Joe Graf Jr.

Brandon Jones gets Xfinity win in overtime with last-lap pass

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Brandon Jones won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway in an overtime finish with a last-lap pass of Austin Cindric.

There were two attempts at an overtime finish. On the last attempt, Jones restarted seventh.

Jones snapped Cindric’s three race win streak and claimed his second victory of year. Cindric had dominated the race, leading 131 of 175 laps and sweeping the first two stages.

The top five was completed by Cindric, Harrison Burton, Ryan Sieg and Ross Chastain.

More: Race results, point standings

“We’re never out of this thing, that’s what I love about these guys,” Jones told NBCSN. “We keep our head in the game, we don’t get excited during these races. We continue to make changes. My feedback I think was pretty good. It’s been a long two days, I feel exhausted and obviously the heat is big here. Looking forward to celebrating with these guys and it feels great to be back in victory lane.”

Jones competed in three of the weekend’s NASCAR races at Kansas, including the Truck Series doubleheader.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s victory followed a seventh-place finish at Texas. Before that he had failed to finish four consecutive races.

“This just shows that we’ve still been running good,” Jones said. “Every time we haven’t finished a race or something has happened, we’ve been taken out or we’ve had mechanical failure. Just goes to show the speed.”

Burton had taken the lead with 10 laps to go in the scheduled distance after Cindric slapped the wall exiting Turn 2.

But the caution came out four laps later when Joe Graf Jr. got into the wall exiting Turn 4.

The leaders pit and Sieg stayed out. Cindric was first off pit road, beating Burton and Chastain.

Sieg kept the lead until the caution came out for a Jesse Little spin in Turn 2, forcing the second restart attempt.

STAGE 1: Austin Cindric

STAGE 2: Austin Cindric

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Sieg’s move to stay out of the pits in overtime led to his third top-five finish of the season, a career-best … Kaz Grala finished 13th in his first NASCAR start since last year.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Myatt Snider finished 22nd. He started the race in the garage due to a fuel pressure problem. … Noah Gragson was never in contention and finished 15th, one lap down. His last pit stop was marred by him nearly leaving pit road with equipment still attached to his car … Chase Briscoe 14th after he got into the wall on the final overtime restart.

WHAT’S NEXT: Xfinity race at Road America Noon ET Aug. 8 on NBCSN.

Xfinity practice report from Indy road course

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Austin Cindric posted the best lap in the last of two Xfinity Series practice sessions Friday on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Team Penske driver posted a top speed of 97.850 mph around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course. Cindric recorded 19 laps.

The top five was completed by A.J. Allmendinger (97.344 mph), Justin Haley (96.753), Chase Briscoe (96.534) and Justin Allgaier (96.530).

Anthony Alfredo had his right-rear tire go down with about 40 minutes left in the session. A few minutes later, Joe Graf Jr. spun going into Turn 1.

Jeremy Clements overdrove Turn 7 and went off course 20 minutes into the session. Michael Annett spun off course with 15 minutes left in the session. Both Allmendinger and Allgaier went off course in Turn 7 late in the session.

Click here for final practice report

First practice

Allmendinger posted the best lap with a top speed of 97.392 mph around the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course. Allmendinger recorded five laps during the 55-minute session.

The top five was completed by Austin Cindric (96.804 mph), Chase Briscoe (96.471), Justin Haley (96.213) and Justin Allgaier (95.976).

Michael Annett, who was 18th fastest, recorded the most laps with 19.

Ryan Sieg and Josh Williams went off course in Turn 12 during the early portion of the session. Turn 12 is where the circuit transitions from the oval short chute between Turns 1 and 2 back into road course.

Sieg then went off course a second time in Turn 13. He and Williams were both able to continue.

Allgaier locked up his brakes and missed Turn 12 with about 26 minutes left in the session.

Mike Wallace briefly went off course in Turn 1 late in the session and Brett Moffitt suffered a cut left rear tire with two minutes left.

The second practice session is scheduled for 3 – 3:55 p.m. ET and can be watched on the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the practice report.

Chase Briscoe passes Ross Chastain in OT for fourth Xfinity win of 2020

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Chase Briscoe passed Ross Chastain with two laps to go and held on for his fourth Xfinity win of the season at Pocono Raceway.

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.

MORE: Results, standings after Sunday’s Xfinity race at Pocono

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.

Jeremy Clements finished third, followed by Myatt Snider and Michael Annett.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes Justin Haley for aggressive driving

STAGE 1 WINNER: Austin Cindric

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

Who had a good race: With his third-place showing, Jeremy Clements earned the second-best finish of his Xfinity career. He earned his sole Xfinity win in 2017 at Road America.

Who had a bad race: Several drivers were involved in Stage 1 incidents that knocked them out of the race including Brandon Jones (who won the Truck Series race earlier in the day), Josh Williams, Joe Graf Jr. and Harrison Burton. Brandon Brown also fell out early due to mechanical issues.

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.

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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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Xfinity Series storylines for Darlington

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Remember the Xfinity Series?

It’s been a while. Xfinity Series drivers will compete Tuesday night at Darlington Raceway (6 p.m. ET on FS1) in their first race since March 7 at Phoenix Raceway.

Jeff Meendering, the last crew chief to win in Xfinity, looks back at the March 7 race and it “honestly feels like it was the last race of the season and we’re getting ready to start a new season.”

But it’s not a new season. It’s race No. 5 of the 2020 season. Here’s a refresher on where the Xfinity Series is heading to Darlington.

1.) Joe Gibbs Racing Strikes Back

Entering 2020, there were a lot of questions surrounding Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver lineup, which consisted of Brandon Jones (one win in 137 starts), Harrison Burton (nine Xfinity starts, winless in 38 Truck Series starts) and Riley Herbst (winless in 17 Xfinity/Truck Series starts).

Even Jeff Meendering, crew chief on Jones’ No. 19 Toyota, had concerns.

We were pretty nervous going into the West Coast swing that, ‘Oh my gosh, we could come home and be in trouble car wise from potential wrecks and everything,'” Meendering said. “It actually didn’t turn out anything like that.”

Instead, JGR went into NASCAR’s COVID-19 imposed lockdown with two consecutive wins after Burton won at Auto Club Speedway and Jones found Victory Lane at Phoenix. Meanwhile, Burton, who finished in the top five in all four races, leads the point standings. The team’s only DNF was from Herbst at Daytona.

“We heard the doubters from outside, I guess, but that just only motivated us to be better,” said Burton, who went winless as a Kyle Busch Motorsports driver in the Truck Series in 2019. “There was the Big 3 last year (Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer), we had a meeting and we wanted our three guys to be the Big 3 this year. We wanted to race each other every weekend for wins and go against each other every weekend and have to beat our JGR teammates, which is kind of how it’s been.”

While Burton, 19, has led the charge for JGR, it’s Jones, 23, who is the veteran of the group. He’s in his fifth full-time Xfinity campaign and third with JGR.

“We all laughed at the start of the year,” Jones recalled. “I said, ‘Well, dang boys. I’m the old man of the group I guess this year.’ But it is it is interesting. Christopher (Bell) last year was obviously dominant. But I still have more races than he had in Xfinity, but he just took to the car so well. But this year kind of coming in, I feel that I’m kind of playing that role now a little bit. I’ve definitely helped (Burton and Herbst) come up to speed at race tracks and they’ve actually helped me too.”

Burton recalled how advice from Jones helped in his effort to win in his first start Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 29.

“I asked him, ‘Hey Brandon, how far are you going to drive in (to the turns)?’ and I ended up winning … and he said ‘I’m never telling you how deep I drive in ever again!'”

But with where the Xfinity Series is going tomorrow, Jones’ experience will be invaluable.

2) Darlington Rookie Stripes

When the green flag drops on Tuesday night’s Xfinity race, it will be a big moment for select drivers in the 39-car field.

Among the competitors will be 11 – more than 1/4th of the field – who have never taken a lap around Darlington. Not in practice, qualifying or a race.

The first lap will truly be the first lap of action at Darlington for Burton, Jesse Little, Herbst, Anthony Alfredo, Myatt Snider, Kody Vanderwal, Colby Howard, Ronnie Bassett Jr., Mason Massey, Joe Graf Jr. and Colin Garrett.

“I think I’d lie if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about it,” said Burton. “But the cool thing is, everybody’s nervous about it. Everyone’s in the same boat. … There’s an advantage to have in your head that everyone’s in the same boat and you just have to do your job the best you can do it.”

As for Burton’s crew chief, Ben Beshore, he doesn’t have too many concerns about Burton’s first Darlington experience.

“I felt that way about Fontana too and he showed up there and hauled ass,” Beshore said. “He’s really quick to adapt and uses the tools that he has available to him before he gets there. Whether it be studying data or notes that I sent him or running in iRacing races, he seems to be able to use that to his advantage.”

Little, a rookie driver for JD Motorsports, took on the mindset of “they’re gonna race with or without me” as he dove into his preparation of watching film, taking notes, talking to drivers and making laps on iRacing. Meanwhile, he reiterates to himself “I’m gonna go there and I’m gonna be cautious.”

When it came to advice from drivers, he didn’t have to go far.

“Definitely lean heavily on my roommate/landlord,” Little said.

That would be Cole Custer, current Cup Series rookie and winner of last year’s Xfinity race at Darlington.

“I’ve picked his brain as much as I can,” Little said. “I can’t really think of a better Xfinity driver to do it than him. … He’s helped me out quite a bit … (Making sure I’m not) psyching myself out, not being too timid or scared, you know, in a sense of, ‘It is Darlington, but if you approach it this way it’s really just another racetrack and you know, you’ll enjoy it.'”

Unlike Burton and Herbst at JGR and Alfredo at Richard Childress Racing, Little won’t make his first visit to Darlington in top equipment.

That’s something that concerns former JD Motorsports driver, Ross Chastain.

“I probably feel … the worst for Jesse, just knowing that situation and how important practice is,” Chastain said. “Even though in a normal situation going there he would only have one set of tires, he would have limited laps, but he would have 10 quality laps to learn the track and he has nothing now and you’re going to get thrown into a random draw starting position. That’s tough. Just because I know that.

“Harrison, Riley, those guys … They know their car is going to go down in the corner and it’s going to do normal stuff. Jesse’s, it can do something that he’s not expecting. And I just know that. He’s probably got the biggest, biggest challenge, but when you catch them or you’re passing them or they’re passing you, you just have to trust them.”

3) Briscoe’s Opportunity

The turnover in the Xfinity Series driver ranks this year stands out when looking at the results of the 2019 race at Darlington.

None of the top five finishers – Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell and Dale Earnhardt Jr. –  are entered in Tuesday’s race, with Custer, Reddick and Bell now rookies in the Cup Series.

That’s leaves Chase Briscoe as the highest-finishing returning driver from last year. In his first start at Darlington, he started fifth and finished sixth.

Count the 25-year-old driver among those excited about a lack of on-track preparation for the race.

“I actually like the no practice and qualifying deal,” Briscoe said. “I feel like that kind of fits my team’s style. You know, last year I wouldn’t have said that at all. But this year, even at the end last year we were just always really good off the truck.”

Briscoe heads into Darlington with three tops 10s, including one win (Las Vegas) through four races this season.

“I feel confident that we’ll be good,” Briscoe said. “And you know, there’s a lot of inexperienced guys in the field as far as never even racing at Darlington. I don’t have a ton of experience there, but at least I know what to expect. I think the biggest question mark for myself is (it’s) at nighttime now. How much does that change things? Last year, it was a pretty hot race and we were slick and sliding around. That fits my driving style a lot more.”

Briscoe also is concerned about there being more grip on the track, a result of Sunday’s Cup race. It’s a situation Xfinity drivers are not used to.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous about the added grip that we’re gonna have, just because I feel like that kinda kind of evens the playing field,” Briscoe said. “Regardless of the temperature outside, it’s still gonna be slick to a certain extent.”

4) What day is it?

While the Cup Series competed on Sunday, Justin Allgaier watched from a distance.

The JR Motorsports driver said it was “hard to not get your blood pumping” as he’s in the final days of prepping for his own return to racing.

Allgaier and the rest of the Xfinity Series race at Darlington and then six days later will race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the oval.

“Some of the most difficult races that we have on the schedule now on the Xfinity Series side … are kind of happening in a short amount of time,” said Allgaier, who has nine Xfinity starts and two Cup starts at Darlington. “I’m looking forward to it. I think that it’s going to be a little bit different being (at Charlotte) on a Monday. Obviously, Memorial Day. It’s going to be super, super weird.

“But somebody the other day asked me if it threw me off to race on a Tuesday at Darlington. I said ‘Well, to be honest with you, because of this pandemic, I don’t know what day it is half the time anyways. So a Tuesday and a Saturday, they’re kind of the same.”

With the Charlotte race being held at night, rather than in the day like the last oval race there, Allgaier predicted that the track will have “a little bit more character” to it.

“We all call bumps character, we know that,” Allgaier said. “The weather has been kind of hot, cold, hot, cold here in North Carolina, obviously. And that a lot of times has more affect than just all the time hot or all the time cold.”

5) Over prepared

When Jeff Meendering was first able to enter the JGR shop after stay-at-home orders were lifted in North Carolina, his first stop was his office. The next was to check on the condition of the car Brandon Jones would race at Darlington.

“Obviously, we shuffled some our cars around a little bit,” Meendering said. “Our car racing at Darlington was originally going to be our Atlanta backup car. And the car we were taking to Texas originally is now going to Charlotte. So we’ve had to shuffle some stuff around, looking at the condition our cars are in and what makes sense with a limited crew to put it out.”

Despite the 10-week shutdown, Meendering’s team had been able to put together car builds through at least August. But Meendering and much of the NASCAR world didn’t know where they’d be racing beyond Charlotte until last week. On Thursday, NASCAR announced Cup and Xfinity would race at Bristol Motor Speedway the weekend after the Charlotte races.

“Those builds we were just basing them off of what the original schedule was,” Meendering said. “We got pretty deep into the original schedule. … We might have built for races that we don’t even go to now. I feel like we’re over prepared for whatever could get thrown at us.”