AUSTIN, Texas — AJ Allmendinger held off William Byron for the win at the Pit Boss 250 after a hard-fought day of battling back from 29th, but behind the hard-fought battle for the lead, Xfinity regulars had their own battle to sort out: Who would qualify for next week’s Dash 4 Cash?
Finishing best among the full-time Xfinity entries, Sammy Smith mixed it up in the top five throughout the race, often going head-to-head with his NASCAR Cup Series peers. He ended the day in fourth as the highest-finishing Xfinity regular.
As the highest running full-time Xfinity driver, Smith qualified himself for next week’s Dash 4 Cash event at Richmond Raceway.
“This is my first time being in Dash 4 Cash, so it’s cool,” Smith said. “Chance to win $100,000. I feel good about Richmond, and look forward to next week.”
Justin Allgaier, who had battled with a damaged nose for the majority of the race, finished behind Smith in fifth. Allgaier had incurred the damage in the opening laps after having to check up in turn 1 and had fallen out of the top 20 after the incident. However, it did not hinder the handling of the car too much, as he came back for his fourth top-five finish of the season.
“It was a little disappointing at the end of the second stage.” Allgaier said. “We played the right strategy and got run over and moved out of the way for points. Ultimately, we were able to march our way back through there.”
Allgaier ultimately gave credit to his team for giving him a great car this weekend.
“It’s a testament to Jim Pohlman and all the guys No. 7 Brandt Camaro,” Allgaier said. “They did such a great job of giving me an incredible racecar that I was able to make those passes. At the end there, it came down to track position. We lost some time to some of the guys in front of us trying to get clear of some cars.
“I ended up breaking second gear with about three or four laps to go, so I was going from first to third hoping those guys couldn’t catch me. Ultimately, it was a great day.”
As the second car qualified for the Dash 4 Cash race at Richmond, Allgaier had very solid confidence when talking about next week’s race.
“It’s a good track for us too,” Allgaier said. “When you got a good track coming up for us for our team and you got something that’s that cool of an initiative that Xfinity puts on, it makes it a lot of fun.”
Unlike Allgaier, Daniel Hemric felt he made mistakes during the race, as he had two run-ins with John Hunter Nemechek. They first made contact on lap 6, and more bumping between the two with four laps to go sent Nemechek spinning out of the top 10.
“It felt like we couldn’t get away from each other all day.” Hemric said. “[We] had an issue off of [turn] 11 earlier in the race.
“I came out of [turn] 11 [again]. I was underneath him again, and I was holding my lane, and he turned sooner than I was expecting him to.”
Despite the difficulties, Hemric ended the day with a sixth-place finish — a career best at COTA — and qualified for next week’s Dash 4 Cash.
Sam Mayer had a up-and-down day in his No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro. Despite spinning out twice in the race, Mayer fought his way back into the top 10 in the closing laps.
With help from Nemechek’s late-race spin and a pass on damaged teammate Josh Berry, Mayer ended up finishing seventh, earning him the final Dash 4 Cash slot.
“That was the most rollercoaster race this year yet,” Mayer said. “It feels good to come back for a top 10. I got spun twice by a couple of knuckleheads, but overall, it was a good day for our Chevrolet Camaro, JRM as a whole.
“Last year I qualified for the Dash 4 Cash here at COTA, and I did it again. And I won it at Richmond last year, so looking to go back-to-back on that.”
The quartet will compete for the $100,000 prize at Richmond on April 1. The four highest-finishing Xfinity regulars at Richmond will then compete for the following Dash 4 Cash on April 15 at Martinsville Speedway.
About the author
Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.
Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime
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