By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Chase Briscoe has accomplished “The Shot” in Saturday’s Alsco 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s winning his unprecedented eighth NASCAR Xfinity Series win of the season, equaling Sam Ard and Jack Ingram’s mark from 1984 in a span of 27 races.
Not only Briscoe got the job done by leading a race-high 164 of 200 laps, he did it by sweeping all three stages for the first time ever. Believe or not, that is true and now what he’s got one of his goals done, Briscoe’s next statement is that he won’t stop winning and who can blame him?
The bigger picture for him is continuing his dream season by winning more races that he’ll hope it translates to a championship at Phoenix in November.
“I knew this team was fully capable of achieving that and even more. I just can’t say thank you enough to Gene Haas and Tony Stewart and everyone that lets me drive these race cars,” said Briscoe. “It has been an unbelievable season and we still have a lot, six more wins that we can try to get and a championship. That is what we are going to try to do. I am so happy to start the playoffs like this.”
Brisoce is far from the only main story as three other drivers stood out on how they handled the pressure which certainly has tremendous implications going forward.
Sieg Replicates Vegas Strengths
If it wasn’t for a rough last stop where he slid through his box and slightly kept going forward, Ryan Sieg would’ve had an even better result. However, that shouldn’t mean people should hold it against the RSS Racing driver because he has mastered the 1.5-mile circuit with a solid fifth-place finish.
Safe to say, no matter the setbacks and disadvantages of being a dark horse competitor, the 33-year-old made the absolute most out of his night at the site of his third-place finish back in February.
Before the disappointing pit stop, Sieg’s first two stages was an absolute dime of a run like he hasn’t had as far as other people (ex. the NBCSN telecast) are concern.
Honestly, this shouldn’t be a real surprise because the new set of motors has shown what one of the series underdogs can do. Having strong runs at a single track is always a bliss because it’s not easy to pull such feat in any level of the sport.
It certainly helps that Sieg is in the playoffs and a strong result like his fifth top-five of 2020 is encouraging. That being said, he’ll need to have two miraculous runs at Talladega and the ROVAL because anything can happen and there’s no promise who’ll survive the madness.
He’s only nine points above the cutoff line, but should he get out of those two tracks with solid results, I’d say it’ll reflect his incredible campaign because a Round of 8 berth in my eye is like a championship for the independent racer from Georgia.
Channeling “The Man”
Noah Gragson had a bit of a Becky Lynch moment in the 200-lap race. That’s dealing with a bloody nose and handling it like a total boss as he used a roll bar pad to stop the bleeding.
With that odd of a setback, it didn’t stop the hometown kid from hunting down Briscoe in the closing laps, but came up just shy of winning the race and continued his incredible consistency that’s kind of been flying under the radar.
Think about it. Gragson has finished in the top-10 in nine out of the last 10 races, but Saturday stands out because it’s his first top-three result on an oval since Homestead Race No. 1 back in June.
If there’s going to be a guy that has something to prove for the remainder in the playoffs, Gragson may not be a bad choice due to making sure his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro stays out of trouble. Yes, that will be key because he has shown some maturity since that rough stretch he had in the beginning of the post-hiatus (May-July).
Hemric’s Unknown Future
When Sam Mayer was announced as JR Motorsports’ new driver next season, one of the consequences that stood out right away was the future of Jeb Burton and Daniel Hemric.
Although Mayer won’t be in the series until next June when he’s finally 18 years old, it’s a valid thought to have because someone has to pilot the Camaro in the first half of 2021.
Hemric was the driver of the No. 8 Chevy at Vegas and came out of it as the class of the field among the non-playoff drivers with a much needed third-place finish. It’s his first top-three since finishing second at Charlotte early in the season and this couldn’t have come at an excellent time because who really knows where he stands in the free agency market.
During the post-race video conference, Hemric credited his strong result due to the execution of the entire race team, even crediting his co-rider Burton for building the momentum in their quest for the car owners playoffs. They’re currently a point behind Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Supra (driven by Harrison Burton) for the eighth and final spot with two Round of 12 races to go.
As far as the reevaluated game plan is concerned, the mindset for the Kannapolis native is winning and hope a dominant car comes soon to finally get that elusive NASCAR victory. At least in his eyes, a third is a momentum builder which is an ideal attitude in times like this because opportunities are hard to come by in the sport.
Now it’s time for the nitty gritty of this post-season which are the aforementioned Talladega and ROVAL that’ll spice up the Xfinity Series championship trail. It may have been dominated by the Ford duo of Briscoe and Austin Cindric, but I won’t be awfully surprised if that changes the next couple of races.
Don’t miss out on those races because you’ll never know if an outside can shine bright that would change the scope of this incredible campaign.