Dash 4 Cash

Defining moments of the Xfinity Series season

Leave a comment

It took five months, but the Xfinity Series has reached the halfway point in its regular season following last Sunday’s event at Pocono Raceway.

The series has completed 12 races ahead of Saturday’s inaugural race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

A year after it was dominated by the “Big 3” of Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer, the series is not lacking dominant drivers, controversy and excitement.

Here’s a look back the season so far through key quotes, moments and stats.

Key quotes

“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.

“I’m the kind of guy that believes in racing people how you’re raced. I’m not going to take any kind of stuff like that. If (Gragson) wants to send that kind of message early, then game on.” – Myatt Snider a few days after he was spun by Gragson during the Xfinity race at Las Vegas.

“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.

“When you’re a man and you throw a punch, you better be able to take a punch.” – Gragson following his contact with Allgaier and win at Bristol.

“Oh my God, oh my God, I won on an oval. Do you like that? Whoo!” – Allmendinger after his victory at Atlanta.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Key Moments

– Gragson held off Burton and Timmy Hill in a two-lap shootout to win the season-opener at Daytona for his first career Xfinity victory. His celebration included sliding across the hood of his car like Bo and Luke Duke from “The Dukes of Hazzard” and performing a burnout until he caught the track on fire.

– Burton kept teammate Riley Herbst at bay in the closing laps to win at Auto Club Speedway for his first career Xfinity victory. He joined his uncle Ward Burton in earning his first Xfinity win on Leap Day (Feb. 29).

Brandon Jones passed teammate Kyle Busch with 20 laps to go at Phoenix and went on to secure his second career Xfinity win.

– 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.

– While battling for the lead with five laps to go in the scheduled distance at Bristol, teammates Gragson and Allgaier made contact, causing Allgaier to lose control and crash, eliminating him. In overtime, Gragson beat Briscoe and Jones for his second win of the year.

A.J. Allmendinger led the final 37 laps and won at Atlanta, scoring his first ever motorsports victory on an oval track.

– 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.

Key Stats

– 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).

Chase Briscoe in victory lane after his win at Pocono. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

– 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.

Results, standings after Pocono Xfinity race

Leave a comment

Chase Briscoe passed Ross Chastain with two laps to go to earn his fourth Xfinity Series win of the season Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Chastain had taken the lead on the final restart, with two laps of overtime ahead, but Briscoe passed him in Turn 2 and held on for nearly two more laps for the win.

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

Chastain finished second for the second straight race and also won the final $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus. It was his second Dash win in two races.

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

Click here for results

Briscoe is No. 1 in the standings, holding a three-point edge over Noah Gragson.

Click here for Xfinity driver standings

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR penalizes Justin Haley for aggressive driving

1 Comment

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.

Follow @JerryBonkowski


Austin Cindric seeking first ‘triangle win’ at Pocono

Austin Cindric
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Austin Cindric is somewhat amused at the concern about a certain stat on his racing record.

It’s the zero that can be found if you look up his number of wins on oval tracks in NASCAR. He’s winless in 95 starts on paved ovals across the Xfinity and Trucks Series. Since 2018, he’s earned 21 top fives on ovals.

His three wins have come exclusively on road courses.

“It’s funny because I feel like more people put an emphasis on my first oval win or whenever that will be than I do myself,” Cindric said in a Zoom press conference earlier this week. “Personally, I know that I’m capable of it. I’ve proven it to myself enough times. I feel like as far as when it’s gonna happen, I think when it’s your day, it’s your day.”

Could that day be today?

The Xfinity Series competes at Pocono Raceway (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1) in the series’ only visit to the 2.5-mile speedway this season.

But Cindric, in his second full-time Xfinity campaign, doesn’t view a Pocono win as an oval win. Even though you only turn left when racing there, it only has three turns.

“For me, if we win this weekend at Pocono, then it will be my first triangle win and I’ll still be looking for my first oval win,” Cindric said. “You’re never satisfied, but overall it’s been a great year for us. Really, the way we ended last year, I feel like that carries over. We’ve made changes to our cars and made changes to my driving and I’ve been able to really hone in on the last couple percent as far as what it takes to be the best in this series and I feel like that’s carried straight over.”

Through 11 races this year – all on ovals – Cindric has six top fives plus two other top 10s. In the last four races he’s led 160 laps in total without taking a checkered flag.

“I feel like there’s a lot of things in my career building up to this year and being able to use the resources that I have and obviously being able to execute well, I think that’s important,” Cindric said. “I’ve got the same core group of guys that I’ve had the last couple of years and I feel like that’s important, as well as far as being able to run for a championship and I’m proud of that effort.

“It’s been frustrating a little bit the last couple of weeks not being able to win, especially having such fast cars. You probably saw the peak of that frustration in the second race at Homestead (when he led 60 laps, cut a tire and finished 10th), but, for me, I’m pretty motivated to put us at the front of that field.”

His opportunity today to lead the field comes with an extra incentive. Cindric, who starts ninth, is one of the four drivers eligible for the final $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus. He’ll take on Justin Haley, Ross Chastain and Alex Labbe.

Today’s race is Cindric’s third Pocono start. He’s earned finishes of fourth and seventh in the first two.

“I feel like you’re always driving your own strategy there,” Cindric said. “I re-watched (an old) race with my team and understanding how we’re gonna play that race. But for me it’s a fun track because it almost reminds me of Fontana in the fact that you have to have a fast car to be able to win the race because it is such a big track, such a long straightaway on both ends.

“But, at the same time, there are a lot of driving characteristics that you have to understand and that you have to be able to manipulate throughout the race to be able to be good there. I think that plays into our hands. I’ve always liked that place. I like anywhere you can use the brake pedal and depending on how your car is you can downshift, so I’m excited for it. I think it’s another great opportunity for us to run well.”

Sunday’s Xfinity race at Pocono: Start time, forecast and more

Leave a comment

The Xfinity Series continues its season Sunday with a visit to Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.

Highlighting today’s race will be the fourth and final segment of the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash.

Competing for the $100,000 prize for the highest-finishing full-time Xfinity will be Justin Haley, Austin Cindric, Alex Labbe and Ross Chastain.

Here’s all the info you need for Sunday’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be at 12:35 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:47 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 5 a.m. (teams are assigned specific times). Engine prime and final adjustments are at 10:30 a.m. Drivers report to their cars at 12:20 p.m. The invocation will be given by Billy Mauldin of Motor Racing Outreach at 12:27 p.m. The national anthem will be performed at 12:28 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 90 laps (225 miles) around the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track.

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

PACE LAPS: At the direction of race control, NASCAR will run the entire field down pit road for pit road speed verification. If a driver stops anywhere on pit road for any reason, they will start at the rear of the field.

TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s coverage will begin at 12 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms, a high of 75 degrees and a 46% chance of rain predicted at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Justin Haley won last weekend’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway. Ross Chastain finished second while Jeb Burton was third.

LAST RACE AT POCONO: Cole Custer held off Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe to earn the win last year in only the fourth Xfinity race ever held at the Tricky Triangle

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for starting lineup.

Follow @JerryBonkowski