Justin Allgaier took home his third win of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season on Saturday (July 16) as he drove the wheels off his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in the Crayon 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Trevor Bayne, Brandon Brown, Jeremy Clements and Sheldon Creed rounded out the rest of the top five, officially at least (more on that later), while Ryan Sieg took home the stage one victory and William Byron won the second.
While Saturday’s date with the Magic Mile didn’t change the playoff picture all that much, it did, however, provide us with some immaculate talking points, and that’s worth noting.
If you even remotely kept up with the race, you knew that Landon Cassill was going to find his way into the Winners section. He might have only led 17 laps, but he showed exactly why he’s in the Kaulig Racing seat, showcasing his skills as a wheel man. Cassill ultimately wound up crossing the finish line in third, making him one of two cars that would fail post race inspection resulting in disqualification. Despite the result on paper, Kaulig fans and ownership alike had to be proud of the way Cassill piloted his machine, and should expect more of it in the future. As for Cassill, he had this to say to Frontstretch‘s very own Amy Henderson after the race. Please note, this interview was conducted before news broke of Cassill’s disqualification.
Mason Massey is our final slot on the “Winners” list this week; anyone who starts in 30th and ends up with a top 10, I have to give credit to. Would he have been 11th without the two disqualifications? Sure, but it’s a huge climb from the back, and in reality, all a young guy like Massey can hope for at this point in his career. After all, his average finishing position coming into this race was 24.45.
This is where the fireworks start. Cassill may be receiving praise after his disqualification. However, there’s one driver that sure isn’t: Noah Gragson. After his antics that I discussed a few breakdowns ago, Gragson has been on thin ice not only with the fan base, but also with other drivers. To me, Noah losing his fourth-place finish to a technicality isn’t even the biggest reason he’s been tapped for the top spot on my list, it’s moments like this one between he and reigning Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric.
Hemric spins Gragson 👀 pic.twitter.com/9ONJxFLUEp
— Barstool Racing (@rubbinisracing) July 16, 2022
Before that incident, Gragson had wheel-hopped into Hemric, and the same happened in the above collision. Gragson said there were no hard feelings about it after the race, but I’m not buying it. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again: the drivers are going to have to hold each other accountable in this series. Now, watch that crash back and tell me you couldn’t buy it being a little bit intentional.
AJ Allmendinger and Alex Labbe are sharing the final spot this week, after a miscommunication between Allmendinger and his spotter left the two drivers and a few others’ cars pointing in all the wrong directions. Both cars had been fast all day and were running up front, with Labbe being one of the better surprises of the afternoon. Labbe came around a turn on the outside of Allmendinger, whose spotter failed to let him know there was a car on the high side of him. The two made contact, and the rest is history.
Scheme of the Week
Anthony Alfredo and Our Motorsports get my nod for the scheme of the week, as their No. 23 Civetta Chevy used the three most badass colors in motorsport about as well as anyone could ask for.
Raceday at the Magic Mile! Feeling good about our Civetta Chevy. Let’s go 🏁 pic.twitter.com/LI8NnwGPs7
— Anthony Alfredo (@anthonyalfredo) July 16, 2022
The pattern may not be a far departure from Alfredo’s typical Dude Wipes scheme, but the changes in color make this one really pop. The red splitter puts the cherry on top for me, as it fills out the body lines and shape of the car all the way to the asphalt.
The Playoff Pit
Allgaier’s second win in just four races has shaken things up a bit in terms of the regular season standings, but the playoff picture remains largely the same. Austin Hill, Josh Berry, Ty Gibbs, Brandon Jones, Gragson and Allmendinger all join Allgaier as the current members of the full-timers that have been to victory lane.
Fuel for Thought
I want to make a bit of a U-turn here, and go back to focusing on Gragson for a minute. It’s been floated around since the start of the season that this will probably be his last year in Xfinity before he moves up to snag a Cup Series ride, but after the incident at Road America, many questioned whether he had the maturity or marketability to get a seat.
Now, however, Ty Dillon‘s sudden departure has opened up an avenue that many say is Gragson’s best shot at going full time in the Cup Series next year at Petty GMS Motorsports in the No. 42 car. There’s no question that Gragson is one of the most talented drivers on the circuit, but I can’t help but feel as though his actions over the course of the season have somewhat soured his chances with a high level team, possibly even at the Xfinity level.
He may shoot JRM an offer that they don’t like, or if things take a turn for the worse, I realistically see them rinsing their hands of the ordeal entirely. Only time will tell, but don’t be surprised if someone else is piloting the No. 9 for JRM next year, even if Gragson doesn’t secure a Cup seat.
Where to Next?
These names get even more creative, and I love it. Next up, the Xfinity Series travels to Pocono Raceway for the aptly named Explore the Pocono Mountains 250. The green flag flies at 5 p.m. ET, and the race can be found on USA Network, Sirius XM NASCAR and the Motor Racing Network.
About the author
Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.
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