Briscoe extends dominance by winning Xfinity Playoff opener at Las Vegas

Prior to the start of this year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series season, Chase Briscoe’s goal was to achieve eight wins in order to consider himself a potential Cup Series competitor for the 2021 season. Following a dominating run and a late restart in the Alsco 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 26, Briscoe fulfilled his goal after claiming his eighth victory of the season over Noah Gragson.

The win marked Briscoe’s 10th of his Xfinity career in his 77th series start as this marked the second time this season where he achieved back-to-back victories after winning last weekend’s regular-season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The starting lineup was based on four statistical categories: current owner’s standings, the driver’s result from a previous Xfinity race, the team owner’s result from a previous Xfinity race, and the fastest lap recorded from a previous Xfinity race. With that, Chase Briscoe started on pole position and was joined on the front row with Austin Cindric, the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season champion.


American Muscle

Dexter Bean, Jesse Little, and Austin Hill failed pre-race technical inspection twice and all lost pit selection for the next race in the schedule, though they retained their starting spots for the race at Vegas.

When the green flag waved and the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs commenced, Briscoe squeaked ahead with the lead and was able to lead the first lap ahead of Cindric. Behind, Ross Chastain moved up to third place followed by Noah Gragson and Anthony Alfredo while Justin Allgaier, who started in third place in his No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro, fell back to sixth place in front of Justin Haley.

By the fifth lap, Briscoe was leading by more than seven-tenths of a second over Cindric while Chastain and Gragson battled for third place. Behind, Ryan Sieg and Harrison Burton were in eighth and ninth while Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, and Brandon Brown were running inside the top 15.

It did not take long until the first caution of the race flew on Lap 8 when Kyle Weatherman made contact with the wall on the frontstretch and spun, where his No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro came to a rest near the Turn 1 inside wall and in front of the pace car while blocking it from entering the track to pace the field under caution.

When the race restarted under green on Lap 13, Chastain made a move on the outside of Briscoe and made a three-wide move on Briscoe and Cindric before challenging Cindric for the lead. Cindric, however, was able to retain the lead in his No. 22 Menards/NIBCO Ford Mustang when the field cycled back to the start/finish line.

With Cindric leading, Chastain retained second place ahead of Briscoe and Gragson while Alfredo, racing in his No. 21 Sim Seats Chevrolet Camaro, moved up to the fifth place. Behind, Haley was in sixth place followed by Sieg while Allgaier and Herbst battled for an eighth-place ahead of Burton.

By Lap 17 and with Cindric extending his advantage to more than a second over Chastain, Gragson and Alfredo overtook Briscoe for third and fourth place while Sieg moved up to the sixth place.

A few laps later, the caution flew when Austin Hill, winner of Friday night’s Truck Series Playoff race at Vegas, spun entering Turn 2. The caution for Hill’s spin was ruled as the competition caution planned on Lap 20. Under caution, some like Playoff contender Brandon Brown and Timmy Hill pitted while the rest led by Cindric remained on track.

The race restarted under green on Lap 23 with Cindric and Chastain on the front row followed by Sieg, Gragson, Haley, Briscoe, Allgaier, and Alfredo. At the front, Cindric retained the lead through Turn 1 until Chastain made a move on the outside lane in Turn 2 to take the lead.

Behind Chastain, Sieg received a boost from Gragson to move into second place while Cindric was stuck in a battle with Briscoe, Haley, and Gragson for third place. Behind, Alfredo fell back to seventh place in front of Herbst, Brandon Jones, Burton, Michael Annett, Allgaier, and Daniel Hemric.

On Lap 27, Sieg, racing in his No. 39 CMRroofing.com Chevrolet Camaro started to close in on Chastain for the lead as he was a tenth of a second behind. Entering turn 4, Sieg made a move beneath Chastain and had the lead until reaching Turn 2 when Chastain regained his momentum on the outside lane and retained the lead. While both battled for the lead, Briscoe moved up to third place followed by Gragson while Alfredo moved up to fifth place. Cindric fell back to seventh place in between Haley and Herbst while Hemric, racing in his No. 8 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Camaro, moved up to the ninth place.

By Lap 35, Chastain was still leading by nearly six-tenths of a second over Sieg while Briscoe trailed by less than a second. Behind, Hemric and Playoff contender Brandon Jones continued to battle hard for the eighth place along with Herbst.

With the laps in the first lap continuing to dwindle, the battle for the lead continued to intensify between Chastain and Sieg as Briscoe joined the party. On Lap 39, Briscoe raced on the outside lane in Turn 3 to overtake Sieg for second place and he made a crossover move beneath Chastain entering Turn 4 while on the gas to take the lead.

Though Briscoe had the lead, Chastain continued to pounce for the lead back. Not long after, however, Chastain got into the outside wall entering Turn 4 and sustained minimal damage to his No. 10 Chevy Accessories Camaro. Chastain’s contact with the wall allowed Briscoe to extend his advantage.

When the first stage concluded on Lap 45, Briscoe emerged ahead and was able to claim his sixth stage win of the season. Chastain, whose brake bias knob fell off, settled in second place despite the late contact with the wall followed by Sieg and Gragson. Alfredo was scored in fifth place followed by Haley, Cindric, Hemric, Brandon Jones and Herbst.

Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Briscoe retained the lead after exiting pit road in first place followed by Sieg and Chastain.

The second stage started on Lap 51 with Briscoe and Sieg on the front row followed by Cindric, Chastain, Brandon Jones, and Alfredo. At the start, Briscoe and Sieg battled dead even through Turns 1 and 2 before Briscoe cleared the field and retained the lead. Behind, Chastain and Jones battled for third place while Cindric, who was in fifth place, slipped entering Turn 1 and lost positions to Alfredo and Gragson.

By Lap 55, Briscoe was still leading by more than three-tenths of a second over Sieg while Alfredo moved up to third place. Meanwhile, Chastain was stuck in a battle with Gragson, Jones, and Cindric for fourth place as Haley started lurking behind his fellow Playoff contenders for the lead.

Five laps later, on Lap 60, Briscoe, racing in his No. 98 FIELDS Ford Mustang, maintained his advantage by nearly a second over Sieg while third-place Gragson trailed by four seconds. Alfredo continued to trail Gragson for third place while Cindric was in fifth place. Behind, Chastain fell back to seventh place following a battle with Brandon Jones and with teammate Haley behind. Allgaier was back in 12th place in between Harrison Burton and Brett Moffitt.

By Lap 70, Briscoe was still leading by more than a second over Sieg with Gragson behind by less than two seconds. Alfredo was in fourth place followed by Cindric, Brandon Jones, and Haley. Teammate Chastain was in eighth place ahead of Hemric, Herbst, Allgaier, and Burton. Annett and Brandon Brown were the two lowest-running Playoff contenders in 14th and 15th while Jeremy Clements and Myatt Snider were in 16th and 17th.

Five laps later, on Lap 75, Briscoe maintained his advantage to less than a second over Gragson, who overtook Sieg for second place, while Cindric overtook Alfredo for fourth place. Chastain, on the other hand, fell back to ninth place in between Hemric and Allgaier.

Down to the final 10 laps of the second stage and with the leaders starting to encounter lapped traffic, Gragson, racing in his No. 9 Bass Pro Shops/True Timber Camo Chevrolet Camaro, started to close in on Briscoe for the lead as he was approximately three-tenths of a second behind.

With less than five laps remaining in the second stage, Gragson lost his momentum after encountering lapped traffic, which allowed Briscoe to stabilize his advantage to half a second. Though Gragson fought back, Briscoe was able to hold on by a narrow margin and claim his seventh stage victory of the season after winning the second stage on Lap 90. Cindric settled in third place followed by Sieg, who radioed air conditioning issues to his car. Alfredo was scored in fifth place followed by Brandon Jones, Haley, Hemric, Allgaier and Herbst. By then, Chastain, Burton, Annett and Brown settled in the top 15.

Under the stage break, the leaders pitted and Briscoe retained the lead after exiting pit road in first place followed by Gragson, Cindric, Jones, Alfredo, and Sieg.

The final stage started with 104 laps remaining and with Briscoe and Gragson on the front row followed by Cindric and Jones. At the start, Briscoe and Gragson battled for the lead before Briscoe retained his advantage entering Turns 3 and 4. Behind Briscoe and Gragson, Cindric retained third place followed by Alfredo and Jones while Allgaier moved up to sixth place ahead of Sieg.

At the halfway mark on Lap 100, Briscoe extended his advantage to less than eight-tenths of a second over Gragson.

With approximately 95 laps remaining, Alfredo got loose entering Turn 1 following contact with Hemric while racing in ninth place, but he managed to keep his car straightened and continue to run in front of Hemric on the track.

Five laps later, with 90 laps remaining, Briscoe was still leading by two seconds over Gragson followed by Cindric, Allgaier, and Brandon Jones. Haley, Sieg, and Chastain were running in sixth through eighth while Alfredo and Hemric rounded out the top 10. Burton was in 11th place followed by Moffitt, Herbst, Annett, Clements, and Brown.

With under 70 laps remaining and the track settling into night racing conditions, Briscoe’s No. 98 Ford continued to lead by more than three seconds over Gragson and more than five seconds over Cindric. Meanwhile, Allgaier trailed by more than 10 seconds in fourth place followed by Jones, Sieg, Haley, Hemric, Chastain and Harrison Burton.

Ten laps later, with 60 laps remaining, Briscoe continued to extend his advantage to less than five seconds over Gragson. Meanwhile, Sieg overtook Jones for fifth place with Allgaier and Cindric next on his front windshield. Behind, Chastain fell back to 10th place behind teammate Haley, Hemric, and Burton.

With approximately 55 laps remaining, pit stops under green started to occur as Burton pitted followed by Hemric, Jones, Herbst, Gragson, Cindric, Allgaier, Chastain, Haley, Briscoe, Alfredo and Sieg. By then, Brandon Brown had made an early pit stop.

When the field cycled through the pit stops under green and with less than 50 laps remaining, Annett, who has yet to pit in his No. 1 Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet Camaro, emerged with the lead followed by Briscoe, Cindric, Gragson, Allgaier and Jones. Sieg fell back to ninth place after he overshot his pit box.

With 45 laps remaining, the caution flew due to a loose tire from Joe Graf Jr.’s pit box that came to a rest on the infield grass. Under caution, Annett pitted along with Harrison Burton, Sieg, Alfredo, Chastain, Clements, and Herbst while Briscoe reassumed the lead. By then, 15 cars were scored on the lead lap, including all 12 Playoff contenders.

The race restarted under green with 40 laps remaining and with Briscoe and Cindric on the front row. At the start, Briscoe and Cindric battled dead even for the lead before Briscoe retained the lead while cycling back to the start/finish line. Behind, JR Motorsports’ competitors Gragson, Allgaier, and Hemric battled inside the top five followed by Burton, Jones, and Annett. Sieg was in ninth place while Herbst was in 10th.

With 35 laps remaining and with Briscoe ahead by more than a second over Cindric, the battling for positions behind continued to ensue as Alfredo moved up to eighth place followed by Herbst, Sieg, Jones, Haley, and Chastain. Gragson settled in third place followed by teammates Hemric and Allgaier while Burton and Annett were scored in sixth and seventh.

Five laps later, with 30 laps remaining, Briscoe stabilized his advantage to more than two seconds over Cindric while Gragson trailed by more than three seconds in third place. Behind fourth-place Hemric, Harrison Burton, who struggled in the middle portions of the race, muscled his way into fifth place while Annett overtook teammate Allgaier for sixth place. Alfredo, Sieg, and Herbst were running inside the top 10 followed by Jones, Haley, and Chastain. Brandon Brown was the lowest-running Playoff contenders in 15th.

Down to the final 20 laps of the race, Briscoe, who radioed vibrating concerns to his car but continued to lead, extended his advantage to more than six seconds over Cindric, who had Gragson closing in on him for the position. Burton was up into fourth place followed by teammates Annett, Hemric, and Allgaier while Alfredo, Sieg, and Herbst continued to run inside the top 10.

With 13 laps remaining, the caution flew due to the stalled car of Alex Labbe, who was unable to limp back to pit road. The caution all but evaporated Briscoe’s lead of more than six seconds over Cindric and Gragson. Under caution, the leaders pitted and Briscoe retained the lead followed by Gragson, Annett, Burton, and Cindric. During the pit stops, Alfredo dropped out of the top 10 following a slow pit stop due to lug nuts falling off of his tires. Following the pit stops, Brown was sent to the rear of the field due to a choose cone violation.

With nine laps remaining, the race restarted under green with Briscoe and Gragson on the front row. At the start, Briscoe and Gragson battled dead even before Briscoe was able to muscle through and retain the lead. Behind, Chastain was bumped by Cindric and got loose entering Turn 4 while battling for a top-10 spot. Though he was able to save the car, he fell all the way back to 15th place and was out of contention for a strong result.

Down to the final five laps of the race, Briscoe extended his advantage to less than a second over Gragson while Hemric moved up to third place. Teammates Annett and Allgaier were in the top five followed by Burton, Sieg, Cindric, Jones, and Alfredo. A few laps later, Allgaier and Sieg overtook Annett for spots in the top five. By then, no one had anything for Briscoe, who maintained his advantage to more than a second over Gragson.

On the final lap, Briscoe continued to lead by more than a second. With no challengers closing in behind him, Briscoe was able to come back around to the finish line and claim his eighth checkered flag of the season.

With his Vegas victory, Briscoe secured himself a spot to the Round of 8 in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. He also became the first competitor to sweep both Xfinity races at Vegas in a season and he recorded the 13th victory of the season for Ford.

“First off, incredible car by everybody at Stewart-Haas [Racing],” Briscoe said on NBCSN. “That made my job way too easy, honestly. It was a super fast FIELDS Ford Mustang. Happy to get them in Victory Lane. This is their only [sponsored] race they do all year. The restart, I knew that if I could just take the lead on the restart, I’d be ok, but I was spinning the tires so bad all night for whatever reason…We’ve had a lot of wins this year, but this was by far our most dominant car. I’m so glad that I can sleep a little bit easier this week going into Talladega and the [Charlotte] Roval, and just enjoy’em.”

Though he earned his spot in the Round of 8 in the Playoffs, Briscoe sets his focus on achieving more victories for the remainder of the postseason and placing himself in position to achieve his first NASCAR championship at Phoenix Raceway in November while he continues to await his racing plans for next season.

“I knew this team is fully capable of achieving that [winning] and even more,” Briscoe added. “I just can’t say thank you enough to Gene Haas, Tony Stewart, everybody that lets me drive these race cars. It’s been an unbelievable season. We still got a lot, six more wins we can try to get and obviously, a championship. So that’s what we’re gonna try to do. Just so happy to start the Playoffs like this.”

Gragson battled back from a bloody nose early in the race to finish in second place followed by teammates Hemric and Allgaier while Sieg battled back for a strong top-five result.

“It was a good day overall for our Bass Pro Shops True Timber team,” Gragson said on NBCSN. “I felt like we were really good, the best I’ve ever been here. [I] Just didn’t have enough for [Briscoe]. We’ll keep on working, but these guys did a heck of a job. A really good improvement from where we’ve been these past couple of weeks. Damn, I wanted to win this one so bad at my home town, but we’ll try again at Talladega…the car looks good, we were pretty fast, but came up short.”

“That’s what this 8 team set out to do was, hopefully, try to give ourselves an opportunity to race for an owners’ championship,” Hemric said on PRN Radio. “Jeb Burton did a great job the last two weeks leading into the Playoffs to get us in this position. Tonight was a good night of putting some coins in the bucket as we continue towards the second race in the Playoffs. Really proud of everyone on this South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet. We had a rough go back in the spring, but we had a couple of good restarts there at the end and got us a top five. We’re gonna take it and move on.”

“Really proud of all the guys on this BRANDT Professional Agriculture Camaro,” Allgaier said on NBCSN. “We battled a lot of adversity early. Just felt like we were behind the eight ball. We were able to make good adjustments on the car and get ourselves in better track position at the end there by the Choose Rule and gutted out a finish. These points are so important. Every position counts. As bad as we started the night off, I was getting a little flustered under the collar. These guys rallied behind me and gave me the car we needed at the end. We were able to pull off a solid top-five and still be OK in the points. We lost a few tonight but still have a good cushion. We got two crazy races these next few [weeks].”

“It’s huge for the CMR team and the guys did an awesome job all night,” Sieg said on NBCSN. “Just the driver did one little mess up, but we’re getting back to what we were running. I was trying to get something to drink. My helmet hose fell off end of stage one, so I was trying to get something to drink under that green flag and just kind of missed my stopping points on pit road. Just screwed me up a little bit, but we got it back. Just super, super excited to be plus nine in the Playoffs, headed to Talladega and we got the [Charlotte] Roval, which something can always happen. Just can’t be prouder of this team and all that they’ve done…Just can’t wait to get to the next two [races]. It’s been a fun first [Playoff] race, already.”

Cindric finished in sixth place while Annett, Alfredo, Harrison Burton, and Haley finished in the top 10.

“Frustrating [night],” Cindric said on NBCSN. “I definitely think we deserved to not finish as well as we should’ve. We put ourselves in position, but a lot of good lessons learned tonight. We made our car better throughout the night, we kept up with the track well. For the first time in a long time, everyone’s running the bottom [lane] and I’m running the top on both ends. We got a good points bank, but can’t take that for granted. [We] Gotta keep getting better. When [Briscoe] can walk away like that, you gotta make sure you step your game up.”

“We just weren’t good enough tonight,” Burton said on PRN Radio. “We really struggled all day today and into the night, we got a little bit better, but not much. That’s tough because these next few races are gonna be wild so for us, this was a big race. We didn’t do our job during the regular season to build up a cushion as big as we needed to with Playoff points. It’s biting us now, so now, it’s gonna be hard the next two weeks, gonna be fighting for every point and that’s what makes the Playoffs so fun, I guess, is to watch that battle for every point. We’re gonna have to be in it, for sure.”

“The car was a bit on the tight side, but it wasn’t so far off,” Haley said on PRN Radio. “Obviously, the Nos. 10 and 11 was struggling on speed, both pretty terrible there. I’m not sure where we missed it, but it definitely wasn’t there. Thankfully, we got two race tracks ahead of us that are good. Still on the positive side of things, I believe. Still got a top 10 out of it, somehow. We, actually, were looking good there for sixth or seventh and then, got behind on track position, just too tight on that last restart. Proud of these LeafFilter Gutter Protection boys on this Kaulig Chevrolet, but just needed a little bit more, especially for the second round.”

Playoff contenders Brandon Jones, Herbst, Brandon Brown, and Chastain finished 11th, 12th, 15th, and 16th.

There were eight lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured six cautions for 28 laps.

Results.

1. Chase Briscoe, 164 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
2. Noah Gragson
3. Daniel Hemric
4. Justin Allgaier
5. Ryan Sieg, three laps led
6. Austin Cindric, 10 laps led
7. Michael Annett, eight laps led
8. Anthony Alfredo
9. Harrison Burton
10. Justin Haley
11. Brandon Jones
12. Riley Herbst
13. Jeremy Clements
14. Brett Moffitt
15. Brandon Brown
16. Ross Chastain, 15 laps led
17. Austin Hill, one lap down
18. Josh Williams, one lap down
19. Myatt Snider, one lap down
20. Stefan Parsons, one lap down
21. Colby Howard, two laps down
22. Tommy Joe Martins, two laps down
23. Jesse Little, two laps down
24. Gray Gaulding, three laps down
25. Bayley Currey, three laps down
26. B.J. McLeod, three laps down
27. Joe Graf Jr., four laps down
28. Timmy Hill, four laps down
29. Dexter Bean, five laps down
30. Matt Mills, six laps down
31. Kody Vanderwal, nine laps down
32. Alex Labbe – OUT, Electrical
33. Jeffrey Earnhardt, 34 laps down
34. Vinnie Miller – OUT, Too slow
35. Chad Finchum – OUT, Suspension
36. Kyle Weatherman – OUT, Accident

Playoff standings.
1. Chase Briscoe – Advanced
2. Austin Cindric +53
3. Noah Gragson +36
4. Justin Allgaier +28
5. Justin Haley +14
6. Brandon Jones +13
7. Ryan Sieg +9
8. Harrison Burton +2
9. Ross Chastain -2
10. Michael Annett -10
11. Riley Herbst -14
12. Brandon Brown -20

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will return at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, Oct. 3, for the second Round of 12 race in this year’s Xfinity Playoffs. The race will occur at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.


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