Rain tried, but racing won Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Going the full race distance for the XFINITY Series, Erik Jones overcame a pit road penalty to take the victory in the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300.
The win, the eighth of his XFINITY career, stands as his second straight, both at Bristol and of 2017.
“The speeding penalty with 60 to go, I didn’t think we had any shot at winning,” Jones said. “We kept restarting at the top, two quick yellows got us up into eighth and all of a sudden, we were fourth. From then on, I was just managing my car.”
The man who finished second was sure to be hot under the collar in the closing laps. After a bump-and-run move from Jones with 19 laps to go, Ryan Blaney lost the lead and fell to fourth. Though Blaney led 61 laps on the day, he was unable to catch Jones for the win.
Daniel Suarez came home third with Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric the top five. For Hemric, it was the first top-I’ve result of his rookie XFINITY season, good enough to award him a $100,000 bonus for the Dash 4 Cash victory.
The day started off clean for the second-tier series, which was the first race on the new VHT-surfaced inside lanes at Bristol, where the track added resin to improve grip. The racing changed throughout the 300-lap event, as speed was found from the apron to the SAFER barrier wall.
A red flag due to rain halted the action for more than 90 minutes, as Air Titans took to the track. After the delay, the race fell out of Kyle Larson’s hands, as the pole-sitter suffered a flat tire and lost his track position. Though he led 181 laps, he finished seventh. Ty Dillon, Brennan Poole and Michael Annett complete the top 10.
The 90-minute halt wasn’t the only red flag on the afternoon, as a hard crash with Garrett Smithley and Darrell Wallace Jr. brought out a second red for more than five minutes.
Short-track racing can open opportunities for some small teams. That can be said for Quin Houff, the first-time XFINITY racer who came home 15th in his No. 46 Precision Performance Motorsports Chevrolet.
Blake Koch joined the positive bunch in ninth with JJ Yeley just outside the top 10 in 11th.
Small-track racing also led to some bent fenders on the day, however, as an altercation between Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements led to punches thrown on pit road. The two were met in the NASCAR hauler after the event.
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