By David Morgan, Associate Editor
TALLADEGA, Ala. – In the first NASCAR Xfinity Series restrictor plate race of the season at Daytona, the end result was a lackluster race as drivers elected to run around single file lap after lap instead of the normal high-intensity racing we normally see at those type of tracks.
Heading into Saturday’s Moneylion 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, which is one of four Dash4Cash races on the 2019 schedule, the all-Xfinity Series regular field will have plenty of incentive to put on a more entertaining race.
A $100,000 payday is on the line for the four eligible drivers –Cole Custer, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, and Tyler Reddick – as well as a chance to be eligible for the final race next weekend at Dover for the rest of the field.
Custer is the most recent winner of a Dash4Cash race, taking home the win two weeks ago at Richmond to punch his ticket into the Talladega race with a chance at banking another $100K bonus and scoring his first win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. In this race last season, Custer finished in the top-10 with a ninth-place result.
“I am excited,” Custer said. “We won it in Richmond and it is a really cool deal that Xfinity does. The $100,000 to win is a huge deal for us and our teams. We go out there and race as hard as we can to try to win that and if it comes down to it at the end we will be beating and banging for it.”
Cindric finished second at Richmond to become the second eligible Dash4Cash driver, as he looks to deliver Team Penske a victory, which would be the first Xfinity Series win of his young career. Though Cindric finished 30th at Talladega a year ago, he rebounded with a fifth-place finish in the season opener at Daytona.
“I feel like at Daytona you are more focused on the handling of the car, at least I was,” Cindric said of the difference between the season opener and Saturday’s race. “As for complacency, it is easy for guys to point the finger and say guys don’t want to make a move but on the flip side of that, I don’t feel like these cars necessarily lend themselves to several cars being able to make a move and benefit.
“If you see one guy pull out and get three guys to go help him, only the guy that pulled out benefits if he gets the help. It is hard to be able to organize four or five people to come help you when all those people know they aren’t going to get any benefit from that help. It will be an interesting dynamic and I think a restart will definitely be able to jazz things up as well as Talladega being less of a handling race.
“And the Dash 4 Cash. $100,000 is a big incentive.”
Allgaier always seems to be among the drivers battling it out for a win on the restrictor plate tracks, especially with JR Motorsports equipment at his disposal. Though he has yet to win at Talladega, the driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet has finished eighth or better in his last six starts at the track, including a third place run last season and a runner-up finish in 2016.
“When you’re able to hoist that check and you’re able to beat, you know, the guys that you feel like are the most competitive in that moment,” Allgaier said of winning the bonus. “I mean, I’ve got three other guys that I’m racing against here for the Dash4Cash that I equally think could go to victory lane and, if you beat all of them, you feel good about it. So, no extra added pressure. But you know, we just want to win.
“We want to win. And we want to beat our competitors.”
As for Reddick, the defending Xfinity Series champion comes into Talladega on a roll, finishing in the top-four in the last five races as he looks to score his first win with Richard Childress Racing. Like the other Dash4Cash drivers, Reddick has yet to win at Talladega, but finished in the top-10 in this race a year ago and has been to Victory Lane at Daytona.
“It depends on if I come back on two wheels or four wheels or no wheels honestly,” Reddick said of his attitude going into Saturday’s race. “I can’t really speak for my team. They want us to come home in one piece and get the most points out of this deal, but um, you know, Talladega meets about excitement and just never knowing what’s around the corner.
“The guys I want to trust, you have to trust them a little bit less, the Dash4Cash guys. Like I was telling Justin, I trust Justin, but we’re battling for the Dash4Cash, so I’ve just got to remember, at any given moment, if it’s me and him battling for it, I might do what I have to take that $100,000 bonus.”
The 113-lap race begins at 1:00 pm Eastern Saturday and the four Dash4Cash drivers will roll off second (Reddick), 11th (Allgaier), 12th (Custer), and 17th (Cindric).