Gallagher steals victory on final lap at Talladega

by Tucker White On Sat, Apr. 28, 2018

Spencer Gallagher, overcome with joy, celebrates victory in the NASCAR XFINITY Grand National Series Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway. Photo: Stephanie McLaughlin/SpeedwayMedia.com

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Spencer Gallagher wasn’t one of the primary contenders all day. He didn’t win a stage, nor did he lead more than one lap. But that one lap was the one that mattered, when all was said and done.

“This is a day that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Today was the culmination of what we at GMS Racing have worked for for years. We brought an incredible race car to the track. These guys put it together amazingly well, between GMS Racing and GMS Fab. We had very good speed all day here, and anybody who knows what they’re talking about will tell you that’s going to be a big deciding factor coming down to the end at a place like this. We had a good starting spot (on the restart). I think everybody kind of got pre-occupied with trying to side-draft each other up high, going into (Turn) 3 there. And if y’all are going to leave half a race track, I’m going to take it. Thank you very much! So then when we got side-by-side, I just knew I had to get clear of Tyler (Reddick) going into Turn 1. That was going to decide the race. I was able to stay close to him, getting in. Give him a good side-draft, breakaway from him, get a little momentum, get myself clear. From there, it’s block until you either get wrecked or see the checkers. And fortunately, we found the latter option.”

As the field was coming to take the green flag in overtime, race leader Austin Cindric, who had inherited the lead a lap prior when Justin Allgaier’s car sputtered in Turn 1 with a lack of fuel, sputtered in the tri-oval with a lack of fuel. Tyler Reddick, who would’ve restarted on the bottom of Cindric, led the field to the green.

Gallagher got to his inside coming down the backstretch, side-drafted him to get alongside and pass Reddick to score his first career NASCAR XFINITY Grand National Series victory.

Brandon Jones, Allgaier, Noah Gragson and Elliott Sadler rounded out the Top-five.

Ryan Sieg, John Hunter Nemechek, Reddick, Cole Custer and Garrett Smithley.

RACE SUMMARY

Daniel Hemric led the field to the green at 3:27 p.m. He led the stage from start to finish. Sadler broke out of line coming to the final lap of the first stage, but few others did, allowing Hemric to win the stage with ease.

Back to green on Lap 31, it didn’t stay as such the whole second stage. Caution flew two laps later for a two-car wreck on the backstretch.

Restarting on Lap 42, Ryan Reed drove past Hemric on the outside, down the backstretch to take the lead. Elliott Sadler left Hemric out to dry exiting Turn 4 to take second. And on the next lap, he took the race lead and won the second stage.

The race restarted on Lap 57. Sadler and most of the lead cars pitted with 38 laps to go. John Hunter Nemechek tried to out-brake him onto pit road, but spun out after running over water and wound up in the grass. He got the car going and the race stayed green. Sadler sped up to avoid hitting Nemechek, and was forced to serve a pass through penalty for speeding.

Justin Allgaier, who didn’t pit during this cycle, assumed the race lead. As Reddick in ninth, the first car in the running order who pitted under the final cycle, ran nearly a lap behind, Allgaier stayed in the line of a group of lapped cars. Hemric hit the wall in the tri-oval with seven to go, setting up the run to the finish.

NUTS & BOLTS

The race lasted two hours, 17 minutes and 44 seconds, at an average speed of 133.258 mph. There were 12 lead changes among 11 different drivers, and five cautions for 29 laps.

Sadler leaves Talladega with a 40-point lead over Reddick.

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