The NASCAR Xfinity Series came to town on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Hampton, Georgia for the annual running of the Echo Park 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Coming off his controversial win at Bristol, Noah Gragson was looking for more of the same Monday night as he was qualified for the Dash 4 Cash Xfinity program. He drew the pole position in the No. 9 Chevy JR Motorsports entry and had a great car early on, leading the first six laps. However, throughout the event, Gragson’s team somewhat struggled, as drivers like Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe and Harrison Burton proved to be strong challengers for the race victory.
Somewhat surprising, A.J. Allmendinger, who had a disappointing Bristol finish, had the best car late in the race and was contending for the top five. A caution bunched up the field one more time and gave Allmendinger a chance to take the lead. After the restart, the Kaulig Racing driver took the lead and never looked back as he fended off Gragson for his first career oval victory.
While Allmendinger claimed the victory, there were other drivers who had strong performances as they looked to make up some extra ground in the point standings.
Here are this week’s Power Rankings following the eighth race of the season.
1. Noah Gragson – Gragson started on the pole with no qualifying which gave him the advantage at a track where track position means everything. The Las Vegas native led the first six laps of the race but then managed his race and ran solidly inside the top-10. Gragson finished sixth in both stages. He found himself catching leader Allmendinger late but ran out of time to make anything happen. Despite not getting the victory, Gragson did collect the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize.
Previous Week Ranking – Second
2. Austin Cindric – If it wasn’t for a mid-race caution, we would be talking about a different race winner right now. Cindric was class of the field, winning both stages and leading a race-high of 68 laps. However, Cindric was one of the unlucky ones as a caution came out on Lap 126. However, in order for the No. 22 Team Penske’s plan to work, Cindric needed the race to remain green until the checkered flag as did not have any more new tires. When the caution came out, he was forced to put on scuffed tires. This ended his chance for the win and Cindric went on to finish 17th. It was a valiant effort by the No. 22 team who had the best car of the race.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
3. Daniel Hemric – Hemric and the No. 8 JR Motorsports team continue to play consistency on a part-time basis. Hemric came into Saturday’s race after finishing sixth at Bristol Monday night. The Poppy Bank Chevy managed to get top-10 stage finishes by placing the No. 8 fifth in the first stage and fourth in the second stage. Had a late-race caution flown, Hemric would have been in the position to pull off a thrilling victory. Even so, it was another solid finish for the No. 8 team as Hemric came home fourth. It was also confirmed that he had qualified for the Dash 4 Cash prize this weekend at Homestead.
Previous Week Ranking – Fourth
4. Harrison Burton – Another week and another top-five finish for Burton and the No. 20 Toyota Supra. He never got to lead a lap but his crew chief (Ben Beshore) made the right changes to the DEX/Hunt Brothers Pizza car and Burton brought it home to a fifth-place finish. It was Burton’s sixth top-five of the season.
Previous Week Ranking – Fifth
5. Justin Haley – Continuing the Kaulig Racing momentum, Justin Haley wounded up in the third position, after starting fourth. Haley ran a good race and got some decent stage finishes, which kept the No. 11 Chevy in the top-10. The Kaulig driver got to lead eight laps, but it was his teammate (A.J. Allmendinger) who stole the show by grabbing the checkered flag. With Allmendinger scoring the victory, Haley placed another Kaulig entry in third, while Ross Chastain finished seventh making it a great day at Atlanta.
Previous Week Ranking – Not Ranked
- Chase Briscoe – Briscoe had a strong No. 98 Ford and led 40 laps of the scheduled 163 laps. Unfortunately, Briscoe was caught for speeding on the last round of pit stops under the last caution on Lap 126. This ruined a great chance for Briscoe to win the race and he had to settle for a ninth-place finish.
Previous Week Ranking – First
- Brandon Brown – Brown brought the No. 68 team to a 12th place finish Saturday afternoon. It was somewhat of a disappointment considering the last few weeks where he was able to get close to the top five. All in all, a great finish for Brown’s team with what they have.
Previous Week Ranking – Third