Chastain could have entered Richmond on a two-race winning streak. Chastain and Kaulig Racing teammate AJ Allmendinger made contact racing for the lead on the last lap at Daytona two weeks ago. Teammate Justin Haley won that race.
Three races remain in the regular season: Friday night’s Richmond race, Saturday afternoon’s Richmond race and the Sept. 18 NASCAR race at Bristol.
The Richmond Xfinity starting lineup for Friday is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.
Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.
The starting lineup for Saturday’s race will be based off the finish of Friday night’s race.
NASCAR Xfinity Series at Richmond
Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Friday
Track: Richmond Raceway; Richmond, Virginia (.75-mile speedway)
Length: 250 laps (187.5 miles)
Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 75. Stage 2 ends Lap 150.
Four races remain in the Xfinity regular season: Darlington, the Richmond doubleheader (Sept. 11-12) and Bristol (Sept. 18).
Here is all the info for Saturday’s Darlington Xfinity race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: Dr. Joe Kearney and Dr. Mary Smyrnioudis, emergency room doctors at McLeod Regional Medical Center, will give the command to start engines at 12:19 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 12:30 p.m.
PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 6 a.m. Drivers report to their cars at 12:05 p.m. The invocation will be given at 12:12 p.m. by Tim Coker, pastor, Central Baptist Church in Darlington. The national anthem will be performed by Christian recording artist Broken Lantern Project at 12:13 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 147 laps (200.8 miles) around the 1.366-mile speedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.
TV/RADIO: Coverage begins on NBC with Countdown to Green at noon. Race broadcast begins at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at noon. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.
When Justin Allgaier shows up at Daytona International Speedway for tonight’s Xfinity Series race, he won’t be the same person seen there two weeks ago.
Following the Aug. 15 race on the Daytona road course, Allgaier was not a happy man.
After finishing ninth, Allgaier stalked down pit road and “unloaded” verbally on AJ Allmendinger. The JR Motorsports driver was furious after contact with Allmendinger spun his No. 7 Chevrolet while running in third with three laps left.
The spin wasn’t the root cause of Allgaier’s eruption, it was simply the final straw for the 34-year-old driver who had just one win since September 2018 and who had led 538 laps in 2020 without a victory.
It even caused Allgaier to tell his wife, Ashley, at some point last week “I’m ready to not be a race car driver anymore” for roughly the 10th time in six months.
But that moment passed.
“I had let things just get to me and I was frustrated with the circumstances,” Allgaier told NBC Sports. “And I let things fester and I’m not good at getting things off my chest, right? Keep them bottled up inside. And so when I unloaded at Daytona, what’s interesting about that is that it actually freed me up mentally to really enjoy what I was doing. And it put me in a better frame of mind. And I actually spent all week in a better frame of mind because of that. And that might be the best part of what happened (at Daytona) is that it actually put in a better space for me to be able to be in a just better headspace when I went into Dover.”
In fact, when he led 120 of 200 laps and won Saturday’s Dover race, he was in a “better mental state … than I probably have been in the last three or four years.”
That positive state is following Allgaier into tonight’s Daytona race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
“I’m much happier going into Daytona now, knowing that we have a win,” said Allgaier, who will start fifth. “That makes life a lot easier. And I’m able to go into a race and feel like I have a good opportunity to go do the things that I need to go do and and to race the way that I need to. … To be perfectly honest, I’m excited about it.
“I don’t typically feel like I’m excited when it comes to superspeedway racing. I wouldn’t say that’s one of my favorite things in the world to do. So having the situation that I’m in now and being where I’m at, I actually feel like I’m better mentally going into Daytona than I’ve ever been. So I’m actually excited about it for once.”
And despite 12 career Xfinity wins – and that eight different JR Motorsports drivers have won at Talladega or Daytona – it will be Allgaier’s 30th attempt at a Xfinity victory on a superspeedway.
Allgaier has three top-five finishes at Talladega and four at Daytona.
“I believe in my mind that every driver has (their) strengths and weaknesses and we’ve obviously got great cars,” Allgaier said. “There’s no questioning the equipment that we have at JR Motorsports and it’s not for lack of equipment that’s kept me from going to victory lane. But in my mind, I don’t believe that (superspeedways have) ever really been my strength. …
“But if we just go and do our job and we come out of there with a solid day for me that’s all I need do to be happy with it. Like don’t get me wrong. I want to go to victory lane. It’s not that I don’t want to go to victory lane. I just feel like there’s there’s a lot of factors that play into it that that don’t necessarily line up with how we finished a lot of times.”
Allgaier explained that Xfinity superspeedway races are unique compared to the Cup Series, where he made eight superspeedway starts.
“It’s just different,” Allgaier said. “There’s different drivers on a regular basis. It’s not like you have the same group of guys all the time. You’ve got different experience levels. There’s just a lot that goes into it. It doesn’t necessarily add up to where you think it would.
“I think that’s what’s probably the most interesting part of it is just managing that and managing other drivers around you and finding a happy spot.”
Allgaier hopes that happy spot lands him in victory lane again.
“It’s unbelievable to be racing in the Cup Series under any circumstances, but to do it in the No. 3 car was just incredible,” Grala said Sunday after driving the No. 3 to a seventh-place finish on the Daytona road course in his Cup debut.
But that number has a different meaning to Grala.
“I personally drove the No. 3 car in bandoleros, Legend cars, late models, I took it even all the way up to the (ARCA Menards East), because it was my dad’s (Darius Grala) number (in sports cars),” Grala said. “So the No. 3 has held a really special place in my heart for my whole career. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my Cup debut would come in it.”
AJ Allmendinger, Dillon’s usual backup driver, was unavailable after competing in Saturday’s Xfinity race. NASCAR had a rule banning drivers from competing in more than one race on the road course this weekend.
Due to the driver change, Grala had to start from the rear of the field Sunday.
During the pace laps, Grala experienced a surreal moment connected to another seven-time Cup champion.
“For me growing up my favorite driver and idol had always been Jimmie Johnson,” Grala said. “I really became a NASCAR fan in the midst of his five championships in a row. So I’ve always looked up to him. I thought coming into this year, I’d never get a chance to race against him before he retired. So already going into this race, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world just to know that he’d be on the track at the same time as me.”
As he navigated the 14-turn course prior to the green flag, Grala looked in his rearview mirror and saw Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet behind him.
“That was the coolest thing ever,” Grala said. “Of course it was bittersweet because I knew we had to drop to the back end. I didn’t think we’d be back up there at any point in the race. I thought it was a long shot. … Still didn’t beat Jimmie. I wish. That would have been really cool, but I could see him. That’s great enough.”
If all that wasn’t enough for a Cup Series debut, near the end of the race Grala was able to lead the field.
“That was pretty cool to get to lead some laps in my first Cup race,” Grala said. “I wouldn’t have thought that would be the case. But it definitely was a lot of fun. … (Crew chief) Justin Alexander called an excellent strategy. … To put ourselves in position for most of the day to try to be on as good or better tires than the guys around us, was a really good thing and helped me from getting shoved around too much.”
Grala is no stranger to special career moments taking place at Daytona International Speedway.
“Daytona is Daytona, so that that’s always going to be really special,” Grala said. “But I gotta say from an actual career perspective, I think this was a bigger day for me. Obviously, there were some circumstances that helped me win that Daytona Truck race, but today we really were able to drive up there into the top 10 and finish seventh, which I never would have imagined. It’s crazy to even be saying. But to me, I think that proved more a point than anything has previously my career. And like I said, I enjoyed the race so much and I hope to someday get to shot again in this series.”