Here’s a look back the season so far through key quotes, moments and stats.
“I’m speechless right now, I didn’t think this would come. … I spent a lot of time with (team owner) Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. this week, talking for about two hours. Wanted to be a better speedway race. He told me ‘Go have fun. Wreckers or checkers, you got to manage your gaps, be there at the end and just go lead the damn the thing.’ That’s what we did.” – Noah Gragson after winning his first career Xfinity Series race in February at Daytona.
“This is more than a race win, it’s the biggest day of my life after the toughest day of my life. To beat the best there is just so satisfying.” – Briscoe after his emotional win over Kyle Busch at Darlington.
– In one of the most memorable and emotional finishes in recent memory, Chase Briscoe engaged in a duel with Busch over the last few laps at Darlington, making contact multiple times before Briscoe took the checkered flag. The win came days after Briscoe and his wife learned she had experienced a miscarriage.
– During the four races that made up the Dash 4 Cash program, Kaulig Racing claimed three of the four $100,000 bonuses, as Ross Chastain claimed $200,000 and Allmendinger claimed $100,000. It scored two wins (Allmendinger at Atlanta and Justin Haley at Talladega) and seven top fives.
– Briscoe used his front bumper to get Chastain loose on the first lap of the overtime finish for Sunday’s race at Pocono, passed him in Turn 2 and went on to a series-leading fourth victory.
– Through 12 races, there have been three first-time Xfinity winners. Noah Gragson opened the year with his win at Daytona and has been followed by Harrison Burton (Auto Club Speedway) and Justin Haley (Talladega).
– Through 12 races, there have been seven different winners, with Chase Briscoe leading with four wins. Last year, there were five different winners at this point. Busch, Bell and Custer were tied with three wins each at that point.
– Briscoe’s four wins put him in a five-way tie for second all-time among Xfinity regulars for most wins through 12 races. Sam Ard is the leader with five (1984).
– Burton and Ross Chastain are tied with 10 top-10 finishes each. Burton set a series rookie record by opening the season with 10 consecutive top 10s. He’s crashed and finished 32nd in the last two races.
– The final lead change came with less than 10 laps to go in seven of the last eight races and with two laps to go or less in five of the last eight races.
– Lead changes in the last eight races are up 23% compared to the prior eight races.
Things are getting tight in the Xfinity Series playoff standings.
After 12 races, four points separate the last playoff-eligible driver, 12th-ranked Myatt Snider, and Brandon Brown. Snider finished fourth on Sunday at Pocono. Brown was 33rd at Pocono. Snider gained 40 points on Brown in that race.
Next up for the series is Saturday’s race on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC).
The race went two extra laps past the scheduled 90 laps due to a late caution that saw Chad Finchum hit the wall with five laps to go.
Briscoe overcame a spin earlier in the race as well as a speeding penalty on pit road. He now has four wins and nine overall top-10 finishes in 12 races thus far this season.
“We were really not that good in the beginning, we struggled and didn’t have the speed I really anticipated to have here,” Briscoe told FS1. “I was a little worried, but a lot of good cars got tore up so it made it a little easier to get up through the field.
“Ross is always one of the hardest guys to race against and pass. … We’re halfway to eight (wins, his preseason goal).”
Briscoe is No. 1 in the Xfinity point standings with a three-point lead over Noah Gragson.
Chastain took the lead on the final restart, but Briscoe caught him coming out of Turn 2 and went ahead, never to relinquish the lead the rest of the way. Briscoe adds the win at Pocono to earlier victories at Las Vegas, Darlington and Miami.
But Chastain had some consolation: even though he finished runner-up – for the second straight race – he won the final $100,000 prize in the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash race-within-a-race.
“We did everything right, got the push we needed and cleared him going into (turn) one,” Chastain told FS1. “It’s tough to be upset with second, but I am.
“We’re unloading and are in the top two or three every week. I know how lucky I am but man, it’s the memories we take with us, not the money.”
That means Kaulig Racing drivers A.J. Allmendinger and Chastain the last two weeks — won three of the four Dash 4 Cash $100k prizes. JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson won the first Dash race.
Notable: The race had a record nine cautions for 31 laps under yellow. … Austin Cindric looked like he had the dominant car but was involved in a wreck on Lap 53 that knocked him out of the race. Others involved included Justin Allgaier, Ryan Sieg, Myatt Snider, Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric. … There were no issues in post-race inspection. All cars passed.
What’s next: Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Saturday July 4 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.
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.”
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.”