BRISTOL, Tenn. – Entering Friday’s regular season finale for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Chase Briscoe had recorded two straight runner-up finishes at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Briscoe ended that streak in style.
After executing a textbook bump-and-run pass of leader Austin Cindric with six laps remaining, Briscoe held on to win the Food City 300.
“Man, what a race,” Briscoe said. “I wanted to win here so bad, and it’s awesome that I actually get to celebrate with all these race fans.”
For the first Xfinity race in the COVID-19 era, spectators were allowed inside the track. An estimated gathering of 14,000 attended, with folks of all ages wrapped in coats and blankets in the 59-degree weather.
Briscoe won six races early this season before hitting a dry spell that included a frustrating doubleheader at Richmond Raceway last weekend.
“I told all the guys that there was no way we were getting beat today,” Briscoe said. “I was so mad after how we ran last week. I get on the internet all the time and see where we’re counted out after one bad race. I know what this team is capable of.”
Cindric was doomed after the power steering failed in his No. 22 Ford with around 20 laps remaining.
Ross Chastain worked around Cindric en route to his fifth second-place effort of the season. That was a hollow reward for Chastain, who was openly emotional in post-race interviews.
“It’s tough fighting for everything,” Chastain said. “I want this so bad. I want to be in this sport and win races. I know second is great and I know that I should be so happy.
“I mean it’s Bristol. There a lot of things I could have done different, and I didn’t get it done.”
Chastain lost momentum with 11 laps to go after making contact with Cindric’s car in a side-by-side battle on the backstretch.
“I knew we were really close, but I didn’t know that would be the pass for the win,” Chastain said.
Cindric settled for third, with Harrison Burton and pole-sitter Justin Allgaier completing the top five.
Before the race, track officials applied a new round of the PJ1 (TrackBite) traction compound to the lower groove of the racing surface. That’s where all the top cars stayed while also attempting to navigate lapped traffic.
Entering the night, Allgaier had won three of the past six races.
Chastain grabbed the lead from Allgaier on the second lap and was still in the lead for the first competition caution on lap 40. Only 17 cars remained on the lead lap at that point.
With a bold charge around Chastain on the outside lane, Allgaier regained the lead shortly after the restart and then held on to capture stage one.
Allgaier appeared to be invincible following the conclusion of stage two. But on the ensuing restart, Chastain stormed to the front as Allgaier dropped back to third. By lap 200, Allgaier had slipped to the sixth spot due to handling problems.
“Unfortunately, we got a set of tires that just didn’t handle the way we wanted,” said Allgaier, who led a total of 127 laps. “The PJ1 was starting to wear off and I knew we needed to make an adjustment, but at that point we didn’t really know what the right call was going to be.”
Earlier this spring at BMS, Allgaier also appeared headed for victory until he was involved in an incident with Noah Gragson.
“We’ve had fast race cars every time we’ve come here and it seems like we just can’t get the job done at the end,” Allgaier said. “We finished the race tonight, so that’s at least a plus.”
With 40 laps remaining, Cindric was in the lead with Chastain closing in. But it was Briscoe who earned the big prize.
Virginia’s Brandon Brown, a former Karting sensation and 2018 Coastal Carolina University graduate, earned the final Playoff spot with his 12th place finish.
“This is a huge relief,” said Brown, whose father has been battling cancer since April. “I’m just thrilled that I’ll be able to get on the phone with dad and be like, “Hey man, we’re a playoff team.”
Knoxville’s Chad Finchum, the lone driver from Tennessee, started from the No. 27 spot and finished 20th.
The race was slowed by just four cautions.
The biggest crash came on lap 63 and it involved the cars of Jeffrey Earnhardt, Stefan Parsons, Vinnie Miller, Tommy Joe Martins and BJ McLeod, who crashed into the outside wall. In a cruel twist, McLeod actually owns the Toyota entry driven by Miller with his BJ McLeod Motorsports team.
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544
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