From a late spin to the lead following a late restart, Chase Briscoe emerged victorious in the fifth annual Pocono Green 225 at Pocono Raceway for his fourth NASCAR Xfinity Series win of the season and the sixth of his career. In a race that felt like a war of attrition with multiple on-track incidents occurring, Briscoe was a victim of one of nine cautions when he spun with 22 laps remaining in Turn 1 after sustaining a flat left-rear tire. Briscoe was able to rally from the incident to battle Ross Chastain for the lead with less than 10 laps remaining and overtake Chastain for the lead on an overtime restart to win.
The starting lineup was based on a random draw. Points leader Noah Gragson drew the pole position and started alongside Myatt Snider. Jeffrey Earnhardt and Cody Ware started at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Gragson launched ahead of the field on the outside lane and was pursued by teammate Justin Allgaier while Snider was being pressured by Chase Briscoe and Justin Haley for position. The caution flew when Brandon Jones, fresh off his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series career win at Pocono earlier in the day, was turned off the front nose of Austin Cindric and pounded the Turn 1 inside wall head-on. The damage was too severe for Jones to continue as he ended his race without completing a single lap.
“Ultimately, you make up spots on these restarts, so we were trying to go three-wide and get them early,” Jones said. “But, obviously, you have to have a little give and take. It’s just early. It doesn’t take much when you get three-wide to get pushed around. But from my vantage point, we got hit in the back…We had a really good positive. We won the truck race. I had high hopes for this race, too.”
The race restarted on the fourth lap with Gragson retaining the lead. Entering Turn 1, Ross Chastain attempted to split the middle between Briscoe and Allgaier for the runner-up spot. Chastain and Briscoe made the slightest of contact entering the straightaway, but they all proceeded racing straight and still in a three-wide battle. The caution returned when contact from Daniel Hemric got Josh Williams sideways and into the outside wall on the Long Pond Straightaway, where he sustained heavy front nose damage. Also involved was Joe Graf Jr. as both competitors were knocked out of the race. Under the caution laps, Williams expressed his displeasure towards Hemric. Under caution and due to the extended caution laps, NASCAR cancelled the competition caution scheduled on the 10th lap.
The race restarted on the eighth lap as Allgaier received a push from Chastain to challenge Gragson for the lead. Chastain attempted to move to the inside of Gragson and Allgaier for the lead, but he slipped, allowing Gragson to move into the lead. Then, in Turn 2, Cindric powered on the outside lane to take the lead, which he led the following lap. Gragson settled in second followed by Allgaier, Briscoe and Michael Annett while Chastain was back in sixth ahead of Snider and teammate Haley.
On Lap 10, Allgaier slipped while battling teammate Gragson for second in Turn 1. Though he was able to straighten his car, the slip costed him five spots back in eighth. A lap later, Chastain moved into second after passing Gragson while Briscoe and Snider battled behind. By then, Cindric was leading by more than five seconds while Allgaier had rallied back to race in fifth.
The caution flew on Lap 14, when rookie Harrison Burton, who had reported fluid on the track, got loose entering Turn 1 and made head-on contact into the inside wall, a wreck that was reminiscent to his teammate Jones. The front nose damage was enough to end Burton’s day on the wrecker as this marked his second consecutive DNF of the season and after starting this season with 10 consecutive top-10 finishes and two wins.
“I was racing with [Michael Annett] and felt good, and it just instantly came around,” said Burton. “That’s a weird place to come around. That hit looked harder than it was, so I’m all right. Thankful that my team built safe racecars. I’ve unfortunately tested that out twice this year. Bummer, but we’ll be back and hopefully win some more.”
The following lap, the race was red-flagged for nearly 21 minutes to allow the safety workers to clean the reported oil in Turn 1 and the Long Pond Straightaway that reportedly came from Brandon Brown’s car, which retired. Following an extensive cleanup, the field returned under caution. Once the field entered Turn 4, a majority of the competitors, including Haley, Allgaier, Hemric, Gragson, Riley Herbst and Alex Labbe, pitted. Those that remained on the track included Cindric, Chastain, Snider and Annett. The race restarted with three laps remaining in the stage. At the start behind the leaders, Chad Finchum pulled his No. 13 MBM Motorsports Toyota out of line after struggling on the restart, but the field scattered around him and the race proceeded under green. With the field jostling for positions, Cindric was able to pull away by six-tenths of a second over Chastain.
On the final lap of the first stage, Alex Labbe, one of the Dash 4 Cash contenders and who was in 11th, spun entering Turn 1 and tapped the inside wall, though he was able to drive his car back to his pit stall with damage to the front nose of his car. The stage concluded under caution with Cindric winning it. Chastain finished second followed by Allgaier, Snider, Annett. Briscoe, Gragson, Herbst, Haley and Hemric finished in the top 10. Under the stage break, Chastain remained on track to assume the lead while Cindric, Snider, Annett, Ryan Sieg and others pitted.
Following another extensive clean-up for the spilled oil through Turn 1 and the Long Pond Straightaway, the second stage started on Lap 26. The field fanned out to three lanes before Chastain, racing on the outside lane, retained the lead followed by Allgaier with Gragson trailing by a second. Haley was in fourth followed by Herbst. On Lap 29, Cindric made the slightest contact with Herbst as Herbst slipped in Turn 3 and fell to ninth while Cindric advanced into eighth. By then, Chastain was leading by four-tenths of a second over Allgaier with Gragson trailing by two seconds. Trailing behind Gragson were Briscoe, Hemric and Cindric.
On Lap 35, Chastain and Allgaier were ahead of third-place Cindric by nearly five seconds. A lap later, Allgaier drew himself alongside Chastain to challenge for the lead, which he succeeded. Soon after, Chastain peeled off to pit road for a pit stop. Teammate Haley and Briscoe also pitted, but Briscoe was assessed a pass-through penalty for speeding on pit road. Back on the track, Allgaier was leading by three seconds over a hard-charging Cindric. Allgaier was able to stabilize his lead to win the second stage and earn his fifth stage win of the 2020 season. Cindric was second followed by Gragson, Hemric and Herbst. Snider, Annett, Sieg, Brett Moffitt and Jeremy Clements finished in the top 10.
Under the stage break, a majority of the lead-lap competitors pitted and Cindric exited pit road first followed by Allgaier, Hemric, Gragson and Snider. Chastain, however, remained on track to inherit the lead after he pitted prior to the conclusion of the second stage. Teammate Haley also remained on track. Labbe pinned a lap behind under the hood.
When the final stage commenced with 46 laps remaining, Chastain took off with the lead on the outside lane and was quickly pursued by Allgaier. Haley trailed the front runners by seven-tenths of a second followed by Cindric and Gragson. Two laps later, Herbst moved his way all the way up to fourth after passing Gragson, but he slipped entering the tunnel turn and fell all the way back to eighth.
A lap later, Haley, who slipped entering Turn 4 following contact with Herbst, veered dead left into the right rear of Herbst and sent Herbst around in Turn 4, where he made minimal contact with the wall. Herbst’s wreck capped off a disappointing day for Joe Gibbs Racing as all three of their Xfinity operations were involved in a wreck. Haley pitted with left-front damage while Herbst also pitted after sustaining front nose energy along with a flat left-front tire to his No. 18 Monster Energy/Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Soon after, NASCAR assessed Haley a two-lap penalty in his pit stall for rough driving and following his on-track contact with Herbst, which ended his hopes of winning the race and the final Dash 4 Cash bonus of the season. Haley and his crew chief Alex Yontz were also called for a post-race meeting with NASCAR officials in the Xfinity Series hauler.
Under caution, some like Cindric, Allgaier and others pitted while others like Chastain, Gragson, Hemric, Snider, Clements, B.J. McLeod, Dexter Bean and Jesse Little remained on track.
When the race restarted with 38 laps remaining, Chastain retained the lead but behind, contact from Snider got Gragson loose in Turn 1, where he came back across the track and ignited a multi-car wreck that included teammates Allgaier and Hemric, along with Cindric and Sieg. The wreck ended Cindric’s chances of winning the race and the final Dash 4 Cash bonus after having a strong racecar. Hemric also retired while Gragson, Allgaier and Sieg continued. Under caution, a majority of the leaders, led by Chastain, pitted while few like Briscoe, Moffitt and McLeod remained on track.
The race restarted with 33 laps remaining, and Briscoe was able to clear the field through Turn 1. Moffitt settled in second as Snider and Chastain moved into third and fourth. Behind, Annett, the lone JR Motorsports’ competitor without damage, challenged Clements for fifth. Two laps later, Briscoe was ahead by a second over Snider and Chastain, both of whom remained within sight of another for the runner-up spot. Behind, names like Moffitt, Clements, Jesse Little, Ryan Vargas, Dexter Bean and Stefan Parsons were racing inside the top 10 with McLeod battling Parsons for position.
With 22 to go, Briscoe fell off the pace after sustaining a flat left-rear tire and he spun in Turn 1, though he continued without sustaining any damage. Briscoe’s misfortune allowed Snider to move into the lead followed by Chastain. Under caution, Snider remained on track along with four others while Chastain pitted for four fresh tires and fuel with hopes of gaining more speed to take the lead.
Four laps later, the race restarted and Snider took off with the lead while Chastain, racing on fresh tires, boosted his way into second on fresh tires. Behind, Briscoe, rallying from his late spin, moved into third after passing Annett and Moffitt. With 15 to go, Snider was leading by four-tenths of a second over Chastain with Briscoe trailing by two seconds as the top three started to gap fourth-place Annett by nearly five seconds. Three laps later, Chastain passed Snider for the lead in Turn 1 and three turns later, Briscoe moved into second with the top-three competitors separated by less than six-tenths of a second.
With 10 laps remaining, the battle for the lead ignited between Briscoe and Chastain with Chastain maintaining a small advantage over Briscoe. After making several attempts to pass Chastain, Briscoe succeeded with seven laps remaining in Turn 2. The following lap, Briscoe was starting to extend his lead by four-tenths of a second with Snider trailing by nearly three seconds. The caution returned when Finchum wrecked in Turn 2 and came to rest across the outside wall. Under caution, Snider and Annett led a handful of cars to pit road for service, including Allgaier, while Briscoe and Chastain remained on track. When the pit stops concluded, Snider was all the way back to 15th.
The race restarted in overtime and Chastain received a push from Allgaier on the inside lane to retain the lead. Soon after, Briscoe gained a huge run in the Tunnel Turn and bumped into the rear bumper of Chastain to retain the lead and start the final lap. Briscoe was able to maintain a steady gap over Chastain for one final lap to claim another checkered flag of the season. With the win, Briscoe became the fifth different winner in five NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the Tricky Triangle and he recorded the second victory of the weekend for Stewart-Haas Racing, a day after Kevin Harvick won the first of two Cup Pocono races of the weekend. The victory was also Briscoe’s second with interim crew chief/veteran Greg Zipadelli.
“Yeah, a ton of concern [when Chastain passed me in overtime],” Briscoe said on FS1. “I felt like if I’d picked the bottom [lane], I could’ve, maybe, slid him, but I was really tight and was worried if I went to the bottom, I’d get too tight on exit. When I was catching Ross, I knew his trouble end was the Tunnel Turn. He was just so loose, so I just tried to use that to my advantage. I knew that was the one spot where I could, probably, make the pass. It was fun. He’s one of the hardest guys to race against and pass. We raced clean the whole time. We were really not that good at the beginning. We, kind of, struggled and didn’t have the speed I really anticipated to have here. It’s always fun when you can do that. We’re halfway to eight [wins], so hopefully, we can keep going.”
Chastain finished second for his fourth top-five result of the season. Despite the disappointment of finishing second and falling short of claiming his first win of the season, Chastain secured the fourth and final Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus of the season, second for the Kaulig Racing driver.
“We did everything right,” Chastain said on FS1. “We got the good push that we needed and cleared [Briscoe] into [Turn] 1. It’s tough to be upset with second, but I am. I’m so proud of Kaulig Racing, [Richard Childress Racing], everybody that brings these racecars and we’re unloading and we are in the top two to three every week. I know how lucky I am, but man, it’s the memories we take with us, not the money.”
Clements rallied from a pit road speeding penalty to finish third for his first top-five result of this season while Snider made a late charge in two laps to notch a career-best fourth in his 12th series start, his sixth driving the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
“I knew that I was getting a big push from behind,” Snider said. “I had a run coming on [Gragson], but I knew we were going to fall off real fast, so I started lifting up, but the guy behind me didn’t. So you can kind of see me squirreling around the whole time, and I’m trying slow down, but I just couldn’t stop. I hate that it got so many involved with it, but it ended up being a great day for us. We’re up front leading laps, and we had a chance to win there. It came down to experience for me. I’ve only had a few races with this RCR car. It’s got speed. I’ve just got to get myself a little more consistent, but kudos to the RCR guys for bringing such a fast TaxSlayer Camaro. I had a blast today. Just got to get a little more experience and I think that we’ll be able to win some races.”
Annett finished fifth for his first top-five result of the season followed by teammate Allgaier, who rallied from the late multi-car wreck that also collected his two JRM teammates. Moffitt, Timmy Hill, Herbst and Jesse Little finished in the top 10. Ryan Vargas, who was running in the top 10 until he got into the outside wall in Turn 1 on the final lap, settled in 13th.
There were 12 lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured nine cautions for 31 laps. Only 21 of the 36-car field finished on the lead lap.
With the win, Briscoe emerged with the points lead by three points over Gragson and 33 over Chastain.
1. Chase Briscoe, 24 laps led
2. Ross Chastain, 31 laps led
3. Jeremy Clements
4. Myatt Snider, eight laps led
5. Michael Annett
6. Justin Allgaier, nine laps led, Stage 2 winner
7. Brett Moffitt
8. Timmy Hill
9. Riley Herbst
10. Jesse Little
11. Dexter Bean
12. Ryan Sieg
13. Ryan Vargas
14. B.J. McLeod
15. Kyle Weatherman
16. Jeffrey Earnhardt
17. Alex Labbe
18. Vinnie Miller
19. Kody Vanderwal
20. Carson Ware
21. Stefan Parsons
22. Noah Gragson, one lap down, eight laps led
23. Justin Haley, two laps down
24. Bayley Currey, three laps down
25. Matt Mills – OUT, Transmission
26. Chad Finchum – OUT, Accident
27. Stephen Leicht – OUT, Electrical
28. Daniel Hemric – OUT, Accident
29. Austin Cindric – OUT, Accident, 11 laps led, Stage 1 winner
30. Tommy Joe Martins – OUT, Oil leak
31. Jeff Green – OUT, Power steering
32. Harrison Burton – OUT, Accident
33. Brandon Brown – OUT, Engine
34. Josh Williams – OUT, Accident
35. Joe Graf Jr. – OUT, Accident
36. Brandon Jones – OUT, Accident
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will travel to the midwest and compete in the first oval-road course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4, where the race will air at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.