Alex Labbe

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).

NASCAR penalizes Justin Haley for aggressive driving

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Aggressive driving cost Justin Haley his chance at the final $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash prize in Sunday’s Xfinity Series race.

Haley was assessed a rare two-lap hold penalty on pit road for aggressive driving for putting Riley Herbst into the wall with 42 laps to go.

Haley and crew chief Alex Yontz have been called to meet with NASCAR officials after the race.

Here’s the exchange between Yontz and Haley on the team radio:

Yontz: “So you have to be the one to move somebody first. But if you retaliate, which they think that was retaliation, they hold you.”

Haley: “I had a run at the wall, I had to lift out of the gas and turn left.”

The contact knocked Haley out of contention for the Dash 4 Cash prize, leaving Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric and Alex Labbe left. Cindric would be involved in a multi-car later in the race, knocking him out of the race.

Labbe also had minor contact with the wall at the end of Stage 1 but remained in the race.

The aggressive driving wasn’t just about Haley. NASCAR Cup driver Erik Jones tweeted his disappointment in the overall tone of the race.

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Brandon Jones goes from Truck race winner to Xfinity race wreck

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The exhilaration of Brandon Jones’ first career win in Sunday morning’s Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway was short lived: just over one hour, to be exact.

To borrow a line from the old TV show, Wide World of Sports, Jones quickly went from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat, as he wrecked hard on the first lap of Sunday’s Xfinity Series race at Pocono.

It appeared Austin Cindric‘s Ford may have tapped the rear of Jones’ Toyota, sending the driver of the No. 19 spinning and slamming head-on into an inside retaining wall.

Jones was taken to the infield care center to be checked out. He has since been released.

“I’m 10-4 (alright), we’re junk,” Jones told his team on the radio.

Later, Jones told FS1, “From my vantage point, we were trying to go three-wide. …  I’m sure I was a moron for trying to go three-wide and do it early. But there’s got to be some give-and-take. It’s just early. It doesn’t take much when you’re three-wide to get pushed around, but from my vantage point, I got hit from the back.

“We just have to keep going. We had a real good positive, we won the Truck race and I had such high hopes for this one too.”

Cindric said on his team radio, “I think (Jones) got loose, checked up and I couldn’t avoid him.”

Cindric subsequently took the lead in the race but said he wasn’t in too much of a hurry on the opening lap.

“I can tell you one thing, there’s no such thing as too much of a hurry when it comes to racing unless you’re on worn out tires,” Cindric told FS1 during a race stoppage following a subsequent wreck and resulting red flag. “I’m having a lot of fun. We have a fast Ford Mustang and I intend to try and keep us here (in the lead) in the whole race.”

Four laps after Jones’ wreck, Josh Williams and Joe Graf Jr. were involved in another crash.

Then, on Lap 14, in virtually the same place as where Jones wrecked, Xfinity Series rookie of the year points leader Harrison Burton spun exiting Turn 1 and also hit the inside wall head-on. The race was red-flagged at that point for track cleanup. The red flag stoppage lasted nearly 21 minutes.

“The way it happened so fast and the way I spun, it felt like there was oil (on the track),” Burton told FS1. “It’s hard to say. I was racing with the 1 (Michael Annett) and felt good and then just instantly came around. It was a weird place to come around.

“That hit looked harder than it was. I’m alright and thankful my team builds safe race cars. I’ve unfortunately tested that out twice this year. Bummer, but we’ll be back and hopefully win some more.”

Then, on the final lap of Stage 1, Canadian driver Alex Labbe, one of four drivers in contention for the final Xfinity Dash 4 Cash race, spun in Turn 1 and suffered minor damage to his front end.

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Alex Labbe taking best shot at Dash 4 Cash bonus at Pocono

Alex Labbe
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Crew members for Xfinity Series team DGM Racing were busy loading wrecked and damaged cars in the Talladega garage area last weekend when they received some surprising, but good news.

Wayne Auton, director of the Xfinity Series, approached the team and told owner Mario Gosselin that his driver Alex Labbe had qualified for the final round of the Dash 4 Cash, to be held Sunday at Pocono Raceway (12:30 p.m ET on FS1).

“Everybody was pretty happy,” Labbe told NBC Sports.

Labbe, driver of the No. 90 Chevrolet this weekend, had been sixth on a late-race restart in Talladega, fell to around 12th and rallied to ninth before the checkered flag. Between him and fourth-place finisher Austin Cindric were four part-time drivers who won’t be racing at Pocono.

The prospect of going up against three other competitors – Justin Haley, Ross Chastain and Cindric – for a $100,000 bonus hadn’t even crossed Labbe’s mind.

“We’re a smaller team and we don’t really focus on that stuff,” Labbe said. “It’s pretty cool for an organization like ours to qualify for that kind of deal. It’s huge boost for us … all the media attention we’re going to get during the weekend, we’re just going to try do our best and showcase what we can do Sunday.”

One reason the possibility of earning $100,000 is important for Labbe is that it could extend his season. Though the Canadian driver has competed in all 11 races so far, he’s not guaranteed a full season.

“We’re still pretty much week-to-week, but we’re probably going to run the next two to three weeks, for sure,” Labbe said. “Trying to build up some momentum and I think that situation (Dash 4 Cash) is really going to definitely help us a lot. With that run we had last week and the Dash 4 Cash and next week at Indy, I think it’s going to be a pretty good stint for us. We’re just going to try to get everything we can and hope it can make us go further in the season.”

Working in his favor are sponsors who have stepped up to give the 27-year-old driver his best possible shot at the $100,000. Labbe will have Larue Snowblowers and Rousseau Automotive on his car. With their support, DGM Racing was able to lease an ECR engine for Sunday’s race. It will be the first time in 58 career Xfinity Series starts that Labbe’s car has had a leased engine.

“The motor we’ve run have always been owned by the team,” Labbe said. “We know they’re always down a little bit, for sure. … But it’s definitely going to be the best motor package that I’ve run in the Xfinity Series. It’s really tough to know what we’re going to get in an engine. Pocono’s a completely different track.”

Labbe has only made one start at Pocono. That came in 2018, his only full-time season, when he finished 18th.

One difference in Sunday’s race is that Xfinity teams will not be using a high downforce package that was used in 2018.

“Going to be a lot different for sure,” Labbe said. “We were pretty much flat out through the corners too, it was almost like superspeedway racing. It was all about the draft, but this time it’s going to be with the normal package. … I think we’ll be fine. I kind of like that kind of track. I will not classify myself as a true road (course) racer, but I really like the road racing. I think Pocono is a little like a road race … I think it fits my driving style pretty decent. I just hope we can get there and have a solid car to start the race and work on it and try to race into the top 10.”

Going against two Kaulig Racing cars and one Team Penske car, Labbe knows “we’re the underdog.

“We have everything to gain. For sure I’m a little more nervous  … we really want to see what we can do with that kind of motor plan. That’s going to be a big challenge. … We know that Penske car and those Kaulig cars are going to be really, really hard to beat. We never know what can happen.”

 

Lineup for Sunday’s Xfinity Series race at Pocono

Noah Gragson
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Noah Gragson will start from the pole in Sunday’s Xfinity Series race at Pocono Raceway (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1) thanks to a random draw.

It is Gragson’s third start from the pole this year, all of which have come since the series returned to racing in May.

He will be joined on the front row by rookie Myatt Snider.

The top five is completed by Chase Briscoe, Justin Allgaier and Ross Chastain. Chastain is one of the four drivers competing for the final Dash 4 Cash bonus.

The other three drivers are Justin Haley (sixth), Austin Cindric (ninth) and Alex Labbe (19th).

Click here for the starting lineup.

Here’s how the random draw worked.

  • Positions 1-12: The first 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up Eligibility will be assigned starting positions 1st – 12th using a random draw.
  • Positions 13-24: The next 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 12th- 24th using a random draw.
  • Starting positions 25-36: The next 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 25th -36th using a random draw.
  • Any vehicles that are eligible for the Event in position 37th – 40th will be assigned starting positions based on their order of eligibility.

NASCAR Xfinity Series at Pocono

Race Time: 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday

Track: Pocono Raceway; Long Pond, Pennsylvania (2.5-mile speedway)

Length: 90 laps, 225 miles

Stages: Stage 1 ends on Lap 20. Stage 2 ends on Lap 40.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Next Cup race: Saturday at Pocono (130 laps, 325 miles), 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox

Next Truck Series race: Saturday at Pocono (60 laps, 150 miles), 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1