By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The “Monster Mile” didn’t waste time to snake bit drivers in Saturday’s Use Your Melon. Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway and playoff drivers weren’t exempted from the typical madness.
On the opening lap of the 200-lap race, Tyler Reddick’s No. 2 Freightliner Chevrolet Camaro slid heading into the treacherous backstretch and slapped the wall, causing a massive ripple effect in NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs.
Fellow playoff contender Justin Allgaier also got loose and nearly hit the wall, but the main focus was on Harrison Burton, who lost control of his No. 18 DEX Imaging Toyota Supra.
His car came in the path of Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones, who had nowhere to go and plowed into Burton. The contact from Jones sent Burton into the inside wall, further damaging his car and will end up 38th barring any disqualifications were to occur after the race.
Burton, who will turn 19 in five days, said it’s hard to say what happened to him on the first lap, but he’s upset and frustrated.
“Not a lot of grip out there,” Burton said. “I think the (Reddick) was slipping around and sliding as well. Frustrating deal. These guys worked so hard and to go out of the race is tough. It’s frustrating and will move on, and come back and try to win.”
Jones, who came into Dover 11 markers behind Michael Annett for the eighth and final playoff spot, brought his wounded No. 19 Menards/Atlas Toyota Supra into the pits with the hood popped up and a busted radiator. The damage was beyond repairable and had to settle for 37th.
This incident meant the end of the 22-year-old’s bid of making into the Round of 8 and can only finish no better than fifth in points.
“I always try to find the positives with this kind of stuff. Obviously, none today,” Jones said. “But the good thing is, we can still go win one of these races. I think we can still get to fifth in points. You can’t do anything when these guys spin out. This is a self-cleaning race track; you always get guys going down to the bottom if they have an incident, which is what happened.
“I was going to go to the top, and I guess he just didn’t have enough momentum yet to start coming across the track. I don’t know man.”
With only four races remaining, Jones hopes to bounce back and get his maiden win as tracks like Texas Motor Speedway has treated him well performance wise.
“I’ve had one race like this where I’ve wrecked at the start of the race, so these are tough,” Jones said. “I know it’s going to be tough for my guys to rally back from them, but as I’ve mentioned, we’ve got some good tracks coming up. Texas is on my mind. So maybe we will get there and I can win that track.”
Reddick would come into the pits to repair the damage and crossed the line in 16th, good enough to lock him into the next round. Allgaier’s title hopes will also continue after Dover as he won the chaotic opening stage.