HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chase Briscoe survived a pair of overtime restarts to notch his third NASCAR Xfinity Series victory of the season on a hot and muggy day at Homestead-Miami Speedway Sunday afternoon.
The victory was extra sweet for Briscoe because he did it without his crew chief Richard Boswell, who was among three crew members suspended Sunday morning by NASCAR after a ballast weight fell from Briscoe’s car prior to the start of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing’s vice president of competition, served as Briscoe’s crew chief on Sunday. The victory was Zipadelli’s first as a crew chief in the Xfinity Series. He has 34 victories and two championships – both with Tony Stewart – as a crew chief at the Cup Series level.
“It was cool for me, growing up a diehard Tony Stewart fan, I was a big Zippy (Greg Zipadelli) fan as well,” Briscoe said. “I hate the circumstances that it was under, but it was truthfully really cool for me to just work with Zippy and then to obviously win was really special too.”
Briscoe looked like he was going to have to settle for second as Noah Gragson appeared on his way to victory in the closing laps. Briscoe was attempting to chase Gragson down in the final 10 laps, but slapped the wall instead.
That allowed Gragson to put more than a second between himself and Briscoe as the laps wound down, but a caution flag for the spinning car of Austin Cindric with two laps left meant there would be at least one more restart before the checkered flag.
Gragson, Briscoe and all the lead lap cars hit pit road under the caution, with Briscoe beating Gragson off pit road to take the race lead. Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, Michael Annett and A.J. Allmendinger followed for the ensuing overtime restart.
Briscoe was able to get a good jump and pulled clear of the battle for second during the restart. Jones was able to pull clear of the fight for second just as contact between Allmendinger and Herbst sent Herbst spinning down the backstretch, collecting Hemric and Annett in the process.
That meant there would be another overtime restart, with Briscoe now leading Jones, Gragson, Allmendinger and Ross Chastain.
When the green flag waved Briscoe and Jones waged a war for the race lead, with the duo racing side-by-side through turns one and two and down the backstretch. Briscoe was able to pull clear of Jones in turn three, but the race wasn’t over yet.
Entering turn three on the final lap Briscoe dove to the bottom, with Jones opting to run the middle lane. That gave Jones a massive run coming out of turn four, which nearly allowed him to overtake Briscoe.
Briscoe saw Jones coming and moved over to block Jones’ run, allowing Briscoe to cross the finish line first aboard his No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
“That was a team win for sure,” said Briscoe. “Yesterday we were so good and then today, I don’t know if it was the heat or what, but we were just not very good. We were decent on the long run but the 9 (Gragson) was definitely better.”
Jones said he tried to force Briscoe to make a mistake on the final lap, but he came up .072 seconds short.
“We were just going as hard as we could,” Jones said. “I didn’t get as good of a run through (turns) one and two as I thought I was going to, so when I saw him dive to the bottom in three I wanted to use the high line. I wanted to get the big arc so I knew he was going to push up and I could go low.
“I tried to fake him on the frontstretch, try to get him to move around and mess up. Just didn’t work.”
Chastain ended up third, with his teammate Allmendinger crossing the line in fourth to earn an extra $100,000 as the highest finishing Dash 4 Cash eligible driver. Gragson faded to fifth at the checkered flag after leading a race-high 81 laps.
The top-four finishers – Briscoe, Jones, Chastain and Allmendinger – have qualified for the third round of the Dash 4 Cash next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. The highest finishing driver will earn $100,000.
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