By Nick Lewis
Drivers competing for smaller teams maximized their runs Monday night in the Cheddar’s 300 At Bristol Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series visited Bristol and its first short track on the schedule. With this race a Dash for Cash qualifying race, no Cup Series drivers were entered in the event.
While Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, and Justin Haley battled up front, the lights shined brightly on some of those smaller teams racing around the back half of the Top-10.
Throughout the race, the lower lane with the traction compound was the preferred lane and it looked like the Bristol of year’s past.
Drivers tried to migrate to the top but not enough people ventured up to the top and not enough rubber was put down to make it successful.
“It was very different than any race I’ve ever been a part of,” said Brandon Jones. “The racing on the bottom never really moved up to the top. I tried multiple times to get that groove going but no one would really follow you so it was hard for that section to rubber up.”
One of the drivers who was fast all race was Ryan Sieg, who battled for the lead with Justin Allgaier, even though he was on tires that were 30 laps older than that of the No. 7 car.
Sieg was consistently running in the Top-10 all race long until he pitted under caution with 25 laps left in stage 2 where he finished 13th.
While running 10th with 25 to go Sieg had an issue on track and his Top-10 run was put to an end and he finished in 16th.
There were several other drivers including Vinny Miller, Josh Williams, Brandon Brown, Jeremey Clements and B.J. McLeod who took advantage of the one lane Bristol and track position. All four of those drivers raced around the Top-10 almost all night long taking advantage of the opportunity to race against top-tier equipment.
Miller ran as high as seventh in the race garnering praise from Kurt and Kyle Busch in the broadcast booth for doing a good job and running in the Top-10 early in the race. After an incident with Timmy Hill set him back, he was able to rebound and finish 12th.
Brandon Brown and Josh Williams were two guys who consistently ran around the Top-10 all race long and were frequently involved in battles shown on TV and were talked about during the race.
Short tracks like Bristol give these teams an opportunity to compete for good finishes and don’t have to rely as much on aero as they would for mile and a half tracks like Charlotte. Brown finished the race 7th,
Clements finished 8th and Williams finished 9th. Williams has multiple top 10’s in a season for the first time in his career.
“I think anytime you go short track racing it opens up the playing field as far as equipment doesn’t make as big of a difference,” said Chase Briscoe who finished second.
“If they can get track position and they have good speed, then they’re gonna be able to maintain being up towards the front end of the field. I’m glad those guys had really good runs.”
Briscoe went on to praise a lot of the drivers in the back half of the field and highlighted one driver as someone who could win races in quality equipment.
“Josh Williams is a perfect example of a guy, I think, could go win races in top-notch equipment and he just doesn’t have that opportunity, so to see guys capitalize on coming short track racing, certainly it’s a cool thing for the series and I think that’s one thing that’s great about the XFINITY Series,” Briscoe said.
On Saturday the NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Echo Park 250 and is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX. The Xfinity Series race is part of a double header with the Camping World Truck Series which will run before the Xfinity Series.
This race also serves as the first of four in the Xfinity Dash for Cash where the Top-4 finishers of Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Brandon Jones and Harrison Burton are eligible for a $100,000 bonus.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.