For the second time this season, the Xfinity Series took on Texas Motor Speedway for the opening race of the Round of 12.
Kaulig Racing started the weekend off strong with the 16 of AJ Allmendinger taking the top spot in practice with teammate Daniel Hemric in the 11 right behind. The rest of the top-five included the 21 of Austin Hill, 18 of Truck Series regular John Hunter Nemechek, and 7 of Justin Allgaier.
In qualifying, it was the 19 of Brandon Jones taking the pole with the 9 of red-hot Noah Gragson joining him on the front row. The familiar names of Hemric and Nemechek made up row two while the 1 of Sam Mayer finished out the top-five.
Six drivers were forced to start from the rear due to unapproved adjustments while the 78 of Garrett Smithley was sent for an engine change. The 4 of Bayley Currey was forced to serve a pass through.
It was a rough start for pole-sitter Jones who took a spin in turn one on lap one, falling to 20th place. This put the 9 of Gragson in the lead before the 18 of John Hunter Nemechek took the top spot.
On lap 19, the 26 of Jeffrey Earnhardt took a spin, bringing out the first caution of the day. The 23 of Anthony Alfredo was the free pass while only seven cars elected to pit. It was Nemechek and Gragson out front as the field came to green, lasting only 12 laps before the 38 of CJ McLaughlin spun.
This time, the 4 of Currey was the free pass while the majority of the field came down pit road. The 98 of Riley Herbst was hit with a penalty for having crew members over the wall too soon. The 1 of Mayer was also hit with a speeding penalty.
This time, it was the 11 of Daniel Hemric out front with the 7 of Allgaier at his side. The remainder of the stage stayed green, and Hemric claimed the stage victory.
At the stage two restart, it was the 18 of Nemechek out front alongside the 54 of Ty Gibbs. The two were in a tight battle for the lead until lap 78 when the 08 of David Starr got into the wall. All but 10 drivers pitted at the caution with the 10 of Landon Cassill picking up a penalty for speeding and the 8 of Josh Berry for an uncontrolled tire.
It was an all-Kaulig front row for the restart with Hemric and Allmendinger leading the field. Allmendinger pulled off a pass of his teammate at the end of the lap, and earned the stage two victory.
After the stage break, it was Gragson and Nemechek out front. On lap 104, the 13 of Akinori Ogata spun and brought out another caution. The 38 of McLaughlin was the free pass. The field did not even make a complete lap before another caution came out for a wreck involving six cars.
At the restart, it was a near replay as another huge wreck occurred before the lap was even completed. The 18 of Nemechek got loose out front, taking out himself and nine others. This time, it was Gragson and Hill out front with the 78 of Smithley spinning in turn two and bringing out yet another caution.
Gragson and Gibbs led the field to green for what they hoped was the final time. After green flag pit stops cycled through, the 27 of Jeb Burton was the leader. By lap 189, however, he was passed by Gragson who held on to earn his seventh victory of the season and fourth in a row. The rest of the top-five included Hill, Gibbs, Allmendinger, and Herbst.
Gragson is the only driver locked into the Round of 8. The Xfinity Series will next take on Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, October 1st at 4 p.m.
Featured photo from @NASCAR_Xfinity on Twitter.
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