By: Mitchell Breuer
After an exciting race Wednesday night, eyes turned to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in hopes of some more thrills. Despite another lengthy rain delay, the Toyota 200 finally got underway at 4:30 p.m. (ET); while the wait was long, the finish proved to be a classic.
An emotional Chase Briscoe, just two days removed from announcing his wife Marissa had miscarried their first child, banged fenders and held off Kyle Busch to capture his second win of the season.Unlike Wednesday’s race where any damage could be considered a significant disadvantage, the cars were able to sustain more contact with the wall and not fall out of contention thanks to the composite body.
Despite the exciting finish, the race, for the most part, was rather relaxed, especially considering the number of drivers making their first start at Darlington Raceway.
The first stage was controlled by Noah Gragson, who took advantage of his pole position in a race where track position seemed to be key.While the No. 9 cruised to the stage win, eyes were on Busch, as he tried to move through the field after starting 26th. In typical “Rowdy” fashion, he was inside the top-10 in seven laps, but could not get to the lead during the opening segment; however, during the first stage break Busch’s pit crew worked fast and got the No. 54 out to the lead.
After that, stage 2 was all Busch’s, as he drove away from the field. Again, a stage break would shift his position; this time for the worse as he sped on pit road.
This set up a stage three battle between Briscoe and Justin Allgaier for the lead. Briscoe pulled ahead after a shaky restart by the No. 7, but unlike everybody who led during the day, the No. 98 did not drive away.A late caution then brought Busch back into the battle; but in the end, it was Briscoe who prevailed.
The highline was of the lane of choice of drivers, so much that we saw drivers again checkup leaving pit road to ensure a restart position on the high side. While this by no means is a new thing, it was especially noteworthy considering some of the chat on social media before the race.
Austin Dillon even tossed the idea of implementing the choose cone, where competitors no matter the position can pick which lane they want to restart. For example, if a someone is eighth, they could potentially be the first car in the bottom lane if everybody ahead of them chose the high side.
There is no word if NASCAR is even considering something like this, but with the play of intentionally losing position continuing to restart better, there may be a reason to look into options.
JR Motorsports looked strong Thursday despite not winning. At one point late in the race, the group ran second through fifth. A late spin by Michael Annett ended up foiling a chance for all four to finish in the top-10, but the strong performance should not be ignored. If runs like that continue, it will not be long before the group return to victory lane.
EMAIL MITCHELL AT Mitchell.Breuer@popularspeed.com
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