By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Before the season began, Jeff Green, the 2000 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion announced another full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series season with BJ McLeod Motorsports. Entering the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, Green had a season best finish of 25th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In the first practice session, Green’s unsponsored No. 8 Toyota Camry was the slowest of the 41 cars. In the final practice, he improved to 16th out of the 20 cars that took time. In qualifying, Green had to utilize his Past Champion’s provisional to make the field.
At the drop of the green flag, Green took advantage of the draft to move forward. He easily moved forward, moving from one line to the other.
Green somehow weaved his way through ‘The Big One’ near the end of Stage 1. Brennan Poole was turned in the middle of the pack, setting off a melee that left Daniel Hemric, Spencer Gallagher and others out of the race. Green emerged from the wreckage unscathed.
The race restarted after a brief red flag with two laps remaining in Stage 1. When the green and white checkered flag waved, Green was in 11th, just outside the Top 10, meaning he did not gain any additional Championship points.
Stage 2 was virtually a repeat of Stage 1 for Green. He hovered around the Top 15 for the entire stage. Once again, he narrowly avoided a melee as the stage came to an end.
A bad bump from Aric Almirola’s No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford Mustang sent Ryan Reed’s No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford up the track. Brendan Gaughan and others had nowhere to go and piled in. Green narrowly avoided the melee, sneaking through on the apron.
As the race entered the third and final stage, Green found himself among the few whose cars were undamaged. As the laps clicked off however, the draft separated into three distinct groups. Green ended up in the middle group, which had too few cars to catch the lead group until pit stops.
When green flag pit stops cycle through, the third drafting pack, mainly made up of damaged cars, was largely one lap down. Green’s group had blended up with the lead pack after pit stops cycled through.
With under 15 laps to go, the caution waved for debris on the front stretch. This set up a scramble for positions to take place once the race went back green.
Green bounced up and down as the frenzy for position grew more intense lap after lap. On the final lap, Darrell Wallace Jr was turned off of the nose of another car, setting up a chain reaction. Ryan Sieg spun entering turn three, and somehow the caution did not wave.
In the chaos, Green pushed forward, crossing the line in 10th when the checkered waved. As the team realized that they had finished inside the Top 10, pit crew members hugged each other, the Top 10 like a victory for the small organization.
The team’s Twitter account expressed the joy they had,
— BJMcLeod Motorsports (@teamBJMcLeod) May 6, 2017
This was the 129th Top 10 of his Xfinity Series career, and only his third since the 2002 season. Green’s Top 10 was also the first-ever Top 10 in the history of BJ McLeod Motorsports which is only in its’ second season.
Both Green and BJ McLeod Motorsports will now carry their momentum into the two-week break for the NASCAR Xfinity Series, as they prepare for the Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27.