ONE: Justin Allgaier Snags XFINITY Point Lead With Victory
Justin Allgaier scored his fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series win of the season Saturday at Road America, continuing what has been a banner year for the driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet. The victory was also Allgaier’s fifth-straight top-three finish.
“The last restart there, (James Davison) kind of left before I did and (Matt Tifft) gave me a shot based on he didn’t think (Davison) was going. I spun the tires really bad after I got hit,” Allgaier said in Victory Lane. “I thought I had gave it away.
“Then when he made the mistake down in (Turn) 8, I knew I just had to be smooth and fast. This team is awesome. I told them on the radio after the race that it was an honor to drive these race cars. I can thank everyone enough that’s on this race team and back at JR Motorsports.”
His second straight road course win allowed Allgaier to take the point lead from Christopher Bell, who spun late and finished 23rd. The pair holds a substantial lead in playoff points over the rest of the field. Allgaier has 19 to Bell’s 24, giving both an advantage in a few weeks when the standings are reset for the championship battle.
“This team is incredible,” Allgaier added. “They never give up. I never would have thought that we could have a dream season like this one. Wins on two road courses, would you believe that?”
Just three races remain to set this year’s playoff field as the series heads to Darlington Raceway this weekend.
TWO: Justin Haley Capitalizes as Teammates Wreck
Justin Haley led just one lap in the Camping World Truck Series’ playoff-opening race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Sunday afternoon, but it was the most important one as he took his second victory of the season. The driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet capitalized on Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Todd Gilliland spinning out of a probable 1-2 finish and drove right through the smoke to take the checkered flag.
“This is amazing. I knew that going in there that those guys probably would make a decision that wasn’t the smartest in the last corner,” Haley said. “We had a really fast Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet all day though to put me in that position. I saw it coming and I knew we were in the catbird seat.
“I have to give it to everyone at GMS Racing, Drew Braun Racing, Michael Self, God, my family and everyone apart of this deal. It’s amazing. This is one that I’ve been chasing for a long time. I’ve ran a lot of road courses and never gotten there. This win means more than Gateway and it proves that we’re the dark horse going into the Round of 6.”
For Haley, it’s a weight lifted that he’s locked into the Round of 6 that will begin after the series makes its visits to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway in the coming weeks.
“It’s one of my best tracks that we race at, and it’s the first race of the playoffs,” Haley said leading p to the weekend. “The hope is to get the win early in the Round of 8 at Canada and take the pressure off of us for the next two races.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Now locked into the next round, the No. 24 team won’t need to worry about where it finishes for the next two events, though you can bet they’ll do everything they can to win anyway.
THREE: Todd Gilliland Leaves Canada Angry With Noah Gragson
Much of the focus on Truck Series race day was on the playoff drivers, which makes sense considering it was the opening weekend for the seven-race stretch to determine this year’s champion. But for Todd Gilliland, it was another shot at scoring his first career win.
With just a handful laps remaining, the driver of the No. 4 Toyota was in the catbird seat when a late spin by Austin Wayne Self, who had already had earlier issues, set up the overtime finish. Gilliland had the edge over his teammate, and coming into the final turn, Gragson stuck the front end of the No. 18 Toyota in a small hole that closed rapidly. The pair made contact and both spun, allowing Haley to drive through for the win. Gragson and Gilliland ended up ninth and 11th, respectively.
WHAT. A. FINISH. pic.twitter.com/v8695WxAuQ
— NASCAR Camping World Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) August 26, 2018
A visibly upset Gilliland didn’t mince words when asked about the incident either.
“I’d go fight him right now, but I can’t,” he said. “Should never have let him (Noah Gragson) get to me. Should’ve just gave him the inside and maybe let him wreck himself. I don’t know. He has done that to me on like five or six road courses. It sucks. We had the fastest truck and we didn’t win again.”
For his part, Gragson did take responsbility for the incident.
“That one’s on me. I mean racing for the win – it’s just my teammate,” Gragson explained. “I apologize to Todd (Gilliland). I apologize to the 4 team. I apologize to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. We’re in the playoffs and I’m trying to get a win. I was making – I was squirting the throttle right there in between (turns) 9 and 10 and between them right there. Just wasn’t quite there and it’s just unfortunate.
“That one’s on me. Just trying to get a little bit too much trying to win. Wins are so big here. I’m just – mainly apologize to Todd and the 4 team.”
It’s not like this incident was the first of its kind at the Canadian road course either. Just take a look back at last year with Austin Cindric and Kaz Grala or the year before with John Hunter Nemechek and Cole Custer, to name a couple.
It’s completely understandable why Gilliland was upset. He was literally feet away from scoring his first career win and being part of another KBM 1-2 finish. Instead, both drivers didn’t even end up inside the top five. It’s also fantastic to know that there won’t be any favors given to a teammate who’s racing for the championship.
By the time the series is back on track again in a few weeks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, expect the entire issue to be settled and for both drivers to move forward without problems in the future.
FOUR: Lilly Diabetes Steals Headlines for Conor Daly’s NASCAR Debut
Just one day before making his XFINITY Series debut, Conor Daly was in the headlines when sponsor Lilly Diabetes pulled its backing from the No. 6 Ford at Road America.
“Our sponsorship in Saturday’s race is intended to raise awareness of treatment options and resources for people living with diabetes,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, the comments that surfaced this week by Derek Daly distract from this focus, so we have made the decision that Lilly Diabetes will no longer run the No. 6 at Road America this weekend. We remain committed to our mission of supporting people with diabetes.”
The issue at hand? A racially insensitive comment Conor Daly’s father made more than 30 years ago that resurfaced this week that, according to a story from Racer.com, was all a misunderstanding anyway.
For his part, Daly stayed focused on his debut and still being able to race.
The last 24hrs have been quite an unnecessarily difficult ride for my family. There is A LOT I want to say… but I’m still here and still racing. I appreciate the support from @roushfenway and ALL of you. @LillyDiabetes has been a big part of my career and Im very thankful. #6
— Conor Daly (@ConorDaly22) August 24, 2018
It’s incredibly bothersome that sponsorship can hinge on something a driver’s parents did, nearly 10 years before they were even born. Instead of avoiding distraction from its core focus of awareness, Lilly Diabetes did the exact opposite and created an even bigger one that will long outlast the original perceived “distraction.”
Is it too much to ask for people to use common sense these days?
FIVE: Up Next, Darlington
Two races remain to set the 2018 playoff field, which will, in all likelihood, remain the same as it is today. But perhaps what’s more important is that this weekend brings the annual visit to Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500. In what has turned into a fantastic weekend of celebrating NASCAR’s past, it’s also NASCAR Throwback time, which allows teams to pay homage to many of the drivers who helped shape the sport.
Throughout the last several weeks, this year’s throwback paint schemes have trickled in through team and driver announcements, Jayski has this handy list of all of those that have been revealed so far.
Not only is it fun to watch these teams honor those that helped build the sport, some of the reveals have been quite creative. One of the first was that of Kyle Busch, who’s running an Ernie Irvan Skittles scheme.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) July 25, 2018
And while it’s not a throwback scheme, it is the return of an early-2000s sponsor for Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth. If this video didn’t make you giggle, or at least groan as its cheesiness, I beg you to please watch it again.
— Roush Fenway (@roushfenway) August 23, 2018
Of course, you can’t leave out the heartwarming story of Denny Hamlin‘s throwback to his first racecar and the story he shared with his parents when revealing it.
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 20, 2018
Hamlin is the defending winner in both the XFINITY and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series races at Darlington and looks to score his first win of the season this weekend. In fact, he’s finished no worse than sixth in seven of the last eight races at the track, and he’s got just two results outside the top 10 in 12 starts there.
The 367-lap race will run Sunday, Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN
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