Justin Allgaier outlasted the warm humidity surrounding the state of Tennessee by scoring a dominant NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the Tennessee Lottery 250 at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, June 25.
The 36-year-old Allgaier from Riverton, Illinois, led five times for a race-high 134 of 188 laps, including the final 40. He swept both stages en route to his second Xfinity victory of the 2022 season and his first at Nashville after beating runner-up Trevor Bayne by four-and-a-half seconds.
With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring Saturday, Riley Herbst started on pole position for the second time in his career after posting a pole-winning lap at 156.665 mph in 30.562 seconds. Joining him on the front row was AJ Allmendinger, winner of the previous Xfinity event at Portland International Raceway who posted a qualifying lap at 156.200 mph in 30.653 seconds.
Prior to the event, Tyler Reddick started at the rear of the field due to an engine change. Natalie Decker also dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to her car.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Herbst and Allmendinger dueled early for the lead through the first two turns until Allmendinger gained the advantage on the outside lane in Turn 3 to take the lead as he led the first lap. Behind, the field fanned out and jostled for positions through the frontstretch as Allmendinger stabilized his early advantage over Herbst.
By the fifth lap, Allmendinger was leading by nearly eight-tenths of a second over Herbst followed by Trevor Bayne, rookie Austin Hill and Justin Allgaier while Jeb Burton, Josh Berry, Daniel Hemric, Noah Gragson and Brandon Jones were in the top 10.
At the Lap 10 mark, Allmendinger continued to lead by a second over Herbst while Allgaier continued his march to the front as he battled Bayne for third place. Behind, Hill remained in fifth while Gragson, Brandon Jones and Ty Gibbs battled for ninth.
Five laps later, Allgaier muscled his No, 7 Hellmann’s Chevrolet Camaro to the runner-up spot after he overtook Herbst’s No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang. Another four laps later, Allgaier emerged as the second leader of the event after he overtook Allmendinger’s No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet Camaro for the top spot.
Through the first 35 laps of the event, Allgaier extended his advantage to more than four seconds over both Allmendinger and Herbst as Hill and Bayne joined the battle in the top five. Meanwhile, Berry was in sixth while Jeb Burton, Ty Gibbs, Brandon Jones and Hemric were in the top 10. Sam Mayer was in 11th ahead of teammate Noah Gragson, Landon Cassill, Ryan Preece and Jeffrey Earnhardt while rookie Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Ryan Sieg, Brandon Brown and Kyle Weatherman were in the top 20.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 45, Allgaier, who continued to extend his advantage to six seconds, captured his fourth stage victory of the 2022 Xfinity season. Bayne made his way into the runner-up spot followed by Herbst, Allmendinger, Hill, Berry, Gibbs, Brandon Jones, Mayer and Gragson.
Under the stage break, the field led by Allgaier pitted as Allgaier exited with the lead followed by teammate Berry, Brandon Jones, Allmendinger, Gibbs and Hill. Following the pit stops, Kaulig Racing’s Allmendinger, Cassill and Hemric were penalized for speeding on pit road along with Sheldon Creed and Kyle Sieg. Jeb Burton was also penalized due to an equipment interference while Bayne endured a slow pit stop due to Herbst hitting Bayne’s crew member.
The second stage started on Lap 52 as teammates Allgaier and Berry occupied the front row. At the start and with the field fanning out, Allgaier rocketed away with the lead while Gibbs battled Berry for the runner-up spot. Behind, teammate Mayer along with Brandon Jones, Herbst and Hill battled towards the front as Allgaier checked away from the field.
By Lap 60, Allgaier was leading by seven-tenths of a second over Gibbs followed by Mayer, Herbst and Hill while Berry, Gragson, Bayne, Brandon Jones and Ryan Preece were running in the top 10. By then, Allmendinger was mired in 13th, Tyler Reddick was up in 16th and Hemric was back in 22nd.
At the Lap 75 mark, Allgaier extended his advantage to nearly one-and-a-half seconds over Gibbs while Mayer, Herbst and Bayne remained in the top five. Meanwhile, Hill was back in 10th while Preece made his way up to eighth. Allmendinger could only make his way back up to 11th while Hemric was mired in 17th ahead of teammate Landon Cassill.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 90, Allgaier claimed his fifth stage victory of this season and swept both stages of the event in Nashville after beating Gibbs by more than two seconds. Gibbs settled in second followed by Mayer, Herbst, Bayne, Gragson, Berry, Brandon Jones, Preece and Hill.
Under the stage break, the leaders led by Allgaier returned to pit road as Gibbs edged Allgaier to emerge with the lead followed by Bayne, Gragson, Herbst and Mayer. Following the pit stops, Mayer and Anthony Alfredo were penalized for speeding on pit road.
With 92 laps remaining, the final stage commenced. At the start, Allgaier and Gibbs dueled for the lead through the backstretch until Allgaier retained the lead approaching Turn 4. Behind, Bayne and Hill battled for third in front of a flurry of competitors led by Brandon Jones.
Back at the front, Gibbs reignited his battle for the lead against Allgaier as he swapped the top spot with the JR Motorsports veteran before he assumed the lead with 89 laps remaining. Allgaier, however, fought back during the following lap as the battle between him and Gibbs continued to ignite. Behind, Bayne trailed by eight-tenths of a second while Brandon Jones, Hill and Allmendinger, who rallied from his early pit road speeding penalty, battled for spots in the top five.
With 83 laps remaining, the caution flew when Berry slipped sideways and spun off the front nose of Preece through the backstretch. During the caution period, some like Ryan Sieg, Brandon Brown, Alfredo and Berry pitted while the rest led by Allgaier remained on the track.
Four laps later, the race proceeded under green, At the start, Allgaier gained another strong start to retain the lead while Joe Gibbs Racing’s Bayne and Ty Gibbs battled for the runner-up spot. Behind, Hill was in fourth ahead of Hemric, who recovered from his early pit road speeding penalty, while a three-wide action occurred between Gragson, Creed and Jeb Burton.
Then with 72 laps remaining, the caution returned when Jeffrey Earnhardt made contact while battling Creed as he spun off of Turn 4 while being dodged by the field. During the caution period, a majority of the field led by Allgaier pitted while the rest led by Allmendinger remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Preece and Bayne were penalized for equipment interference.
With 66 laps remaining, the race restarted under green as Allmendinger and Brandon Jones occupied the front row. At the start, Allmendinger took off with the lead followed by Jones and Gragson as the field fanned out.
Then during the following lap, the caution flew when Jeb Burton made contact and turned Creed sideways into the outside wall in Turn 1 as Joe Graf Jr. was also involved.
When the race restarted under green with 58 laps remaining, Allmendinger fended Brandon Jones to retain the lead as Allgaier bolted his way towards the front on four fresh tires. Meanwhile, Gragson remained in third ahead of Hemric and Gibbs while Cassill, Mayer, Ryan Sieg and Tyler Reddick were in the top 10. Shortly after, Myatt Snider spun behind the leaders, but the race proceeded under green.
Four laps later, the battle for the lead between Brandon Jones and Allmendinger ignited as Jones made his move beneath Allmendinger’s No. 16 Chevrolet through the turns. The former, however, was able to fend off the challenges entering the straightaways as Gragson joined the battle. Meanwhile, Allgaier battled and overtook Gibbs for fourth place.
With less than 50 laps remaining, Allmendinger stabilized his advantage to nearly half a second over Brandon Jones while third-place Gragson trailed by nearly seven-tenths of a second. Allgaier and Gibbs remained in the top five followed by Mayer while Hemric, Herbst, Bayne, Hill and Cassill battled within the top 10.
Then with 42 laps remaining, contact ensued between rivals Gibbs and Mayer as Mayer got into the left-rear quarter panel of Gibbs’ No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Supra entering Turn 4 while both were battling in the top five. With Gibbs sideways, he made contact with Mayer’s No. 1 Huck’s Market Chevrolet Camaro and both competitors bumped and rubbed fenders before both managed to continue running straight as the race proceeded under green. The contact placed Mayer in fifth while Gibbs fell back to eighth behind Herbst.
Back at the front, Allgaier reassumed the lead with 37 laps remaining after tracking and overtaking Allmendinger on four fresh tires while Brandon Jones and Gragson settled in third and fourth.
With 30 laps remaining, the battle for the runner-up spot ensued as Gragson overtook Brandon Jones before he issued his challenge on Allmendinger. With Allgaier checking out and leading by nearly four seconds, Bayne, who rallied from his late pit road penalty, made his way into the top five as he then overtook teammate Brandon Jones for fourth place.
Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Allgaier continued to lead by more than three seconds over Bayne, who made his way into the runner-up spot, while Gragson, Herbst and Brandon Jones were in the top five. Shortly after, however, Gragson, who had not pitted since the conclusion of the second stage, pitted for four fresh tires and fuel. Brandon Jones would soon pit along with Allmendinger, Hemric and Cassill.
With 10 laps remaining, Allgaier remained as the leader by more than nearly four seconds over Bayne while Herbst, Gibbs and Mayer were up in the top five. By then, Preece was in sixth followed by Hill, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ryan Sieg and Brett Moffitt.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Allgaier stabilized his advantage to four seconds over Bayne. Having a clear racetrack in front of him with a dominant race car, Allgaier was able to cycle his way back to the finish line and claim his second checkered flag of the 2022 Xfinity season.
With his second victory of the season and first at Nashville, Allgaier recorded his 18th career win in the Xfinity Series, his 15th driving for JR Motorsports, as he became the fifth multi-winner of this year’s Xfinity season.
“What a heck of a race,” Allgaier said on USA Network. “I’ve been coming here a long time and love this racetrack, and have been trying to go to Victory Lane so bad and haven’t been able to do it. Today was for the dirt racers, though, ‘cause it was slick, it was hot. We were sliding around. Just proud of this team, everybody at JR Motorsports, the Hendrick engine shop…These black marks [burnouts], they never get old. That’s the best race car I’ve ever had. This series is just so much fun right now. Man, that was a good race. ”
Bayne, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, came home in the runner-up spot for his third top-five result in his fifth series start of the season while Herbst, Ty Gibbs and Mayer finished in the top five.
“I think I’ve learned a lot of perspective in the last three years,” Bayne said. “I’m still frustrated and upset right now with second because we had a winning car. I felt like I did everything I could to do today. We drove to second three times and just kept getting ourself in pit road with [Herbst] clipping our guys. Nothing my guys can do about that, but then, we had a tire get away, went all the way to the back on that last run and drove to second. Catching Allgaier, my buddy Gator, congrats to him. Proud of him, happy for him, but I wanted that guitar really bad. The thing is I’m thankful to be here, thankful to have the opportunity to drive these cars. You can see how pink I am. That’s pushing hard those last 20 laps…It’s all we could do, man. We just got to clean it up. If you’re gonna win, you got to be perfect.”
“Our Ford Mustang was really good,” Herbst said. “We got the pole and we wanted to lead some laps. Unfortunately, we didn’t lead any laps. We got quite a bit of stage points, which we needed. It’s just a really good day for everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing and myself included. I’m proud of all these guys on the No. 98 team. Just keep doing these runs and we’ll eventually get there. Just keep knocking on the door. Eventually, it will open.”
Preece, winner of Friday night’s Truck Series event at Nashville, ended up in sixth place while Jeffrey Earnhardt, Hill, Ryan Sieg and Moffitt completed the top 10.
Notably, Gragson, Brandon Jones, Allmendinger, Hemric and Cassill finished 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th following their late pit stops.
There were 13 lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured five cautions for 27 laps.
With 11 races remaining in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season stretch, AJ Allmendinger leads the regular-season standings by 25 points over Ty Gibbs, 32 over Justin Allgaier, 42 over Noah Gragson and 75 over Josh Berry.
Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Josh Berry, AJ Allmendinger, Brandon Jones and rookie Austin Hill are currently guaranteed spots for the 2022 Xfinity Playoffs based on winning once throughout the regular season stretch while Sam Mayer, Riley Herbst, Daniel Hemric, Landon Cassill and Ryan Sieg occupy the remaining vacant spots to the Playoffs based on points. Anthony Alfredo trails the top-12 cutline to the Playoffs by 69 points, Brett Moffitt trails by 72, Brandon Brown trails by 74, Jeb Burton trails by 93, Sheldon Creed trails by 100, Myatt Snider trails by 116, Alex Labbe trails by 141 and Jeremy Clements trails by 160.
1. Justin Allgaier, 134 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
2. Trevor Bayne
3. Riley Herbst
4. Ty Gibbs, four laps led
5. Sam Mayer
6. Ryan Preece
7. Jeffrey Earnhardt
8. Austin Hill
9. Ryan Sieg
10. Brett Moffitt
11. Brandon Brown
12. Parker Retzlaff
13. Noah Gragson, one lap down
14. Brandon Jones, one lap down, one lap led
15. Stefan Parsons, one lap won
16. AJ Allmendinger, one lap down, 48 laps led
17. Daniel Hemric, one lap down
18. Landon Cassill, one lap down
19. Ryan Vargas, one lap down
20. Anthony Alfredo, one lap down
21. Tyler Reddick, two laps down
22. Jeremy Clements, two laps down
23. Alex Labbe, two laps down
24. Ryan Ellis, three laps down
25. Kyle Sieg, three laps down
26. Patrick Emerling, three laps down
27. Myatt Snider, three laps down
28. BJ McLeod, three laps down
29. Josh Berry, four łaps down
30. Dillon Bassett, six laps down
31. Bayley Currey, seven laps down
32. Natalie Decker, seven laps down
33. JJ Yeley, 31 laps down
34. Josh Williams – OUT, Electrical
35. Jeb Burton – OUT, Accident
36. Sheldon Creed – OUT, Accident
37. Joe Graf Jr. – OUT, Accident
38. Kyle Weatherman – OUT, Power
Next on the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’ 13th consecutive, annual visit to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which will occur on Saturday, July 2, at 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.