Jones captures back-to-back XFINITY wins
By Taylor Goins
April 22, 2017
Holding off Ryan Blaney on a restart with three laps to go, Erik Jones won his second consecutive XFINITY Series race and second consecutive series spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Jones, capturing his eighth NASCAR XFINITY Series victory, outdueled Ryan Blaney over the final 20 laps to win the race.
Jones’ overcame a speeding penalty on lap 230.
“[I] didn’t really know if we had a winning car or not,” Jones said. “To come back from a pit road penalty like that, especially with not much green flag racing was a lot of fun. It’s a race I won’t forget for a long time.”
Kyle Larson won the first stage of the race, which was ran under overcast skies above the speedway.
Larson handled the first stage with ease, leading 78 of the 85 laps. Erik Jones also had a strong showing in the first stage, as he led once for six laps and brought his No. 20 JGR Toyota to the green and white checkered flag in third place.
Although he didn’t lead any laps in the first stage, Ryan Blaney was fast as well, and he finished the first stage in second place.
The stage’s only caution occurred when Ryan Reed hit the wall in Turn 2, which caused the first stage to end prematurely under caution.
Also in stage one, Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier gained eligibility for the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus by being the highest finishing XFINITY Series regulars.
Daniel Hemric won the second stage by holding off Ryan Blaney and Brendan Gaughan on a restart with two laps remaining.
Mostly, however, the second stage was the Kyle Larson show as well. Larson led 70 of the stage’s 85 laps and was holding off a hard charging Daniel Suarez near the end of the stage, when the rain that had danced around the speedway all day finally came down on the field.
This caused the stage’s second caution and a subsequent red flag with 8 laps remaining in stage two. During the red flag, Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements got into an altercation which resulted in Clements being sent to the infield care center, and both drivers being called to the NASCAR hauler after the race.
After the over 1.5 hour delay, stage two resumed and ended after two more green flag laps, with Daniel Hemric and Brendan Gaughan gaining eligibility for the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus by being the highest finishing XFINITY Series regulars.
Stage three of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 was eventful and full of lead changes and five cautions. Suarez led to start the stage and surrendered the lead to Larson after a handful of laps.
Larson paced the field until lap 221, when Ray Black Jr. and David Starr collided on the frontstretch. Shortly after, on lap 245, Bubba Wallace tagged Gaughan as they passed the start finish line, sending Gaughan careening into the inside safer barrier.
Following that caution, Blaney then captured the lead from Larson on lap 230. From there, Blaney led the race until Erik Jones nudged him out of the preferred line on lap 280.
Jones would go on to lead the final 20 laps and win the race, while Daniel Hemric finished fifth and grabbed the Dash 4 Cash prize.
Erik Jones, winning his eighth XFINITY race, has now won 12.5% of the XFINITY starts that he has made.
Daniel Hemric was both the XFINITY Dash 4 Cash Winner and the top rookie.
The points leader following the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 is Elliott Sadler, with William Byron second at 16 points back.
16 cars finished on the lead lap.
There were nine cautions for 85 laps.
30 cars were running at the conclusion of the race.
The race featured 15 lead changes among seven competitors.
SOURCES Racing-Reference.info IMAGES Daniel Courson/The Racing Experts