By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Kanas Speedway started with a green flag run of 58 laps before the first caution flew for fluid on the track. The remaining 142 laps featured 10 cautions for 51 laps and changed the complexion of the Chase for several drivers.
A Lap 165 accident ignited when Brandon Jones made contact with Justin Allgaier collected six drivers and resulted in heavy damage for Darrell Wallace Jr. as well as Allgaier. Wallace would immediately head to the garage while Allgaier’s JR Motorsports crew was able to make repairs on pit road and return to the track.
“I’m alright. Just a hard hit,” Wallace said in the garage after climbing from his destroyed No. 6 Ford. “Just a really hard hit for our whole team. We were working hard to get us a good solid finish. I think we could have picked off a couple of spots for a top-10 and had a really good day.
“We’ll move on. It’s alright. We’re not knocked out. We’ve all wrecked plenty of times in our career so we know how to use it as fuel. This is just a little dent. It’s nothing to be worried about. We’ll just make sure we do our job at Texas and Phoenix to make up some ground and go have some fun.”
Looking at the damage to Allgaier’s No. 7 Chevrolet on pit road after the race, it was hard to believe he finished just one lap down in the 14th position.
“A really rough day for our Brandt Chevy,” Allgaier said on pit road at Kansas. “We had a really solid car and battled up front a lot of the race. The team gave me a race car that’s capable of running up front and we did that until things happened.
“Races like today may not put us where we want to be on points, but I think days like today are the reason that we’re still in this Chase.”
Just a few laps later, Brendan Gaughan was involved in a wreck coming off turn four that caused his No. 62 Chevrolet to slide through the frontstretch grass. After being treated and released from the infield care center, Gaughan sprinted back to his car and returned to the track, but finished in the 31st position.
With 18 laps to go, Erik Jones led the field to the green flag but contact from Kyle Larson caused a flat left rear on Jones’ No. 20 Toyota and forced him to pit road.
“It’s just unfortunate we had a good car and got it better all day. We were the best when we needed to be right there at the end,” Jones said after finishing 15th.
“We had gotten the lead and with 18 to go I thought we were in a good position to win the race and then on the restart just got turned around by the 42 (Kyle Larson). We’re in a pretty tough spot for the next couple of races. It’s not a ‘must win’ situation but it’s definitely a ‘run very well’ situation. We’re in a hole again not of our own doing.”
Kyle Larson and Jones had a discussion after exiting their cars.
“He apologized. It was his fault just trying to go for a hole that’s not there. We both had fast cars that could have competed for the win. Those guys (Sprint Cup Series regulars) come to these races and they’ve really got nothing to lose. I understand you’ve got to win the race but at the same time you’ve got to show a little bit of patience. Eighteen laps to go is a long time here.”
Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez are tied atop the championship standings as the XFINITY Series heads into a two week break before heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the second race in the Round of 8.
Blake Koch (-7), Allgaier (-12), Jones (-12), Ryan Reed (-14), Brendan Gaughan (-29) and Darrell Wallace Jr (-30) complete the remaining drivers competing for the championship in the inaugural season of the Chase format in the XFINITY Series.