaier.

“If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen,” Gragson said. “All I can do is be on the same page as my team and just try to drive that thing balls to the wall and have it hung out sideways and try to go fast. The only thing I can do is try to win races … When you’re a man and you throw a punch, you better be able to take a punch.”

Around 3 a.m. ET Tuesday, Allgaier hopped onto his Twitch stream to play “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” and relieve some stress after a “disaster” of a race.

With viewers asking him questions, Allgaier addressed the situation with Gragson.

“We did talk after the race was over. Not very much, but we did talk,” Allgaier said. “We’re not allowed to go to the shop, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens in our video conference meeting.”

Allgaier said “Things like (the accident) happen. I made the mistake and left the door open. That’s just kind of what happens. … Noah and I will still be friends. It might take a while to get back on good terms, but we will figure it out.”

Gragson is the second repeat winner of the year, following Briscoe. He is also the eighth different winner in the last eight Bristol races.

The top five was completed by Harrison Burton and Myatt Snider.

Gragson, Briscoe, Jones and Burton qualified for the first round of the Dash 4 Cash bonus next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Noah Gragson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

MORE: Race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chase Briscoe earned his seventh straight short-track top-10 finish … Harrison Burton has finished in the top 10 in all seven races in 2020 … Myatt Snider placed fifth for his best Xfinity finish in seventh career start … Brandon Brown placed seventh for his third top 10 of the year … Josh Williams finished ninth for his third career top-10 finish and his second of the year.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric and Michael Annett were part of a wreck on Lap 6 that eliminated Cindric and Annett. Chastain finished 28th … Patrick Emerling, making his first Xfinity Series start, finished 29th after he wrecked on Lap 142 … AJ Allmendinger finished 10th after he spun early in the race and then had an unscheduled pit stop with 89 laps to go for a flat tire … Riley Herbst and Justin Haley wrecked on a restart with 45 laps to go. Herbst had restarted first after taking two left-side tires. He made slight contact with Justin Allgaier that got him out of shape and resulted in the wreck. Herbst was eliminated and finished 27th.

WHAT’S NEXT: Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 4:30 p.m. ET June 6 on FOX

Xfinity playoff grid after Indianapolis

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Chase Briscoe‘s continued dominance of the Xfinity Series over the weekend on the Indianapolis road course ensured no additional drivers locked themselves into the 12-driver playoff field.

Through 13 races, Briscoe and four other drivers have qualified for the playoffs via race wins. Briscoe, who has five race wins, leads the field with 28 playoff points.

The last two drivers currently in the top 12 are Riley Herbst (+19 points above cutline) and Brandon Brown (+6 points).

The first four drivers outside the top 12 are Myatt Snider (-6), Alex Labbe (-32), Jeremy Clements (-49) and Josh Williams (-57).

Cup Series playoff grid after Brickyard 400

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With Kevin Harvick‘s victory Sunday in the Brickyard 400, no additional drivers locked themselves into the Cup Series playoff field.

But there was some movement at the bottom of the playoff grid as drivers jockey to make the 16-car field.

After he missed the race due to his COVID-19 diagnosis, Jimmie Johnson fell from 12th to 15th on the grid. He’s now 36 points above the cutline.

Matt DiBenedetto earned stage points in each stage before finishing 19th. He moved from 14th to 12th in the standings.

After earning stage points in both stages Sunday, Austin Dillon has cracked the top 16, moving up one spot. He has a six-point advantage over Erik Jones, who crashed out of Sunday’s race and had a 14-point advantage over Dillon entering the weekend.

With his ninth-place finish Sunday, Bubba Wallace is now within reach of the top 16. He sits at 19th, 42 points back from 16th.

Here’s the full playoff grid.

Oval or road course? Cup drivers address future of Brickyard 400

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For 27 years, the Cup Series has competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with its annual Brickyard 400. All 27 of those races have been run exclusively on the track’s traditional 2.5-mile oval.

But following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race on the track’s 2.4-mile, 14-turn road course, an obvious question has been raised:

Should the Brickyard 400 remain on the oval, where passing is made difficult due to a combination of the rules package and the design of the track, or should moving it to the road course be considered?

“I would never vote for that,” Kevin Harvick declared last week before he won his third Brickyard 400 on Sunday. “I love everything about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For me it is all about the oval … racing on the traditional track because for me I am kind of old school and I think that the Cup cars belong and really started the Brickyard 400.

“That was kind of what it was always meant to be, that iconic one-off, just the Cup cars event. I think with the Xfinity cars and the trucks and (ARCA Menards) cars and all the things that used to race at IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park), it was a great event. Hopefully the road course can kind of take that role that IRP used to have and be able to bring the Indy cars and NASCAR together to add to that event at the Speedway. For me personally, I would never vote for the Cup cars to not run on the oval.”

Harvick is joined in that camp by his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Aric Almirola, who finished third in Sunday’s race for his first top five and top-10 finish at Indy.

“I hope that we never stop running the oval,” Almirola said. “I just think it’s one of these places that regardless if it puts on the greatest race or not, it’s historic. It’s just a special place. It’s hard to explain when you don’t grow up a racer and you don’t aspire to come to race at Indy.

“But for me, I grew up watching stock car racing and dirt sprint car racing. I grew up watching Thursday Night Thunder, seeing so many guys go from USAC racing and sprint car racing to racing at Indy. It’s something I’ve always kept up with, always dreamed about getting the opportunity to race here. I get that opportunity now.”

Matt Kenseth, who finished second Sunday in his 20th Brickyard 400, said the Cup Series “should be” on the oval. But the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is open to the idea of Cup using the road course in some manner.

 “I think it’s one of those racetracks that we need to race at as long as we can,” Kenseth said of the oval. “It’s arguably the most famous speedway in the world, or one of them.

“To be able to race on the ovals with the Cup cars, which is the highest form of stock car racing here, we should be on the big track as well. I don’t think it would be bad to maybe test the road course and look into it, maybe do a second race on a road course, kind of like the IndyCars did this week.

“I really do think the Brickyard 400 has a lot of prestige. It’s not a southern race, but similar to the Southern 500, races like that. I think there’s a few of those races you sure would hate to see disappear.”

Crew chief describes ‘frightening’ scene on pit road at Indy

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Crew chief Todd Gordon said it was “frightening” to see rear tire changer Zach Price hit on pit road and then try to scoot away from cars during Sunday’s Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Price, who changes tires for Ryan Blaney’s team, was injured when he was struck by Brennan Poole’s car during a melee near the entrance of pit road early in the race.

Gordon, speaking Monday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, said indications are that Price’s injury was a “fracture someplace in the knee area.”

Price was treated and released from an Indianapolis hospital on Sunday night and traveled home with the team. Gordon said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that Price was scheduled to see a doctor Monday.

“Just hope to get him back and get him back going again and healthy,” Gordon said.

Gordon described what he saw as cars made contact.

“A really frightening moment for me,” he said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I was really terrorized when I saw (Price) drag himself back across the pit box arms only for a while there. As the situation kind of progressed and the medical staff was working with him, I could see in his face he was better off than I thought he was to start with.

“Fortunate that the guys got up and got at least in the air. The jackman (Graham Stoddard) got on top of the car. Just one of those terrible situations. I felt like those accidents happened mid-pit road. That’s why I picked way back there to be behind it.”

Said Justin Allgaier, who was involved in the accident on pit road that led to six cars eventually being eliminated:  “The No. 15 (Poole) actually got in the back of me. I didn’t know if I got the gentleman on (Blaney’s pit crew) or not. Once the wreck started happening in front of us and we all got bottled-up there, one car after another were getting run into.”

Indianapolis’ pit road is the most narrow of all the tracks the Cup Series races. The two travel lanes are 24 feet wide. The pit stall for each team is 15 feet wide.