BRISTOL, Tenn. – Spencer Gallagher’s fifth-place finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 was so much more than just a feel-good moment for the Las Vegas native.
Gallagher called the result a “watershed moment” for both he and his GMS Racing team.
The Las Vegas native qualified and raced in the top-10 for nearly the entire race distance, starting ninth and running at the fringes of the first five rows for much of the opening stage before fading to 11th at the first green-and-white checkered flag of the day.
Gallagher then rallied back in the second and third stages, banking two stage points at the second stage break by crossing the line in ninth before a second-half pit road penalty left him having to charge forward and make several aggressive moves late in the going.
On the final restart, Gallagher put his No. 23 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet Camaro in the right lanes at the right time and fought his way through to finish fifth, marking his fourth top-10 in seven Xfinity Series races to open the season and his best finish in 47 series starts.
Gallagher was admittedly at a loss for words after climbing from his car, noting that Bristol was far from a strong venue for him as a driver.
“Wow, what a day for GMS Racing and this Allegiant team,” said Gallagher. “Today was an all-team effort. … We ran in the top 10 all day until we had an issue on pit road that lost us some track position. I just started picking cars off one-by-one, and before I knew it, I was back up into the top 10. I am so proud of my guys at GMS for all the hard work they put in each week. We are improving every week.”
“Chad Norris made great calls all day and the boys made great pit stops … so to bring it home and score a top-five, I can’t complain about that,” Gallagher said. “It’s a big one; I didn’t think we would do it here because Bristol isn’t one of my best tracks. We improved leaps and bounds as a team today and I think we really showed people that we mean business. This isn’t the last time you’ll see us up here.”
Gallagher’s finish also made him one of the four Xfinity Dash 4 Cash qualifiers for Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway, where he’ll vie for an extra $100,000 alongside Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and Elliott Sadler.
“Man, I can’t believe we’re Dash 4 Cash-eligible and I’m telling you what, I can’t wait to get to Richmond to race for a hundred thousand dollars,” Gallagher grinned. “It’s a great honor to be able to wear the red splitter and the red blade for this GMS Racing car. It’s a great honor.”
After a race that featured 12 yellow flags for a combined 93 laps – nearly a third of the race distance – Gallagher admitted that the action on-track was every bit as crazy as it looked from afar.
“It was a madhouse man,” noted Gallagher. “With caution after caution and restart after restart there at the end … it was a physical race. The big thing is, we persevered and brought it home with a good finish. Some days, that’s all you can ask for.
“This is a huge turning point for us at GMS Racing. I can’t stress enough how big this is.”