Brandon Jones capitalizes with a wild Xfinity victory at Martinsville

Brandon Jones seized an opportunity in the second of two overtime attempts to overtake teammate Ty Gibbs on the final lap and win the Call 811 Before You Dig 250 on April 8. It was a wild Friday night at Martinsville Speedway with on-track chaos, a multitude of cautions and flaring tempers ensuing throughout the event, and even between two young guns,

The 25-year-old Jones from Atlanta, Georgia, utilized pit strategy to win the second stage in a one-lap dash while on worn tires. After pitting prior to the start of the final stage, he methodically carved his way to the front and was up in the top five under the final 10 laps. Then through a series of late carnages and with the event sent into two overtime attempts, Jones intimidated his teammate Gibbs before managing to draw dead even with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate through the backstretch on the final lap. He then managed to clear Gibbs as Gibbs got tangled with Sam Mayer, whom he confronted following the event, to muscle away and claim his first victory of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.

With on-track qualifying occurring on Thursday, Ty Gibbs, winner of last weekend’s Xfinity event at Richmond Raceway, notched his third consecutive Xfinity pole position in recent weeks after posting a pole-winning lap at 95.985 mph in 19.728 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Justin Allgaier, who posted a fast lap at 95.496 mph in 19.829 seconds.

Prior to the event, Noah Gragson, Derek Griffith, Kyle Weatherman and Howie Disavino III dropped to the rear due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective cars. Another competitor who dropped to the rear due to unapproved adjustments was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was making his lone Xfinity start of the season. 

When the green flag waved and the race started amid a brief delay due to rain, Gibbs launched ahead of rookie Sheldon Creed, Justin Allgaier and the field with an early advantage as he went on to lead the first lap. Shortly after, the first caution of the event flew due to a blown engine and smoke billowing out of the No. 47 car piloted by Brennan Poole that started in the first turn. 

Thirteen laps later, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gibbs prevailed in a full side-by-side battle against Allgaier to retain the lead while Creed battled and prevailed in a brief battle with Allgaier for the runner-up spot. In the midst of the battles, Brett Moffitt pitted after falling off the pace due to a transmission issue. 

Through the first 25 scheduled laps, Gibbs was leading by more than a second over Allgaier followed by Ryan Truex, Landon Cassill and Creed while Daniel Hemric, Ryan Sieg, AJ Allmendinger, Riley Herbst and Josh Berry were in the top 10. By then, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in 31st. 

On Lap 39, the caution returned due to Howie Disavino III stopping on the track in Turn 4. Under caution, some drivers including Earnhardt Jr., Noah Gragson, Jade Buford and Myatt Snider pitted while the rest, led by Gibbs, remained on the track.

When the race restarted under green on Lap 45, Gibbs retained the lead while Allgaier retained second ahead of Ryan Truex. Behind, Creed and Cassill battled for fourth place while Ryan Sieg and Hemric battled for sixth. In addition, Josh Berry and Allmendinger battled for eighth place.

By Lap 50, Gibbs was leading by nearly half a second over Allgaier followed by Truex, Cassill and Hemric while Allmendinger, Brandon Jones, Berry, Sam Mayer and Creed were in the top 10. 

When the first stage concluded on Lap 60, Gibbs claimed his second stage victory of the season. Allgaier settled in second followed by Truex, Cassill, Hemric, Allmendinger, Brandon Jones, Berry, Mayer and Creed. By then, Gragson was up in 13th place while Earnhardt Jr. was in 22nd place.

During the stage break, a majority of the field led by Gibbs pitted, while the rest, led by Gragson remained on the track.

The second stage started on Lap 69 as Gragson and Myatt Snider occupied the front row. At the start, Gragson retained the lead while Snider and rookie Austin Hill battled for the runner-up spot. Behind, Gibbs was in fourth in front of Earnhardt Jr. 

Four laps later, the caution flew when a bump from Joe Graf Jr. sent Jade Buford spinning against the outside wall between Turns 3 and 4. 

By Lap 79, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gragson rocketed away with the lead entering the first turn while Gibbs fended off Austin Hill to retain the runner-up spot. Behind, Earnhardt Jr. battled with Snider for fourth place in front of Truex and Allgaier. Shortly after, Earnhardt Jr. was slowly being overtaken and was falling out of the top 10 as he was trapped on the outside lane. 

Back at the front by Lap 90, Gibbs, who reassumed the lead over Gragson on two laps earlier, was leading by half a second over Gragson followed by Hill, Brandon Jones and Allgaier, who wheel-hopped but managed to lose one spot in the process. Behind, Snider was bumped and shuffled out of the racing groove by Creed while racing in the top 15. 

Through the first 100 laps of the event, Gibbs continued to lead by more than a second over Gragson while Hill, Brandon Jones, Allgaier, Truex, Allmendinger, Mayer, Cassill and Hemric were in the top 10. Berry, Earnhardt Jr., Riley Herbst, Creed and Jeremy Clements were in the top 15 followed by Ryan Sieg, Jeb Burton, Brandon Brown, Derek Griffith and Alex Labbe. 

Two laps later, the caution returned when Joe Graf Jr. sent Stefan Parsons for a spin between Turns 1 and 2.

By Lap 107, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gibbs continued to lead followed by teammate Brandon Jones while Gragson fell back to third place in front of Hill and Allgaier. 

As the laps in the second stage dwindled, Gibbs remained as the leader by nearly a second over teammate Brandon Jones and Gragson while Allgaier was up in fourth place in front of Hill, Truex, Allmendinger, Mayer, Cassill and Berry.

Then on Lap 115, the caution flew when Anthony Alfredo turned Derek Griffith in Turn 1. Under caution, a majority of the field led by Gibbs pitted while the rest led by Brandon Jones remained on the track. 

During a one-lap dash to conclude the second stage scheduled for Lap 120, Brandon Jones was able to muscle away from Cassill and the field to claim his first stage victory of the season. Cassill retained second place followed by Ryan Sieg, Brandon Brown, David Starr, Anthony Alfredo, Stefan Parsons, Jeremy Clements, Riley Herbst and Shane Lee while Gibbs settled in 11th.

Under the stage break, some led by Brandon Jones pitted while the rest led by Stefan Parsons remained on the track. 

With 122 laps remaining, the final stage started. At the start, Parsons retained the lead through the first two turns until Herbst and Gibbs made a three-wide move on Parsons through the backstretch to move into first and second. Shortly after, a Monster Energy duo occurred between Herbst and Gibbs for the top spot before the latter prevailed. 

With 115 laps remaining, Gibbs was out in front by nearly nine-tenths of a second over Herbst, who was being pressured by Allgaier for more. Gragson, Truex, Allmendinger, Earnhardt Jr., Parsons, Berry and Hemric followed pursuit in the top 10.

Down to the final 100 laps of the event, Gibbs continued to lead by more than a second over Allgaier while third-place Gragson trailed by one-and-a-half seconds. Ryan Truex and Allmendinger were in the top five while Herbst, Berry, Hemric, Earnhardt Jr. and Creed were running in the top 10. 

Six laps later, the caution flew when the runner-up competitor of Allgaier slapped the outside wall in Turn 1 after wheel-hopping, thus sustaining rear-end damage to his No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet Camaro. Under caution, a majority of the field led by Gibbs pitted while others like Creed, Brandon Jones, Brandon Brown, Anthony Alfredo and Matt Mills remained on the track.

With 88 laps remaining, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Creed retained the lead ahead of Jones and Mills while Gibbs muscle his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Supra to fourth place.

Four laps later, the caution flew when Ryan Truex spun his No. 18 ShopUSAPickleball.com Toyota Supra between Turns 1 and 2 following contact with Alex Labbe.

Another five laps later, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Brandon Jones continued to lead followed by teammate Gibbs and the field. Just then, the caution returned when Berry spun in Turn 3 after cutting a left-rear tire on his No. 8 Harrison’s Chevrolet Camaro, an issue that started when he made contact with his boss Earnhardt Jr. entering the backstretch. 

With 72 laps remaining, the race proceeded under green. At the start, Brandon Jones retained the lead followed by Gibbs, Creed and the field through the first two turns. Then, the caution returned when Matt Mills backed his car into the outside wall in Turn 3 after receiving contact from Herbst.

Eight laps later, the race proceeded under green. At the start, teammates Brandon Jones and Gibbs battled for the lead until he took over the lead another two laps later. Following a brief duel with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Gibbs managed to retain the top spot. Shortly after, Gragson moved into second place followed by Allmendinger while Jones was trapped on the outside lane. 

Down to the final 50 laps of the event, Gibbs was leading by nearly seven-tenths of a second over Gragson while third-place Allmendinger trailed by more than two seconds. Brandon Jones and Creed were in the top five followed by Herbst, Hemric, Mayer, Cassill and Brandon Brown while Earnhardt Jr. was in 11th place in front of Alfredo, Jeb Burton, Hill, Ryan Sieg and Ryan Truex.

Fifteen laps later and with the leaders surrounded in lapped traffic, Gibbs continued to lead by six-tenths of a second over Gragson, who continued to pressure the leader for the lead and with a potential win in sight. Allmendinger, meanwhile, remained in third place followed by Jones and Mayer while Creed, Herbst, Cassill, Hemric and Earnhardt Jr. occupied the top 10.

Then with 30 laps remaining, the caution flew when Parsons lost his brakes and got into the outside wall in Turn 2. 

Down to the final 24 laps of the event, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gibbs cleared Gragson to retain the lead while Gragson managed to fend off Allmendinger and Mayer to retain second place. Soon after, Mayer moved into third place over Allmendinger while Brandon Jones was in fifth place. 

Just then, the caution flew when Hemric, who made contact with both Creed and Hill entering Turn 2, lost a left-rear tire and spun his No. 11 Cirkul Chevrolet Camaro between Turns 3 and 4. In the midst of Hemric’s incident, Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Sieg made contact as Sieg’s rear bumper ripped off.

With 16 laps remaining, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gibbs retained the lead with a strong race car while Mayer battled and overtook teammate Gragson for second place. Behind, Brandon Jones and Allmendinger remained in the top five ahead of Herbst. 

Two laps later, the caution flew when Jade Buford spun in Turn 1 as Derek Griffith sustained front-nose damage.

Down to the final eight laps of the event, the race proceeded under green. Just as Gibbs and Mayer briefly dueled for the top spot, the caution quickly returned when a stack-up and a bump from Berry sent Clements into Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Hellmann’s Chevrolet Camaro, which sent Earnhardt sideways in the midst of the incoming field, though he was able to continue.

Under caution, some like Creed and Alfredo pitted while the rest led by Gibbs remained on the track.

With the event sent into overtime, the first overtime attempt did not last long as Mayer, who spun the tires on the outside lane, was bumped as he clipped Gragson, which sent Gragson’s No. 9 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro backward into the outside wall before he was t-boned by Jeb Burton. The incident sparked a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch that involved Alex Labbe, Mason Massey, Bayley Currey, Allgaier, Parsons, Derek Griffith, Parker Retzlaff, Alfredo, Snider, Berry, Kyle Weatherman and Brown while the second half of the field was blocked off by the carnage. The wreck forced NASCAR to place the event in a red flag situation as the on-track safety crew went to work to clear the carnage.

When the red flag was lifted and the second overtime attempt commenced under green, Gibbs briefly launched ahead of Mayer until Brandon Jones made the slightest of contact against teammate Gibbs, which got Gibbs loose entering the first turn as Jones tried to draw himself alongside Gibbs’ No. 54 Toyota for the top spot through the backstretch.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Gibbs continued to lead while teammate Jones launched another attack on Gibbs for the lead entering the first turn. Through the first two turns, Jones, this time, managed to draw dead even with Gibbs. Then between Turns 3 and 4, Jones muscled his No. 19 Menards Toyota Supra out in front on the bottom lane while Mayer rubbed against Gibbs, which stalled the latter’s run to the finish. This allowed Jones to pull away as he crossed the finish line to steal the win in upset fashion.

With his first victory at Martinsville, Jones claimed his fifth Xfinity Series career victory in his 211th series start and his first since winning at Darlington Raceway in September 2020. He also became the sixth different winner, fifth series regular, through the first eight scheduled Xfinity events.

“What a day!” Jones exclaimed on FS1. “I can’t say that we could’ve played it out any better. I loved the call we made to get stage points. [I] Drove the thing all the way from the back to the front and had older tires than all those guys at the end. This is a driver’s race track right here. I’ve won in a lot of different places now and this is one that you have to get after it. Ty [Gibbs] ran a really hard race. [I] Can’t believe he cleared me there really early in Stage 3. Fun to beat him. He’s hot right now. He’s tough to beat, so that’s a good one…Really happy with the way it ended.”

In the midst of the on-track chaos, Landon Cassill came home in a career-best second place followed by Allmendinger, who claimed the second Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus a week after missing out on the bonus at Richmond Raceway. Allmendinger, Brandon Jones, Cassill and fourth-place finisher Austin Hill will contend for the third Dash 4 Cash bonus at Talladega Superspeedway scheduled for April 23.

Mayer completed the top five while Herbst, Ryan Truex, Gibbs, Ryan Sieg and Clements finished in the top 10. 

Following the event, tempers flared on pit road between Gibbs and Mayer following their final lap incident. The post-race activity started with Gibbs ramming into the rear of Mayer’s car before both competitors confronted one another face-to-face as the punches and the shoves ensued, with Gibbs throwing punches across Mayer’s face and Mayer getting his left eye cut as the crew members and NASCAR officials got involved to separate both competitors. In the midst of the fight, a NASCAR official was injured and taken to the care center for evaluation. Following the chaos, both Gibbs and Mayer were summoned to the NASCAR hauler to meet with the officials.

“I tried to talk to [Mayer] and then, he got all over my face,” Gibbs said. “At that point, you got to start fighting. We got put in a bad position. The only thing I’m mad about is [Mayer] wasn’t gonna get past [Allmendinger] there and I just got hit in the left rear. It’s just frustrating. I just got drove into the fence at the end. I was on the other side of it last week, so that’s just part of it.”

“I had $100,000 in my sights and I was gonna do what I had to do to try and get that,” Mayer said. “I put the bumper to [Gibbs]. In my opinion, and we talked in the trailer, it was just a clean bump-and-run – and [Cassill)]kinda stuck it in there and kinda got us both crossed up and that’s kinda when it went to crap. I put the bumper to him. He came back over and he was upset and decided to throw a couple punches, but that’s fine by me. We talked about it. We’ll be good going forward, especially at Talladega. That’s a place where you don’t want to be enemies, so we’re gonna move on and be A-OK, keep our head down and go out and try to get a win next time.”

Following his late spin, Dale Earnhardt Jr. managed to finish 11th in his lone Xfinity start of the season.

There were 12 lead changes for seven different leaders. The race featured 16 cautions for 100 laps.

With his top-five result and a $100,000 bonus added to his paycheck, AJ Allmendinger leads the regular-season standings by 20 points over Ty Gibbs, 42 points over Noah Gragson, 89 over Brandon Jones and 94 over Josh Berry.

Results.

1. Brandon Jones, 28 laps led, Stage 2 winner

2. Landon Cassill

3. AJ Allmendinger

4. Austin Hill

5. Sam Mayer

6. Riley Herbst, one lap led

7. Ryan Truex

8. Ty Gibbs, 197 laps led, Stage 1 winner

9. Ryan Sieg

10. Jeremy Clements

11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

12. Parker Retzlaff

13. Daniel Hemric 

14. Anthony Alfredo

15. Alex Labbe

16. Kyle Weatherman

17. Bayley Currey

18. Matt Mills

19. Josh Berry

20. Noah Gragson, 23 laps led

21. Derek Griffith

22. Jade Buford, one lap down

23. David Starr, one lap down

24. Myatt Snider, one lap down

25. Ryan Vargas, one lap down

26. Joe Graf Jr., one lap down

27. Shane Lee, one lap down

28. Stefan Parsons, one lap down, five laps led

29. Justin Allgaier, one lap down, one lap led

30. Sheldon Creed, two laps down, six laps led

31. JJ Yeley, two laps down

32. Jeb Burton – OUT, Accident

33. Mason Massey – OUT, Dvp

34. Brandon Brown – OUT, Accident

35. Natalie Decker, 19 laps down

36. Howie Disavino III – OUT, Driveshaft

37. Brett Moffitt – OUT, Driveshaft

38. Brennan Poole – OUT, Clutch

Next on the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’ first of two visits to Talladega Superspeedway, where the third Dash 4 Cash event will occur. The event is scheduled to occur on April 23 at 4 p.m. ET on FOX.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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