Heavy rains on a road course, what could possibly go wrong?
Allmendinger’s win in the Drive for the Cure 250 marked his second victory of 2020, as well as his second straight win at the ROVAL.
While some may have assumed last week’s race at Talladega Superspeedway would be the playoffs’ wild card, the torrential rains that poured down on the the speedway acted as its own equalizing agent. Making an already tense elimination race even more exciting, the early part of the race was dominated by Noah Gragson.
However, once the rains got harder, pandemonium broke out.
A gaggle of cars would spin to create the first yellow flag. Ross Chastian, race leader Gragson, Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Kyle Weatherman spun before it all culminated in a heavy crash for Tommy Joe Martins, Matt Mills and Austin Hill.
This sequence of events at @CLTMotorSpdwy is UNBELIEVABLE.
It started raining at the ROVAL, and so many drivers spun around. #NASCARPlayoffs
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 10, 2020
Briscoe came to life in the second stage, but as the rains got harder the race saw even more calamity in turn 3. This time it was Gragson and Riley Herbst who got caught in the hubbub.
Herbst sent the No. 9 car spinning, and no sooner after that the red flag was displayed due to downpours at the track that caused large amounts of standing water. After a lengthy delay, the track was dry enough to continue the race.
Immediately after the restart, chaos.
A big crash on the restart at @CLTMotorSpdwy's ROVAL!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) October 10, 2020
By the end of stage two, Briscoe took the checkered flag for another stage win in 2020.
During the third stage, a new obstacle creeped in on the drivers: darkness, with visibility extremely low. Briscoe and Allmendinger stole the show, as the two traded the lead back and forth. Throughout, Briscoe was holding on for dear life, as his team reported both low fuel and a potential “catastrophic issue,” per his team’s communication.
With eight laps to go, CJ McLaughlin spun ahead of the leaders, causing a caution as he nearly ran into Allmendinger and Briscoe as they tried to pass. This created a restart, which allowed Briscoe to save some fuel. A spin by Brandon Brown put the race into overtime, knocking Brown out of the playoffs in the process.
On the ensuring restart, Briscoe spun out of turn 1, giving the lead and the win to Allmendinger, who held off Gragson, Daniel Hemric and Alex Labbe to do so. Allmendinger recorded his second win of 2020 (his first coming at Atlanta Motor Speedway) and the fifth of his career.
Gragson and Hemric finished second and third, with Labbe capping off a great points day with a career-high fourth. Ross Chastain rounded out the top five, Cindric following behind. Cody Ware came home seventh, followed by Jade Buford, Annett and Jones to complete the top 10.
“I don’t know what we just witnessed,” Allmendinger said in victory lane. “I was complaining the whole race, that was miserable, but the [No.] 98 of Briscoe was doing a fantastic job. I didn’t really have anything for him in those last few laps, but on that final restart I was going to everything I could.”
With rain expected for the Cup race tomorrow, the infield section could prove to be the most difficult for the driver to navigate.
“In the infield with no lights in there and the world’s biggest jumbotron blaring at you, you couldn’t see anything,” Allmendinger added. “I was just guessing where the corners were and praying that when you hit the pudding you didn’t just go sliding off the racetrack. I just can’t thank everyone at Kaulig Racing enough, this is unbelievable.”
While one driver felt elation, Briscoe felt dejection as his dominant third stage ended after a spin from second.
“I just made a mistake,” Briscoe said. “In the conditions like these, you gotta be at 100%, and I was going 110[%] and it bit me.”
It’s not all rain showers for Briscoe, as his Las Vegas Motor Speedway win locked him into the Round of 8, alongside Haley, Gragson, Chastain, Ryan Sieg, Jones, Allgaier and Cindric. Herbst, Brown, Harrison Burton and Annett are eliminated.
The Round of 8 officially starts at Kansas Speedway next week for the Kansas Lottery 300 on Oct. 17. Jones enters the weekend as the defending winner, looking for his third consecutive Kansas victory.
About the author
Alex has been writing in the motorsport world since he was 19. Starting his career with the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Alex's work has been featured in Inside Track Magazine, TSN & NBC Sports as well as countless race programs.
Alex has also worked within the junior hockey world in Canada, appearing as a desk host for the OHL's Barrie Colts. He also got the opportunity to cover the 2018 Chevy Silverado 250 which appeared as the headlining article on NASCAR.com.
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