Race Weekend Central

Hectic Talladega Xfinity Finish Gives Underdog Teams Season-Best Results

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Jesse Love scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win and continued Richard Childress Racing’s superspeedway dominance in Saturday’s (April 20) AgPro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, but a double-overtime finish coupled with two big crashes and multiple cars running out of fuel gave smaller teams the opportunity to shine and score top-10 finishes at Talladega.

Anthony Alfredo tied his career-best Xfinity finish of third, while Leland Honeyman recorded his first-ever top five (and top 10) in fourth.

The finish for Alfredo came after he made contact with Austin Hill in a crash with two laps to go; Alfredo powered through the field on the final two restarts to score the podium finish.

“Just super proud of Our Motorsports,” Alfredo said. “The guys are working so hard; they deserve this one. This is like the epitome of our season; we’re finishing well because we’re just staying in it and never giving up. Either way, we think we might be down or out, or we don’t have a shot, we just keep our head in the game. We put ourselves in position when it matters most and then from there executed.

“So I’m really proud of that, and I look forward to build on this plus the $100,000 (Dash4Cash) on the line next week [at Dover].”

See also
Jesse Love Saves Enough Fuel, Wins at Talladega

Honeyman restarted on the outside of Love for the final restart, and he went into detail about the intensity of the final laps while battling for the win.

“The last restart is pretty intense just because you’re starting on the front row, inside,” Honeyman said. “You got a full-blown RCR car on your outside. The pressure is definitely high there and you definitely want to do the best you can and restart well and get a good launch without jumping the No. 2 car.

“I think the Young’s Motorsports crew did a great job, Frankie Kimmel on top of the roof guiding me through this whole thing.”

Talladega saw Alpha Prime Racing score a double top 10, as Brennan Poole finished fifth and Caesar Bacarella finished seventh. Ryan Ellis also restarted in the top 10 but he ran out of gas in the final two laps.

For Poole, Saturday marked his second Xfinity top five at Talladega in a row.

“We were tight on fuel at the end,” Poole said. “These things, it just seems like they always go like this, and so we kept topping off. So I think I had a little bit extra than some of the other guys, but I was saving as hard as I could and I’m running the flat, just trying to make sure I could do everything, max save right from the last time we topped off.”

But despite the top five, Poole wants more. He led out of turn 4 on the final lap until Love went by on the inside, and Poole was famously oh-so-close to scoring his first Xfinity at Talladega back in 2016.

“Leading off of turn 4, I feel like this place owes me one,” Poole said. “I’ve been so close to winning one of these races, and I want to win one so bad. And this year we’ve had a heck of a year. I mean, we’re running on a quarter of a budget of what most of these teams are, and I know we were 16th in points headed in here this weekend, and I know we are really close to being a top 12 car.

“… We just got to keep executing, man. Keep having no mistakes and put ourselves in position for something good to happen like we did today. And yeah, we got a couple more of these [superspeedways] so hopefully I can put the No. 44 car in victory lane.”

Matt DiBenedetto came back from a mid-race wreck to finish eighth. It marked his first top 10 with Viking Motorsports and it was also his first top 10 in Xfinity competition since 2010 — 14 years ago.

“Our goal coming in was to get a top 10 and be there at the end when it counted and try and race smart,” DiBenedetto said. “We were a little off on speed, then got some damage and it hurt the car’s speed a little bit more. We just had to just race smart and not be the one to start moves and lead a lane. We just had to fall in, wedge ourselves in the middle and just make the right moves to maximize our day.

“So thankful and super excited for the team, to get Viking a top 10. They deserve it, man.”

But perhaps the biggest story was Mason Massey and the No. 14 team, as they had originally failed to qualify for the race until Garrett Smithley’s qualifying time was disallowed due to an unsecured roof hatch.

That put Massey back into the show, and he took advantage of the opportunity to come home 11th.

“It’s huge, man,” Massey said. “Just really happy for all these guys with this No. 14 car. All weekend they work super hard. It was rough yesterday after qualifying, we had an issue with the motor that we fixed this morning. Got lucky the No. 6 car got disqualified and [we] got into the show. Obviously, it wasn’t the way I wanted to make the race, but we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

“… I’m happy we could have a good run. Obviously wish we could have had a top 10, but we’ll definitely take 11th.”

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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