Harrison Burton passed Noah Gragson off Turn 4 of the final lap to win Saturday’s Xfinity race at Texas and prevent Gragson from securing a spot in the championship race at Phoenix.
Gragson took the lead on the final restart with 15 laps to go but Burton, who spun earlier in the race, chased him down and got by for his third win of the season.
“We had such a fast race car,” Burton told NBCSN. “I’ve never driven anything harder than that last corner in my life.”
MORE: Race results, driver points
Gragson entered the race last among the eight remaining playoff drivers and appeared to be in a must-win situation to advance. He seemed set to do just that.
“I felt like we had a fast car there, a little tight on exit all day, just frustrated at myself,” Gragson told NBCSN. “I was pretty tight there at the end. I saw (Anthony) Alfredo holding Harrison off. … I knew (Burton) was coming. I just didn’t expect him to get there. Frustrated.”
Instead of securing a spot in the championship race, Gragson is 24 points from the final transfer spot going into next week’s race at Martinsville, the final chance to secure a spot in the title event. Justin Haley holds the final transfer spot.
The playoffs took a dramatic turn with 26 laps to go when a crash collected playoff drivers Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones and Ross Chastain.
Allgaier restarted on the inside of the front row and was leading off Turn 2 when he came up the track and made slight contact with Chastain, slowing both. There was additional contact that sent Allgaier into Jones’ car. Jones hit Chastain’s car, sending it into a slide.
“(Cindric) gave me a great push on the restart and was doing a great job to keep me down into Turn 1,” Allgaier told NBCSN. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hang the bottom, so I tried to drift up a little bit, trying to leave (Chastain) as much room as I could. When he got to my quarter panel, we got loose. Then right here (as Allgaier watched a replay), he just decided to hang a left because he’s aggravated and wrecks the whole field. It’s a shame not only for our team but everybody else. Ross is pretty two-faced and says a lot of things outside the race car and drives like this on the racetrack a lot of the times. It’s pretty disappointing.”
Said Chastain to NBCSN about the incident with Allgaier: “It’s my fault. We had a race winner today. … We brought a race-winning racecar to the track today and driver error. I made too many mistakes there. I don’t deserve what I have in front of me, I don’t deserve to drive this race car to be honest. To make those mistakes is absolutely unacceptable.”
CHAOS.@RossChastain, @J_Allgaier, and @BrandonJonesRac all crash on the restart! TV: NBCSN #NASCARPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/rLZ826sJKW
— #NASCARPlayoffs on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 24, 2020
Shortly after the ensuing restart, Cindric drifted up the track as he ran beside Gragson for the lead. Gragson motored by, holding the lead until the final lap.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Brandon Jones
STAGE 2 WINNER: Harrison Burton
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Anthony Alfredo finished a career-best third. … Brandon Brown finished a career-high fifth. … Ryan Vargas placed a career-high eighth. … Josh Williams placed ninth, marking his third top 10 in the last four races. … Tommy Joe Martins was a career-best 10th.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Chase Briscoe, who secured a spot in the championship race with his victory last week at Kansas, had mechanical issues and went to the garage in the opening stage, losing 16 laps for repairs. He finished 24th … Playoff driver Ryan Sieg is in a must-win situation after he had mechanical problems and went to the garage early in the second stage. He finished 31st. … Brandon Jones was eliminated in a crash and placed 25th. … Justin Allgaier was eliminated in the same crash and finished 26th.
NOTABLE: Harrison Burton’s last-lap pass for the win marked the sixth time that has happened in the Xfinity Series this season. That ties a series record for most last-lap passes for the win in a season with 2011 and 2012.
NEXT: The series returns to Martinsville Speedway for the first time since 2006 on Oct. 31 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).