Ross Chastain wins the final race of the NASCAR XFINITY Series regular season and the first of his career at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the DC Solar 300.
“We did it!” Chastain yelled on the frontstretch after celebrating with donuts over the race sponsor’s logo on the frontstretch grass, who also sponsored his car for that race.
Chastain first made headline news in NASCAR media a few weeks ago after the run-in with Kevin Harvick at Darlington. Harvick pinched him into the outside wall, and Chastain immediately retaliated by spinning him out on the same straightaway. His main concern was quickly turned to car owner Chip Ganassi, as he wasn’t sure how his boss would take his reaction on track. A tweet and a phone call showed nothing but pride and confidence in his driver.
“It was so scary when the call was made to take this deal,” Chastain shared in the media center. “[Johnny Davis] believed in me to drive the 4 car and to put me in that car years ago. That’s what my career needed. This [win] is bigger than the playoffs. I’m not trying to spin the story, but this is literally a kid from Florida, eighth generation farmer who started hobby racing when I was 13. It was never supposed to be this way, so that’s why it’s so much bigger.”
Runner-up finisher, Justin Allgaier, was the regular series champion, and will take 15 additional points into the playoffs, but isn’t planning to relax going into the Playoffs.
“Yes and no,” Allgaier said when asked if he felt comfortable with the extra point cushion. “I wanted those extra five bonus points. You gotta go for race wins, you gotta go for stage wins because it’s so challenging to keep the speed but also execute.”
Cole Custer was the third driver that battled at the front all race long, but finished in the third position after what he called a race with insane restarts.
“The restarts were insane,” Custer stated. “If you were fourth on back, you were fighting for your life to try to stay in front of guys because the track position was so important. So you’re trying to block and get as many runs as you can. I feel like every track we go to, we compete for a win but it’s about having it all fall into place.”
Christopher Bell and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece, Brandon Jones, Ryan Truex, Austin Cindric and Spencer Gallagher finished in the remaining top ten positions.
Chastain Leads Most Laps, Wins Stage 1
Cole Custer started on pole and led the opening two laps, but Ross Chastain was able to get by him. Matt Tifft failed post-qualifying inspection four times, so had to serve a pass-through penalty on Lap 1, putting his car one lap down early on.
On Lap 5, the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Michael Annett slid through the grass after contact with Ryan Preece. A three-wide pass was attempted on the exit of Turn 4 with Ryan Sieg to the far outside. Annett noticed this at the last second and tried to turn sharper. This caused the rear tires to lose grip, and as he caught the car, he made contact with Ryan Preece which sent his car into the grass. Annett tried to drive around onto pit road, but his car expired on the apron of Turn 1. He finished 40th with his fifth DNF.
The track was slick all stage long, but Ross Chastain was able to lead the most laps and win the first stage. He lifted off the throttle to allow Ryan Preece to get a lap back. John Jackson, Jeff Green and Annett were the only three cars out of the race at this point.
The Field Continued to Hunt Down Chastain in Stage 2
Chastain’s pit crew were able to keep their driver in the lead. Most of the front runners kept their positions, except for Christopher Bell who lost a couple spots on pit road.
On Lap 65, Matt Tifft and Ryan Reed made heavy contact. In the middle of Turns 3 and 4, Tifft got loose and Reed had nowhere to go, as Reed drove into the left front of Tifft’s No. 2 car. That sent Tifft spinning in the opposite direction, and Reed with no right front panels and heavy damage to his right front wheel. His car rested along the frontstretch. Reed sat next to his car to catch his breath, but thankfully was able to walk away under his own power. Tifft took longer to get out of his car because his car rested with the driver’s side against the frontstretch wall. Both drivers were checked and released from the infield car center.
On the restart, Daniel Hemric got a great push from Custer to lead a couple laps, but Chastain was able to quickly hunt him down and put his No. 42 Chevrolet in the lead. He led the rest of the laps to close out the stage. Three more cars were declared out of the race: Stan Mullis, Matt Tifft and Ryan Reed. Timmy Hill spent 24 laps behind the wall to make some repairs, but was able to rejoin the race.
Everything Goes Wild in the Final Stage at Vegas
Again, Chastain’s pit crew, who are the same members for Kyle Larson’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series team, puts their Xfinity driver out on top. Custer lost five spots on this pit stop, allowing everyone else to gain a spot. However, NASCAR issued two penalties: Ryan Preece for speeding on pit road, and Cole Custer for an uncontrolled tire during his pit stop.
On the restart, Chastain started to get pressure throughout the entire first run as Daniel Hemric started to side draft on the exit of Turns 2 and 4, getting to his rear bumper or side drafting along the straights. That didn’t last too long as Chastain was able to get back around and continue leading. As the run went longer, it appeared that Chastain’s car handled better as the run continued. Toward the beginning of the final stage, both Timmy Hill and Mike Harmon retired from the race.
As the field was facing one of the longest green flag runs of the day so far, Ryan Preece spun on the exit of Turn 2, bringing out the yellow flag around Lap 125. The whole field came down for pit stops. Similar to the other pit stops in the day, the drivers at the front continued to keep most of their positions. Hemric lost a few spots and dropped to the fifth position. Brandon Jones received a penalty for an uncontrolled tire, and went to the back of the field for the restart from his sixth place position after his pit stops.
On the restart, Chastain continued to hold the lead. However, about ten laps into the run, Allgaier moved himself into the second position. After a few side by side battles and pass attempts, he was able to eventually move his No. 7 Chevrolet into the lead and become the first driver besides Chastain to lead more than five laps.
Later in the run on Lap 149, Allgaier radioed to his crew that the car was getting tight. He was passed by Chastain and Custer, but was able to keep pace with them. At the same time, David Starr went behind wall. Ten laps later, Chastain was able to battle through lap traffic faster and grow his lead to over two seconds.
The next yellow flag came out right as green flag stops began. Vinnie Miller spun on the track to bring out that yellow flag.
As for the green flag pit stops, Daniel Hemric, Shane Lee and Cole Custer were all on pit road. Hemric got full service, Lee elected to drive down all of pit lane by skipping his pit box, but Custer’s crew called an audible. They went from a four tire stop to a two tire stop, and with all the chaos over their radio, Custer started to leave his pit box before his jackman was able to clear his path. The crew member climbed over the hood of the car all while holding onto the jack, preventing a penalty of pit equipment leaving the pit box.
As the field came down pit road under yellow, Custer stalled the car and was in position to be in the top three, but lost a spot from that. Hemric was able to get back on the lead lap from all the pit cycles, but had to take the ‘wave around’ before the restart.
Green flag waved for the restart with 20 laps to go. Allgaier was to the outside of Chastain as both drivers slightly spun their tires but got great pushes from Custer and Reddick. As the leaders continued to battle side by side, the field had three-wide battles behind them. They started to go four-wide on the front stretch, but Custer put a block to keep it three-wide. That allowed Christopher Bell to clear him and hold the outside line in the middle of Turns 1 and 2. Contact from the driver on his inside made him loose on the exit of Turn 2. Since the field was already so close to each other, everyone stacked up quickly, and the worse of the accordion effect was Chase Briscoe. He was sent spinning to the inside wall. His No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford made heavy contact with the curvature of the safety crew’s track access. All four tires came off the ground from the impact and the car caught fire, but Briscoe was able to get out of his car under his own power.
The next restart was similar on the front row with Chastain on the inside and Allgaier to the outside, but the second row had a new set of pushers: Bell on the outside and Gallagher to the inside. Bell was able to push Allgaier, but Chastain got a stronger restart and pulled away from Gallagher. Going into Turn 1, Chastain slammed the door on Allgaier to clear him and secure the top spot.
On the second lap of the restart, Tyler Reddick hit the outside wall along the frontstretch while trying to block Brandon Jones, and came down in front of the second half of the field. As Reddick came down across the field, he clipped the right rear of Shane Lee, which sent him up into the field and collected his Richard Childress teammate, Daniel Hemric. Jones was the only one able to continue in the race.
With six laps to go, the field took the final restart. Chastain seemed to be flawless everywhere with his team: setup, pit stops and restarts. This was no different. Going into Turn 1, Chastain was able to clear Allgaier once again and never looked back. He led the most laps, as well as the one that counted to take the checkered flag.
“With two laps to go, I had a tear come down my face and I told myself, ‘Don’t cry,’” the Florida watermelon farmer told himself as he completed the closing laps.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series holds their Playoff opener at Richmond Raceway on September 21.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race
Unofficial Race Results for the Inaugural Dc Solar 300 – Saturday, September 15, 2018
Las Vegas Motor Speedway – Las Vegas, NV
|1||5||42||Ross Chastain||DC Solar||Chevrolet|
|2||8||7||Justin Allgaier||BRANDT Professional Agriculture||Chevrolet|
|3||1||00||Cole Custer||Code 3 Associates||Ford|
|4||4||20||Christopher Bell #||GameStop Tomb Raider||Toyota|
|5||3||1||Elliott Sadler||OneMain Financial||Chevrolet|
|7||36||19||Brandon Jones||Menards Mastercraft Doors||Toyota|
|8||38||11||Ryan Truex||LeafFilter Gutter Protection||Chevrolet|
|9||2||22||Austin Cindric #||MoneyLion||Ford|
|11||18||38||JJ Yeley||RSS Racing||Chevrolet|
|12||10||39||Ryan Sieg||Big Valley Towing||Chevrolet|
|16||15||36||Alex Labbe #||Sticky-stuff.com/James Carter Attorney||Chevrolet|
|17||21||8||Ray Black II||Chevrolet|
|20||31||90||Josh Williams||Sleep Well/Star Tron||Chevrolet|
|22||27||76||Spencer Boyd #||Grunt Style||Chevrolet|
|25||29||40||Chad Finchum #||Smithbilt Homes||Chevrolet|
|26||33||01||Vinnie Miller #||JAS Expedited Trucking||Chevrolet|
|27||26||45||Josh Bilicki #||Prevagen||Toyota|
|28||7||9||Tyler Reddick #||Nationwide Children’s||Chevrolet|
|29||35||21||Daniel Hemric||South Point Hotel & Casino||Chevrolet|
|30||6||3||Shane Lee||Childress Vineyards||Chevrolet|
|33||28||74||Mike Harmon||Shadow Warriors Project||Chevrolet|
|35||11||16||Ryan Reed||Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes||Ford|
|37||40||13||Stan Mullis||OCR Gaz Bar||Dodge|
|38||32||72||John Jackson||CrashClaimsR.Us/James Carter Attorney||Toyota|
|39||30||93||Jeff Green||RSS Racing||Chevrolet|
|40||9||5||Michael Annett||Allstate Parts & Service Group||Chevrolet|