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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

The Underdog House: The Other Draft Day

Top of The Class

Ryan Preece might be one of the few drivers who would be happy with a few more races at Daytona and Talladega. He seems to have taken to the multi lane, high speed chess game quite well.

Preece scored a third-place finish in the Geico 500 on Sunday (April 28), his fourth top-20 finish of 2019, which includes top 10 results at both superspeedways. The modified standout continues to impress, which is remarkable considering he had raced at Talladega only one time in his career prior to Sunday.

“It was awesome,” Preece said. “I was only here one other time and that was in Talladega in 2016 in an Xfinity car and I was running third with three to go, went for the sucker hole and got flushed. I wasn’t going to do that today. Great day for Kroger and JTG (Daugherty Racing) and hopefully we can keep this momentum moving forward.”

Honorable Mention

Ty Dillon, the first underdog to win a stage in 2019, struck again on Sunday. The Germain Racing standout claimed the opening green checkered flag in his No. 13 Chevrolet. Dillon is an adept plate racer and ran well throughout the event, winding up 17th at the conclusion.

Also earning stellar finishes were Brendan Gaughan in eighth, Corey Lajoie in 11th and Reed Sorenson, who brought his Chevrolet home in 18th. Sorenson’s teammate at Premium Motorsports Ross Chastain led nine laps during a sequence of pit stops, but wound up 26th at the end of the race.

Otherdogs

On Saturday (April 27), the Xfinity Series took to the 33 degree high banks to settle the MoneyLion 300. Gray Gaulding has been solid all season in his Bobby Dotter owned No. 08. But Gaulding, whose lone top-10 finish in Cup also came at Talladega, put on a masterful effort in the closing laps. He sliced  and diced through traffic and got right to the bumper of leader Tyler Reddick. While Gaulding was unable to get around Reddick as the field roared across the finish line, the runner-up finish was still the highlight of the season for the team. Additionally, it was far and away Gaulding’s best result in any of the top three national touring series in NASCAR.

Other Xfinity competitors with solid showings were Josh Williams in eighth, Landon Cassill ninth, and Chris Cockrum in the 10th.

Underdog Spotlight: Jeff Green

Longtime NASCAR fans probably have a hard time thinking of Jeff Green as an underdog. After all, the 56 -year-old has 16 wins and a championship in the Xfinity Series. But now racing for the Rod Seig owned team as a teammate to Ryan Seig, Green is back on the underdog side of the garage.

Green has competed at that level either full time or part time since 1990 with the exception of 2004. In 2000, he racked up six wins and ran off with the championship by the largest margin ever at that time (616 points). Green claimed all 16 of his wins between 1997 and 2002, going to Victory Lane in cars fielded by Gary Bechtel, Greg Pollex, and Richard Childress.

Green also has 270 starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, spanning from 1994 to 2015. Green never won, but had five top-five finishes, with a best of second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2002.

Over three decades of competition hasn’t slowed Green yet. While the 2019 season started with an impressive seventh-place result at Daytona, the subsequent weeks have been less memorable. Having a veteran like Green behind the wheel and in the shop has to be a huge asset for the Seig team. Green and the organization will continually improve and soon the results will likely reflect both their effort and experience.

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About Frank Velat

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Frank Velat has been an avid follower of NASCAR and other motorsports for over 20 years. He brings a blend of passionate fan and objective author to his work. Frank offers unique perspectives that everyone can relate to, remembering the sport's past all the while embracing its future. Follow along with @FrankVelat on Twitter.

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