The race was stopped for 1 hour and 33 minutes for a weather delay near the end of the first stage.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Haley won the stage in a one-lap shootout.
STAGE 2 WINNER: AJ Allmendinger won under caution.
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kaz Grala earned his fourth top five in 29 Xfinity start … Preston Pardus finished eighth. He has two top 10s in four career starts.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE:Daniel Hemric finished 35th after his engine expired on Lap 7 … Jesse Little finished 33rd after he got stuck in a Turn 2 sand trap with four laps left in the second stage. Safety officials were unable to remove his car in time to finish the stage under green.
WHAT’S NEXT: Race on the Daytona road course, 3 p.m. ET Aug. 15 on NBCSN.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity teams look to rebound in Texas
Just over a month ago, the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Xfinity operation had plenty to feel good about.
Exiting the June 13-14 doubleheader at Homestead-Miami Speedway, two of its three series regulars — Harrison Burton and Brandon Jones — had combined for three wins and locked themselves into the playoffs.
Burton left Miami having earned his second win of the year, in the first race of the doubleheader.
After an eighth-place finish in the second part of the doubleheader, Burton boasted a Series rookie record with 10 consecutive top-10 finishes to start a season.
Since then, up is down and down is up for JGR.
In the five races following the Miami doubleheader, Burton has failed to finish better than 12th. That includes two DNFs for wrecks (Talladega and Pocono). Burton has only led 18 laps in that span, including 15 in the second Kentucky race last Friday.
Now the 19-year-old driver sets his eyes on Saturday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN), where he’ll make his second series start at that track. He placed seventh there last fall.
“I’m looking forward to getting back on the track and getting things turned around this week at Texas,” Burton said in a media release. “My DEX Imaging team has brought me really fast cars the last few weeks, unfortunately, we just don’t have the finishes to show for it.
“As a team, we have had good speed at 1.5-mile ovals, so I expect that to be the same this weekend. I think we can take what we have learned since we have been back racing, continue to apply those tools this weekend, and come home with another good finish for DEX and everyone that supports us on this No. 20 team.”
While the last five races have been bad for Burton, it’s been worse for Jones.
After he was runner-up in the second Miami race, the two-time Xfinity winner hit a wall, multiple times
In the next race at Talladega, he only managed an 18th-place finish.
Jones journeys to Texas where he’s finished sixth or better in two of his last three starts there.
“We are heading to one of my favorite tracks on the circuit after a very frustrating weekend at Kentucky,” Jones said in a media release. “Our team showed speed last week, but unfortunately we didn’t get the finishes we were capable of. Texas Motor Speedway is exactly what we need as a team. It’s a fast mile-and-a-half and the track surface is starting to get a few bumps which really builds a unique characteristic.
“It also holds a lot of grip and always produces great racing. … Joe Gibbs Racing has always had strong cars at Texas, and it’s time to get back to our earlier season form and put our Menards Supra back in victory lane.”
The only bright spot for JGR over the last five races has been in rookie Riley Herbst.
After he earned five top 10s through the first 10 races – including a runner-up to Burton at Auto Club Speedway – the 21-year-old driver has earned three more since Miami. That includes a ninth-place finish at Pocono, his second career runner-up in the first Kentucky race and a 10th the following night.
Going into Texas, Herbst has eight top 10s – one more than Jones – but has only led four laps through 15 races.
“Heading to Texas this week should be a fun race,” Herbst said in a media release. “After a few weeks of tracks where I had been before in the ARCA series, we’re back to a track that I have never been before and I will make my first laps when we start the race on Saturday. I’ve spent time with Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and watched videos of past races, as well as spent time in the sim to learn as much as I can to prepare for the race.
“We’re coming off two strong runs at Kentucky with our Monster Energy Supra team, so I think we can keep the momentum going this weekend, find our best line on the track and get us another top-10 finish and maybe even leave with some new cowboy hats. That would be pretty cool for our first win.”
History has been kind to JGR in the Xfinity Series at Texas.
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).
NASCAR On NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger showed Saturday he still has a lot of racing success left in him, winning the EchoPark 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Driving part-time this season for Kaulig Racing, Allmendinger, who had to roar back from back in the field, earned his fourth career Xfinity Series win, but the first on an oval.
“Oh my God, oh my God, I won on an oval. Do you like that? Whoo!” Allmendinger said to Fox Sports after climbing from his race car. He even kissed the camera, he was so excited about the win.
“This car was awesome,” said Allmendinger, who took the lead on Lap 127 of the 163-lap race and held on the rest of the way. “This is Atlanta. The car was awesome on long runs, probably better than the driver early. Once I got in the lead, I was just trying to hit my marks, which is hard to do.”
Later, in a post-race teleconference, Allmendinger said, “Heck, I might retire. Man, I just wanted to win on a damn oval. … I wanted to win on an oval that we really had to drive and get after it. More than anything, I was happy with myself because I always push myself and question myself a lot if I can do it on these race tracks and it’s always a challenge each time I’m in the race car with myself mentally and to push myself and try to be better. … What I was most happy about those last 35 laps was I gave everything I could and not make any mistakes.”
Noah Gragson, who won last week at Bristol, was the highest finisher of the four drivers eligible for the first of four Xfinity Dash 4 Cash races, finishing second and taking home a cool $100,000.
Allmendinger was originally not slated to be entered in next Sunday’s back end of a weekend doubleheader race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The second race of the weekend on Sunday, June 14, will serve as the second of four races in the Dash 4 Cash series.
Moments after Allmendinger left the stage, Kaulig Racing president Chris Rice told the media that the team will indeed field a car for “Dinger” in the Homestead Dash 4 Cash race. He will go for the $100,000 price along with Kaulig Racing teammate Justin Haley, as well as Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric.
“I haven’t told AJ this yet, but we will be running the second race at Homestead next Sunday with the Ellsworth Advisors Chevrolet with A.J. Allmendinger starting dead last because we will not run the first race (Saturday), we’ll run the second race,” Rice said. “(Allmendinger) said he had a tee time, but that gives Kaulig Racing two chances to run for $100,000. So yeah, we’ll be there with A.J.”
STAGE 2 WINNER: Austin Cindric (second stage win of season)
Who had a good race: Noah Gragson almost made it two wins in a row, but can’t be too upset for finishing second in Saturday’s race. Also, Harrison Burton continued his strong effort this season with his fifth-place showing.
Who had a bad race:Timmy Hill finished 33rd, 76 laps back. Even though he was strong in the iRacing Series during the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus, Hill continues to struggle since the Xfinity Series resumed with finishes of 20th or worse in three of the four races back.
Notable: Ross Chastain did his Kyle Busch impression of sorts, competing in both races Saturday. He finished seventh in the Xfinity race and was sixth in the Truck Series race earlier in the day. … All cars passed post-race inspection with just one issue: a lug nut violation on the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Brandon Jones, who finished eighth.
What’s next: There will be an Xfinity Series doubleheader next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway: Saturday, June 13 (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox), and Sunday, June 14 (Noon ET on FS1). The latter race is also the second of four Xfinity Dash 4 Cash Series races.