NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Justin Haley Wins at Talladega for Season Sweep, Third Straight Superspeedway Triumph

Justin Haley completed the sweep of the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ visits to Talladega Superspeedway in 2020 on Saturday (Oct. 3), winning his third race of the year as the field wrecked behind him on the final lap of the Ag-Pro 300.

On an afternoon that was thoroughly dominated by polesitter Chase Briscoe, late moves led to Briscoe hitting the wall and Haley being in the right place at the right time to secure the victory. Haley also bounced back from an earlier pit road penalty to win his third consecutive superspeedway race, sweeping all three superspeedway events since the series returned from its pandemic-induced hiatus.

Haley and Michael Annett were both penalized for the infraction, but ended up finishing 1-2 when the checkered flag flew. Annett, though, was disqualified in post-race inspection for his left front tire being too low. Ryan Sieg was credited with the runner-up finish instead.

Briscoe and Noah Gragson led the field to green, and it was Briscoe’s race to lose early on. The No. 98 dominated as the racing stayed calm early on, winning the opening stage.

Riley Herbst hit the wall early in stage 2, leading to a restart and an immediate caution — Harrison Burton pushed Ross Chastain a little too hard and sent the No. 10 into the outside wall. Chastain’s car slid back into the path of Colby Howard, who t-boned Chastain and brought out the red flag.

Briscoe went on to win the second stage as well, seemingly mirroring his performance from the previous week at Las Vegas, where he swept both stages en route to winning the race.

A.J. Allmendinger took the lead as the final stage got underway, but the top spot continued to swap places until another caution flew. This time, it was as the leaders began to come to pit road — confusion in the middle of the pack led to both Austin Hill and Austin Cindric spinning in tandem and into the inside wall.

With just 30 laps to go, Brandon Brown leapfrogged to the lead before Briscoe charged to the front and took it back. Chastain had made his way back up into the top 10 while Josh Williams ran near the front for a few laps, and another yellow flew for debris from Ryan Vargas’ No. 6 machine.

Justin Allgaier suffered a mechanical issue and attempted to restart, but was forced to the garage with smoke billowing out of the No. 7. He finished 30th.

The final restart came with 18 laps to go, and despite some early moves, the field settled into a single-file train until the final few circuits. The two- and three-wide racing didn’t fully click until the final laps, either, as the bottom lane couldn’t get organized and make a run at the leaders.

Briscoe finally faced some competition from the bottom lane, but Gragson tagged his bumper on the exit of turn 4 and nearly wrecked the No. 98. However, Briscoe saved the car and kept his position just in front of Haley.

Further contact between Briscoe and Gragson caused the No. 98 to scrape the wall — not enough to wreck the Ford, but Briscoe dropped out of the lead pack as the white flag flew.

Haley was out front as contact between Allmendinger and Brett Moffitt caused both cars to collide with Burton and Brown. Moffitt spun into the outside wall and was hit from behind by Myatt Snider, lifting the No. 02 into the air before it landed back on its wheels. Jesse Little was also involved, with the No. 4 getting tapped late and sliding head-on into the outside wall.

Haley, meanwhile, watched the carnage in his rear-view mirror as he pulled away, clearly out front when the caution flew for the last-lap crash.

Sieg, Gragson, Brandon Jones and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top five. Chastain, Williams, Garrett Smithley, Brown and Alex Labbe completed the top 10. Smithley’s top 10 was his first since 2018, while Williams’ was his fourth of 2020.

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Ag-Pro 300 Unofficial Results

“We had that penalty there and we struggled to get back,” Haley said. “Just bunny hopping, thankfully … my spotter was able to guide me through the bunny hops and be able to go from the bottom [to the top]. We were so far back with 10 [laps] to go … I guess three in a row is pretty hard to do on luck.”

In the spring at Talladega, Haley worked with teammates Chastain and Allmendinger to drive to the front, but none of the three were really able to work together for the fall event.

“… I hopped down [to the bottom] when I got clear, and was able to use the draft,” Haley said. “They got split up [at the] top but we couldn’t get hooked up for some reason. But we got [the No. 11] into the Round of 8, that’s the most important. Super thankful to everyone, this is a blessing.”

The Xfinity Series heads to the Charlotte ROVAL next week for the first playoff elimination race of the year. Annett, Burton, Brown and Herbst sit below the points cutoff for the Drive for the Cure 250, which is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 10 at 3:30 p.m.

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