Chase Briscoe delivered a clutch restart in double overtime to hold off a hard-charging Brandon Jones at the finish line and earn the victory in Sunday’s Contender Boats 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It was a feel-good ending to a challenging weekend for Briscoe, who had to make up six laps in Saturday’s Xfinity race to score a seventh-place finish, and then had to race without his fulltime crew chief and car chief on Sunday as they served a penalty from infractions on Saturday.
Stewart-Haas Racing executive Greg Zipadelli, who led team owner Tony Stewart to a pair of NASCAR Cup Series championships, manned the pit box in their absence earning his first career Xfinity Series victory atop the pit box.
“That was a team win for sure,” said Briscoe, who earned his fifth career victory and third of the season. “Yesterday we were so good and then today, I don’t know if it was the heat or what, we just weren’t very good. We were decent on the long run, but the 9 (Noah Gragson) was definitely better. Just a testament to all the guys at Stewart-Haas Racing.”
It was a wild ending to a day that mostly featured a master class by the JR Motorsports driver Gragson, who led the most laps (83 on Saturday, 81 on Sunday) both days and was meters from taking the white flag in regulation – with a nearly 2-second lead on the field – when third place Austin Cindric spun out bringing out a caution.
Briscoe’s No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford beat Gragson’s Chevrolet out of the pits during the ensuing stop and was able to hold off the weekend’s most dominant driver on the first restart when another caution came out for a wreck just a couple rows behind the leader.
Briscoe jumped out to the lead on the next restart too, having to get by Jones this time and hold off the Joe Gibbs Racing driver at the line by a mere .072-seconds.
Ross Chastain finished third, just in front of his Kaulig Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger who earned the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus money. The incentive program moves to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway next week and drivers Briscoe, Jones, Chastain and Allmendinger will be eligible to win the next $100,000 bonus there.
Gragson, who dominated both races of the NASCAR Xfinity Series weekend doubleheader, finished fifth after falling back on the second restart. He was silent on his team radio on the cool-down lap, clearly disappointed and frustrated.
“I don’t know what to tell you, you worked extremely hard and I’m proud of our effort,” his crew chief David Elenz told him as the field came back into the garage following the race.
Haley, Myatt Snider, Harrison Burton, Riley Herbst and Cindric rounded out the top 10. Harrison Burton has finished in the top-10 in every race this season. He becomes the first rookie in Xfinity history to start a career with 10 consecutive top 10s, breaking the mark of nine set by Carl Edwards in 2005.
Ryan Sieg won the opening stage- the second straight day he won a race stage – and Gragson won the second stage – his series leading fifth stage win of the season.
Gragson, who has top-five finishes in the last four races, and holds an 18-point edge over Briscoe in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship standings.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!