Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: 188th Time Is the Charm for Ryan Truex

Ryan Truex has toiled in NASCAR’s top three series for 13 years.

On Saturday (April 29), he made his 188th combined start and brought his ‘A-game’ to win the A-Game 200. It was his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, and it came at his home track, Dover Motor Speedway.

Truex’s journey has included stops at BK Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series, Hattori Racing Enterprises in the Craftsman Truck Series and many more.

See also
After 13 Years & 5 Second-Place Finishes, Ryan Truex Finally Has His Win

Since last season, he’s opted to use his resources to run fewer races with the powerhouse that is Joe Gibbs Racing. He finished second earlier this season at Phoenix Raceway and third at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Now, he’s a winner.

Pre-race favorites Josh Berry and Justin Allgaier finished second and third, respectively. Austin Hill finished fourth, and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top five.

Dover presented a mostly clean race, with just six cautions for 33 laps. The race even included a green flag pit sequence in the final stage, a polar opposite to last week’s event at Talladega Superspeedway. Only four drivers failed to finish at Dover, compared to a whopping 19 at Talladega.

Winners

By sweeping the stages, Truex threw a perfect game, scoring 60 of 60 available points. He isn’t running for a championship, but he is now all the way up to 18th in the point standings despite only running half of the races.

Berry had a good day and brought home a runner-up finish. He gained a spot in the standings to move up to fourth. With qualifying being rained out, he had to start 19th according to the NASCAR rulebook.

He never led a lap. Berry’s car just wasn’t quite good enough to overcome that mid-pack starting position as well as some lackluster pit stops. But he did score points in both stages and has to consider this a good week overall. Berry now has finishes of second, first and second at the track. After the race, he told Frontstretch he’d be in favor of Dover having a second race date once again.

Allgaier got off sequence early in the race after he opted to pit while several drivers stayed out. To make matters worse, he was penalized for speeding on pit road. He soon regained track position with a two-tire pit stop that worked out well for him.

Allgaier likely made more passes than any other driver on the day and is left to wonder what could have been. After the race, he talked about how, if he had to lose, he was happy to lose to a first-time winner.

Hill’s fourth-place finish included collecting points in both stages. He hadn’t scored a top five since the Atlanta Motor Speedway race on March 18, so this was a “get right” race for Hill and the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing team. He comes out of the weekend still the points leader.

After the race, Hill voiced his displeasure with the way he was passed for the lead by Truex. Hill thought Truex could’ve passed him in much cleaner fashion given the speed difference between their cars. Truex had asked his spotter to apologize for the pass, where he ran Hill … up the hill.

Brandon Jones didn’t run in the top five, but he was able to bring home an eighth-place finish. He had a well-documented struggle of a start to the season, but Jones has now finished in the top-15 in each of the last three races. Baby steps.

Sheldon Creed finished 11th and was the first car one-lap down. So why is he in the winners column? He may have had the second best car on the day, and he was happy with the speed his team brought to the track.

During stage 1, Anthony Alfredo suffered a brake failure. The brake rotors appeared to come apart and shed debris all over the track. Some of this debris punched a baseball-sized hole in Creed’s front valence, and this hurt the handling.

Later, the No. 2 team spent more time on pit road repairing this damage, losing track position in the process. In stage 3, they gambled on strategy and ran longer than any other car. This allowed Creed to lead a total of 41 laps, but ultimately the caution they needed never came. Creed had to pit for fuel with 11 laps to go, relegating him to 11th place.

See also
Sheldon Creed: 'I Need To Win To Move Up'

Kyle Weatherman finished 14th, driving for Our Motorsports. Weatherman was subbing for Blaine Perkins, who had a wild crash last week at Talladega. The week before Talladega, Perkins finished 13th, his best finish so far this season. In his first race with Our, Weatherman nearly matched that. This continues a trend of overachieving displayed by the 25-year-old from Wentzville, Mo.

Weatherman was the only driver to stay out under the caution between stages 1 and 2. This allowed him to restart as the leader. He was set up to be freight-trained and the potential was there for things to get ugly. Weatherman only fell to sixth place before stabilizing and continued to spend time in and around the top 10 the rest of the day.

The Losers

From First to Last. That’s an emo-rock band from the 2000s. Its also a good description of the day Parker Kligerman had. He started on the pole but did not have a car capable of maintaining track position. He dropped back steadily throughout the race, until he got spun and wrecked on lap 64 by Corey Heim.

The last-place finish caused Kligerman to lose three spots in the standings, dropping him down to 14th. He is on the wrong side of the playoff bubble and will need to put together some good runs to get back into the playoff conversation.

Speaking of Heim, the 20-year-old was making his first Xfinity start. But he wouldn’t fare much better than Kligerman. Heim spent most of the day running in the 15th-to-25th-place range until his engine blew on lap 170, ending his day and relegating him to 35th place.

Riley Herbst. Oh, Reilly. Several weeks ago Frontstretch‘s ‘Friday Faceoff‘ included a question about whether Herbst was a championship contender. Your humble author took the bait. Since that column was written on March 30, Herbst has had four consecutive finishes outside the top 20.

At Dover, Herbst was running around 12th place for most of the day. His team tried the same strategy play as Creed, and it didn’t work out. To rub salt on the wound, Herbst sped on pit road with just 10 laps to go, incurring a penalty and leading to a 21st-place finish.

Herbst was second in points when I wrote my answer in the Faceoff. Now he’s eighth. Riley, I apologize for jinxing you. But I have faith you can get out of this rut you’re in.

Scheme of the Week

We’ve already covered the nice performance by Weatherman and Our Motorsports. Now lets talk about that scheme. This thing was eye popping. It stood out on the track, as the Larry’s Hard Lemonade schemes usually do. The addition of camo to the scheme was a nice juxtaposition of in-your-face brightness with subtle and trendy. Its got me thirsty for a lemonade.

Fuel for Thought

Did Creed and his team miss an opportunity to steal this race? I don’t have their fuel mileage data, but it would seem like they should’ve been close to making it had they saved fuel throughout their final run.

Herbst played a similar strategy but his second-to-last stop was nine laps earlier than Creed. Yet Herbst pitted for the final time on the same lap as Creed, with 11 laps to go. Shouldn’t Creed have been able to again go nine laps further than Herbst? For a driver that just missed the playoffs last season who is still looking for his first Xfinity win, this one raises questions.

As much as we might want to have a ‘Big Three’ in the Xfinity Series, we just don’t have it right now. Hill has three wins. Nemechek has two wins. No other driver has more than one. It seems likely Hill and Nemechek will be in contention for the title at Phoenix, but there are several drivers who could take the other two spots. Berry, Allgaier, Chandler Smith, Cole Custer, Creed, Herbst and Sammy Smith all come to mind.

Where to Next?

The circuit has an off weekend on deck. Drivers who aren’t in other series can take a vacation. Xfinity Series fans can get some yard work done or something like that. After the off week, we head to the legendary egg-shaped Darlington Raceway. If you ask me, it’s the best track in NASCAR.

The action gets underway on Saturday, May 13, at 1:30 p.m. ET. on FOX, along with the Motor Racing Network.

About the author

Steve Leffew joined Frontstretch in 2023, and covers the Xfinity Series. He resides in Wisconsin and has been a NASCAR fan as long as he can remember. He has served honorably in the United States Air Force and works during the week as a Real Estate Lender.

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kb

Always wondered why people would hire this guy to be their driver. Riding on his brothers’ coattails who had the same type drought in CUP and he in the lower levels. Wow 13 years. What is he a NASCAR X prodigy now with the NASCAR media? From what I remember a nasty personality too. See, he has had zero media coverage, my mind remembers his smugness. It was if my big brother is Marty, and that was no great shakes at the time either. I remember he would talk big time smack about more skilled drivers and had a very angry tone to his BS. Wow, 1 in 13 years….Must run in the family.

Echo

He said he just proved to everyone that he belongs. lololol not so fast there……

Steven

What a tremendous accomplishment! Maybe Brian will throw a ring at him someday.
LMAO!!

WJW Motorsports

I’d be a little concerned about the results of a tear-down myself. That car was just silly compared to the rest…