This Saturday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series made its debut at Portland International Raceway, a nearly 2 mile road circuit in Portland, Oregon. Anthony Alfredo in the #23 Our Motorsports Chevy started on pole after a rain-shortened qualifying session, with Austin Hill alongside in the #21 RCR Chevy. Behind them was reining champion Daniel Hemric in the #11 Kaulig Camaro and Sam Mayer in the #1 JRM Camaro. #48 Jade Buford and #54 Ty Gibbs were behind them, then Sheldon Creed in the #2 and Connor Mosack in the #18. After them, Justin Allgaier and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top ten in the #’s 7 and 16 respectively.
The race started on very wet conditions, slicks were unthinkable at this time. Going into the first corner, Daniel Hemric took the lead as Alfredo and Hill locked up the tires, causing them to go straight into the runoff area. Behind them, Sam Mayer got turned around and stood stationary until the traffic passed. Coming around to the start/finish line, the top four cars were incredibly close, but Sheldon Creed led the first lap. Not much long after, Ty Gibbs overtook him, and held the lead comfortably for much of the opening stages of the race. Cars slipped and slid all over the slick track, including the #7 of Allgaier who spun due to running over the slick painted curbs. Not long after, the #1 of Sam Mayer was going slow due to a mechanical problem caused by hitting another vehicle, causing Mayer to drop out of the race and bringing out the first yellow flag of the day.
The restart saw Ty Gibbs pull away from second place Austin Hill. Gibbs led the rest of the laps in the stage, and ended up winning stage one.
Immediately after the stage restart, the #98 of Riley Herbst spun in turn four. The #6 of Gray Gaulding struck him hard, causing a caution for tons of debris on the track.
The race restarted with the usual, Gibbs pulling away from second place, but after nine laps, there was yet another caution for debris. Under this caution, Jesse Iwuji in the #34, who was three laps down at this point, was instructed to overtake the leader Ty Gibbs to regain a lap. Gibbs, whether through miscommunication or outright just not knowing to let Iwuji by, held his line under caution. What followed was a strange scenario, in which Iwuji struck the rear of Gibbs’ car, sending him into a spin. Ty Gibbs got to retain his lead, but Jesse Iwuji was held in the pits for two laps.
As the race restarted, the #9 of Gragson battled Gibbs for the lead. In what was either a race car getting really tight or a very aggressive move, Gragson hit the side of Gibbs, shoving him off the road slightly and taking the lead. Gibbs, who wasn’t too appreciative of that move, went into the next corner hot, tagging Gragson and sending him into a spin. Sooner into the lap, Gibbs and Creed made contact battling for the lead, sending the two of them off track and giving the lead to Andy Lally in the #44. After an unexpected turn of events, three of the top five cars were from relatively underdog teams.
The #31 of Myatt Snider was quickly catching up to Lally. After successfully passing him, Myatt Snider went on to win the second stage.
Unfortunately for the viewer, a majority of the final stage consisted of caution pace laps. The first caution began when many cars missed the first corner, and lots of debris and fluid was all over the track. Each restart lasted less than a lap before a car would end up scattering debris or spilling fluid on the track. The only proper racing was after the final restart, with four laps to go.
At the final restart, Snider took the lead. Snider battled with Allmendinger for a while, but AJ put an aggressive move to Myatt, taking the lead. He stayed right on his tail for the remainder of the race, but in the end it was AJ Allmendinger winning the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway!
Myatt Snider finished close behind in his #31 Jordan Anderson Racing Camaro, ahead of Austin Hill’s #21 RCR Chevy. Josh Berry scored a solid fourth place finish in the #8 JR Motorsports Camaro ahead of teammate Justin Allgaier in the #7. Daniel Hemric scored a sixth place in his #11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, in front of Ty Gibbs who recovered to a solid seventh place in his #54 Joe Gibbs Racing Supra. JJ Yeley scored a great eighth place finish for Carl Long’s #66, with Noah Gragson in the #9 and Alex Labbe in the #36 rounding out the top ten this weekend.
Photo Credit///@KauligRacing on Twitter.com